Always best vs. what works for me

School of thought number 1: “This gun is always the best and if you buy anything other than this gun you’re dumb and stupid.
School of thought number 2: “What works for me is best and you have no right to tell me that things are better than my choices because I’m a beautiful individual snowflake.”

As it turns out, both of those schools of thought are stupid. First, we’ll address school 1. This operates on the premise that all situations are roughly identical. It takes the concept of “this gear is generally better” and takes it to the extreme. It’s how you end up with toolbags saying “All guns should be Glocks and all Glocks should be Glock 19s.” It’s a close minded way to recommend gear to people, because let’s be honest, people are different. I have different sized hands than you, and different levels of strength, vision, etc.

walther ppq 5 inch (200x133)

Unfortunately, school of thought 2 has come into existence as a negative reaction to school 1. This is where people will justify buying shitty gear because “it works for me” and use that as justification for why they have garbage kit. This is also stupid, because it operates off the assumption that “works for me” is the end goal, and that better kit couldn’t possibly work better than whatever clownshow of optics and dog-leash slings you’ve assembled on your gun.

Fact: Some guns are better than other guns.
Fact: People are different.

School 1 believes that because some guns are better than other guns, than those guns are always the right answer. School 2 believes that because people are different, it’s okay to buy garbage because you’re a pretty individual snowflake. They’re both wrong.

Let’s look at a Joe Gundood. Joe wants a gun for concealed carry. School 1 says “Get a Glock 19 or an M&P, if you get anything else you’re dumb.” They might be right, because Glocks and M&Ps are good choices. School 2 says “Get whatever feels best in your hand and works for you, because just because all those really smart people like Glocks and M&Ps doesn’t mean those are best.”

School 1 gets hung up on maximizing performance, and School 2 gets hung up on being a snowflake. So how do you balance the two? Well, Joe Gundood discovers that he really doesn’t like Glocks. For whatever reason, he just thinks that they suck. But he really wants a striker fired, double stack gun, so he ends up buying an M&P Compact. Joe Gundood made a good decision.

For the School 2 people, there is still room for individual expression inside the envelope of quality products. Here’s a short list of handgun manufacturers that all make products I have or would carry:

  • Glock
  • Smith & Wesson
  • Ruger
  • Sig Sauer
  • Beretta
  • Colt
  • Springfield Armory (yes, even the XDm)
  • Kahr
  • HK
  • Walther

In those brands there is plenty of room for personal expression. Want a striker fired gun? Glock, S&W, Springfield, Kahr and Ruger make guns. Want a hammer fired DA gun? Sig and Beretta have you covered. Want a 1911? Colt or Springfield. Want a wheelgun? Ruger or S&W. The point here for school 2 is that there’s no reason to carry garbage. If you’re justifying your Kel-Tec PF9 purchase because “it works for me” than what you’re really saying is “I was too cheap to save up for a better gun.”

For School 1, the reminder here is that just because you carry a Glock 19 appendix every single day doesn’t mean that’s optimal for everyone. Some people want to carry behind the hip with a DA gun in a leather holster, and as long as they buy quality gear, it doesn’t matter.

Moral of the story for both schools: everyone should buy quality gear. I like wheelguns and DA/SA autos. Just because I like those doesn’t mean they’re the best choice for everyone though. However, just because “they work for me” doesn’t mean I went out and bought some cheap Eastern European wheely. I bought the right kit.

42 thoughts on “Always best vs. what works for me”

  1. Sort of… If you buy a Glock 19 (you should), M&P or Ruger and maybe some of the others you aren’t going to make a bad decision. Even if you decided something is better for you, you can sell it quickly and easily and your out maybe $50. This means that it is solid advice for the person still taking advice.

    If on the other hand you have shot enough to know what your requirements are OR some different gun is going to capture you attention great. It is either the right gun or it encourages you to shoot more or just have more fun great.

    Your fondness for wheel guns and that single stack Beretta come to mind.

    Being contrary JUST to be contrary is dumb.

