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When I began my serious interest in firearms around 2007, I had no guns to my name. Now I have…well, let’s just say that I have more than that now. Most of these were bought for a specific reason, but some appear to have shown up in my closet because ‘Hey, it looks cool–why not?’ I’ve also noticed that some of these tend not to come out of storage as often as I thought they would when I bought them. That’s why a recent article by Jay Cassano at resonated with me . . .

Cassano’s article explains that, contrary to popular belief, money can buy some long term happiness if it’s spent on experiences, and not just tangible objects.

There’s a very logical assumption that most people make when spending their money: that because a physical object will last longer, it will make us happier for a longer time than a one-off experience like a concert or vacation. According to recent research, it turns out that assumption is completely wrong.

“One of the enemies of happiness is adaptation,” says Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University who has been studying the question of money and happiness for over two decades. “We buy things to make us happy, and we succeed. But only for a while. New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them.”

So rather than buying the latest iPhone or a new BMW, Gilovich suggests you’ll get more happiness spending money on experiences like going to art exhibits, doing outdoor activities, learning a new skill, or traveling….

“Our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods,” says Gilovich. “You can really like your material stuff. You can even think that part of your identity is connected to those things, but nonetheless they remain separate from you. In contrast, your experiences really are part of you. We are the sum total of our experiences.”

For some reason, this article hit home with me. Yes, I’m all about buying cool stuff, and I’m a firm believer in getting solid, durable, quality equipment, even if it means paying more. But once the ‘basic’ needs of equipment are met — i.e., something that will allow you to get the job done consistently for whatever your primary firearms purpose(s) happen to be — sometimes there isn’t much benefit in getting just one more gadget or doo-dad to hang off your favorite rifle. If that tacticool stuff just sits in your closet and/or safe, what was the point?

When I look back at the times I had the most enjoyment with firearms, it was when I was taking formalized training, or when I shot sporting clays at some of the local courses, or just getting together with old friends or a group shoot at my local range. Like Cassano said, it’s the experiences that I had that really stand out.

I have several perfectly servicable heavy-duty pistols for concealed carry and personal self-defense. That was the primary reason I got interested in firearms in the first place. Given my likely risk profile, that also pretty much serves what I (in my honest assessment) believe that I ‘need’. Anything else is primarily for my own enjoyment.

So be it! Going forward, I will make an effort to spend money more on experiences that I will enjoy, and less on stuff. Instead of dropping $1,000 on a new rifle to join the others in the safe, I’m going to channel that money into training and shooting sports. I’m not going to avoid buying new equipment–I’m getting in line along with Nick for a Glock 43. And if I need to get new equipment for a specific experience, that’s fine But going forward, I will prioritize money and time for more experiences like shooting sports (sporting clays, IDPA,) training, and new things for me like hunting, and less on just buying stuff without an end goal in mind.

What are you planning on spending your ‘firearms money’ on this year?

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  1. My gun priority list goes something like this:

    1. Discontinued firearms/firearms I think will be banned soon
    2. Standard capacity magazines
    3. Ammo
    4. Accessories
    5. More ammo
    6. Current production firearms

    • I love the standard capacity magazine line… I’m going to start using it. Mostly because it’s true.

      • I have for as long as I’ve been an owner used the “standard capacity” line. 17rd mag? 17 is standard capacity, that’s what fits in there from the factory! 10rd mag? That’s a low-capacity mag mandated by inane laws! 30rd extended mag (e.g. GLOCK, USP) is the only true “high-capacity” magazine.

        Currently my priorities are to acquire a breadth of handguns and rifles in calibers that will remain popular and useful. 9mm handguns, .45 ACP handguns, 5.56 NATO rifles, 7.62 NATO rifles and we’re done with firearms. The rest towards magazines, ammo, and training.

        • It never hurts to have an additional pistol, rifle, and shotgun in unpopular chamberings to circumvent ammo panics.

  2. Ammo, classes, matches.

    I’ve accumulated so many actual firearms over the decades that I’d have to really hunt to find a new one worth adding to the pile so it’s all ammo and shooting for the time being.

    • Same here, I have the guns to do the job, now it’s classes, ammo and competitions, trying to be proficient enough to run the guns at their potential.

