February 1999

Bad Guns, Bad Guns: What You Gonna Do When They Fail on You?

Cheap handguns have been pilloried as unsafe and dangerousóbut are they? We test three inexpensive products from Jennings, F&L, and Hi-Point to see if they have any redeeming qualities.

Throw-down gun, Saturday night special, gat, heater, rod. These nicknames stick to cheap, widely available handguns because they show up in police reports and tabloids more often than they do in the results of organized shooting matches. But are such guns produced with evil intent, or are they instead inexpensive firearms which help those on the lower end of the economic spectrum defend themselves? Are these low-priced guns so “bad” that foes of gun control have a legitimate product-safety argument to deny lower-income citizens the right to bear arms based merely on cost and availability?

To assess the merits of this question, Gun Tests recently acquired and fired a trio of handguns and 3...

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