While the cheapest handguns can cost less than $200, the most expensive rifles can exceed $10,000, indicating that the wide price ranges vary based on several factors.
This article will break things down according to gun type (rifle cost, handgun cost, shotgun cost), and sort your options into different prices ranges. Certain differences between guns at various price points are important even when subtle, so I’d encourage you not to immediately jump to the cheapest option.
Regarding my gun knowledge, I’ve bought some guns and shot several different types of guns. I also run a gun-focused YouTube channel and worked with several local LE agencies.
How Much Does The Average Typical Gun Cost?
The average handgun will cost between $400-$800. Hunting rifles will vary a lot more by caliber, but the “average” would be between $600 and $1,200. The average shotgun will cost between $300-$600.
It’s important to remember, though, that averages only tell part of the story. For example, you could pay the “average” price for a hunting rifle but get bottom-quality because medium and large-bore hunting rifles are generally more expensive than small-bore.
Cost Breakdown: How Much Do Rifles Cost?
|Rifle Brand Name||Model||Cost|
|Savage Arms||64 FXP LH||$168.99|
|Daniel Defense||Delta 5 Pro||$2,786.99|
Rifles Less Than $500
At this price point, your options are going to be pretty limited. If you want a high-quality rifle at this price point, you’ll mostly need to stick with small-bore. You might be able to find a usable .308 Winchester, especially on the used market, but only as a bolt action. It costs more than $500 to build your own AR-10 of decent quality, let alone buy one from a reputable manufacturer.
That said, if you’re in the market for something like a .22LR, .17 HMR, or even .223 Remington, you’ll have some options in this range, but a lot of doors open if you’re willing to add just a couple hundred dollars to your budget.
Rifles Between $500 and $1,000
Simply put, this is a workable “starter rifle” budget. This price range is where you start to get access to semi automatic functionality. It’s also a great starting point for AR-15 variants, though you might still be priced out of the market for more niche rifle calibers like the .223 Wyld or .224 Valkyrie.
My first AR-15 (the 0), fits snugly in this price range, or at least it did when I bought it, and it’s a great gun. If you want something a little bigger, like a .308 Winchester, you’ll find lots of options in the used market, and if you’re lucky, you might even catch some gun sales to get brand new, functional AR-10 variants.
Rifles Between $1,000 and $1,750
In this range, you can get access to what I would consider the high-end of AR-15 variants and other semi automatic rifles chambered in things like 5.56 NATO and 6.5 Grendel. Good rifles in more niche rifle calibers like the Wyld or Valkyrie mentioned before are also available in this range. They also comes with good shooting range.
You can also shop for medium-bore rifles with a lot more confidence. Finding a good AR-10 in this price range is easy, and that’s true for both .308 Winchester and 6.5 Creedmoor. The Creedmoors are more expensive, so you may not be able to find as many in this range, but it’s certainly do-able.
Rifles $1,750 and Above
Let’s be clear, “and above” means up to $6,000, and even $10,000. After about $2500 to $3000, there aren’t very many good reasons to keep going on a higher price tag unless you have a highly specific need that only a very specific rifle will properly meet. That said, build quality, customizability, and feature set are all good reasons to spend up to that high level.
Cost Breakdown: How Much do Handguns Cost?
|Handgun Brand Name||Model||Cost|
|Heckler & Koch||VP9||$669.99|
|Colt||Python Stainless 2020||$1,514.99|
|Sig Sauer||P226 X-Five||$2,660.99|
Handguns Less Than $500
Unlike hunting rifles, you can actually get some good-quality handguns for under $500. Probably the most well-known and reputable manufacturer with guns at this price is Glock. Not all Glock models are sub-$500, but many are, and there are a variety of calibers available without spending a ton of money on a handgun.
