Range gun vs. Real gun

From the email box, a reader asks a question which boils down to “what do you mean when you say ‘hobby gun’, and how is that different from any other gun?”  It’s actually a great question, because it helps create an understanding of how the opinions here on Gun Nuts get framed.  I personally have talked before about how I see the shooting sports through tunnel vision that often excludes activities outside my interest in competition shooting and defensive training.  That focus has created two distinct categories of firearms in my mind, which I’ve taken to calling “Range guns” and “real guns”.  “Range gun” is also interchangeable with “hobby gun”, because they both represent the same thing.

What’s a Range Gun?

When I think of a range gun, the guns that come to mind are fun guns, but not guns that I’d choose to win a match, defend my life, or take to a Pistol-Training.Com class.  I have a couple of these myself, my single action .22 Magnum revolver comes to mind as a really good example of a range gun or hobby gun.  This category is also where I tend to drop guns that don’t have a proven reputation for reliability; even if they’re from a reputable manufacturer I like to wait until they’ve been on the market for a bit before I give them the Gun Nuts Seal of Approval.

What’s a real gun?

Real gun or range toy?

A “real gun” is basically a gun I would depend on to save my life.  These are guns that have proven records of reliability, are in common use in competition, law enforcement, etc; this is a gun that I would pick up out of the box and take to a 1500 round class and expect to be absolutely stone reliable for that class.  For example, my S&W M&P Pro in .40 is a “real gun” – I’ve run over 1300 rounds through it so far, including a grueling 501 round 2.5 hour practice session.  Most of the ammo has been BVAC 180 grain FMJ, and the gun keeps on ticking.  Bottom line, a real gun is a gun that you can buy, get some mags for, and shoot 1000+ rounds out of in a class or match and not spend half the time trying to fix malfs to your gun.

Now, there’s a lot of cross-over depending on what you use your guns for.  For example, for someone that uses a .22 rifle for varmint control, a Ruger 10/22 might be a “real gun” because it’s ready to do what you need it to do right out of the box.  That’s sort of the defining factor between a real gun and a range gun.  A range gun is essentially an expensive toy – it’s primary use is going to the range and converting money into smoke and noise, and I want to be very clear that there is nothing wrong with that.  In fact, that’s totally awesome.  I would imagine that the great majority of the guns that are owned in this country are “range guns”, and that’s awesome, because it helps proliferate firearms ownership.  But a real gun, a serious gun, or a working gun – whatever you want to call it, must be ready out of the box (I’ll make an exception for changing the sights) to do whatever it is you need that pistol to do.  Whether it’s run during a defensive pistol class, win a trophy, ride in a radio car with you – that’s a real gun.

What Women Want

image courtesy of www.weaponoutfitters.com

There is one thing the gun industry has a lot of trouble understanding: women.  Despite the push in recent years to get women more involved in the industry and the tremendous success of that push as shown by campaigns such as Women of USPSA and the appearance of blogs such as the Girls Guide to Guns the industry is still mostly staffed by men.  That means there are men in the back rooms designing us pink plastic guns and purses that my grandma would find fashionable.

NEWS FLASH: THIS ISN’T WHAT WE WANT!  I don’t care how pink your piece of junk, breaking down, awful to shoot, itty bitty “adorable” gun is, I don’t want it.  Women have a right to awesome guns same as anyone else.  If I want a pink gun I’ll go buy my M&P JG (oh wait, I already want one) or get a Sig P238 and put adorable pink grips on it.

Not that Sig isn’t guilty as well, take a look at the P238 Lady model:

Photo from Sig Sauer

It’s bright red with tacky gold embellishments, really Sig? I have been known to drift toward one firearm or another for aesthetic reasons, I think my Kimber is pretty but it’s also a functioning lightweight carry gun that’s not bright pink and over embellished.  I can carry it around and my fellow gun shop employees don’t make fun of me.

One thing that 1911s and P238s have going for them the gun industry should take into consideration as something “girly” is the ability to personalize the gun.  I can go buy whatever kind of grips I want for either of these firearms and suddenly I have a nice gun that I like to shoot and is mine.  This is the real reason we all have 50 pairs of shoes; so we can personalize our wardrobe and come up with unique outfits on a daily basis.  We like things to be our own and be different, continue to give us the ability to make our guns how we want and you will continue to sell guns to us.  Try stuff pink plastic down our throat and we’ll throw it back at you.

The only way to really get women interested is by giving them good guns to shoot.  Stop marketing things to women by making guns pink, give us good guns and then let us make them ours.

The Gear You Need

Having the latest and greatest is all well and good.  If you’re skilled enough that a CR Speed Belt, which keeps your gear in place time and time again so you don’t have to worry about those 1/10″ differences that may add 1/10 a second to your score then there’s nothing more for you in this post, but if you’re looking to shave two seconds off your time instead of two tenths then you should spend that money on something like ammo rather than buying the CR Speed Belt, the Ghost Holster and a set of CR Speed Versa Pouches.

So many people obsess needlessly over their gear, when all you really need is a good kydex holster, such as a Blackhawk CQC (non-serpa), a Blade-Tech, a Comp-Tac like Caleb’s or something equivalent and a couple mag pouches of the same variety.  You’ll also need a good belt; Comp-Tac makes a reinforced gunbelt that’s perfect for IDPA.  There are plenty of people at my local range that run the leagues with fairly average gear, I myself have been known to show up with an IWB Galco.  One particular shooter of ours shows up every week to our matches and to some of larger local area matches when they are hosted with his carry gear: a Kramer holster and one of his several 1911s.  No, he can’t beat the high-speed semi-professional and professional IPSC and USPSA shooters, but he gets a lot of practice in and spends his money shooting lots of matches and buying lots of ammo and reloading gear rather than on speed gear that won’t improve his shooting.