    Lastly what feels best is a horrible way to pick a gun. The M&P feels great to me, but it forces me into a bad shooting grip, increasing the bore axis for no reason. The 1911 makes me feel all warm an fuzzy inside, but my grip is too high, it doesn’t go bang and I want to throw it. Small guns feel good too… but I need to adjust my grip after every shot.

    I stand by the idea that buy a Glock 19 is good advice. The person that buys a gun based on it won’t be steered massively wrong and the person that doesn’t follow it, likely wouldn’t have followed your advice regardless of what you said.

    1. Honestly, 99% of the time I tell people “buy a Glock 19 first and if it doesn’t work for you, someone will buy it from you.”

  2. Well thought out and well written. To the #2 School list of manufacturers I’d add Browning/FN at least for the Hipower and CZ at least for the 75/85, but every name on the list certainly belongs there.

    1. I saw the list and immediately thought, “Oh, the CZ fanboys are going to be pissed.” Well, at least, this CZ fanboy felt a little snubbed.

      1. Ha! I’m not pissed, but I am a Hipower fanboy. I recognize it and the CZ as world class pistols. So did Jeff Cooper. That’s why the Bren Ten was based on the CZ. That’s why Cooper said the only reason they still make 1911’s is because you can’t buy a Hipower in .45 ACP.

  3. Totally agree. Oh, and I would never ever never ever never ever buy a Glock 19 or any other Glock for that matter. Can’t stand the triggers. That being said, I’m not opposed to suggesting other people do if it works for them.

  4. Personally I don’t like recommending guns, but I get asked the question quite a bit and my answer is almost always for them to check out a Glock 19. Reasons given usually include reliability, cheap ammo, easy maintenance, and easy to shoot. Only modification I ever recommend is new sights. If they push and I think they can handle firearm info overload I will include G17, M&Ps, etc. Right or wrong I almost never recommend anything to first timers other than 9mm, unless they are looking for a revolver, and for them not to get a small carry gun as their first hangun unless them have shoot one and really know what it feels like. If possible I’ll offer to take them to the range or at least recommend one that has a gun rental counter for them to try.

  5. Newbies who don’t know anything don’t know what they don’t know. So when they ask for advice on what to buy I’ll give them a couple of very specific recommendations. Good quality guns but I know it may not be the right one for them long term. I tell them to take a class and learn how to run the thing. Eventually they know enough and have some experience and to shop for themselves. If a newbie doesn’t know anything how are they going to shop? But to tell someone to buy whatever feels right is just dumb. The newbie will buy something stupid. Of course 90% of the people asking for advice will just ignore it and buy a Hipoint because the guy at the gun store said it was good.

  6. I’ve pissed off more than my fair share of customers by answering their question with a question. They expect there to be a set answer for every question they have, and the truth is this industry has to many variables for that. I always keep the above list in stock(when possible) and I hand them every single gun in the case. My favorite line to hear from them is, “My buddy that’s a police officer told me…..”

  7. One of the unfortunately common-place tangents off of this “Black Hole” is the guy who does buy a decent gun then cheaps-out and buys a nylon fabric holster and used junk, poorly supportive belt along with “Hell, I don’t need to lug along an extra mag, this is a ‘Hi-Cap 9’, 17+1, Blah, Blah, Blah…” Well. That’s Great ! Let’s move on to discussing what kind of aftermarket sights should “really” be on your new gun ?

  8. Honestly, I recommend a striker fired 9mm for new gun owners. That is ALL, I think recommending individual models is foolish. For example, I love the G19, works fine for me with my hand size. My brother, a much larger guy who is a very advanced shooter, got one when he saw me first start carrying one a couple years ago (I was a 1911 or nothing guy for a decade, so he thought there must be something to the G19 worth checking out). Anyway, he hated it, sold it within a week. Why? He has huge hands. He does great with a full size gun like the M&P or a 1911, hated the G19. So, a gun that works great for me does not work for him. How can somebody like the afore mentioned toolbag say something like “all guns should be glocks, etc…,” how would you really say something like that? Of course, it is not the only stupid thing that particular individual has ever said or done (he says some good things too, however). In my experience, the better the shooter, the less particular brand loyalty. Caleb is a good example himself, he shoots everything.

