What’s your experience?

We’re in a post-scarity world when it comes to firearms: The panic-buying of the last seven years is over, so now people are looking to DO something with all those guns.

This is why I now work at a gun range versus working in a gun store. Duh.

In Gun Culture 1.0, doing something with a gun meant going out into the outdoors in pursuit of the best day of your life: You hiked through the beauty of the outdoors, spotted one of God’s magnificent creatures, and blasted it to smithereens.

Mission accomplished. Food is on the table, a trophy is on the wall, and a good time was had by all.

However, things are not the same for Gun Culture 2.0, because our best-case scenario is… nothing happens. Our training and situational awareness worked, and we didn’t go to dumb places to do dumb things with dumb people. If hunting is preparing for the best day of your life, Gun Culture 2.0 is about preparing for the WORST day of your life.

Practical shooting is somewhat similar, because as Steve Anderson says, the sport is speed-biased and negatively charged. The best, the absolute best we can do on a stage is NOT screw up our stage plan with a brain fart or a gun malfunction. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t scream “The human drama of athletic competition” to me.

This is even more of a problem for tv shows and magazines about Gun Culture 2.0, because there’s not a lot of excitement to be had talking about stuff that didn’t happen: After all, when a baseball game gets rained out, they show reruns of “Good Times”, not shots of a rainy ballpark.

So what DOES happen in Gun Culture 2.0 that is worth celebrating and enjoying and sharing? Good times on the range? Learning something new in a class? Something I’m missing?

Well now THIS was unexpected.

I’ve always assumed that Sig had the inside track on the new handgun contract for the military, because what the military says it wants looks and sounds a lot like a P320, with an added safety.

But now there’s a couple of new entrants from companies not exactly known for being the sort of company that leaps to mind when I think “defense contractor”

First is Kriss, who are entering the fray with a variant of the CZ75 Sphinx.

Tim Seargeant, Kriss’s Marketing Manager confirmed that the Swiss-based group will be submitting a variant of the Sphinx SDP. The SDP line of pistols includes subcompact, compact, and standard-frame double-action/single-action (DA/SA) pistols with an ambidextrous decocker, based on the CZ-75.

A CZ75 clone as the army’s service pistol? Be still, my fainting heart!

And say “Hello” to Mr. Curveball from out of left field.

STI Detonics Army

Looking roughly like a 1911, the STX uses a drop-in striker box system that can be easily swapped out with other trigger packs, is caliber agnostic, uses a truly modular frame and grip that enables either a long or a short grip to be installed, has felt recoil up to 40% less than comparable designs, and is perhaps the only contender that exceeds the MHS spec for fitting various hand sizes.

STI makes accurate guns. Detonics makes innovative guns that push the boundaries in interesting ways. Neither of them is really known for making rock-solid, reliable guns that just work day in, day out, but dang, that is an interesting gun.

Either way, it looks like my dream of a Universal Pistol Platform is getting a little bit closer…

3 Gun teams are the new Blue Angels.

Or rather, they should be.

Let’s acknowledge the elephant in the room: Video games are driving an interest in gun sales. What video games are NOT doing is driving an interesting in competitive shooting, and that’s hurting the sport.

Why not make 3 Gun more like Call Of Battlefield Honor, or whatever the kids are playing these days? I can say from personal experience that some of the most enjoyable three stages I shot were ones that had a heavy military influence. Hanging from a repel harness or moving through the fuselage of a helicopter is FUN, so it follows then that it’s easier to show how much fun it is on TV if the experience itself is fun.

These days, recruiting centers use posters of Tier One operators decked out in full battle rattle as much as they do shots of their their formation flying teams and pictures of strapping young men in dress uniforms. Maybe it’s time for a shooting competition that appeals to the people who join the military because of the desire to be a “elite operator” that lurks within the hearts of every teenage video game player.

What if 3 Gun Nation ditched the Armalite sponsorship and went after the AMU as a sponsor? A 12 episode series with stages based on videos games would cost WAY less than just one Blue Angels performance and it’d show off the capabilities of today’s warriors much more than a bunch of smoke trails in the sky would, plus it would give the Army a seat at the Blue Angels / Thunderbirds PR table way beyond the Golden Eagles jump team they have now.

Win/win/win.

In order to prosper, 3 Gun needs to go back to its roots.

I watched the first episode of the new season of “3 Gun Nation” this month, and I was struck as to how pared-down and repetitive it’s become. The stages no longer feature awkward shooting positions, shotgun reloads or feats of athletic splendor: It’s pretty much a 25 yard sprint with one vaguely interesting target, the Death Star. I guess trading FNH for Armalite as a sponsor has a negative effect on what whiz-bang stages you can run. On the plus side, it looks like they’ve set things up to work on a 100 yd bay, and that’s a good thing, because not every range has a 300 yard rifle course.

3 Gun started out as the Soldier of Fortune match and it was very heavily influenced by tactical and military shooting of the day. Since then, 3 Gun has moved away from the “tactical” world (except for Trooper division) and evolved into more of a pure sporting event.
But does it need to be a pure sporting event in order to succeed? Let’s consider two of the more popular shooting shows in the last few years, Top Shot and Shooting Stars Stars Earn Stripes.