  3. Wanting is better than having.

    For most things, this is true. Not all, but most.

    Our time and attention are finite, so there can only be so many “things” in our life of importance.

    As soon as you get “the next best thing”, it will have to usurp something that you currently have.

    Experiences last a life time.

    All that told, things of sentimental or historic value are mementos of a past experience, so they can retain their value, since the real value is the experience. But even then, you may run out of space. Experience takes no space except in your heart, which can have unbounded capacity.

    • Wanting is better than having.

      “It is not logical, but it is often true.”

      RIP, Leonard Nimoy

      • I’ve been waiting for the MPX, but with TTAG’s recent review, I am going to have to wait for version 2.0, since I want to be sure that I have the .40 S&W capabilities. Waiting for it will probably be more fun than owning it.

  4. My list:
    WW2 Firearms (I’m a collector)
    WW1 Firearms (see above)
    More ammo
    accessories (cleaning, mostly)
    did i mention ammo?

  5. Investing my gun money in ammo this year. If I want something new to play with, well, I’m sure for $150 a hi point will be fun at the range. Their 45 looks… Fun?

  6. Kind of all over the place.
    My plans for the remainder of the year:

    1. Glock 43 (when the price comes down, probably fall)
    2. Glock 19 Gen 4
    3. S&W 686
    4. Tikka T3 308
    5. S&W M&P-10
    6. PSA AK-47

    thats about it for the year; otherwise I am pretty good.

    • I have an MP10 with MAGPUL furniture and troy flip-up BUIS I’m looking to sell for seed money for a 300blk SBR with an integral silencer. Interested?

        • $1,400. I’ve got the original hard case and paperwork/owners manual too. if your on the forum here you can PM me if youre really interested. My user name on the board is the same as my commenting name. Very original, I know.

  7. “Why did I buy that” is better than Why didn’t I.

    Keep your gun/ammo/powder manufacturer’s churning and one day they might crank out your Eleanor.

    The time to buy a gun is never when you need one.


    • I keep buyin’ ’em, but I keep having more boating accidents! Honest Mr. ATF; go dredge that river; I’m sure you’ll find some guns in there!

  8. Personally I think everyone needs 7 guns. Three pistols, three rifles and a shotgun. You need a conceal carry pistol, semi auto target/action pistol, and large/hunting pistol. You need a .22LR, light centerfire. (223), and medium centerfire (308, 30-06 ). Then you need a 12g shotgun. After that you should be using your money to shoot them.

    • I’ve put, probably too much, thought into this topic and I’ve come to EXACTLY that opinion, too. So, obviously you are right, since you agree with me.

      • I have to disagree with the particular reasons listed (I have zero interest in a hard hitting 44 mag or similar for instance since I don’t handgun hunt and we don’t have bear here). But I think you can generally come up with 5-7 use profiles that can if finances allow warrant different guns….past that it gets *really* hard to convince me that it’s more than a range toy/pride of possession thing. Which is cool, don’t get me wrong, but there’s a big difference between wanting a new range toy for it’s own sake and saying “Hey, I really want to do X but nothing I have is capable of it”.

    • I’ve come to be in basic agreement with that, though I don’t use a handgun for hunting. My “third” is for inflicting pain but not death on wildlife that has lost its respect for humans: the wildlife people tell me that a predator that suffers and recovers will communicate the fear of humans to its “peers”. So when I’m out doing conservation work, I keep an eye and an ear peeled for the coyotes who attacked my dog some time back, ready to inflict a lesson that can get passed on to others.

    • If she is spending it on gun stuff than it even better than if you were too spend it. If not, count her shoes and but that many guns.

    • +1. Save your brass, in freezer bags marked by new/reload, caliber, maker.
      I have several coffee cans full, and next investment is a simple reloading setup….(following Dyspeptic’s advice…)

      Anyone have typical cost on componets, powder, for .40, and .270? Ie cost of reloads? Rough estkmate vs current new, good stuff, plus reload gear, gives breakeven…

  9. 1/ Imported ammunition. Particularly Russian 7.62×39 and 7.62x54R
    2/ Ammo for my other calibers and a years worth of target ammo for next year
    3/ standard cap mags and drums and belts/links
    4/ WW1-Cold war era collectibles I don’t have
    5/ Barret 82

    Mostly just getting ahead of any election year shortages and price increases and or possible import issues.

