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9 Best Budget Guns for New Shooters [Pistol, Rifle, Shotgun]

Picking your first gun can be a hassle. Today, we're going to try and take the guesswork out of it and provide you with some great guns for new shooters.

So, you want to learn about guns….

The most important thing is getting your hands on a gun to practice.

Collecting guns is like a lot of hobbies where you can get folks who are waaaaay too into it and can give you the specs from every kind of gun to ever hit the market…

I am Very Smert
The nametag many folks you’ll meet at the range should be wearing.

These kind of people can make it hard for the newbies to get into gun collecting and shooting.  We think that attitude is a load of BS.

Everyone has to start somewhere, and here you are… starting.

We’re going to go over some of the best guns out there for anyone looking to start a collection, or just see if this gun thing is for them.  All of these guns are excellent choices for anyone’s first gun…or fiftieth and will serve you well for their given purpose.

Best Guns For New Shooters

Best Shotguns 

A good place to start your collection is with a shotgun.  A shotgun is arguably the most versatile and useful of all the guns you can buy.  You can use it for everything from home defense to hunting.  Even when you’re hunting there is a wide variety of game you can hunt with a single 12 Gauge shotgun.

Some of the game you can hunt using a 12 gauge are:

  • Deer
  • Duck
  • Turkey
  • Quail
  • Rabbits
  • Squirrels
  • Wild Hogs

Some of the common shotguns allow you to swap the barrel with a small amount of effort.  Swapping barrels and using different ammo lets you have a single gun for multiple types of game.

Something else you look for in a shotgun is a gun with interchangeable choke tubes.  These change the shot pattern.  You can play around with different choke tubes and different types of ammo to get the pattern and impact which are looking for.

This makes competition, from a local turkey shoot to skeet and trap shooting something anyone could do… and is a great stepping off point to things like USPSA and 3Gun.

1. Remington 870

Runner-Up Best Pump Shotgun
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

The Remington 870 Express is one of the most common shotguns you’ll find.  Because of popularity, you can buy it at almost every sporting goods store that sells guns.

 You can also buy all kinds of accessories like extra barrels, sights, magazine extension tubes, stocks, and just about anything else you can think of.  This makes it a great first choice because it can grow and change as your tastes and needs grow and change. 

2. Mossberg 500

at Kygunco

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

The Mossberg 500 is a direct competitor of the Remington 870.  One of the main differences is the Mossberg has a polymer stock where the base 870 is typically wood, but look hard enough and you can get either one with whatever stock you want, and changing them out is pretty straightforward.

Gun guy tip: Talking to some Sheriffs here in Wisconsin, they switched to the Remington 870s because they handle the cold weather and moisture better than other shotguns they used.

Best Rifles 

Rifles are a little bit different.  You’re more limited with the ammunition and game you can hunt.  What I mean is, if you have a 22 rifle, you’re not going to be hunting deer.  If you have a .308 rifle, you’re not going to be hunting squirrels.

Because of this, you’ll want to have more than one rifle depending on what you’re looking to hunt.  If you aren’t sure, check out our rifle caliber guide.  You can also check out our best beginner hunting rifle recommendations if that’s what you’re looking to get into.

If you’re looking for something specifically to take to the range, give our best precision rifles guide a look.

For budget options, lets start with…

3. Ruger 10/22

at Kygunco

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

The Ruger 10/22 is one of the best all-around 22 rifles on the market, so you’ll see it everywhere.  There are lots of versions, so you can find one to fit your specific needs.

For example, they have a competition version with a sweet looking barrel, a takedown version (this separates into two pieces and fits in a bag for easy carrying), a carbine, and more.

Also, one of the nicest things about the 10/22 is the number of accessories and awesome mods available for it.

Most of the Ruger 10/22 rifles are in the $250-$400 range.  It really just depends on how tacti-cool you want to be.  For the most part, all of them are the same rifle; barrel, trigger, stock… All similar.

4. Remington 783

at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

The Remington 783  rifle is based on one of the most popular rifles Remington makes; the Remington 700 ($700).  Remington rifles are known for their quality bolt action.  A bolt action rifle is about as simple as it gets when it comes to rifles and is great for learning how to shoot a rifle.

