The Budget Shooter – Where to Spend In Your Defensive Firearm Journey

Money is not unlimited for most of us. If you follow the defensive firearm industry at all (or any other segment of the firearm world) you know that it feels expensive. From every corner, you hear people telling you to “get more training” and “buy the latest gadget that will save your life.”

I'm guilty of it myself both as a trainer and as a marketer. Even in this very article, I'm going to be a little tongue in cheek as I give you the bare-bones economic way to do things while strongly suggesting you spend more money…

On occasion, I field a question from a friend, student, or customer to the effect of:

I'm on a limited budget. What are the most critical things I should spend my money on?

Today I'm going to attempt to answer that question in a very specific way while providing some big-time money-saving tips as we go.

firearm eye pro

The Basics – I Just Have To Assume You Will Buy These

Below I'm going to lay out a year-by-year budget but before we get to that there are some core basics that I think you just need to have.

A Firearm: I generally encourage people to NOT buy their first personal protection firearm until after they take their first class so bear that in mind but ultimately you need a gun and you don't need my fancy budget plan below to know it. To get something that I would consider quality and viable for the purchase I think you need to be prepared to spend between $400 and $600.

Secure Storage for the Firearm: Do not bring the gun into the home until you have a plan of how you are going to securely store that firearm. Like all things, you can spend a range of money. In my ideal world you would purchase a decent handgun vault that will probably run you $80 to $150, but your gun will probably come with a cable lock that can go through the chamber and barrel rendering the gun safe, or a simple $20 lockbox from Walmart could at least keep the gun out of the hands of small children. Decide on something here that is appropriate given your situation and budget.

Resource 1: Article Gun disabling devices and my thoughts on these

Resource 2: A Buyers guide to different types of gun safes

Eye & Ear Protection & Cleaning Supplies: You shouldn't shoot the gun without some basic eye and ear pro. I'm a big advocate for quality eye and ear protection but for less than $20 at your local hardware store you can get some eye and ear protection that will get the job done. As to some basic cleaning gear, you can get something fairly basic, comprehensive, and well cheap for about $30 (like this one).  Get protection for eyes, ears, and pick up that cleaning kit.

roger 22 ear pro

If you go to a public gun range they should have some basic first aid and trauma medical gear and you should be familiar with where it is and how to use it. If you are going to the hills or some private land of a friend to do your shooting you may want to invest in a good trauma kit.

Consider: Why people prefer electronic ear pro and how to take your ear pro to the next level.

Total Cost For Gun, Secure Storage, Safety Gear, and Cleaning Kit: $450 to $700

Some Big Money-Saving Tricks in The Firearm Industry

Also before we get into the budget plan below I'm going to share some quick ideas that if you employ will save you big buck and in many cases in the budget plan below I'm assuming you are following these tips.

Shop Used for Guns, Holsters, and Gear: Check out the pawnshop, eBay, your local classifieds, Gunbroker, or even Facebook Marketplace. Some of those may have restrictions on guns but you can find some good deals on accessories and other gear. Local gun stores make about 1/2 their profit from selling used guns and they often have a great selection. Guns are just machines with relatively few parts and buying one used can save you a lot of money.

Check the Return Policy on Holsters and other Gear: Holsters are difficult to shop for because no matter the reviews, the videos, the endorsement, or the pictures you won't know if it works well for you until you buy it and put it on. So be sure to check the return policy. I would have a very hard time purchasing a holster from a company that won't allow me to return it within 60 days for a full refund. You can spend a lot of money going through holsters that work for you and in the end, you will have less cash and several holsters you don't use.

Buy Ammo In Bulk With A Friend: Ammo is a lot cheaper if you buy in bulk. The difference between paying $0.16 a round of 9mm and $0.21 for a round of 9mm is often how much you are willing to buy. Now you may not have several hundred dollars to allocate to a few thousand rounds of ammo but I'm guessing if you check with a few friends or neighbors you might find a few people who are willing to buy ammo with you in bulk. Then you can enjoy the savings without being out the full cost.

Recycle Targets: At my gun club all one has to do is check the garbage (or the target recycle bin) and pull out a bunch of used targets that still have some life left. Apply some masking tape over the holes and almost any target can be reused. If you buy reactive targets actually use those sticker dots that come with them to cover up holes.

