Cheap, Fast, Easy (Part Deux)

Cheap, fast, easy (Part Deux)

In part one, we talked about gun reviews versus car reviews. 

I’ll probably never buy a Lamborghini, and even my chances of owning a Mustang are beginning to fade as my kids grow up and bills increase. What matters to me more right now is whether my wife’s Nissan Pathfinder will be as reliable as my old Frontier pickup or what are the long-term maintenance costs of a Civic Hybrid.

The fact of the matter is, most cars are reliable for the first 75,000 miles or so and, with a few exceptions, most guns are reliable for the first 1000-ish rounds (we’ll leave the “break-in” discussion for another day). Because I don’t buy a gun a month, I need to know that what I buy will last, and the 2000 Round Challenge is good way to mimic the life of an ordinary (non-competition) gun and how a typical plinker/CCW gun owner will treat their gun. 

So how do car magazines review cars? 

  1. Define the genre. Fortunately for the car magazines, this has already been done for them. We know (for the most part) what a Grand Touring car is supposed to be like. We know what a minivan is. We know what a family car is supposed to do. Yes, there are cars out there that bend (or break) the rules, but they are dealt with as the rule-breakers they are.
  2. Define what makes one product within the genre better than others. 0-60 speeds don’t mean as much to a minivan test as interior space does, and the amount of trunk space in a sports car doesn’t mean squat compared to it’s time in the quarter-mile. We know and can test for 0-60 and interior volume and slalom
  3. Test within each genre. There is no subsitute for competition, and the value of any given object is ALWAYS tied to similar products. Testing a Dodge Caravan against a Vidper is fun and all that, but testing a Caravan against other minivans is wear the rubber (literally) meets the road.
  4. Reduce the human element. Just like Hamster’s love of all things Porsche, I’m going to come down in favour of CZ’s. Top Gear (and other car-related media) eliminate that variable by spreading out the test across a number of testers, allowing for results that are more than one person’s opinion. 
    Also, be honest about your subjectivity. If you like 1911’s, make sure your audience knows this. I’m not saying lead with it in every review, but be objective about your subjectivity.
  5. Treat first impressions as first impressions, and leave the real test for later. Yes, you’ll see “FIRST LOOK AT THE NEW Z-75 SUPERSPEEDSTER” on the front cover of a car mag, but you’ll also see a follow-up article a few months later when they test it against its peers. The first article is wonderful for people who like new cars, the second is wonderful for people who actually buy them.
  6. Go for the long-term. In any given car magazine, after you’ve waded through the editorials and the cover stories and the endless advertisements for all-weather floor mats, you’ll find the long-term road tests. This is what car owners need: We don’t really care about cars we’ll never own, we care about what we’ll need to do to keep the car we have running. And if it turns out the long-term tests show there might be major repairs in our future, THEN we’ll start to look at all those tests and reviews in the front of the magazine.

Ok, how does this relate to guns?

  1. Define the genre. We know what a compact defensive pistol is supposed to do. We know what a pocket pistol/backup gun is supposed to do. We know why some shotguns are better for trap shooting versus duck hunting. Yes, there are guns that break the genre (the Taurus Judge, for one), but for the most part, we know what task a given gun is supposed to perform.
  2. Define what makes one product within the genre better than others. What are the criteria for a good dailycarry gun or home defensive pistol or self-defense shotgun, and more importantly, how can those criteria be measured so that can make meaningful comparisons within a given genre? Accuracy at X yards is just one of those criteria: What are the other criteria from which to measure success, do they vary from genre to genre, and how can they be measured?
    This is one of the biggest failures I see right now with firearms-related media. I know that if a given car does 0-60 in 6.2 seconds but does 0.5G on skidpad, it’ll be a blast to race off a stoplight but uttterly suck in a corner. Similarly, seating capacity and cupoholders are important in judging minivans: In a sports car? Not so much.
    There are precious few comparisons of similiar performance-based data points in the firearms review business, and further discussion needs to happen about this issue. Larry Potterfield and Michael Bane are on the right track, but more thinking on this line needs to happen in order to create metrics that are portable across all gun genres. 
    One of the advantages of a metric-driven firearms review process is that it will show what the level of dedication is to getting it right. Not everyone can set up a skidpad or a slalom course and not every owns a radar gun, so I (and others) treat a Car And Driver review with more gravitas than other source. Taking the time to invest in such things and using them properly shows a commitment to the cause that others will respect. 
  3. Test within each genre. Can Gen 4 Glocks hang with M&P’s? Is the premium price of a premium brand like Sig or H+K worth it? What is a good, inexpensive gun for trap? Once we’ve defined the criteria, we can test to them and come up with a winner based on the data, not on one person’s opinion.
  4. Reduce the human element. Test across multiple people. What works for me may not work for someone else, but eventually, some form of consensus will be reached. If you’re a blogger, link to other bloggers or sites who’ve reviewed the gun you’re reviewing. If you’re gun writer for a magazine, give someone else some time behind the trigger.
  5. Treat first impressions as first impressions, and leave the real test for later. I agree 100% with Andrew:

    You do a disservice to your readers/viewers (if any) and you take up space in rankings that should be occupied by people like Caleb at RomeoTangoBravo. When he comes across something new, he calls it “(Product) Hits the Shelves” or “(Product) First Impressions.” See? Honesty.

    If I wanted a press release, I’d download from the manufacturer.
    Enough said.

  6. Go for the long-term. Aye, there’s the rub. This will involve acutally owning the guns we review, and not just borrowing from the factory for “Test and Evaluation”. How do we get around that? Links. Post in the 2000 Round Challenge thread. Maybe setup a list much like Jay’s Dead Goblin Count, showing what guns make the 2000 Round Challenge and which do not. Let’s tap into the wealth of gun owners out there that can help the rest of us figure out what is a reliable gun and what is not and use it to all our advantage.

Your thoughts?

Quote Of The Day

Quote of the Day

“It’s starting to seem that a growing number of young adults think group vandalism is an acceptable way to bond.” 

– Editorial opinion of The National Post on Facebook, in response to this story.

Beer bottles, bricks and other debris rained down on police and firefighters in London, Ont., Saturday when St. Patrick’s Day celebrations turned ugly.

London police Chief Bradley Duncan, speaking to reporters Sunday, said he had never seen the level of violence and vandalism that he did Saturday night in his more than three decades on the police force.

“Last night, London experienced the worst case of civil disobedience our community has ever been subjected to,” Duncan said.

He said there was a very real risk that people could have been seriously injured, and even killed, after partygoers turned to setting fires and throwing bottles, stones and two-by-fours at police and firefighters. 

Unlike our cousins in the country formerly known as GREAT Britain, Canadians can still own guns, albeit with some silly (and ultimately useless) restrictions.

I foresee a dramatically huge increase in shotgun ownership in southern Ontario in the near future, with an equally dramatic decrease in youth violence in the areas where legal gun ownership is common. 

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We’re Just Not That Into You

We’re just not that into you

It’s been three months since I bid adíos to one of the more controversial gun blogs out there. I used to rely on that site for ideas for posts in order to feed the free ice cream machine, but you know what? 

I don’t miss it. 

The blogosphere is an economy of surplus, and when good, nay, great alternatives are available for the same marginal costs, people can afford to be choosy. 

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Socially Disordered

Socially Disordered

A while back I talked about what I saw as the two different kinds of threats out there

There are, as I see it, two kinds of violent encounters: Predatorial and Adversarial. The “sudden encounter” is a predator attack, be it mugger, rapist or Rottweiler. Those types of encounter require you to be on your game rightthisveryinstant and respond to the attack with enough force to end things.

The Adversarial attack is road rage or the loudmouth in bar itchin’ for a fight or the jealous spouse of a co-worker or the fight between friends that gets out of hand. Those happen in fairly well-defined patterns and if they get out of hand, they get out of hand in predictable paths that can be countered (or better yet, de-escalated) in predictable ways. has more. 

Generally, violence can be broken down into two very broad categories: social and asocial. Social violence is what, in the natural world, would be the types of violence common within a single species. This intra-species violence does not follow the dynamic or use the same tactics as violence against other species.