  9. So basically there are three categories of handgun owner…

    “snowflake” category one who realizes there are many dozens of world class, high quality handguns to choose from based on individual preference.

    “snowflake” category two who wants one of the cheapest, reliable bullet spiting appliances available.

    Category three is the arrogant and ignorant asshat who believes whatever he owns is the perfect gun for everybody. Even if Mr. Asshat’s gun is world class, he’s still the asshat.

  10. Rule of Commonness: uncommon guns are uncommon for a reason.

    Sometimes it’s not price. Some people, for whatever reason, don’t want to be seen as following the pack. So they ignore the fact that there are a limited number of truly *proven* guns out there and go with something hipster just to show they’re independent thinkers.

    Add me to the list of people who recommend a G19 as a default (even though I don’t even own one myself or really even particularly care for them). I’ll gladly recommend something else to someone who wants to delve in a little more deeply with whys and hows but a G19 works and is easy to flip if you find something that better suits your particular needs, and/or is inexpensive enough that you can keep it in the safe without feeling guilty.

    1. I purchased a new 1911 for the same price as a new Glock 19 and in 4 years have had zero malfunctions. Some don’t want to follow the pack, or is it, some have to have what everyone else does?

      1. Yeah. There are a whole lot of “proven” reputation guns available besides Glocks, but the only way to prove the one you bought, no matter who made it, is to shoot it a lot with zero failures.

          1. Good one Alex, and you are correct; I have not shot my 1911. However, I have fired ammo with my inexpensive 1911, I’ve tried at least a dozen different 45 cal. ammo choices; low end to upper end, fmj, hp and polymer tipped all without malfunction.

  11. I would say going with a 1911 or G19 is following a big pack. They are both loved guns for a good reason. To Todd’s point, I agree, a gun SHOULD be popular, if it is not, there is usually a reason. but, there are many good guns that are popular now. Any of the major platforms have plenty of support. Ergonomics are going to be the greatest factor for an individual besides a prefered manual of arms.

  12. I HAVE seen the guy at the pawn shop (which also stocked HiPoints and other throwaway guns NIB) tell someone that a HiPoint was “just as good as a Glock”.

    Of course, the mouth breather behind the counter was wearing a HiPoint in a $10 nylon clip on. . .

    (Come to think of it, it may have been long enough ago it was a “Stallard”, not a “HiPoint”. . . )

    1. If your weapon is comfortable to shoot, it goes “BANG” every time you squeeze the trigger, and you can put rounds on target consistently, who cares if it is a Glock, a Ruger, or even a Hi-Point? The name means nothing, if you don’t hit the target.

  13. AH, but I have yet to meet the HiPoint that will go “BANG” every time you squeeze the trigger. For that matter, I have yet to meet the gun (even an AK, Glock, or a revolver) that will go “BANG” _EVERY_ time you squeeze teh trigger.

    Some guns are more failure prone than others. The HiPoint _pistols_ have proven themselves to be consistantly less reliable than guns that only cost a delivery pizza or two more, however.

  14. Snuss — a 200 round test, with a study sample of 2 doesn’t equal the FAR more numerous tests, involving more HIPoints and a HELL of a lot more ammo, that show it’s failure rate is SIGNIFICANTLY higher than your average beat up revolver or milsurp pistol which are in the same price range.

    Facts beat PR, every time.

  15. Speaking of “facts”, you have yet to provide any, to support YOUR position. I posted two different links. Here are two more:

    http://www.gunsamerica.com/blog/hi-point-c9-9mm-a-good-cheap-gun/
    http://gunsgunsguns.net/hi-point-9mm/ (Be certain to read the “Parting Thoughts”)

    I don’t claim that Hi-Points are the penultimate weapon. They are what they are (a budget-priced gun), but they do work. If you get a chance, try one of their pistol-caliber carbines. This Detroit mother did, see the results at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVP97Wn94iU

    P.S. Don’t forget, Hi-Point offers a LIFETIME warranty, even if you buy it used, and/or beat the crap out of it. How many other gun manufacturers match that?

