Question of the Day: Too Many Guns?

Ah to be a fly on the computer when the co-joined twins known as Magoo and MikeB read this QOTD. A nano-second later they’ll know I couldn’t possibly mean we need to reduce the number of guns in America, or in any one person’s collection. But they’ll be intrigued. How will TTAG argue that there’s no such thing as too many guns? Schadenfreude Saturday! Sorry guy/guys. I’m taking a different tack [driver] . . .

I want to know if manufacturers are offering too many models. I ask this because Stendhal syndrome has stopped me from ordering a Wilson Combat 1911. Too. Many. Choices.

A fact that John May celebrated in a recent post. And now I read that Mossberg will offer 19 new products during the first half of 2011, “with more on the way.”

Am I alone in thinking that gunmakers should make less models, make them better and spend any left-over money on marketing? Are you feeling overwhelmed by choice?

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About Robert Farago

Robert Farago is the Publisher of The Truth About Guns (TTAG). He started the site to explore the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns.

24 Responses to Question of the Day: Too Many Guns?

  1. avatarGreg in Allston says:

    “A man can never have too much red wine, too many books, or too much ammunition”
    — Rudyard Kipling
    One should also have more than enough guns to go with all of that ammunition don’t you think?

  2. avatarRobert Farago says:

    I speak here of the gunmaker, not gun owners. Guess how many guns you’d own if you owned every Smith & Wesson they sell?

    • avatarTravis Leibold says:

      S and W is so annoying with thier endless train of poorly thought out platforms. “Theres a nice 2 inch 44 mag. But can I get that in Scandium? And I sure as hell don’t want it ported from the factory. Should I get it in bead blast, or black spray paint for $20 more?
      They have some great guns buried in their line but its just so cluttered that it is really hit or miss whether you can find one on the shelf.

  3. avatarTodd says:

    My wife saw me working on 3 of my AR-15s one night at my desk. She asked, how many of those do you have? I replied not enough. She inquired how many is enough? At least one for every window in the house. She started counting as she looked around the room, then shook her head and left.

  4. avatarRyan Finn says:

    I definitely start to feel overwhelmed when looking at the staggering amount of models some gun makers have. Eventually they all start to blur into one giant franken-gun and I have to step away from the computer.

  5. avatarJOE MATAFOME says:

    I nearly passed out when I saw that montage of beautiful guns. You can never own to many guns and there can never be to many different models. Kimber offers so many models that causes me to lose track. I say the more choices the better, and I do my best to buy one of each model that I really love.

    • avatarTTACer says:

      The problem from the manufacturing side, especially for a weird conglomerate like Cerebus The Freedom Group is that you end up competing against yourself.

  6. avatarTTACer says:

    They really only need a couple of well thought out models appropriate to their history and mission. I don’t think there is a big market for a Henry wondernine or a Glock deer rifle. Maybe in a couple of well chosen calibers, and a custom shop.

  7. avatarChris Dumm says:

    Too many choices, whether its guns or toothpaste or crossovee SUVs. There is a point (which we as a society are fast approaching if not already past) when the aesthetic and utilitarian desire to posess a well-made tool degenerates into simple greed or object-lust. Superficial product differentiation (“now with a Picatinny Rail!”) only helps this process. I think it also weakens the unique brand identity of the products thus treated.

  8. avatarDonWorsham says:

    Back in the late 70′s we met a heighbor and his Austrailain wife. They had just moved in after living in OZ for many years (two children born there). The wife complained about grocery shopping and having to decide which brand of english peas to purchased. All her life in her community in OZ there was only one choice.

  9. avatarTheDentalWarrior says:

    A good friend, and fellow enthusiast, once told me, “If you can count them, you don’t have enough.” :)

  10. avatarHellbent says:

    From a marketing perspective i’m sure every mfg wants to be all things to all people to garner the biggest market share. They know there are way too many of us who can barely make it past a firearms display without thinking almost out loud “i want that!” However, i’ll equate it to the auto industry, as soon as there is a huge product line to cover all the demographics possible, bye bye quality and hello average at best. I’m with you, stick to what you do best and do it better than anybody else if you can. The use of my firearms, utimately, needs to be for a purpose were “average” is just not good enough.

  11. avatarGreg in Allston says:

    In the case of S&W, it would probably total close to a couple of hundred sku’s in their current catalog. Sure there are “too many” choices, that’s the free market at play. The same can be said for most consumer products. Most people make the rational decision to buy just what they need, and in the case of certain commodities, to have a ready supply on hand to cover near term “contingencies”. If a manufacturer wants to make 300 flavors of ice cream or 300 flavors of 1911′s that’s their business and the market will no doubt sort it all out.

