For many Americans, a very special time of the year is right around the corner: tax refund season. Though millions will be putting their refund money into savings accounts, toward tropical vacations, or other boring pursuits, gun owners know that the best way to spend their free money is on more firepower.
As I look forward to my own refund, I’ve reached deep into my brain banks to figure out which guns I can blow it on—and which ones everyone else should spend their money on, too. Here are a few of my top picks. I tried to keep my selections limited to the “typical middle class refund” range that I inhabit, so the 1% might find this list a bit useless. I also limited it to guns that are currently available online.
1. Heckler & Koch VP9
Though I haven’t had a chance to fully review one of these new striker-fired handguns from HK, every time I’ve fired a VP9 I’ve loved it. To back that up, all of the reviews I’ve read have been positive. I’ve fired them suppressed and unsuppressed, with subsonics and supersonics. Regardless of the load and accessories, I always walked away from the firing line smiling. The trigger on the VP9 is great, especially for a striker-fired gun, and it’s very light-recoiling.
If you’ve got every variation of AK and AR in your safe and you’re looking to diversify your bonds, the PTR-32 Gen 2 is what you should buy. The PTR-32 is a hybrid of the G3/HK91 roller-delayed blowback action and the Soviet 7.62x39mm cartridge. It is effectively a modern reproduction of the fabled HK32. Atlantic Firearms is the only retailer I’ve seen stocking these so far, and they’re having trouble keeping them in stock. They’re selling for $1,000.
If you’re too scared to embrace the beauty that is cheap .30-caliber blasting, you could also opt for a standard PTR-91 in .308. They’re available for the same price point, plus or minus a few Benjamins.
3. Any AR-15
Prices of AR-15s and AR-15 components have hit all-time lows. If you’ve been waiting to jump into the black rifle game, it’s now or never. I can’t see ARs getting much cheaper than what they cost now.
You can buy all the parts for a solid AR-15 build in just a few minutes online. Here’s one potential build for a generic mid-length AR-15 that’ll come in just under $700 after shipping and transfer fees:
- PSA rifle kit (barreled upper, lower parts kit, bolt carrier group, buffer tube and stock) for $500
- Stripped Anderson lower for $60 (blemished versions go on sale for $40 to $50)
- Polymer Magpul MBUS rear sight for $55
Other complete budget ARs can be had for even less than that. If you want to splurge on a complete high-end rifle, Daniel Defense guns have been going for as low as $1,600. Building your own AR-15 is fun and cathartic, though, so I recommend that over all other options.
Palmetto State Armory is also bringing AR-10s to the masses with their PA-10 line. If 5.56 doesn’t float your boat, give those a try.
4. Surplus Swiss K31
The K31 is another gun that I don’t own personally, but I’ve shot several over the years. The K31 is a unique bolt-action rifle that saw decades of service in the hands of the Swiss armed forces. Its straight-pull action sets it apart from other designs of the era, and the Swiss government’s policy of aggressive neutrality during the early twentieth century means that most of the surplus K31s we can buy now are in excellent condition. The action is incredibly smooth and the guns are crazy accurate. The only downside to K31s is that they’re chambered in 7.5x55mm Swiss. While it’s an excellent round when it comes to performance, it can be a bit expensive and hard to find at times.
AIM Surplus currently has a batch of K31s in stock for $330. They’ve also got a healthy amount of 7.5x55mm GP11 ammo available.
5. Russian Vepr or Bulgarian SLR/SAM series AK
If you’re looking to get an AK with your tax refund, then you should set your sights on the very best. You should pick one of the following three: a Russian Vepr, a Bulgarian SLR rifle, or a Bulgarian SAM rifle.
Veprs are premium-grade rifles made by Molot in Russia. They’re a bit unique among AKs in that they’re more closely related to the light machine gun version of Kalashnikov’s rifle (the RPK) than the AK-47 Americans are familiar with. Veprs are made with reinforced receivers and are a bit more difficult to customize than your run of the mill stamped AK—they use a number of “non-standard” parts. However, they’ve got high-quality chrome-lined barrels, beautiful stocks, and are great base guns for converting into “mil spec” models.
The Bulgarian-made SAM (milled receiver) and SLR (stamped receiver) lines are also excellent choices for the discerning AK enthusiast. SAM and SLR series guns are made on original tooling overseas, then remanufactured into their more conventional formats in the United States by Arsenal, Inc. If you’re looking for a modern 7.62x39mm AK and you want the very best available, get a SAM7 or SLR-107. They’re available from K-Var and other retailers for $1,400 and up for the SAM series and $1,000 and up for the SLR series.
If you don’t want to spend your refund on more firepower, you can always use it to improve the guns you already have.
Aimpoint has just released a new version of their industry-leading Micro sight, which is an excellent choice for the shooter who’s seeking something squeaky clean and new. They’re retailing for about $750, if you can find them in stock. If you do a bit of searching on gun forums, you can probably find people unloading older versions of the Micro for a steal, too. The Aimpoint PRO is also a solid choice and is usually available for less than $400.
If Aimpoint sticker shock gives you a heart attack, take a gander at Primary Arms’ offerings. Their “house brand” scopes and dots are my go-tos for affordable optics.
Which guns are you going to spending your money on this tax season?