Gimmicks vs. innovation

"Thinking outside the box"

In yesterday’s post about the Taurus Curve I talked about how the gun isn’t really serious, but is rather a gimmick designed to separate people from their money. I want to get this out of the way: there’s really nothing wrong with designing a gun with the express purpose of “sell.” Gotta make money.

"Thinking outside the box"
“Thinking outside the box”

I was taken to task in the comments by people who accused me, and those who agreed with me, of mocking innovation, because Taurus is “thinking outside the box” and “doing something different.” There are a whole bunch of issues with those statements that we’re going to unpack here, and I want to get started with the “doing something different/thinking outside the box.” It is admirable for a company to try and do something different and new. However, companies shouldn’t try thinking “outside of the box” unless they’ve reached a point that they can successfully execute the inside the box stuff. In the case of firearms manufacturing, executing inside the box is making a reliable, accurate product with a low error/rate of return. Taurus can’t currently say they do even that. It’s like someone who can’t safely operate a bicycle trying to build a jet-powered rocketbike. You can’t think outside the box until you’ve proven your ability to build a box in the first place.

Now let’s talk about “doing something different.” Product differentiation is important, especially in the current crowded CCW market. If your guns don’t look different on retailer’s shelves, there is less incentive for people to pick them up. Sig Sauer has figured out a great way to do this, by offering the same gun in a wild different variety of finishes, from Rainbow to Diamond Plate. While the different finishes may not be for everyone, the functional product itself, in this case a P238, isn’t changed. It’s still a reliable defensive firearm. You can argue that all the different finishes are a gimmick, but they don’t change the functional way the gun operates. A Rainbow Diamond P229 is still a Sig Sauer P229. What was the pitch meeting for the Curve like? “Hey uh…women have curves, right? Let’s make a f***ing curved gun! Yo dawg, I heard you like curves, so I curved your gun so you can uh…Curve on your curves?” Yes, it’s certainly different, but unlike the Sig where the difference doesn’t add or detract from the gun’s essential function, this difference actually makes the gun worse.

Finally, the topic of innovation. Curving the grip of a gun because of “women” is not an innovation. The metallic cartridge was an innovation. The self-loading firearm was an innovation. The Browning short-recoil mechanism, Glock’s use of polymer, all of that was innovative. This is just a gimmick. How you can tell a gimmick from real innovation? Real innovation makes the entire community better in the long run. Basically everything uses JMB’s short recoil system, polymer guns are de rigueur. Those innovations fundamentally changed the community because they addressed a real need.

Curving a gun doesn’t do that. But it will quite likely sell well, because it’s going to street for like tree-fiddy, and at that price point people might buy one just because it’s a curiosity. “Hey, remember that curved gun? I bought one!”

32 thoughts on “Gimmicks vs. innovation”

  1. you can’t sell that gun for tree-fiddy… On another note, I hadn’t noticed it before, but there are no sights on the gun…just a halfassed crosshair scribbled on the back of the slide.

  2. To quote your 60-second review, here’s what I do like: integral laser and light, friendly “non-gun” appearance, which appeals to those for whom guns are scary but want protection*. If a gunmaker can design a small carry gun that is well-built with a quality laser and light (unlike the 1st gen of Bodyguards) and a melted design, it would be a winner. Release it in .32, .380 and 9mm. Who knows, maybe the Curve will spur some thinking here.

    *Yes, I’m aware that BGs may think the gun isn’t scary enough, either. If a laser and light shining in his eyes doesn’t wave him off, a squeeze of the trigger is in order.

    1. “If a laser and light shining in his eyes doesn’t wave him off, a squeeze of the trigger is in order.”-at which point the pistol had better work. If it does not, the owner won’t survive long enough to complain.

      The serious nature of firearm related self defense means only proven technologies should be employed. There are fields of study and commerce where bleeding-edge design makes every bit of sense. Firearms are not one of them.

      When the integrity of one’s existence is at stake, reliability and durability are of paramount concern.
      When the integrity of one’s ego is the priority, then gimmickry has a place.

      1. Ok so how do we prove the unproven technology? Granted there are a bunch of issues with this thing and I won’t volunteer to be the first to try it. But my point is sooner or later somebody has to try the unproven for real (hopefully after some rigorous safe range testing that I doubt Taurus did).

      2. Even the 1911 had to be used in battle for the first time.

        Sure, it was rigorously tested, but no one knew for sure till the first angry trigger pull.

        The same is true for any firearm.