That said, a lot of the “optic-cut” handguns from every company have a higher handgun cost tag. The biggest drawback in this competition handgun cost range will usually be the trigger, at least in my experience. Similar to rifles, if you’re looking for a small caliber like a .22, then you can get great quality in this price range. The higher you go up in caliber, the higher you’ll need to go up in price to keep as many options.
Handguns Between $500 and $1,000
This is the “goldilocks” handgun budget, in my opinion. There are so many fantastic options in this handgun and pistol cost range that you can almost certainly get a handgun that works for you and does everything you want it to.
You’ll even see popular handguns bundled with pre-mounted red dots in this price range. Before you look to spend more than this on just the gun itself, I would recommend diverting budget to getting the right holster, optic, and safe (not to mention extra magazines). Those purchases will often make a much bigger difference than just buying a more expensive handgun.
Handguns Between $1,000 and $2,000
We’re officially in “premium” handgun territory, and while there are plenty of reasons someone might want to spend this much on a handgun, I wouldn’t recommend it for your first. Besides Glock, most of the brands I might recommend for duty firearms or other mission-critical handguns have models in this price range.
Granted, they also have models that are under $1,000, but sometimes it can be worth spending a little extra to get that better trigger, have the optic pre-mounted, or have the gun cerakoted. As always, it’s up to you, your budget, and your priorities.
Cost Breakdown: How Much do Shotguns Cost?
|Shotgun Brand Name||Model||Cost|
|CZ||712 Utility G2||$529.36|
Shotguns Under $500
It can surprise a lot of people to find out that shotguns are actually pretty cheap, with the “average” shotgun actually costing less than the “average” handgun. The main reason for that is that shotguns are mechanically very simple. Another reason is that with shotguns you rarely have need to take more than one or two shots at a time.
You can find the occasional semi-automatic shotgun at this price point, but I would exercise a lot of caution and do a lot of due diligence before buying one. If you’re looking at pump actions, though, you’ll see a lot of options from reputable brands like Winchester, Stoeger, and Mossberg.
Shotguns Between $500 and $1,000
The biggest benefit to getting in this price range is that you have a lot more options to choose from. Finding a hunting shotgun that fits you comfortably, gives you good sight down the barrel with comfortable cheek weld, and has the functionality and capacity you’re looking for can be difficult, so more options is always better. And you will always prefer to own a good deer hunting rifle.
Overall quality also goes up, of course.
Factors to Keep In Mind Before Purchasing a Gun
What Features Are Most Important?
So you’re obviously looking for a gun for a specific reason, like hunting, home or self defense, or concealed carry. Chances are, you’ve already thought about the features you need for the gun that you want, but here are a few things to consider if you haven’t already.
Compatibility with Optics
It’s hard to go back to shooting a handgun with iron sights after you’ve tried with a red dot. Shooting with a red dot or LPVO on a hunting rifle is also a whole new world when you’ve only ever used irons. For a concealed carry handgun, you may not be interested in the added bulk of a red dot, but for almost every other use, consider what optic you may want to put on it and make sure to buy a gun that works with the optic you want.
The trigger can make or break a hunting rifle, handgun, or shotgun. As a general rule, when you’re prioritizing accuracy and precision, you want a lighter trigger. That said, the lighter the trigger, the higher the chances of accidental discharge, so if you’re carrying the gun around on a regular basis, you may want a heavier trigger.
Some guns make it easy to swap out the trigger, others are much, much harder. If you think you might have strong opinions about factory triggers, this is something to consider.
The Right Caliber
For your first gun, it’s usually safe to stick with the basics: 9mm for handguns, .223 Rem or .308 Win for rifles, and 12 gauge for shotguns. The more you shoot, though, the more you might start to notice some of the drawbacks of those mass-market calibers. A lot of guns are available in different calibers, so check and see if there’s something that works better for you.
Price vs. Quality
With every purchase you make, there is a correlation between price and quality. Can you find quality guns at the lowest price-points? Sometimes, but folks who are new to firearms might refrain from spending too much money on guns they don’t know much about. Skimping isn’t always the best idea!