Don't Forget The Free Stuff

There is so much free education out there you can enjoy in the concealed carry and self-defense world. The fact that you are reading this is proof. Our website has hundreds of free articles and videos you can review without paying a dime. Here are some suggestions of free resources you should go take advantage of now:

Subscribe to our Podcast(s): As of this writing, we have 3 different FREE podcasts we produce at least weekly. Your cell phone already has an app on it that you can use to subscribe to any of our podcasts which will alert you each time we publish a new episode and make it easy to listen during a drive, a workout, or wherever you find yourself with a free ear. This is, in my opinion, the highest quality most convenient free education a concealed carrier can get. Click here to learn more

Subscribe To Our YouTube Channel: Our YouTube Channel is great (of course I think so) but there are a lot of other great YouTube channels out there that regularly publish quality training content that will make you smarter and better informed. Click here to visit our channel and subscribe

Download Our Free Phone App: Our app is 100% free and not only includes access to our podcasts (mentioned above) but also all our articles, our legal summaries, reciprocity maps, business directory, training log, firearm library, permit renewal reminder tool, but much much more. Click here to learn more

Join Law of Self Defense Free Level: To get more knowledge on the legal side you should really go get the free membership from our friend Andrew Branca. He is the best of the best as it relates to self-defense law and he has tiered membership options that start with free. Click here to learn more

Take “Emergency Trauma Response” Free: Mountain Man Medical has a free online video-based training course about emergency medicine which is arguable as important as anything related to carrying a firearm. Click here to learn more

Your 3 Year Budget For Being A Great Concealed Carrier

We each have a different budget and we each have different needs in terms of our education and training. You have to craft your plan based on those needs and limitations.

The following chart is just an example of different plans depending on your budget and needs. I want to stress this is an EXAMPLE only. It may not really make sense for you, though potentially this would be an option:

Some people are just the personality type to dive into this headfirst and go all in. Others don't have the budget or the passion to do so.

Regardless of how you approach being an armed citizen, the key is to recognize it as a journey and to have a plan to progress in that journey.

About Jacob Paulsen

Jacob S. Paulsen is the President of provides in-person and online firearm training for American gun owners. The Company is currently teaching in-person classes in 25+ states with a team of more than 55 instructors. Jacob is a NRA certified instructor & Range Safety Officer, USCCA certified instructor and training counselor, Utah BCI instructor, Affiliate instructor for Next Level Training, Graduate and certified instructor for The Law of Self Defense, and a Glock and Sig Sauer Certified Armorer. He resides in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado with his wife and children.


  1. Jeff on May 30, 2021 at 10:36 am

    I’m glad you said something about the used gun. I feel that people have some sort of “need” to buy something new in times like these. At the end of the day the bad guy isn’t gonna care if the gun is used or new. Someone I know spent a lot of time trying to find a gun that fit her hand in the fashionable color she wanted. Once again the main thing is does it shoot when you need it most. The bad guy isn’t gonna care. I bought my Kahr CW9 for $229 used. You may have an opinion about that gun, but I’ve put probably 600 rounds through it and it goes bang every single time I pull the trigger. Have never had a misfire. I believe some folks just like to sound cool when they say “Glock 17” or fill in the blank. The bad guy isn’t gonna care if the bullets are coming from a Kahr rather than a Glock, or S&W, or Springfield.

    • Bill Martin on June 8, 2021 at 10:40 am

      I, too, have that Kahr, Jeff. AND the Glock. The biggest problem I have with the Kahr is the trigger-pull. WAY different, but if THAT is what you get used to, then it’s probably OK. But there are so many better ‘feeling’ guns if you are going to shoot much. If not, then that will certainly work IF $$$ is an absolute problem. “Better’n to have a cheap gun…than no gun !!”

    • Dan on July 14, 2021 at 12:27 pm

      Jeff, I agree about your assessment about certain gun brand “sound cool”. By buddy just HAD to have a 9mm SIG Navy Seal version. Granted, he was in the Navy, but never a Seal. I regularly outshoot him with my Taurus G2C, and my CZ-75, which are both cheaper than the 2 SIG’s he has. While it’s true the higher end guns will probably have smoother triggers, in a true situation with adrenaline pumping, you’re not going to notice the trigger smoothness.

  2. Bill Martin on June 8, 2021 at 10:35 am

    Great, Jacob – but PUUUUULEZE update your 9mm ammo prices. Those days of 16-20 cents in bulk are LONG GONE! You know what they are now – 60-80 cents? +/- Update this article and make it much more believable. These old prices merely ‘date’ the article and it loses some of it efficacy. THX !

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