        When the Curve comes out, reviewers will shoot it and see what they think. Hopefully, some of them will give us objective assessments. Who knows, we might have another R51 on our hands.

        Looking at the pictures of the Curve’s guts, it looks like it’s essentially a modified 738 TCP. That little pistol has gotten great reviews from magazines, independent blogs, and consumers.

        The TCP has been out for a few years. It is proven technology.

        So, if I’m correct and the two pistols are similar in function, I’d say there is a high likelihood the Curve will perform similarly.

      3. OTOH: “Any gun is better than no gun”

        the legitimate criticism of Taurus q.c. aside, if this design encourages someone who otherwise wouldn’t carry to do so, then i’m all for it.

        I’ve owned a few Taurus’, and dang if they didn’t go bang every time I pulled the trigger. As a matter of fact, I’ve had more problems with my Kahr’s than Taurus’.

  3. I would classify the Curve as innovative.

    First – the light/laser is integrated. With the exception of the two M&P Bodyguards, I don’t know of any other firearms sold as-is with a laser. I don’t know of any sold with both.

    Second – Sighting. No sights on the top of the slide might not affect close quarters (5-7 yards) point shooting, which is what you’d probably use in that situation. Also, the absence of the sights might improve draw efficiency. I also think the rear crosshairs might be of more use than some think. They line up right behind the barrel. Not great for a precision shot, but I bet they’d work great for typical defensive use.

    Third – breaking up the profile will help with people concerned with printing issues. I know there are other ways to do this but I’ve never seen a pistol designed for that.

    Fourth – as a man with a rather rotund middle, I can see how the pistol’s curve might make it more comfortable to carry.

    Put all of these together and I think you’ve got a product that could justifiably be called innovative.

    Now, maybe they are using the curve as a gimmick, hoping that the odd look will sell more pistols. But, if it works and people like carrying/using the thing, is it still a gimmick?

    1. “First – the light/laser is integrated. With the exception of the two M&P Bodyguards, I don’t know of any other firearms sold as-is with a laser. I don’t know of any sold with both.”

      -This is not an advantage. There are existing options for light and laser accesories which are proven and fit multiple weapons.Many people have little need for a light or laser on their carry gun-so why force them to accept the compromises of an integrated unit?

      “Second – Sighting. No sights on the top of the slide might not affect close quarters (5-7 yards) point shooting, which is what you’d probably use in that situation. Also, the absence of the sights might improve draw efficiency. I also think the rear crosshairs might be of more use than some think. They line up right behind the barrel. Not great for a precision shot, but I bet they’d work great for typical defensive use.”

      -Batteries and electronic devices fail. Usually when they are most needed, which means when the integrated laser fails you have a contact shot-only pistol.The “crosshairs” are useless because by the time youve brought the gun up to see them, the other party has already filled you with holes-likely because their gun has proper sights on it.

      “Third ,breaking up the profile will help with people concerned with printing issues. I know there are other ways to do this but I’ve never seen a pistol designed for that.”

      -Every person has a different body type. Addressing that need cannot be done at the manufacturer’s level no matter what shape the pistol is. I’d bet a C-note there’s a petite female who cant hide this gun , just like there are men and women who can pack a Deagle .44 IWB discreetly. This is something every shooter has to adjust for their own specific needs and abilities.

      “Fourth ;as a man with a rather rotund middle, I can see how the pistol’s curve might make it more comfortable to carry.”

      It is not my wish to pronounce judgement, but people of overweight nature would be better off investing in a gym membership instead of a defensive gun which contours with one’s love handles.Fat, skinny or in between, all of us are at greater risk of ignoble death via coronary disease then dying in a blizzard of bullets figting Robert DeNiro and Val Kilmer.

      “Put all of these together and I think you’ve got a product that could justifiably be called innovative.”

      What we really have is a product customized for irrelevancy.

      1. Yes- there are existing options for light/laser. I’ve just not seen many which would sit next to the user as comfortably. Also, Taurus isn’t forcing anything on anybody. Like any other purchase of any other thing, the user makes up their mind what works for them and purchases accordingly.

        Yes- lights/lasers can fail. However, studies have demonstrated that in high-stress situations, laser sights do improve combat effectiveness. They have been battle proven. Also, if the laser fails, the trigger will probably still work.

        Yes – everyone has a different body type. However, pistol manufacturers have been building pistols for specific hand types for a long time. Some are better for big hands (Beretta 92) some are better for smaller hands (Kel-Tec P-32). Again, it’s up to the consumer to decide.

