Question of the Day: How Rugged is Your Favorite Gun?

I understand the value over-engineering. Rolex wearers might as well have nouveau riche painted on their foreheads but Switzerland’s jewel-encrusted time keepers earned their place on the wrists of the rich and famous via legendary durability. (Yes, a boiled and frozen Rolex can still keep perfect time.) By the same token, Glocks’ rep for reliability helped propel Gaston’s gun to the top of the pops. Then again, Patek Phillipe. A watch that’s a work of art rather than a chronological Sherman tank. Ferrari. Bruno Magli. Much of the world’s high end kit is as delicate as a chocolate lattice basket. So, how much do you value ruggednessositytude in a firearm—given that your average gun owner is less likely to stress test their go-to gun than Yael Bar-Zohar is to sweep dust bunnies from under her bed? Do your guns have to be bulletproof?

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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.

41 Responses to Question of the Day: How Rugged is Your Favorite Gun?

  1. avatarSwarf says:

    Well, one of my favorite guns is the Mosin nagant, so yeah, I’d say it’s pretty ruggedeous.

    As I told a friend who was babying the bolt: “Is built like Soviet tractor. You treat like Soviet tractor.”

    My favorite gun is my Marlin 1894 .357. Is it ruggedly? I don’t know, as I haven’t dragged it behind my truck, but the model was good enough for generations of cowboys, so it certainly has the pedigree of ruggedosity.

  2. avatarbontai Joe says:

    Depends on which gun. I fully realize my target pistols are going to be much more delicate than say a S&W model 10, but my go-to guns for when bad things happen are indeed extremely rugged, a 1st gen Glock model 17 and a Winchester 12 ga pump. And my 1911 A-1 has never failed me either. It is an Auto Ordnance version built to military tolerances (a bit loose) and ALWAYS goes bang when the trigger is pulled. I have read and watched the torture tests you guys go on firearms and I cringe at the immersion in myd, etc you do, but I totally understand why you are doing it. In 35 plus years of owning guns, I have never had any of my firearms subjected to severe stuff like that, just rain while hunting.

  3. avatarJoseph says:

    600 rounds (mixed from Gold Dot to Speer Blazer and all hollowpoints in between). After 500 rounds the rear sight got a bit loose,fixed with a hex wrench. Would bet my virgin ass on it.

    • avatarMatt in FL says:

      Joseph, somehow that bet actually sounds more serious to me than if you left the “virgin” part off.

  4. avatarAharon says:

    I value ruggedness and reliability. My issued M16 in basic training-infantry school jammed with two grains of sand in it. It was a POS and I sometimes wanted to smash it over a rock. I choose my guns based on needing them possibly in a self-defense emergency, SHTF/survival, sustenance hunting, and for worst-case situations where I probably won’t have access to a gunsmith and/or repair parts and needed accessories. When I eventually buy a scout-type rifle and scope there will be iron sights on it as a backup should the scope break.

    • avatarBrad says:

      You can’t possibly say the beat up, recruit tortured, rebuilt 100000 times, non-matching parts and reissued another 10000 time M16 you had in training is representative on the entire weapon system. Mine was an equal POS but I kept it going after a little intsruction and care and in return it did manage to help me qualify expert on the KD course with 242(USMC).

      I am with you on the scout rifle. My FR8 has a 2.5 Leuopold forward mounted with the iron sights still in tact waiting to take over when or if that fails.

      • avatarAharon says:

        Point well stated and taken. A brand new AR platform is allegedly good. However, it is not a long-term platform for me since I want something more reliable and easier to patch-up should it get damaged in a situation when I might not have access to a gunsmith or parts.

  5. avatarJoseph says:

    BTW..that was a Ruger LC9

  6. avatarjwm says:

    Reliability is my main concern. All of my guns are go to guns and I’ll not have one that can’t keep up. All of my guns have the potential to be given out to people I value more than gold, so each has to be up to that task.

  7. avatar4thInfantryVet says:

    Any and all guns I buy are for long term reliability and durability first and foremost and to keep to that I own a Gen 2 G17, an AK variant and a Ruger 10/22 (if you haven’t tried the BX-25 mags from Ruger you should!). Three of the most reliable and easily maintained weapons ever produced.

    On the horizon I’m looking at a MN 19/30 and probably a Gen 3 G26.

  8. avatarSkyler says:

    A $17 digital watch will keep better time than a Rolex.

  9. avatarRob G says:

    All my guns are 100% reliable and must be at all times. If they aren’t and I can’t make them 100% reliable, they must be sold.

  10. avatarSid says:

    I would like to sweep dust bunnies from under her bed.

  11. avatarscooter says:

    Durable over dainty every day. I picked up a beater S&W 5904 that I would take into hostilities without hesitation, and my son’s favorite .22 is a $100 Marlin 25 that looks scruffy but shows great loyalty. We love our 1943 Mosin Nagant 91/30 for the same reasons! Ugly little CZ 82 stays in reach in my truck, ever ready.

  12. avatarJim says:

    Good old Model 94 Winchester .30-30..30 years of frequent shooting not one single anything that I can recall. Ruger Security Six and Blackhawk. Both .357. Although I sent the single action back to Ruger to have the barrel replaced. I bought it used and it had serious damage to the muzzle. Came back with a new barrel, ejector rod and housing, new cylinder and internals..no charge..gotta love Ruger. I managed to break two M16A1′s in my 4 years in the corps. On the first the butt stock cracked while firing, and the other was some internal malfunction. No reset on the hammer. Still can’t say I trust the AR design but I probably just had bad luck. Im hoping to get enough range time in to be able to add my Kahr CW45 to the reliable list but so far so good. Shotgun wise I go with an old Ithaca 37..I think I might be the only guy who’s managed to break a Mossberg 500…maybe too many slugs or something.

