An Interesting $750 Trio
In 2001, I began searching for a Walther PPKS in .380, and as noted in my April 8 Gun Talk article, read here, I wound up with an immaculate Colt Mustang. But before that fortunate buy, I followed up a classified ad that featured a Sig Sauer P232 in .380ACP.
That Sig intrigued me with its classic lines, somewhat resembling the Walther for which I yearned. I knew next to nothing about Sig at that time, but I’m glad that Sig now has an ammo plant here in my home state of Arkansas. I’ve started carrying Sig Elite Performance V-Crown in .45ACP and .38 Special +P.
After a call to the number in the ad, I set up an evening meet at the owner’s home. On arrival, he presented the blued Sig, in the black lockable box, all paperwork, two magazines and a verbal price of $350. With only minor handling marks, the action was tight and the pistol absolutely felt good in my hand. So, attempting to bargain, I asked if that was his bottom price. He said, “Well, wait a minute. I have something else.”
The next item to appear looked like a new-in-the-blue-box Smith & Wesson 640-1, a stainless J-frame in .357 Magnum/.38 Special with papers. I asked the price and the owner said it was $325. I told him I already had a Detective Special and did not need another small revolver, especially a .357.
“Oh well,” he said, “how about a Ruger .22 auto?” I told him I had a Ruger Single Six, but added, “Hey, while I’m here, let’s look” He returned with a Ruger Mark II Model 22/45 in the grey box, papers and two magazines. The pistol had a short bull barrel and was clean save for a small worn bluing spot on the left side of the muzzle. I told him I’d rather have a longer barrel if I bought another .22.
Then there was silence. I saw the need to pick up the conversation and asked why he was selling. “I’m in grad school and need the money, so I have to get rid of these,” he replied. We talked about his studies and he noted he’d bought the handguns new.
“Ok, I said, “what’s the ticket on the Ruger?”
“I’d like to get at least $225.” More silence, and I saw him glance at his wife who was in the kitchen. Obviously, she was watching and listening.
I told him I favored the Sig and thanked him for his show-and-tell with the Smith and Ruger. Another glance from his wife, and he said, “How about $750 for all three?” I had done the mental price calculations on the three and came up with $900. Right or wrong, I reasoned that buying the three practically new handguns for $750 was a deal I might never see again. Besides that, I liked the guy and could tell he needed the cash.
“Done deal,” I said, and a smile crossed his wife’s face. With that, I felt even better, knowing we had her blessing for the sale. A check completed the deal and I headed home to sort out what I’d bought, without much prior value information or knowledge. And since then, I’m still sorting information, a part of firearms fun that lingers well after the purchase!
In sorting info, here’s what I found about each trio member.
My Ruger Mark II 22/45 Target has a 4 5/8-inch bull barrel and an adjustable rear sight, two 10-round magazines, a Ruger cable lock, and per the manual “a molded synthetic polymer” grip frame assembly. In the box is a small manila envelope with a spent .22 LR casing showing a test-fire date of 10/17/2001 and firearms specs. Now that’s a neat touch! A quick search at Ruger confirmed a shipping date of 2001, so indeed the pistol was nearly new.
Nowadays, my 22/45 model sells for $250-$300 in 95% condition, so I’ve not made a lot of money on the deal, but the pistol does have great reviews. Some reviews favor the Mark II, discontinued in 2004, over later Mark IIIs and IVs. Learning and remembering how to disassemble and reassemble is a must though. Overall it is a good shooter with a nice trigger. Empty weight is 30.9 ounces, so it has some heft. Check for more info HERE.
The S&W 640 series began production in 1996, based on what S&W told me via e-mail, and derived from the Model 40 Centennial series. Mine, with a 2 1/8-inch barrel, has a manufacture date of 3/12/97 from a serial-number search request. On the Smith website, CLICK HERE, are current detailed specs and the suggested list is $735. Retailers show a new price on the enclosed-hammer J-frame at $639. Used prices late in 2019 hovered about $500. The revolver handles .357 Magnum and .38 Special +P ammo and weighs empty at 22.1 ounces.
The double-action only trigger pull is heavy and recoil with .357 loads is stout. I did modify the handgun with Crimson Trace grips, and the red laser sure helped my aging eyes and hands get on target. When carrying, I use a Blackhawk CQC Size 00 J-frame Italian-made leather holster that rides tight and high on my strong side. Rather than .357 rounds, I usually carry .38 +P.
Now here’s the best buy of the trio, the Sig Sauer P232. I absolutely love this pistol and appreciate its accuracy with a variety of FMJ and HP ammo. Empty weight with one magazine is 18.9 ounces.
Based on what I found the 232 replaced the P230 in 1996. Imports from Germany stopped in July 2014 and production ceased in 2015. An Internet search and looking at the two letters, KH, alongside proof marks on the right side of the slide near the serial number (see accompanying photo) showed my German-made 232 was proofed in 1997. Check HERE for the alphabetical “date codes” to get the year. There is little serial-number history with German Sigs. Sig support confirmed that “our database only goes back to 2005 for firearms manufactured in the USA.” The alphabet code reportedly also works with H&K and Walther imports.
Current values for the P232 run from about $600 to $700, with a premium for the stainless models. Luckily in 2009 I found a new magazine at Bass Pro in Branson, MO, for $7, and mags still are available from some vendors. For holster carry, my Bianchi Black Widow is a secure ticket.
The current .380ACP Sig pistol is the P238, introduced in 2009, and is a 1911 departure from the classy 230/232 looks I value. Bass Pro lists the 238 at $649.99, but also shows out of stock. Not a surprise today with rampant firearms sales.
So, to recap, I have about doubled my investment with the trio, but far and away, the Sig P232 is the winner and that pistol is getting tougher to find. I might sometime part with the 640 and the 22/45, but not the Sig.
Stay safe, be prepared. ~ Mike
Mike now calls Northwestern Arkansas home, but has lived and worked in several states. He has been an independent contractor and consultant since 2006 specializing in risk management, emergency management and training. In addition to work as a law-enforcement planner and technical writer with the Boise, Idaho, Police Department, he has experience in journalism, crop and animal agriculture, dryland farming for 20 years in western Kansas, plant and animal diseases, pandemic influenza, agroterrorism, bioterrorism, food safety and healthcare marketing.
He has a journalism degree from the University of Missouri and has newspaper and agency writing and editing experience. At Washington State University in Pullman, he earned a master’s degree emphasizing adult education and communications, with minors in mourning dove, chukar partridge, pheasant and mountain quail on the breaks of the Snake River.
While living in Lander, WY, Mike provided photographic coverage of the One Shot Antelope Hunt for three years, and got to meet and accompany folks such as Chuck Yeager, Carroll Shelby, Buzz Aldrin, Dale Robertson and Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf on their hunts.
In addition, Mike is a Federal Emergency Management Agency certified instructor and has worked and taught for state and federal agencies. He has responded to seven presidentially declared disasters, including Hurricanes Irma and Maria when they struck Puerto Rico in 2017. He also has worked and taught in Africa and Southeast Asia. Check his website at www.sampsonrisk.com.