        Yes – I (and the rest of humanity regardless of weight) am much more likely to die from cardiac disease than injuries sustained from violence. And you’re absolutely correct when you say I need to shed the pounds. In fact, I’m already losing weight and will have bariatric surgery in February.

        So, until I’m at a healthy weight, I shouldn’t worry about owning/using a firearm for defense? I shouldn’t seek out one which is more comfortable to carry, and thus more likely to be carried?

  4. I was taken to task in the comments by people who accused me, and those who agreed with me, of mocking innovation, because Taurus is “thinking outside the box” and “doing something different.” There are a whole bunch of issues with those statements that we’re going to unpack here, and I want to get started with the “doing something different/thinking outside the box.” It is admirable for a company to try and do something different and new. However, companies shouldn’t try thinking “outside of the box” unless they’ve reached a point that they can successfully execute the inside the box stuff. In the case of firearms manufacturing, executing inside the box is making a reliable, accurate product with a low error/rate of return. Taurus can’t currently say they do even that.

    As the guy who wrote the “thinking outside the box” comment, I’m flattered that you devoted an entire blog post to debunk (or critique or analzye or whatever it is you’re trying to do to) it, but I’m not sure what your objective is. You haven’t refuted my point, you’re repeating it. Here is what I wrote (emphasis added):

    “what really grates at me is that instead of spending time and effort to improve their quality control on their existing lines of guns, they instead launched a gun that literally no one has asked for.“

    That sums up what’s wrong with this gun.

    I have nothing against the design, or that “no one has asked for” it. Just because it’s not my cup o’ tea doesn’t mean it’s inherently wrong. It’s great that some designers are thinking outside-of-the-box, and coming up with new ideas, even if the ideas eventually don’t pan out. Let the market decide, blah blah blah. Although firearms are a mature technology, maybe somebody will come up with a good idea that nobody ever thought of before. Even if a (well-designed and well-built) curved gun satisfies only a very niche market, more power to it.

    But the company doing that should not be Taurus. Taurus should concentrate on fixing their quality control problems before expanding their product line, much less trying to produce a different design and marketing it to uninformed (or underinformed) consumers.

    What exactly is the “issue” that needs to be “unpacked”? What part of what I wrote do you disagree with?

    Furthmore, the only comment describing this gun as “innovation” was by Daniel S., who wrote

    Haven’t owned a Taurus, don’t plan to be anytime soon; but Innovation is always smirked at, until it starts to catch fire in the market place, then people line up to purchase those items at inflated prices. The Judge and it’s siblings led to many 45/410 firearms by other makers, even Big Boy makers (lol). This gun could be the start of a trend or maybe the start of Taurus’ end.

    I’m not so sure what you find objectionable to his observation, either. Dan doesn’t sound like a fan-boy who’s come to praise Taurus.

    As for a semantic debate about your opinion of words like “different” and “innovation” and “gimmick”, I’ll avoid that.

    The kindest thing I can say about this blog post is that it seems like an effort to knock down a straw-man you have set up.

  5. Eventually one has to realize that despite what your older cousin told you, the brown stuff that comes out of the back end of a cow* is not chocolate pudding**, and never will ever be chocolate pudding**.

    *Taurus
    **quality guns

  6. John Moses Browning was an innovator. Ever since, most “innovation” has been a tweak here and an adjustment there. This is no different. Given all the fuss n’ bother, the Curve is demonstrably buzz-inducing. It’s also a first, and like all the yapping about the use of plastics when Glocks first appeared, now all of a sudden making a gun ergonomically suitable for easier, more comfortable concealed carry is a “gimmick.” I call it “history repeating.” It’s not form over function, but form dictated BY function, as I see it.

    Yes, there are legitimate concerns over the gun’s reliability, yet all the criticism is done in total ignorance: they haven’t shot it, tested it or even held it. It’s just hate at first sight! Why? If Sig or H&K had introduced it, it might’ve been hailed as the Second Coming of Samuel Colt! If Glock had made it, it would’ve been hammered even MORE by critics, while Glockfen bought them up in mass quantities anyway, and 10-20 years later, everybody would be making a curved CCW pistol. But it’s Taurus… so let’s bag on ’em!

