Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Giving Bad Gun Advice!

It happened again. I was at the range and I ran into a guy I hadn’t seen in a while. I used to see him at the range all the time but my work schedule changed and I hadn’t seen him in some time. He was with another guy and we had an interesting conversation. In the process of the conversation my friend’s friend asked me for advice on a particular gun and some gear. I paused before I answered and then asked him some questions about his choices. It turned out that he already bought the gun on someone else’s advice and wanted some confirmation. We talked about what he wanted out of the gun and gear in question and concluded that maybe a different choice would take care of his needs. Not once did I mention a brand. I’ve done it before. But I try to not drop brand names. I mean, is a Glock really better than a Kimber or a Sig Saur? All these guns are great as are Smith and Wesson, Ruger, etc. There are many really good gun makers out there. I feel like I’ve heard all the advice there is out there but once in a while I’m surprised. Don’t get caught giving the following bad advice.

If it feels good shoot it!
Do not tell someone to get a gun because it “fits” their hand or “feels” good. I’ve felt some pretty good “feeling” handguns that shot like a slingshot. This is about as crazy as buying a gun because of the way it looks! It would be good if a gun did the task you wanted it to do AND felt wonderful. Some do. Some may not. Initially a gun can “feel” good but with time you can see it’s going to beat you up.

Get what the *blank* (fill in favorite military unit or law enforcement agency) uses.
I really hate this advice! Just because an agency buys a particular gun doesn’t mean it’s the one for you.

Get whatever feels best in your hand
This piece of advice is the worst of all. It rules the roost of bad gun buying advice, because what you're asking a newbie with little understand of guns to do is select a piece of life saving equipment based purely on how it feels. Let me tell you something, there are a lot of guns that feel wonderful when you hold them, but that can't get through a box of ammo without a malfunction! That's really the problem. I've had lots of people complain that Glocks don't "feel good" in their hand. Thankfully, I've almost never heard the same thing about M&Ps, which are also awesome, and generally "feel good." But just relying on how a gun "feels" in your hand is the peak of bad advice. It doesn't inform you on how the gun functions, how accurate it is, how reliable it is, or even if it's comfortable when you start to shoot it. There are guns that feel great when you're just holding them, but when you start putting rounds down range you discover that recoil changes things. There are guns that I began shooting a lot, and the safety ended up chewing a hole in my hand.

Get a revolver because they never jam
I love revolvers. I think they're great. They're mechanically interesting, they challenge me as a shooter, and they connect us to history. They also absolutely do fail mechanically, and when they do it frequently requires tools to fix. I understand the reasoning behind this one though, because it assumes the novice is going to want something that is easy to deal with if something goes wrong. Yes, it's true that if you get a light primer hit on a wheelgun, the fix is simple: pull the trigger. But there are plenty of things that could happen to a wheelgun that aren't light primer hits, and fixing those is a lot more complicated than "just pull the trigger." Especially if you can't pull the trigger, because I've seen that happen. So the revolver is not the end-all most simple gun ever made. It has its limitations too.

Get the biggest caliber you can control. I've probably said this at some point in my past, and for that I apologize. This nonsense is how untalented, brand spanking new shooters end up with tiny carry guns chambered in .40 S&W and .45 ACP, which results in them developing a wicked flinch whenever they go and fire it. Think about it: someone with no real gun experience goes and buys a Glock 27 because it's small, and chambered in a "powerful" cartridge. They go the range and it's sharp recoil, so they're disinterested in future practice with it.

Get a pocket gun because most self-defense situations you don't need to shoot. This one drives me up the wall, but I've heard more than a few people say it. The line of reasoning is that since you probably won't need to shoot your gun, the best idea is to get something that is completely unobtrusive, that you won't have to put any effort into carrying. The thing that obviously drives me nuts about this is that it kicks off a logical progression that if followed to its only conclusion is that you don't really need to carry a gun at all, all you need is a gun-shaped object.

Here's the problem: what if your gunfight is an actual gunfight? What if you actually need to shoot someone? All of a sudden that little .380 with crappy sights and a heavy trigger isn't so optimal, is it? No one who's ever been in a real fight wished they had a smaller gun or less ammo; so why would you intentionally compromise your choices?

All you need is a .45
In this scenario, there are two options for good advice. If you think the person is interested in actually becoming a shooter, tell them to get a friggin' .22 LR. Then they can actually learn stuff instead of just hammering bullets low and to left in a B27. However, if you don't think they're really interested in guns as a hobby and just want something for home protection, just tell them to get a full size 9mm service pistol. Be a good friend and explain that handgun stopping power is a myth, and there is not significant difference in terminal ballistics between any of the service cartridges.

Get whatever your local police department uses. I personally have given this one on multiple occasions, because the logic behind it is so appealing. On the surface it makes sense, because the odds are that your local PD isn't going to be carrying some garbage gun around. But the flip side of that is that a gun selected by a committee that is largely disinterested in anything other the price, and intended to be carried around on a duty belt for 12 hours a day unconcealed may not be the best choice for concealed carry. Additionally, political administrators frequently like to saddle their officers with trigger mechanisms that are intended to inhibit negligent discharges, but all they really accomplish making the gun more difficult to shoot should you actually need it.

The point of all of this is to not give people bad advice. When someone who isn't a gun person comes to you for advice, they're in the awful situation of not knowing what they don't know; and they're likely relying on your opinion to steer them in the right direction. What can you do to help them? The best advice possible is to try and get them to take one of the many "introduction" classes, where you don't need a gun to attend, because the range provides all of that. If that's not an option, help them pick a reliable, concealable defensive handgun chambered in 9mm. Like a Glock 19. Or an M&P Compact. Why these? Because they are very reliable. Why 9mm? It’s a good start caliber.

Remember that when someone asks you for this advice they are probably going to put most of their trust in you. I don’t bother with brand names, as long as it IS a brand name. Make sure to steer them toward a reliable brand. There are many out there. Also, steer them toward training. Try to get them to got to a range or class that offers many different guns and calibers to shoot. Let them get their own experience because a gun is a personal thing.

Avoid the above mistakes and explain to your new-to- guns person that care should be taken to find the gun that fits not only physically, but a fit of caliber, and type of gun.

As for me, any good brand ( I like S&W, Ruger, Kahr, and good 1911’s). My favorite caliber is 9mm because I don’t compete anymore, and I like 9mm for defense. But then again, that is only me and my opinion. Go out and get your own opinion!

Semper Paratus
Check 6