We all know about Top Shot: The show proved that personalities + athletic shooting prowess = $$$ and ratings, and it probably did more to unite shooters and non-shooters alike than any other show. It was FUN to watch, even if you weren’t a gun owner, and it launched the careers of at least a half-dozen participants on the show.

Stars Earn Stripes was a wholehearted, full-bore military training show, and it was on a major network. It was, in essence, “Battle of the Network Stars” with more firepower, and it was popular enough to get the usual crowd of anti-gunners in a tizzy and have it cancelled before it got a second season.

What if 3 Gun were more about the tactical and less about the gaming? More thoughts on that later.

Whining at the door, scratching to get in.

My Kel-Tec is getting repaired at the shop, so I have to wait to install all the new toys onto it.

I’m waiting on an ambi mag release and bolt catch from Troy so I can upgrade my competition AR to something that is truly ambidextrous (and then write a story about it for one of the biggest gunblogs out there).

My new CZ is still at CZ Custom, getting a new hammer, trigger and sights.

I do like the Taccom shotgun rig, though. I just need the time to go out and shoot a match with it.

I have all this new stuff, but I can’t play with it! So frustrating!

A class by itself

I had an interesting chat with a gentleman on the range awhile ago. He was shooting a .38 with snakeshot loads because (in his mind) “You can’t miss!”. I tried to bring up such things as bullet weight, penetration, muzzle velocity, yada yada yada, but in his mind, the plethora of holes in his paper target trumped such things.

Ok then.

Concealed carry permits are BOOMING. Why, then, are so few people taking the logical next step and getting the training that will drastically improve their odds in surviving a gunfight?

Part of it, as I said before, lies with how trainers talk about their classes. We humans don’t want to actually LIVE through the zombie apocalypse, we just like watching it on TV. Taking firearms training is a responsible thing to do if you own a gun, but making the responsible thing seem fun is a steep hill to climb: Ask anyone who’s had to make an 11 year old eat their broccoli.

Part of it is the classes themselves: For safety’s sake, they require a gun/holster combination that’s not that common for non-gun people, or for that matter, require a holster in the first place. How many guns have sold in the past 10 years that never, ever leave the house? Why, then, do we assume that CCW=Carry? Maybe CCW= “Ok, at some point, I may WANT to carry, but for right now, let’s leave the gun at home”?

That’s not how I think, and that’s not how firearms trainers think, but it’s how our market thinks. The question is, are we selling training to ourselves, or our market? What needs to change to increase our business, ourselves, or our market? Which is the easier to change?

Something to think about.

Firearms Innovation, Part Three

Or, I have come not to bury pocket .380’s, but to praise them.

After trashing pocket .380’s a few days ago, let me explain why I think Kel-Tec (and later Ruger)  have had so much success with their pocket .380’s, along with Sig, Smith&Wesson, Beretta, etc, etc.

By and large, pocket .380’s are not a fun guns to train with and not fun guns to practice with (the Sig P238 is an exception to this rule), but they are tremendously easy guns to carry. Also, their manual of arms that is familiar enough to most shooters that they can be practiced with on a semi-regular basis. Because of their size, there is just no reason NOT to have a pocket .380 on you if you’re wearing pants.

Where that leaves Robb Allen in this equation remains to be seen.

I digress.

They’re not fun guns to practice with, and they’re not fun guns to train with, but because they are so darn useful, the pocket .380 breaks the rules and creates its own standard of innovation. They are the iPod of guns: They’re the gun we didn’t know we needed until we got one.

What’s the next gun we didn’t know we needed until we got one? Dunno. I will say this: The AR market is pretty much saturated right now. What if the ATF loses it’s battle with Sig and rifle-caliber “pistols” become the norm? Is .223 the caliber we really want in such a gun, or is there better calibers out there for such things like .300AAC or .22TCM? What happens if/when silencers become AOW’s (or get re-classified as safety devices, which they really are)?

Because the post-Obama bubble as burst, we’re in a slow time when it comes to gun sales and innovation, but nothing lasts forever.

Firearms Innovation, Part Two

Let’s talk for a moment about the Taurus Judge and its intellectual equivalent, the Smith&Wesson Governor.

Those guns have been pretty much proven to be an evolutionary dead-end because a) They never really had a defined role outside of “Hey, look what we can do with .410!” and b) They’re not fun guns to shoot. Pick one up, play with it and shoot it and you’ll see what I mean. No amount of Hogue grips or Crimson Trace lasers can change the fact that they’re big, heavy and hard to shoot accurately under stress.

Again, ever see a Judge in a training class?

Nothing about the Judge has been picked up and carried on to other guns. Because of their size and the cost of the ammo they use, the Judge and the Governor don’t encourage regular practice, and are not really something you’d want to carry on a regular basis. They are, at best, a talisman of self-protection, and that’s about it. Because they’re not used regularly, they give off a warm, fuzzy feeling that you’ve done something to protect yourself and your family from the threat of lethal force, and that’s all. The Judge and the Governor are to self-protection what have “go fast” stripes on your car are to automotive performance: They’re there to boost your ego, not increase your performance.

Part the Third Tomorrow: The Exception to the Rule.