Cheaper guns are more prone to accidental discharge, misfires, and other malfunctions. If you’re just plinking at the range and you follow the basic firearms safety rules religiously, it may not be a big deal. However, as soon as you actually need that gun for something, the last thing you want it to do is malfunction.
Those malfunctions are what separate high-quality guns from low-quality guns. Yes, triggers also get better as you go up in price, and other features like optic-compatibility become more common as the price gets higher, but the most important thing about a gun is that it fires when you want it to.
Budgeting for Accessories
Sometimes instead of spending more money on the gun itself, it makes more sense to splurge its accessories. With handguns, the holster can make a bigger difference in the comfort and usability of the gun than buying a “better” gun would.
With semi auto rifles, buying an adjustable gas-block can make a world of difference in how enjoyable the gun is to shoot. The same goes for a suppressor or muzzle brake. There’s a bit of a learning curve in figuring out what things you’d be better off improving through accessories or replacing individual parts and when you’re better off just buying a new gun, but the only solution to that is to start learning.
Some common accessories to consider are optics (as mentioned before), holsters, replacement triggers, muzzle brakes or other end-of-barrel accessories, weapon lights, night vision devices, and lasers. For some rifles and shotguns, a vertical foregrip or a handstop can be a great thing to have.
Storage and Security
I’ll say it again: the most important thing about a gun is that it fires when you want it to and doesn’t when you don’t. An important part of making sure that your gun doesn’t fire when you don’t want it to is by controlling who can access it in the first place. Even if you’re single and living alone, you should have a gun safe to store your firearms and have it bolted to either the floor or the wall.
If you want to have a gun in your nightstand or otherwise at-the-ready for home defense, that’s fine, but there are ways to secure it in those situations as well. Safes with fingerprint readers have gotten very affordable and dependable over the last few years, as have safes with number codes. At minimum, you should only have the gun accessible in that location when you are present.
There are also good ways to store the gun safely while traveling. Get one of those locks for your reliable gun that loop through the empty bolt and magazine slot, and make sure not to transport it loaded unless access is controlled in some manner.
Applicable Laws & Regulations
Certain types of guns are illegal in some states, and the same is true with different accessories. Federal law already makes getting suppressors difficult enough and puts a lot of limits on what accessories you can and can’t buy in certain situations, but each state has its own set of laws as well.
Some states prohibit hunting with necked-down cartridges (which I still don’t fully understand), and other states have limitations on what accessories you can put on your rifles, handguns, and shotguns. California is the most well-known for stringent gun laws, but they’re in place in lots of different states.
Wholesale pricing is going to be somewhere between 5% and 50% lower than the price you’d get at the store. Most of the time the wholesale price and retail price aren’t going to be nearly as far apart for guns as they are for a lot of other types of products.
Not very much. Walmart does not carry premium brands as a general rule, and the firearms available are reasonably priced. Many Walmarts don’t sell guns at all anymore, and the ones who do mostly stick to shotguns.
An AR-15’s prices depends on several factors, but I’d peg the average price at around $1,000, at least for AR’s chambered in .223 Rem/5.56 NATO. You probably won’t see many options below $500, but they you find them at sales or when they’re sold second-hand. You’ll also see AR-15s for over $2,000.
As a last thought, I’d like to say that while this article has focused mostly on the prices when you’re buying new, there’s a lot to be said for buying used. Most guns don’t actually get used that much, and even if they do, they tend to last a really long time, especially if they’ve been properly cared for and cleaned.
If you are interested in saving some money by buying used, you want to watch out for visible rust and find out how old the gun is and whether the person you’re buying from got it used or new. A lot of used guns are listed online at websites like guns.com, so you can pretty easily compare the price that they’re asking with other listings of the same make and model of gun.
Buying used can be tricky unless you know exactly what model of gun you’re interested in getting, but it can absolutely be worth it if you’re willing to take the time.