The dominance game of snakes wrestling or bears pushing and mouthing is not the same as the way the same species hunt prey. Social violence includes ritualized jockeying for territory or status. It also includes acts to prove or increase group solidarity (a powerful side-effect of hunting as a team) and violence to enforce the rules and mores of the group.

Asocial violence does not target the victim as a person, but as a resource. Asocial violence is the domain of the predator and the humanity of his victim does not enter into the equation. 

Read, as they say, the whole thing.

Quote Of The Day

Quote of the day

“Cats understand the reality that inanimate objects are incapable of action on their own parts, and cannot hold motives – malicious or otherwise – intrinsic to themselves. 

Some humans, on the other hand, do not. 

I wonder what that says about our species?”


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Going Home.

Going home.

Michael Bane, Rev. Paul and Guffaw are all talking about the idea of a “go-to” gun, the gun you use when your pistol just ain’t enough. 

I have two, one for the car and one for the house. Let’s tackle the easy subject, the house gun, first. 

In my safe room, I have my Mossberg 500

In my car, I have something different. 

Get Home Rifle

I’ve got my get-home bag in the trunk of my car, along with my CavArms AR on a three-point sling and the Sccy 9mm pistol which I usually carry inside my car. 

Ok, why this stuff? 

  1. It’s stuff I already have. I don’t have a big budget for firearms (heck, right now, I have NO budget at all), so I have to use what I have. The CavArms rifle is LIGHT (just about 6 pounds unloaded), and I know I can hit with it out to 300 yards. 

  2. It’s light. The whole kit together weighs about 30 pounds, yet it has the things I need to keep me going for 3 days or more, no matter where I am. 

  3. It’s enough. Look, if I can’t deal with whatever is going on with a rifle, a pistol and 3 days of food, then it’s time for the full Rockatansky

  4. It works in Arizona. If I were traveling around the country like Michael Bane does, I’d want something lighter and less conspicuous. But I don’t, so this is all I’ll most likely ever need within the boundaries of the Copper State. 

What would I change if I could? 

  • The pistol. I like the idea of a subcompact 9mm in this kit as it gives me enough gun but it’s still small enough to pocket-carry if need be, but me and the Sccy have a rocky relationship together. I want to replace it with Ruger LC9 or similar whenever I can. 

  • The rifle. Being able to reach out to 200+ yards with a rifle is good, but I give up ammo compatibility with my pistol and all-around utility. I’m thinking about changing that out for either a 9mm Kel-Tec Sub2000 or another pump-action shotgun in the near future. 

And yes, I leave all that in my car all the time. 

I understand people’s concerns about idea of leaving two guns unattended, but the fact is, there’s nothing either inside or outside my car that is remotely desirable to even the most desperate of car thieves, and I leave my car in my garage at night. My car is a seriously uncool late-model import painted a bland medium grey. It has a factory radio and a kid’s car seat and that’s about it. 

Sometimes, the best way to avoid a robbery is making it look like there’s nothing there to steal. 

The Weakest Link

The Weakest Link

I was catching up on back episodes of the Safety Solutions Academy podcast as I was working around the house this weekend, and Paul was talking about training to build up the weaknesses in your self-defence regimen, when I realized the biggest weakness I had was me, myself. 

I’ve never been muscular, but thanks to cross-country skiing, running and cycling, I was (WAS) in shape in my youth. Now, however, I’m a semi-old, quasi-fat white guy. 

I can (sorta) shoot, I should move up to a yellow belt in a month or two in karate and my situational awareness is pretty good. What’s missing is the conditioning needed to protect myself for any significant amount of time. 

So this morning I did a brief circuit of upper-body exercises and started the Couch To 5k running plan

Because the first step of getting into fighting shape is getting into shape. 

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Bland. James Bland.

Bland. James Bland.

The First Official Still from the new James Bond movie is out, and I’m somewhat disappointed. 

A PPK? What, is it 1952 again?

Bond is back with the PPK again. He’s got enough computing power in his socks to fly to the moon and back, and he’s using an 80 year old gun that nearly got the Queen’s only daughter killed

I was kinda happy when Bond switched to the P99 a few years back, bringing his firepower kicking and screaming into the 20th century, but now the producers have decided to forego the last eight decades of firearms innovation and bring back the PPK. 


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