Beater Guns and Why You Should Have One

After a very short peri­od of time as a gun own­er, you get the itch. It doesn’t take long for just about all gun own­ers to want to become an at home gun­smith. You’ll want to change the grip or the hand guard, or the stock or the trig­ger group, or springs, BCGs, bar­rels, gas blocks or muz­zle device. Pret­ty much any­thing you can swap or wrench off a gun and replace, you’ll want to. For AR own­ers it’s insane­ly easy.

But what about the hand­gun own­er who doesn’t want a rifle?

I have owned just about every mod­el and style of hand­gun over the course of the last 22 years. Some were expen­sive as all get out. Some were mid-range Sigs, HKs, S&Ws etc. My FBI NICS file has to be a lit­tle scary to look at.

Then there is my favorite class of hand­gun. What I call the ‘Beat­er’. The Beat­er is main­ly your work­horse. You toss it in your trunk, in the back seat, under the front seat, glove box, wher­ev­er. It ain’t pret­ty, but dammit, every time you grab it and dust it off, it just per­forms like it should. It’s the old reli­able and not the safe-queen.

Beat­ers come from all over. Police trade-ins are a great way to snag a cheap, but com­plete­ly func­tion­al Glock or S&W M&P, for cheap. They may have hol­ster wear and have only a few hun­dred rounds through them. Gun shows always have those cou­ple janky tables with the LLa­mas 45s, old imports, or Hi-Points. Don’t laugh, I have yet to see some­one actu­al­ly kill a Hi-Point. I don’t mean I would ever buy one, but the things do have a rep­u­ta­tion for being the ugli­est gun ever made, but know one will ever say it com­plete­ly failed. But I digress. This isn’t a arti­cle prais­ing Hi-Points, even though I just checked gun bro­ker and come on, I mean $139.99, new? But no. Nope. No.

Anoth­er good way to find your future Beat­er is to watch the new imports. I start­ed look­ing at the Canik (I know exact­ly what a lot of you will com­plain about here, Turkey…) but when I first looked into them, Cen­tu­ry was sell­ing them at $259. They went up and down after that peri­od.

We have a cou­ple TP9s here. An SA and an SF. They are reli­able, eat just about every­thing, come as a com­plete kit and the 18 round mag­a­zines from Mec­Gar are great. But to me, they are Beat­ers.

Modified Canik TP9SF. ReloadOne.com

Mod­i­fied Canik TP9SF. ReloadOne.com

A Beat­er I don’t feel bad about mess­ing with. A Beat­er is there to be screwed with. What I would nev­er con­sid­er doing to a more expen­sive gun, I don’t feel bad about doing to the Canik. When I want­ed to per­fect my stip­pling tech­nique I didn’t start on some­thing else. I had a cou­ple Glocks avail­able, but until I knew what I was doing it nev­er would have hap­pened. But the Caniks, I didn’t care. Need­less to say one may have a “meh” stip­pling job, one is slight­ly less “meh”. Thank­ful­ly Caniks have pret­ty thick poly­mer and I could just bust out the roto tool and sand it down a bit and try again. I now have pret­ty nice stip­pling on both.

But it goes fur­ther than that. I picked up a cou­ple dif­fer­ent lights and I couldn’t get one to fit the way I thought it should, so again I used the roto to grind and shape the trig­ger guard to my lik­ing, keep­ing an eye out to make sure I didn’t do any­thing too dras­tic to make it unsafe. Light fits per­fect­ly now by the way.

I want­ed to learn to Cer­akote. I don’t feel bad about using a beat­er to teach myself. It’s just not a big deal. You don’t wor­ry, you don’t feel bad. That’s what they are there for. You wouldn’t grab a HK USP and decide that today is the day you’re going to learn to stip­ple.

But that is the point of the Beat­er. You don’t feel bad about try­ing new mods on a Beat­er gun. You can grind, stip­ple, shape cus­tomize and turn some­thing that was noth­ing spe­cial into a unique part of your col­lec­tion. It’s still a beat­er, it still gets thrown around, but it always shoots straight, fires every time you want it to and you’ll have bet­ter mem­o­ries and a longer his­to­ry with that gun.

Put a beat­er gun in your rota­tion. Buy one that you can mess with and teach your­self some new skills. For me at least it was reward­ing learn­ing how to do a trig­ger job. Same with stip­pling and shap­ing and Cer­akot­ing. Same with pol­ish­ing feed ramps or con­nec­tors.  Peo­ple pay me for those skills now and I have yet to hear a com­plaint. Accept for one. I refused to re-crown a guy’s Mosin because it wasn’t mine and I didn’t know how. That will come. I’ll gain that skill.

You’ll see the Caniks on here quite a bit. I always take at least one of them to the range, hell, I almost always have one in the car. Nei­ther one is pret­ty to any­one else, but yeah, okay, they are still ugly to me too. But they fit me per­fect­ly and if the don’t in the future, I know I can make them again.

Now, if any­one can point out a mod­i­fied Hi-Point that is actu­al­ly cool. That would indeed be some­thing to see. Is any­one mak­ing a tita­ni­um nitride replace­ment bar­rel for them yet? No, real­ly.

What’s your beat­er gun? Tell me about it below.


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ER1C ☠

ER1C ☠

Dedicated Second Amendment Advocate, At-Home Gunsmith, Designer, Blogger, Video Guy, Author, Business Owner & ReloadOne Member.


  1. rick0857
    August 12, 2016 at 3:26 pm — Reply

    Mine is a Canik TP9V2. Great lil’ gun, fun to shoot & will eat any­thing and I only clean IF I feel like it. Has not ONE TIME EVER went bang when instruct­ed to do so! But best of all was the STUFF it came with, 2 mag (mec­gar) so-so hol­ster good ‘nuf for the range, clean­ing kit and fair­ly nice case. Oh and all for around $270.00 when I bought it.

    • August 12, 2016 at 4:06 pm — Reply

      How does the V2 dif­fer from the rest? I love mine too. These things are sim­ply the best deal going for the dol­lar spent. I actu­al­ly had a bro call me a few days ago to ask if I could find the best deal on anoth­er one for him. He’s not real­ly big on using com­put­ers. But a 30 sec­ond search and I sent him a link to Cen­tu­ry for the Desert Tan SA for $299. I love that they are still in that price range. Glad to see anoth­er Canik fan out the @rick0857:disqus! Thanks for post­ing!

      • rick0857
        September 20, 2016 at 4:27 pm — Reply

        The V2 is the only Canik mod­el 55 series that is single/double action. The only strik­er fired semi auto pis­tol I’ve found that is dou­ble action. I’m prob­a­bly wrong about that, I’m sure some­body else makes a dou­ble action strik­er fired pis­tol I just don’t remem­ber see­ing one. Also anoth­er inex­pen­sive gun is the TriS­tar C-100, T-100 and P-100 (I think) They look like the Jericho/Baby Desert Eagle and are a good gun too.

        • September 20, 2016 at 4:42 pm — Reply

          Thanks Rick! I’m still a huge fan of the Canik. Every time I go shoot, it gets a lot of action. I’ll try to find a V2 to shoot. Have you heard any­thing about the new com­pact mod­el that is sup­pose to be com­ing out? I’m excit­ed to learn more about that one.

          • rick0857
            October 4, 2016 at 4:57 pm

            Me too because that’s the one I want, so…no I don’t know when it’ll arrive but I want to check it out also. But for me, No Dou­ble Action = No Pur­chase
            Be patient they’re com­ing.

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