  10. It all started with a M1911A1 (my wife bought for me to replace one i inherited from my father – a WWII vet – and was stolen).
    Then she bought me a .22 (Browning Buckmark) because shooting the 1911 was too expensive ($26.00/50rd).
    Then Sandy Hook and the resulting significant uptick in gun ban rehtoric happened.

    Three more handguns and two rifles later I started reloading….

    Not really sure where my next gun dollar’s going but I’m hoping for something in .308 (if the CFO allows it).

  11. I just spent ney to go to the Knob Creek Machinegun Shoot, then to Nashville for the NRA Annual Meeting. My Kid and I camped. Had a great time!

    I will spend more money on match fees for us at Camp Perry this summer. 🙂

  12. Me?

    1. 300 BLK build. I have a 30 cal can, might as well put it on a 30 cal rifle.

    2. Ammunition. If I go into a gun shop or show, I never leave without ammo. A box here, a box there – pretty soon you’ll have a lot.

    2a. Magazines.

    3. Paying for my girlfriend’s first pistol. She’s getting her CWFL, she picks the piece, I pay.

    4. A pistol in another caliber besides 9mm for variety.

    5. Pistol can.

  13. Most of our money after bills and such is going to furnishing our house or savings, but every pay period I get a box of 5.56, 9mm, and .38spl ammo to toss in to storage. Luckily I’ve got a buddy with his own range in his backyard so the only thing I need to pay for to shoot is ammo. My department also lets us use their range for free when there isn’t training going on

  14. 1) Saving my money to get the hell out of CT
    2) Classes, going to CMP M1 Class this fall
    3) Ammo/reloading
    4) WW II guns that I want in my collection if I find them at the right price
    4) At least one Dan Wesson revolver

    My gun safes are pretty much full of what I want already, finding the time to use them is another story

  15. How Are You Spending Your ‘Gun Money’?

    I know what guns are, but what’s this “money” you speak of?

  16. I do have a gun money account and the rule is that if you sell a gun, the money stays in the gun money account. I am saving for another gun now, but since I’m paranoid, I decline to share how many guns I have or what my next purchase will be. Rest assured, tho, that as much as I value “the experience”, I value it more with a new gun.


  17. Well I’m working on a disability claim on account of the giant brain tumor they had to dig out of my head last year. So I don’t exactly have much money. Although I DID just finally manage to snag a drop in .357 Sig barrel for my .40 S&W Sig SP2340. That was nice as I had been looking for one of those for a good 3 years.

  18. I’m hoping to get a good .243 with a decent scope for deer/pronghorn this year and that’ll be most of the gun budget.

    Honestly, I’ve got an AR and several handguns, so that .243 will probably do it for firearms for a long while. I’d like to take another handgun class or 2 and a carbine class though. Not anything tactical, just good fundamentals with someone that can spot my mistakes and help me fix them as far as shooting form goes.

  19. I’m currently looking into a Glock 43. Then, it’ll either be an AR-10 (if I sell my old motorcycle) or a buffalo hunt with family. Maybe Idaho. After that, it’s gearing up for white tail in WI.

    I agree – after a basic collection (and a lot of ammo!), you are better off with experiences than more stuff.

  20. S&W Model 617… ten-round .22LR wheel gun? Sign me up.
    AK47 — Just because I figure that phallic magazine scares Dianne Feinstein
    Ammo — lots of it. I live in a dry climate, it’s not going bad for a long time
    Ruger Vaquero because I like the way it looks
    Serious .308 rifle, a keeper
    …and another gun safe!

  21. I started out trying to solve “The Riddle of Steel” so to speak. I bought tons of schtuuuf… I had everything.
    Then I went through a phase of try to perfect every gun I owned. Pointless and expensive.
    After I started reloading I became a “ballistics whore”. It was all about the numbers.
    Then it was all about accuracy.
    Then it was about generating energy.
    Then it was all about economy.

