How great is it to live in a country where you can walk into a store and have just about anything ever written about firearms at your fingertips? These days it’s easy to get caught up in how jacked up things seem to be, but stepping back and breathing in that sweet American air is just as healthy as trying to get some answers and do some good, and perusing the gun market’s current selection is a great way to pass the time. It seems like manufacturers are coming out with something new every day, and as the saying goes, “You don’t know what you don’t know.”
The other day while doing just that, I came to a startling realization… there is some ridiculous gear out there! Look, I’m not going to fall into the trap that primitive archers fell into when compound bows hit the market, especially since a good many compound hunters are now naysaying and resisting crossbow hunters in the same way they were once avoided. But look at a compound bow; it’s light, shoots fast, generally has sights, can hold a tight group, and quality options aren’t hard to find. Is it an improvement on the tried and true recurve? Sure it is. I know that it’s more than possible to reach a very effective level of hunting with a stick bow, if you want proof look up Fred Bear’s Bagged Critters List (yes, an elephant among other things can be found there).
I also know I shoot a bow at least five shots a week year-round, and I’m much better with a compound. Hunting with a recurve is something I aspire to do, but when it comes down to right here, right now I need something I know I can put meat on the table with, and I’m not willing to sacrifice effectiveness now for nostalgia. The same principle applies directly, and probably a little more importantly, to firearms and their use.
Take a look at that firearms market again. There are offerings that appear to have come from every nook and cranny this great world has secreted away, and some that look like they came from the worlds of George Lucas. Some of those firearms vying for your attention are well worth your time. They improve accuracy, handling, reliability and capacity. Quite a few of them improve safety, conceal-ability and ergonomics, as well. What we as the consumer have to watch out for are the gimmicks that pop up from time to time.
It seems like every gun person has a favorite ‘type’ of gun. Some are into the black powder stuff, some like the idea that a .50 BMG can disable a bad guy’s ride from two kilometers away. There’s a very large crowd into Cowboy Action Shooting, and modern day Three Gun shooters are very impressive to observe. No matter what flavor you’re drawn to, make sure you’ve taken a step back and applied some of that common sense you’re probably well known for to your own defensive setup.
I’m not going to sit here and type out what exact gun, caliber, or carry method is best for you. If I ever get to that point, do me a favor and send someone to knock some sense back in to me. What I do think I can fairly say is that, with few and far between exceptions, jumping right on some brand new firearm’s bandwagon can be hazardous to your health (some stuff is plain silly; I promise you’ll never need a three-barrel shotgun).
Lots of folks look at what the bad guy might have and get spooked into what I call ‘Hyper-Prep Mode’. Their story usually goes something like this… Jack hears about something horrible happening in his little Smalltown, USA and decides he must be armed! He decides to ask Yahoo what the best defensive setup is, reads about super nifty things like knock down power, two-for-one discount imported guns, underwear with built in holsters, night vision goggles and the like. He takes out a second mortgage and heads to the local Outdoor Emporium. There he finds a thirty-year supply of freeze-dried food, Wag Bags in bulk, a metric ton of water purification tablets, and then… the firearms department.
Since it’s his first gun, Jack wants to do it right. A $5000 custom 1911 seems to fit the bill, but to make sure he isn’t outgunned a .50 revolver is added to his shopping cart along with an AR pistol. A couple gas-operated rifles seem in order, and to round it out he gets 2500 rounds per gun. Home he heads, walking on Cloud 9 knowing he’s as prepared as he can be.
Let’s skip ahead a week and a half. We find Jack walking down the street, eyes to the ground, tired at the end of a long day in the boring office. Jack’s in a bit of a funk because nothing exciting has happened since he’s been prepared. He isn’t carrying his high-dollar custom .45, but he did get a nice $12 nylon holster for it that it’s rusting in at home under his bed. Jack plods past an alley opening, still in his own little world. Bad Guy A takes advantage of Jack’s lack of situational awareness and pops him one to the back of the dome. Bad Guy B then turns out Jack’s pockets and jumps back as the moths flutter out (the Emporium has all Jack’s cash). Off they trot leaving Jack with, luckily, a headache.
In that situation, even if Jack had been carrying his pistol it wouldn’t have helped and would probably have even armed the Bad Guys. Can you imagine how much better off Jack would have been if he’d decided to use some of his hard-earned money to get some real advice and some practical training? All that gear he purchased did him less good than a .38 Special and a solid beginner’s class would have. I’m not saying don’t realistically prepare for whatever you can, I’m not saying don’t be picky about what you carry. I am saying don’t let Philo of Philo’s Guard Lizards, LLC sell you something you don’t need. Think about it, pray about it.