The shooting industry and community—no matter what the discipline—are extremely opinionated and in some cases may be what many consider to be gullible. All of us look for information on the Internet for a variety of reasons, and what we wind up with may be dead nuts on or totally bogus. The much-touted Information Superhighway has rapidly turned into the Disinformation Cowpath, as scads of people are able to find a soapbox for their particular point of view.
In and of itself, not a biggie. But people are more likely to ask questions about a variety of subjects and are likely to receive a multitude of answers from a multitude of people. And herein lies the rub. That same media that allows anyone to ask questions also allows anyone to answer them. This means the person responding to your question may in fact be a Subject Matter Expert in that particular field, but is more likely to be someone with limited (or no) knowledge relating to your question.
This pistol is 18 years old and has 12,200 rounds through it. It has not been used in the last eight years. The finish is worn—and so is the gun—because it was used, and used well…
This phenomenon is not unique to the firearms industry, but I’ll limit my comments to the subject I am most familiar with. Each internet forum has its own personality, driven primarily by two things. The first is the administration and moderation of the forum, and the second is the membership. And the first dictates what the second is or does.
Understand that this is not directed at any particular forum, although it may contain words or phrases used in many of them. And also understand that my tongue remains planted firmly in my cheek…
Anyway, someone may ask a question about a particular brand of gun—say in this case an AR carbine made by the Acme Rifle Company. The querent may ask if anyone has any experience with the Acme gun, as he is interested in purchasing one. He may receive answers from straight and unbiased sources, but he may also be deluged with comments that have no bearing on his question. Let’s review some of the latter and see if we can clarify what people may have written.
This EAG Carbine prototype has 17,650 rounds downrange. It has never been cleaned and, with the exception of ammo- and magazine-related issues, has had zero malfunctions. Money well spent up front is money well spent.
FIT AND FINISH
This is how the gun looks. If you are buying a high-end Perazzi MX12 SC3 Sporting Clay shotgun or a Dakota 76 Safari, yeah, I’d be looking very closely at how it is finished. But if I were buying an AR-15 from any viable company, my only concern would be that the finish met the milspec. The AR had its genesis as a military weapon, and the finish on it is meant to protect it from the elements, not make it cute.
I’d make sure there were no gouges, dents or anything obvious that might cause a mechanical issue. Yes, I understand if you pay money for something, you may want it pretty. But even if it is tres chic upon purchase, it won’t be once you shoot it.
If that carbine is used, it will get dirty and scratched and rubbed and look like a gun that has been used. There may be brass smears on the shell deflector and, on a fixed-stock gun, the action spring may even make a “sproing” noise. A beautiful finish may be nothing more than window dressing for substandard parts. In any event, looking at the gun is superficial at best.
You cannot guarantee that any particular gun will run at 100%, 100% of the time.
I’VE HAD IT FOR YEARS
This is a favorite of mine. The mere fact that you have owned something for a period of time has absolutely nothing to do with its function. All it means is that you have it. The question is, how many years? Did you actually use it? If so, how did you use it?
Did you take it out bi-annually, rest it on a carpeted shooting bench and fire a magazine’s worth of ammunition, then bring it home and clean it for eight hours that night and again for two more consecutive nights? Or did you take it though multiple three-day classes in rain, snow and blowing sand, where you fired 1,500 rounds per class?
Buy cheap, buy twice is applicable to ammunition. A major Midwest PD bought a large amount of what they believed was U.S.-made ammunition, but in fact came from a Middle Eastern country. In three days of shooting, we had over 350 popped primers and several damaged guns.
I’VE FIRED THOUSANDS OF ROUNDS THROUGH IT
How do we know that? If you keep a gun book and update it after each session, you’ll probably have a reasonably accurate accounting of how many rounds you have fired. But if you are just throwing a wild posterior guess out there, it will probably be exaggerated by a factor of four.
And even if you have an accurate count, how the rifle was fired may not be a good indicator. Slow fire off a bench does not equal a harsh firing schedule.
JUST AS GOOD AS
This term is generally used to indicate you are foolish to spend all that money for a rollmark when his cheap hobby gun will do everything as good as or better than your gun.
No matter how high speed are, you can always be stupid enough to break it. This person picked up a .40 round off the ground and fired it in his .45.
ALL PARTS ARE THE SAME
This is closely related to “just as good as.” The theory is that all parts are made on one machine by one supplier, and that every maker—from those who are required to conform to the Technical Data Package to those who make guns in their garage to sell at a gun show—are exactly the same, and you are spending your money unnecessarily.
YOU ARE PAYING FOR THE NAME
See “just as good as” and “all parts are the same.”
SHOOTS BETTER THAN
Pretty much like the above, only now they are talking about shooting. But what do they actually mean? Does “shoot better than” mean it is more accurate? How do we quantify this? Did you fire groups from a bench at an indoor range while using what kind of ammunition, and what are the measurements of the groups you fired?
Or are we talking about reliability? If so, how did you arrive at this? Did you conduct a scientific test at HP white, with two brand-new examples of these guns, using ammo from the same lot? If not, how did you reach your conclusions?
People mock the milspec, but companies that do not adhere to it do so to save money. If your gas key isn’t staked, the gun won’t run.
Everyone knows what? This may be in the top ten of stupid statements ever. Why would you for a minute believe that everyone knows anything? And if so, that it dovetails into what you know? When I was teaching a cop class many years ago, one shooter was having great difficulty hitting past 25 yards. It was obvious he was not using his Aimpoint. He said, “Everyone knows an Aimpoint is no good at distance.” Dang. I never knew that…. Strangely, once I made him use the Aimpoint, he improved dramatically.
The following week, I was teaching another cop class at a different venue. At close range, one shooter’s hits were all drastically low. It was obvious he was looking over the top of his Aimpoint. When I asked him why he wasn’t using his Aimpoint, he said, “Everyone knows Aimpoints aren’t any good up close.” And there you go. Not everyone knows everything, and a whole lot of people know nothing at all.
This pistol is 20 years old, has approximately 18,000 rounds through it, and has almost no finish left. It’s not pretty, but it is boringly reliable. And it has character.
I LOVE MY…
I love my wife. I love my dog. But I have to be honest here—you love an inanimate object? I understand you may really like the way something feels or functions, but most people cannot reliably articulate what love is when applied to people. More importantly, your definition of love and someone else’s definition may be a lot farther off center than you might think.
What does all this mean? You are asking for someone’s opinion, and that is exactly what you will receive.
Seven-year-old carbine that has 22,000 rounds downrange and has never been cleaned (but lubricated religiously with SLiP 2000 EWL) is also uneventfully reliable. If you want a gun to look at, there’s plenty of eye candy on the market. If you want a gun to run, buy smartly…
THE BOTTOM LINE
We are all victims of our frame of reference. If that reference is extensive, you are likely to have seen a large number of items from different manufacturers over an extended period of time. That is not testing, but it does give you experience with that particular item. Another’s frame of reference may include something drastically different.
Being able to sift through the mass of opinions, both written and on video, is not easy, but it is possible. Pearls of wisdom may exist in places you did not know existed. But the only way you can be sure is to take that first step. That will build your experience. And experience may be what you get when you don’t get what you want…
Pat Rogers is a retired Chief Warrant Officer of Marines and a retired NYPD Sergeant. Pat is the owner of E.A.G. Inc., which provides services to governmental organizations and private citizens. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.