Nobody should rely on their gear to shoot for them, for most of us it won’t make much of a difference.  If you have the money to spend don’t let me stop you but if you have a “guns and ammo budget” like most people do consider spending it where it will improve your shooting rather than wasting it on gear you don’t need.

Spotlight: Magpul Booth

This year Magpul decided not to bring any of their new items to SHOT Show, choosing instead to reveal items when they’re ready for production.  Since I am not a huge fan of wanting things I can’t have I think this is a fantastic idea.  I did snap a few pictures of the different displays they had at the booth and Caleb and I both picked up Magpul’s new iPhone cases which just started shipping on Tuesday.  They make the cases for the iPhone 3G/3GS and iPhone 4, but they won’t be available with the new Verizon iPhone so I guess we have to stick with AT&T now.








Mossberg Shotguns

I really like shotguns and Mossberg makes cool shotguns.  Naturally, I had a great time looking around their booth, to the extent I went back for a second helping and to acquire a little more information.  They had some really fun (and practical) stuff out on display.

First of all their Tactical .22 now comes with 25 round mags.  Thank God, because 5 rounds of .22 just does not last too long.  For those of you who may not be familiar with their Tactical .22 it’s a nice little plinking AR and is comfortable to hold and easy to manage.  I think the 25 round mags are really going to help the popularity of this gun, because, again, 5 rounds of .22 just does not last long.

The next thing I took a look at was their Maverick.  This is a small, light break action over/under that looks like far too much fun.  It’s new, it’s awesome, and I need one.


Mossberg has also started a couple of joint ventures.  The most well known of which is the Blackwater partnership they announced back in 2008.  This partnership has resulted in a couple really awesome versions of their guns.  They actually appended Blackwater’s logo to a couple.  One thing to note on these firearms is Mossberg’s movement toward a tri-rail system.  You can look for these on a lot of their up and coming guns and personally I think it’s a nice touch.  It doesn’t add a whole lot of weight and you have a convenient way to attach a light or anything else your shotgun may need.

Mossberg makes quality shotguns at reasonable prices and it was a great opportunity to see what they’re doing right now.  I would love to see more from Mossberg and hope they never lose sight of offering awesome firearms at a great value.

The Curse of the Itty Bitty 9

I found two more of those little 9mm guns today and I recognized them both as ones I’d been asked about.  I was really excited about having a chance to handle both of these guns, since I do like both Sig and Kimber and I had high hopes that if anyone could pull off this really small 9mm thing one of them could.  However, both companies let me down and while I still want to give all of these guns a try I am not exactly pleased with what I’ve seen so far.

Sig was my biggest disappointment.  I love my P238 so much I couldn’t imagine the P290 being anything less than the awesomeness of the P238 combined with the awesomeness of 9mm.  Instead they made a heavy gun (20.5 ounces) with an unimpressive trigger pull and brick-like ergonomics.  I’m willing to bet it probably shoots better than most of its competitors since the weight will enhance the shooting experience and Sig makes good guns.  I feel like they missed a note here though, I thought the whole point of these super small 9s was to be able to carry a 9mm in deep concealment?

The Kimber Solo Carry Stainless I looked at was equally “meh”.  I expect a lot from Kimber because of how much I love my Pro CDP II.  It really wasn’t a bad gun, it just wasn’t a good gun either.  It had a nice double action trigger and is over a quarter inch wider than the LC9, making it less convenient for deep concealment carrying – which I’m still pretty sure is the point.

At the end of the day I’m beginning to think this whole itty bitty 9 thing is ridiculous.  There is clearly a market there that has a need, or at least a want.  The companies are trying to fill this want but really struggling to make a good gun in the process.  Consumers need to stop demanding something that is not only nearly impossible to make (light, small, powerful and super easy to shoot please!) but also completely unnecessary.  Seriously, put the silly little 9mm down and go buy a Sig P238 and a M&P Compact.

Imagine you’re a He-Man

And you shoot Heavy Metal 3-gun division with an M1 Garand.  I don’t know off the top of my head anyone that does that, but let’s just pretend for a second. Because to be honest, that would be pretty much the coolest thing – running 3-gun HM division with a Garand, a GI-style 1911, and an 1897 Trench Gun.  Normally you’d run in Heavy Metal Iron sights, but say you wanted to shoot in optics and put a scope on your Garand.  Most Garand scope mounts are heavy, kludgy, and fragile.

Img courtesy Ultimak

Until now.  Meet the Ultimak M1 Garand rail which puts the scope forward, perfect for long eye relief scopes or red dot optics.  Sure, some people may say it’s blasphemy to put an optic on a Garand, but those people probably also don’t like beavertail grip safeties and rails on their 1911s.

I don’t own an M1.  I really probably should, if for no other reason than it is a piece of American history, the rifle that won WWII.  In fact, I should probably buy 2.  One for historical purposes, and another for shooting.  The shooter would get the Ultimak rail system put on it most rickey-tick.

This is pretty cool.  The Ultimak guys make good stuff, helping bring guns like the M1 Carbine into the 21st century, and now they’re offering a similarly slick set-up for the Garand.