    Again, I’m content to reserve judgment until I’ve got some actual DATA. I like the idea. As an instructor with a high proportion of female students, it addresses all of their major complaints; an easier working slide, an easier to conceal size/shape, a low recoil caliber that won’t punish their hands (and, hence, encourage them to practice more often — people don’t shoot guns that aren’t fun to shoot), and face it, fellas, but the ladies like style.

    Icing on the cake: it includes extras (light/laser) that usually cost more, and LaserLyte is a reputable company. The belt clip looks exactly like the “Clipdraw,” which is an accessory available for some guns, also included, and negating the use of a holster for a good many situations.

    So no, it’s not a gun for me. Might not suit you. But the people at Taurus are not stupid; they didn’t pull this outta their butts! This is a reaction to demands; specifically, those of the fastest growing segment of new gun buyers: women. Plenty of men with small hands or elderly guys with limited upper body strength that will like ’em, too. The only question, then, is this: are they reliable? For that, we have to wait and see.

    1. Maybe this time it isn’t poop coming out of the back of the cow. Maybe this time it is really chocolate pudding…

        1. I have indeed owned a Taurus. It was indeed very similar to what comes out of the back end of a cow.

          My hope is to assist new shooters in avoiding my past errors, the errors of going from cheap, crappy, good enough for now gun to cheap, crappy good enough for now gun… all the while spending more in the long run than if I had just went and got a Glock/Beretta/S&W/et al in the first place.

          1. First, one should never judge a firearm simply by its price. Otherwise I’ll defer to experience and hard data every time. (And you may have noticed that I’m a bit biased toward Glocks!) Given the buzz, hopefully Gun Reports will run it through the grinder and see if anything’s left.

    2. That’s actually the point. If this gun had been introduced by a company that has a reputation for making quality, reliable products I’d probably have reacted differently. “A curved gun? Weird.” But Taurus is not a company with a reputation for making quality, reliable, products.

      Also, the Clipdraw was fucking stupid when it came out, it’s still fucking stupid today, and putting a clip on this gun is fucking stupid.

      1. Caleb, I fear the internetz isn’t ready for logic today. I however, am perfectly content to just let the taurus curve thingy to go the same route as their “view” which I’m sure many people carry and use as a defensive arm, because it is so light and innovative.

        It will do just that, and you and I can sit back and laugh while the rest of the taurus fanboys keep saying that it’s combat accurate and will make it through three shots before it jams, so it’s good enough for them.

        However, I think Taurus should pick up the ball and make a full sized version and market it to fat people. New slogan! “Some men also have curves, shouldn’t your gun?”

      2. Just as guns don’t kill people, gun accessories don’t think. Only people can be stupid. The clipdraw can indeed be used stupidly — even dangerously — but I can also think of many ways it could solve a lot of problems. I don’t own one, see no reason to use one, but I wouldn’t bag on it because it has its uses.

          1. Really? You’re gonna make ME do all the work? Well, since your imagination and/or creativity seems to be on the fritz, here are a few that spring immediately to mind:

            I own a pair of Blackie Collins’ “Toters” jeans. They incorporate special pockets designed as holster replacements. A Curve (or any other small pocket pistol) with a Clipdraw would be perfectly fine in such a pocket. Then there are various jackets and vests that also have such pockets (Coronado Leather makes a few). Plus, all of this assumes that the trigger guard cover that comes with the gun will be left in the box. Not exactly used as directed in that case.

            A buddy of mine used a clipdraw to keep a gun in-place in his vehicles center console as well.

            Again, those are just the easy ones…

          2. Blackie Collins’ “Toters” jeans

            I had to google this to figure out what the hell you were talking about. This is all I’ve got. I’m literally noping out of my own thread.

  7. So the lesson that I take from this is…since Taurus has a history of poor craftsmanship and execution, one has no choice but to assume that any concepts or ideas they generate, will necessarily always be poor as well. Got it. I never knew ideas were only as good as one’s ability to execute those ideas flawlessly.

    1. “I never knew ideas were only as good as one’s ability to execute those ideas flawlessly.”
      Pretty much. Ideas are a dime a dozen. Everyone has some great ideas on all sorts of things- new businesses, book and movie ideas, ect and so on. Being able to execute those ideas, and do it in a competent fashion, now that’s the important thing. There’s already too much half assed crap in the world as it is.