  16. Snuss — I have (in various places) loudly praised the HIPoint CARBINES, especially in .40S&W, for teh simple fact that, unlike their pistol counterparts, they work fairly well. There are technical reasons why a blowback carbine with a 16″ barrel is more reliable, especially with a higher pressure cartridge, than a blowback pistol with a 4″ – 5″ barrel.

    As for evidence, I do believe one of the HiPoint tests in question was done by Caleb and posted here on Gun Nuts. . .

  17. @ Caleb: Either ultimate, or penultimate, works. Hi-Points aren’t the best, nor the worst firearms made. I won’t tell you, or anyone else, that your choice is over-priced and over-rated, even if I think so. Everyone has a different opinion of what is “best”. If it does what you need it to do, when you need it to do it, that is what counts.

    Hi-Points seem to allow a lot of people to make use of their 2nd Amendment rights (like that woman in Detroit), at a price that they can afford. IMHO, that is far more important than endlessly arguing over who makes the best rifle, pistol, or shotgun.

    Of course, if you don’t like Hi-Points, you probably dislike Phoenix pistols even more! 😉

    My collection includes a 9mm Hi-Point pistol, a 995 TS carbine, and a Phoenix HP22A.
    They all meet, or exceed, my expectations. I may upgrade to one of the better-known names at some point, but it won’t be because I fear that my current weapon was a sub-standard choice.

      1. OK. Hi-Points may not be the best, but they are not even close to being the next-to-worst (or the worst) firearms made.

        Satisfied?

  18. Actualkly, I like Phoenix (and Jennings) pistols a skosh more than HiPoint pistols, for one critical reason — they do fill a size role that _isn’t_ already full of better guns at a similar price point.

    I still don’t _like_ the Jennings, Phoenix, etc., pocket .32s, .25s, and .22s, but they are better than no gun at all – and in that size class, the price difference between them and the next step up is VERY significant. The problem I have with HiPoint is that I can buy a FAR superior gun for at or near the same price – so it’s NOT a choice between “HiPoint or no gun without at least doubling the price”, it’s a choice between “HiPoint or a reliable gun, for AT MOST, one or two delivery pizzas difference”.

    1. From what I have read (because I haven’t had problems with my Hi-Point), it seems that most problems with these pistols fall into two categories. First, “limp-wristing” the pistol will cause ejection/loading problems. You must get used to the momentum of the heavy slide, and keep it steady. Second, is not taking the time to “fluff & buff” the pistol. On my pistol, I cleaned it, lubricated it, polished the feed ramp, and made certain that everything worked smoothly, prior to firing it. That can be an issue with a lower-priced firearm, and should not be ignored. It can also be true, even with high-priced weapons.

      I was considering a Jimenez JA-22, but chose the Phoenix HP22A because it fit my big hands better. I don’t plan to use it for a defensive weapon, but if I had to, it lets me put rounds on target quite well.

  19. Snuus,

    Justify it anyway you like, they have malfunctions at a MUCH higher rate than almost ANY “decent” gun, even el cheapo bargains like ComBloc milsurp or Latin American imports. Claiming that “limpwristing” is the issue, or that the gun is only half-finished when it comes to you (as an EXCUSE) is BS. Look, I don’t buy Kimbers either, because in my book, they are a very overpriced half step above HiPoints. Expensive doesn’t mean “quality”, nor does quality mean “expensive” — and inexpensive sure as HECK does not mean “bargain”.

    1. I’m still waiting for a link to the review that quotes these statistics that you refer to (they have malfunctions at a MUCH higher rate than almost ANY “decent” gun, even el cheapo bargains). That way, I can better decide if I, and quite a few other people, are just “lucky” with OUR Hi-Points, or if you are simply blinded by your obvious bias.

      As to my inspecting and cleaning the weapon prior to use, don’t most experienced gun owners do that? These are mass-produced mechanical devices, and mistakes do happen. Parts can have burrs, lubricants can be applied excessively, or too sparingly, if at all, among other possible issues. It seems foolish to blindly trust a device that might not work properly when you are in need, because you didn’t check it out first.

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