The main difference between the Remington 783 and the 700 series, are some of the parts are downgraded a bit.  This doesn’t compromise the function of the gun, but you do lose a few features.  Fortunately, the features aren’t something you’ll miss if you’re looking for a starting rifle…and the savings more than make up for it.

 It comes in a wide variety of calibers so you can get the right one for the game that you’re hunting, and it can reliably punch paper or hit any target that’s normally reachable with the round you’ve chosen…provided you’ve chosen the right scope.

Another nice thing is because it’s more cost-effective than some rifles, you can buy multiples.  Instead of trying to figure out which caliber rifle will work best in multiple scenarios, by two different rifles with two different calibers you can hunt deer with one, and smaller game with another.

Best AR-15s

An AR-15 style rifle is another good choice.  As you might already know, they are extremely easy to accessorize to your liking.  You can build one by buying the parts separately and assembling it yourself, or you can buy one that’s premade.

Either way, you can add or replace parts you don’t like at any time.

With the AR rifle platform, it’s really easy to get into the $1,000 to $3,000 range when you’re building a gun.  Below are two choices that are a little bit more cost-effective.

PSA 5.56 & .223 Wylde
PSA 5.56 & .223 Wylde

There are others available, but these are common, reliable, respectable first choices for an AR platform rifle.

The MSRP for most of these is in the $700-$800 range.  However, keep in mind that most of these can be found for under $700 if you take the time to do some research or wait for sale.

When you are buying a pre-assembled AR, the rifles around $700 range will have roughly the same features, components, and specs.  Because they are all pretty similar, I’m just going to list off a couple brands for you to check out…but if you want more info, be sure to check out our extremely popular AR-15 Buyers Guide.

5. Smith & Wesson M&P 15 Sport II

Most Affordable AR-15
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

The M&P-15 Sport is a solid all-around rifle, and it’s used by everyone from amateur shooters to law enforcement.  It offers a good solid starting point for those looking to just buy an all-in-one pre-assembled AR.  You can easily add all the bells and whistles that you want to make it as tacti-cool as you’d like it to be.

6. Ruger AR556

at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

The same goes for this Ruger.  The Ruger AR556 is a great choice in the 223/556 caliber, too.  You’ll have differences from the S&W, like the twist of the barrel, the sights, and other small variations.  When you are starting out, you won’t notice the difference between a 1:8” righthand twist versus the 1:9.

Fortunately, differences like these are task specific.  By that I mean, when you’re starting out, you will likely need a lot of practice and buy less expensive ammo for the range.  

You probably won’t be bothering yourself with the fact that a 62-grain bullet works better with a different twist than a 72 grain…for now.

If you’re buying the rifle for a specific purpose, then you might know which caliber, or grain, or sight you might need to have and better choose your entry level rifle.

7. Palmetto State Armory

at PSA

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

When it comes to budget AR-15s, PSA is the king of them all. Rarely will you find any new AR-15 priced lower than a PSA. Granted, these rifles are a little rough around the edges sometimes – but in our testing and personal use, they have always been reliable.

PSA also makes a large line of complete uppers and complete rifles in a range of calibers including 6.5 Creedmoor, .308 Win, 6.8 SPC, 9mm, and several others.

We’ve hands-on reviewed 3 of their AR-15s, their AR-10 in .308, their AR-15 upper in .224 Valkyrie, and their 9mm PX9 PCC. All of them have been excellent!

Best Handguns

Picking your first handgun is a challenge, whether you’re a new shooter or you’ve just only owned long guns before.  I’d recommend shooting several different brands and sizes before you buy, if you can.  Some feel better in your hand than others. Some sights are easier to use.  Many gun ranges rent guns so you can try a few out before you commit to one.

Gun guy tip: Don’t use the brand Hi-point in a conversation unless it’s the butt of a joke.

8. Glock 19

Most Dependable
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

The Glock 19 is an extremely common gun to own.  It’s a compact design so it fits in the average person’s hand nicely.  It’s also small enough to use as a conceal carry weapon.  The majority of Glocks are double stack magazines.

While the Glock will hold more ammo than many CCW guns, they are thicker and heavier than other similarly sized single stack competitors.

If you want something a little smaller, the Glock 26 is the subcompact 9mm offering from Glock.

What’s your take on the Glock 19 for new shooters?

Readers' Ratings

4.95/5 (973)

Your Rating?

9. Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm

Great Value (Sub-Compact)
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

The Smith & Wesson compact and subcompact handguns are a little smaller and thinner than their Glock counterparts. 

When you jump to the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm, S&W’s premier subcompact pistol, you get a great gun you can easily hide on your person and carry all day. The M&P Shield 9mm measures in at 6.1” overall length and .94” wide.

One thing you will notice is the grip on the M&P Shield 9mm will accommodate more of your hand than a Glock 26 will.  More hand on the grip is a lot easier for most people to learn on.

Looking for more?  Check out our Best Beginner Handguns for Self Defense.


Now that you have a few choices to start your gun collection, it’s time to figure out which one to get first.  Personally, I went with a Glock27 for concealed carry first, then a .22LR rifle.  I am not really a hunter, so I really don’t need a higher caliber rifle.  Well, other than an AR project rifle that it.

What are you thinking your first purchase will be? Do you know a good first gun that we left out? Let us know in the comments below!

If you’re on a budget…we totally understand…but don’t skimp out on training.

That’s why we created Gun Noob to Gun Slinger…our beginner handgun course that save you A LOT of time.  We only cover the most important stuff…and without the attitude.

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32 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    John L Patrick

    Many things have changed over the years for me. Hunting is out of the picture. But club and range shooting, sounds like a great way to start shooting again. I will still go with the feel of any firearm before buying. A new rifle or hand gun, cheap or expensive, won't see much use if the fit and feel aren't right. Good guide for a start. Thanks for this review, helpful.

    December 29, 2021 3:07 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    MR J

    Runner runner ring a bell? We got one over priced with 9mm and 40. Now what? Looking at reviews that don't sound good. Leary to test must go to range. Been practicing looking through scope. Any pointers?

    June 27, 2021 4:26 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      If you don't know whether or not to test your gun, than you might want to consider giving it to a more experienced friend, or maybe sending it back to the company for inspection. If you don't want to do that, than you probably should just test fire it. Because a gun, (especially an expensive one) doesn't do anyone any good sitting on a shelf collecting dust.

      September 17, 2021 2:10 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Bob E

    I want a shotgun, mainly for home defense, but some skeet shooting too. I'm debating between the Mossberg 500 and the Maverick 88. This would be my first gun ever.

    September 15, 2020 6:44 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      David, PPT Editor

      Mossberg is a nicer finish gun for sure, but mechanically they are almost the same. If you want to do some skeet shooting though -- I would opt for the Mossberg since the pump slide will be smoother and help make those shots easier.

      September 15, 2020 7:40 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    You guys think $500 to spend on my first gun is to much or a good amount?

    April 2, 2020 2:33 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      David, PPT Editor

      $500 is a great range for your first gun, not too budget but not too crazy either! I believe my first rifle was right around $580.

      April 2, 2020 3:05 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Scott Vicary

    Got my first weapon - Glock 19 Gen 5 for Christmas. Really have enjoyed shooting it and already considering what I want for my first long gun. Your reviews gave some nice insight. Also considering getting a smaller form handgun for EDC. I am looking forward to going through your Noob to Slinger course in preparation for my CC course/license!

    December 31, 2019 9:10 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    I just watched the goodreview on the Glock .43. I want one! A good point he made is that the small sub-compacts we carry around are not really fun to practice with at the range. They’re snappy, they kick, and make you sore really quick. I have to agree with him. I have the long-barrel Glock 24 .40, a Ruger SP-100 .357 4.2-inch, and the Heritage .22 long barrel 6-inch. Those 3 are lots of fun to practice with all day. But especially the Heritage. It’s good quality for it’s price and the ammo is cheap. I have both the LR and the mag cylinders.

    December 16, 2019 11:32 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    Can you carry a S&W Shield comfortable inside the waist holster? I have shot long guns all my life. This is the first hand gun I would like to purchase

    September 12, 2019 3:35 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      Been carrying a Smith M&P 45 for a month now. Yes it’s an easy carry.

      January 4, 2020 5:35 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      You probably can get a soft concealed holster for it. They're is probably a manufacturer somewhere that makes a soft holster for it.

      September 17, 2021 2:13 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    To be honest...the MP shield does fit better in my hand than the Glock when I shot them. Better grip resulted in better accuracy....hands down ... shield is the winner.

    May 9, 2019 4:40 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Happy pappy, here come slappy.....

