The navies of small states have increasingly attracted academic attention and a literature of their own. This paper examines the challenges of procurement across a range of small states making important distinction between small but wealthy navies (Norway, Qatar, UAE) and small but austere navies (Cyprus, Slovenia, Latvia, Uruguay). This paper also investigates connections with some of the literature on small states, notably their fiscal capacity and scope for policy innovation. In particular, its argued that procurement reveals diverse small state behaviour as regards alliance activity, whether within a formal structure such as NATO, or informal and ad hoc alliance activity, band-wagoning or the alternative of staying aloof. Related to this is the market for surplus vessels and naval systems: are small states navies passive takers of second hand ships or active shapers of such a market and does such procurement result in their maritime strategies being de facto decided by larger states who sponsor such transfers? Relevant in this regard, and showing up in procurement politics, are distinctions between small state navies that are optimised for constabulary roles and those which must face concrete geopolitical threats at or from the sea, and therefore seek some sort of war-fighting ‘sea denial’ capability. While it is therefore very difficult to generalise about the politics of small state naval procurement, in a world where small states are ubiquitous it is a mistake to assume that their procurement activity is of no consequence or not revealing of wider trends. Indeed small navies are revealed here to be fundamentally diverse: they are often both ‘beggars’ and surprisingly, choosers as regards naval procurement.