  13. avatarAccur81 says:

    I like guns that’ll take a beating. The only guns I have that don’t take a beating are:

    My Remington 700 LTR .308 (which could take a beating, but it’s my sub MOA range queen, and no segmented cleaning rod will touch its bore)

    My Marlin .45-70 XLR (Buffalo bore and running through mud, rain, and swamp isn’t a beating because I do my best not to scratch the sexy grey laminate wood)

    The Glocks, Smith .460, 4006′s, ARs, 870, Benelli, 340 PD, Winchester 70, 10/22, etc. get used pretty hard. I’m not comfortable babying guns. I’ve blown the front sight off of my .460 (at least that’s the theory, anyway), and I’ve worn out some extractors, recoil springs, etc.

    With that being said, all of my pieces get pretty regular RemOil swipes and are stored with the safeties off and dry-fired. I’ve always admire the ruggedness and reliability of a quality firearm.

  14. avatarrgsmithiv says:

    How much do I value ruggedness in my go to weapon?

    It is an absolute necessity. Guns are tools, and a tool that cannot perform it’s function is useless. My go to weapon is an Arsenal Ak47, Aimpoint H-1 red dot. Quality ammo is equally important as a quality firearm, when your life is on the line. I prefer Corbon.

  15. avatarNine says:

    My Mini-14 is pretty darn rugged.

    Rugged, Reliable, Ruger.

  16. avatarAlphaGeek says:

    The first handgun I bought, and my primary to this day, is an H&K USP40. The first 500 rounds I ran through it consisted of 10 different ammo types to determine what would function reliably. Turns out my USP doesn’t like aluminum cased ammo, and the extractor shaves off Al slivers from case rims until it jams. Everything else works great, though it does seem to like Winchester Silvertip 155gr JHPs for best accuracy.

    The badassitude ruggedosity tests H&K performed in the development of the USP platform were a big selling point for me. So yeah, you could safely say that I value damn-near-100% reliable functioning over other considerations.

  17. I lost all of my guns during Sandy. I was shipping them to myself aboard the HMS Bounty, sadly, she went down. RIP Captain.

    If they’re ever recovered, I’ll report back on which ones still shoot, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

    • avatarjwm says:

      Somewhere, in a dank sub basement at Langly, a pasty skinned Fed in dark glasses is monitoring our site and composing a memo to congress requesting a ban on private water craft as they are playing hell with his efforts to track and locate all guns held in private hands.

      • It’s amazing how many folks I run into that also take their entire gun collection on a boat ride. That must be why the firearms industry is doing so well, everyone is losing their firearms to boating accidents and storms.

  18. avatarEsoteric says:

    My fav is my Browning Citori. Given to me by my father when i was 14, I’m 25 now and have carried it hundreds of miles over that period of time. And I’m vaguely clumsy, so despite not looking like it just came out of a box, it shoots perfect and i love it.

  19. avatarJoshinGA says:

    My opinion is that firearms are tools, and tools are meant to be used. Hence, I will never buy a safequeen that doesnt get used. Sure, if I had the money I would buy rare/antique guns for investment. Odds are I will never have that kind of money, so my guns will be used, and used hard if need be.

  20. avatarsanchanim says:

    Yael was nice to me so I dusted the bunnies from, errrr oh never mind.. ;-)

  21. avatarGreg Camp says:

    I have a few guns that I bought for their looks and a few specialty items, but everything shoots when I feed it right. (Sometimes, Bulgarian surplus ammo is cheap for a reason…) I do love Commie Bloc guns. As others have said, they go bang, and aren’t fussy about maintenance–but I clean them, anyway.

  22. avatarAharon says:

    I just re-read the big question. My favorite gun, trail kit-gun, and home defense go-to gun all rolled into one gun is my Ruger SP101 .357 four-inch barrel. It is armored car rugged.

    • avatarpat says:

      I have the 3″ SP and its the perfect ‘everygun’ cuz it can do all (can even stick it in front pocket for short time when going to sketchy store latenight, though you would want to carry it in other ways for longer periods). Everybody should have one of these.

      • avatarAharon says:

        That is another great SP101 model (I think the whole SP101 357/38 line is great). My concealed carry gun is the Ruger LCR .357 and I keep it loaded with .38 Special.

        • avatarpat says:

          Those 357′s can kick. Even with the SP you get quite the bang with certain loads. You would probably have to work up to the +p’s and then the low recoil 357 for that little guy. I sure hate snubbies in 357 though as so much potential is robbed in the sub 2″ barrels (which is why I went with the 3″ on my SP and why you get so much out of your 4″). The LCR sure is lighter for long term pocket carry though.

  23. avatarBob says:

    Ruggedness is important, because it translates into 100% reliability.

    On a side note, did you ever notice that first time shooters tend to treat guns like they are delicate mechanisms? I tell them that if it can survive the recoil from several thousand (pick your caliber) shots, then it certainly can survive lots of rough handling. Grab that slide and yank it back hard!

  24. avatarTom jones says:

    My beretta got tossed out of the trunk in a t bone accident. The dude hit us at 40-60mph. I found my beretta like 100 feet in the grass saw my dads star get run over by a 18 wheeler and other cars needless to say they all work flawlessly

  25. avatarMark Hoops says:

    I have a bunch of Rugers, all built like brick $#!thouses, but my Super Redhawk in .44Mag is truly a beast. It shoots Buffalo Bore 340-grain without any stomach upset (just a little rough on my wrist, but so what?)

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