  8. Having worked in production, engineering, and R+D, I can speak from experience that there is a built-in human dislike of change and innovation. Frankly, “dislike” doesn’t even get close to describing the reaction MOST people have. You are wired to be that way. Having worked in high tech companies, you would think that that sort of reaction would be rare in that environment. Not even close. The fight to stop even simple changes, that would enhance the product, were just stupid crazy. (the worst idiots were in Marketing, for some reason)

    Frankly, from my experience, that this gun even made it to public notice is amazing. Most new ideas get squashed early on. Innovators are hated by everyone, both inside a business, and outside. Change is frightening to humans. It is considered a threat.

    Consider this to be an exploration of the market. This version is probably not what the engineers wanted to make, but a compromise. If it sells, you can expect various changes at some point. But, the basic idea has to be accepted by the market, before the more radical versions would be built.

    Don’t be surprised if it turns out that other makers had similar ideas that are sitting in engineering, collecting dust.

  9. I am a guy that broke a Ruger single action revolver. Shipped it back to the factory, and they fixed it, and I broke it again.

    Ruger is one of the handgun companies that does a good job. Yet, their single action revolver broke twice in my hands. That doesn’t mean it isn’t fun, but it sure means that it isn’t what I would plan to use in a social situation.

    There are different kinds of innovation, hard and soft. Hard innovation would be new calibers, higher velocities. Soft innovation would be better sights, a better hand grip, and yes, easier concealment. Now I don’t know why women would need a curved gun. Most I know carry some kind of purse, for money and sundries already. Rather a lot of men I know have, like me, more curves than they would like. It seems to me like it would be a good thing to have in a pants pocket, either as a backup in a higher threat scenario, or as primary for a low threat situation.

    Can’t say much about its reliability, and won’t discuss it until I have tested it. Like any new gun, I would run a few hundred rounds through it to understand it, and then another hundred with selected ammunition as a proof test. I guess even a blind pig finds an acorn every now and then, so Taurus can make good arms, just as Ruger, Remington, Colt, or Smith and Wesson can make an occasional mistake. It is important to know which you have, and that requires a personal test. If a product tends to be problematic, the market figures it out pretty quickly (as the problems go back on the market) and the prices drop. I haven’t seen the prices drop on this item.

  10. I’ve made the mistake of owning a Taurus 5 times in my life with one success. I owned a Model 66 .357 which was my first revolver that would strike everywhere on the rounds besides the primer, Gun shop gave me a refund on that one. A Taurus Model 82 I got for a hundred bucks that worked okay, except when the cyclinder would lock up for no reason, traded it for a Walther P22, I bought a M 85 polymer protector because I wanted a polymer revolver, and out the door for 230$ it seemed like a good deal. It’s trigger would lock back and stay there until I pried it forward with a screw driver. I also bought a Judge, I know how derpy it is, but it’s still a fun gun, I’m currently waiting for it to come back after the cylinder stop sheared off. I had a Taurus 450 I believe, the 45 colt snub nose, another fun gun, but the hammer could be pushed forward if and when it locked into single action, traded it for a Glock 29.
    My only success was a PT 92, never had any issues and I’ve had it for years now. I only feed it target loads and it’s just a range gun.

    I say all this to establish I’m not a band wagon Taurus hater, but an experienced user who wants to see Taurus succeed since they have some interesting ideas, I mean a 45 Colt snub nose is pretty awesome. But Caleb is right, they need to fix a helluva lot more QC problems before they dive into an experiment like this.

    I do like the integrated light and laser though

  11. Taurus-Rossi-Braztech needs to forget about innovation until they remedy those pesky details like design flaw and quality control. If the Curve, like so many slick offerings from the Brazilian firearms behemoth, cannot function safely and reliably upon departure from the factory, the pistol will be yet another cool looking trot line weight from Taurus that goes bang.

  12. @Joe in PNG “I never knew ideas were only as good as one’s ability to execute those ideas flawlessly.”
    “Pretty much.”

    As a patent attorney, that hasn’t been my experience at all. I help garage inventors patent innovative ideas all the time, and many of them barely have a functioning prototype. They then turn around and license the idea (patent) to somebody who can execute and refine the idea and put a functioning product on the market. Apparently, according to your logic, the garage inventor with a crude prototype can never be an innovator, only the guy who took the idea and refined it?

    This isn’t to say that Taurus just released an innovative product, doesn’t seem like it, but that doesn’t mean Taurus is incapable of generating an innovative idea. For example, Edison didn’t invent the light bulb. Some European guy did, but his filaments were crap (poor execution). Doesn’t mean that the concept of a light bulb wasn’t any less innovative, just meant that Edison improved it. You think the Euro guy’s lightbulb idea wasn’t innovative? Edison did.

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