    May 8, 2019 2:24 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    For my first gun, I chose the XD9 from Springfield. I love the feel of the gun in my hand.

    May 1, 2019 11:53 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    I chose the Glock G45 for my first handgun! I liked the size of the Glock 19 but was not a fan of the generation 5 cut out at the bottom of the grip frame. The G45 has a better feel in my hand. Check it out !

    March 10, 2019 6:42 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Another great starting ccw pistol is the Springfield XDs-9. I own both the M&P Shield40 and the XDs-9. Both are comfortable to carry and I find the customizable grips and the fiber optic sites on the XDs very nice. It is also extremely accurate.

    March 2, 2019 9:31 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    What about the Tokarev I shot one and for the price and low recoil would be a excellent starting gun.

    October 22, 2018 9:37 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    Seems to me that you are false my friend you are not going anyone except your own agenda which is to deter new shooters away by being an ass to everyone

    July 9, 2018 10:58 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    the picture of the M&P shield isn't a shield. It's a Full sized M&P. Wouldn't point this out, except that it's for "new shooters" and a new shooter is going to look for this pistol at that price, and be very disappointed.

    December 20, 2017 1:32 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    My first gun was a Mossberg / Maverick 88 that I bought on sale at a Walmart. We were living out in the countryside in Maine and having problems with rabid foxes and hungry coyotes coming very close to the houses. I'd worked with 1911's in the Navy, as well as shotguns, so that was my next purchase a few years later. I went with a cheap, but great quality Elite from Shooters Arms. When I got my CCDW in Kentucky I was able to get a great deal on a Glock 19 from a state cop. I caried it for several years, but I've always gotten much better results with three-shot groups from my 1911, so lately I've gone back to the 1911 for carry. Recently, after taking an armorer course, I picked up a bagged kit for an M4 carbine. Many of the parts are Anderson and I bought an Anderson lower, as well. Their prices are great and they are right here in town, so it's like buying from my neighbors. I still feel like a firearms newbie, but I know my guns down to the smallest part and the most complex operation.

    October 14, 2017 12:02 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Tony Robinson

    I bought a Remington 870 Express Super Magnum first. Then a M&P 9 mm Shield. Then just for fun a Heritage Rough rider 22lr single action revolver with 6 1/2 inch barrel. I now also have a 1958 Remington 725 30-06, and a 1955 Remington 550 semi auto 22lr. All great guns.

    May 17, 2017 6:42 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Ray Williams

    I've got my eye on a Thompson Center Compass. For the money you can't beat it., 5R rifling and a threaded barrel on a budget rifle, what's not to like? Also has an adjustable trigger.

    May 16, 2017 5:58 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Tim Gamble

    Don't forget the Taurus 709 slim I've had one for 5 years now and it's never failed to go bang when I wanted it to. They seem to be selling for under $275.00 nowadays and it is very compact and easy to conceal.

    May 15, 2017 3:07 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Big Al 512

    Glock Fan Boy, There are many More Guns out there theses few he has listed , Go out and try some , and whats Wrong with High Point ? They work, as I said , Glock Fan Boy

    May 15, 2017 2:35 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    My first purchase was a Mossberg 500C 20-gauge pump with a slug barrel at an auction, for $150 in mint condition. Haven't regretted that decision one bit.

    May 14, 2017 8:08 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Timothy Padilla

    I would buy the Savage Axis XP before I ever bought a Remington 783. The price is lower the quality is way better for a first rifle and it comes in a ton of calibers.

    May 14, 2017 7:41 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Ed Brodnik

    My first was the S & W SD9 VE. 16 +1, it fit my hand, easy to field strip, light weight and it was available at a great price.

    May 14, 2017 5:40 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    John Guse

    Great articles and gunwise helpful hints. Don't forget Walther as a potential "first gun".

    May 14, 2017 5:18 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Thanks to this website and previous recommendations I filled out my list almost exactly, started with an 870, then a ruger m77, got a M&p 9m, (and a beretta 92fs) and want a 10/22 next, great advice so far and loving the journey

    May 11, 2017 2:45 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    David Fellows

    I would add a few more to the Pistol list. For first time owners at least the Taurus PT111. the SCCY line of 9mm, A new one coming out American made Grand Power and Century Arms Canik series. all great guns for the price or for the budget minded

    May 11, 2017 2:36 pm
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