    “Am I alone in thinking that gunmakers should make less models, make them better and spend any left-over money on marketing? Are you feeling overwhelmed by choice?” I would generally agree that there’s too many models out there and a lot of what’s there is redundant, fluff or just plain silly. I’d be very happy to see the quality of engineering, materials, manufacturing and the final product go up, as the price comes down. In relatively low volume products like firearms, especially the boutique varieties, it’s difficult and expensive to put the above criteria into the product and come out with a reasonably priced, high quality result. Example; the Glock 17 @ $500 vs. a production “custom” 1911 that’s all tricked out with all kinds of neat-o, whiz-bang accoutrement, that also happens to be a very picky eater and retails for something approaching a king’s ransom.

  12. avatarWes says:

    Give me more choices, a good warranty with good customer service, and I’m good. Especially since there’s no guarantee a company reducing their product line would actually make those products much if any better. Many guns are just fairly-minor alterations of a different model anyway.

  13. avatarJohn Fritz says:

    With Wilson quoting lead times of one year for new orders, I think they need to streamline their production techniques a little bit. Making a zillion different versions of the same basic gun may likely be contributing to these inexcusable long lead times.

    That being said, as long as Wilson’s customer base accepts the long wait for their product, they don’t have any real motivation to improve their deliveries. Or to pare back their offerings. I wouldn’t buy a gun from them just on the principle that any gun maker that tells me to wait twelve months for a gun from them doesn’t really need my business that much.

  14. avatarRalph says:

    Look at cars. It started out with any color you wanted as long as it was black. Over time we got colors, then two-toned, three-toned, Landau roofs and vinyl tops. Then the pendulum reached the height of it’s arc and began to swing back the other way. The same thing will happen with pistols, revolvers, shotguns and rifles. Wake me when the pendulum reaches equilibrium.

  15. Way too many models to choose from and way, way too many guns in circulation.

    Here’s a variation on your question, if I may. Do the gun manufacturers produce more guns than can be absorbed by the legitimate gun-buying public? In other words are they building into there production plans, supplying the criminals, knowing that a certain percentage of their product flows through your slippery fingers into the dark world?

    • avatarRalph says:

      No chance. The manufacturers can’t satisfy existing legal demand, which is why the legal market for used firearms is so brisk.

  16. avatarRichard says:

    At round two thousand dollars pop for each Wilson Combat 1911 better have some deep pockets owen each version . There very much out price rang that normal gun buyer can aford to buy. I agree little bet make to many of differnt guns can cause qt go down special if look what happen Smith Wession few years back have bunch recalls up down there line up.

  17. avatarMagoo says:

    RF sez: “Ah to be a fly on the computer when the co-joined twins known as Magoo and MikeB read this QOTD. A nano-second later they’ll know I couldn’t possibly mean we need to reduce the number of guns in America, or in any one person’s collection.”

    Hmm, trolled by the blog’s own blogmeister. For the record, RF, apparently I own more firearms than you do. Better ones, for sure. Also, I think you meant Stendhal, but nobody likes a pedant.

    Whoever said men hate to shop and don’t follow fashion missed the boat. Fortunes are made. The gun racket is the camera racket is the audio racket is the car racket. This is the toy business: Toys for boys. They pump out more and different junk every year for no other reason than to keep their fingers in the enthusiast’s pocket. It doesn’t have to be innovative or useful or serve any actual purpose. Or work. It just has to be cool enough to pry guys’ wallets open. Among mens’ toys, guns have the added appeal that husbands can tell wives they are not wasting money, they are defending the homestead against criminals and Democrats. That’s nice dear, don’t shoot your foot.

    Snubnose helium-weight .44 Mag? Shotshell revolver? Fake SMG in .22 WMR? 1911 Colt good at 400 yards? Sold, sold, sold. There is nothing so stupid or ridiculous the gunmakers won’t make it as long as people will buy it. Wait, I just plagiarized Kel-Tec’s business plan.

    • avatarRobert Farago says:

      Alas, I’ve been pwned. My collection is rather . . . sparse. I reckon you’re right about firearms fashions. The problem there is that the gunmakers keep making the guns for the same people. As I’ve said before, they need to lure NEW customers. And they don’t need a lot of variations for that market. In fact, they need a LOT less.

      And it is Stendhal. (Text amended.) I wonder what MikeB will make of this misegos . . .

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