    Which is kind of where I am now. Do the most with the least. Money and equipment wise. So I started streamlining the collection. I got rid of a bunch of stuff. Narrowed down to calibers that I truly love and those attached to family legacy guns. This his put in me in a strong, “Me and my gun” state of mind. So my mainstays have become the typical stuff. My ARs, My 308 bolt action and my 44 cal stuff, and weirdly enough, a 7mm TCU pistol. Those TCU carts are the epitome of shooting economy. Its pretty difficult to do more with 25 grains of powder in 10 inches of barrel.

    All that has caused me to define some realistic and solid “Shooting Goals”.

    So now, most my fun money goes to consumables and AR related sale items. Gonna build me a 6.5G on the cheap. It might take a year.

    • After you finish your world cannibalism safari, let us know which ethnicities taste the best.

  22. anything new/old stock, i love the smell of a “brand new” 50-100 year old gun.

    • Same thing here! Love the old guns! If you know where to look you can get guns that should cost like 500+ for like 100$ just because they are old.

  23. 1. I want to finally get off my posterior and build an AR from parts, like a real man. Why? BFYTW! And for 3gun, SHTF, etc.
    2. I want a 22 carbine for steel challenge, still going back and forth between an M&P or just an upper
    3. Jerry Michulek signature Mossberg 930, yeah, that’s for 3 gun too.

    Otherwise, I’m willing to live with my carry peice, my IDPA gun, and my hunting rifle.

    I need some powder, dies, etc. (Obviously)

    • If you want to shoot .22 in Steel Challenge, I’d recommend you go with a pistol instead. I feel that the extra bit of challenge makes it that much more fun. That said, .22 carbines are pretty sweet as well.

  24. Firearms money? Hell, I just wish I had *some* money. Can’t even afford to go to the range anymore (and all I have to do is drive there and replenish my own ammo supply afterward).

    That’s what sucks the most about being financially strapped. Back when I could afford such things, those weekly range trips absolutely did buy happiness.

    They helped build my relationship with my son in a way that I never would have done otherwise. We did more than just shoot guns; we covered a lot of important ground in our conversations on those weekly drives, and he enjoyed being responsible for his own fun and safety. And I’ll never forget how happy my daughter was when she finally decided to try out this shooting thing and proved to herself that she could handle my .30-30 — and hit whatever she aimed it at (I didn’t have any doubt, but she did).

    So I guess it was wasn’t just spending, it was an investment in my family.

  25. Looking at doing a few things this year….

    Purchase an FDE Tavor, Glock 22 with Burris FF III and hopefully a 20 gauge semi-auto shotgun.

    As for ‘experiences’, going to hook up with local ZERT members for shooting. Daughter is also graduating college so we will do some shooting. Also thinking about doing some ‘charity instruction’ to the military for those that need help with sidearm manipulation.

    Will see how it goes.

  26. I’m at the point of my life where I have too many guns. I give them away to others that will use them . I have more than enough for my basic self defense/hunting/recreational use.

    I’m mostly spending on ammo now. I agree with the whole experience thing. Went trout fishing with a son last weekend. Will start gold panning again soon. Granddaughters are getting old enough for that.

  27. I can tell you from my experience with race cars, the objects are what we build or buy to enhance the experience and unfortunately, it’ll never be enough to satisfy that desire for more.

  28. There are quite a few firearms that I wouldn’t mind having, but I really can’t justify any of them. Sure they might look nice, or have nice features, but I ask myself the “Do they do anything that something I already own doesn’t do already?” question. If I can’t answer that question with a yes, then the firearm in question will stay where it is.

    Also have that when it comes to new calibers – namely do I want to stock up on another caliber? Usually that answer is no, also since I’ve got the basics covered.

    Only two types of firearms I’m looking to pick up in the future is:
    1) 8mm Mauser. Need a larger-caliber hunting rifle, and some old Mausers really speak to me. Sure there are other cost-effective/easily available caliber options out there for this niche, but I like the Mauser.

    2) .357 Revolver. Don’t really need one, but kinda thinking about getting one to round out my options. Afterall, a revolver is usually ok in most every state whereas [most] everything else I’ve got is decidedly not welcome in several already.

    A Beretta CX4 Storm might be something that finds it’s way into my safe even though it might be hard to justify via the question above. I’ve got a couple Beretta handguns, so magazine compatibility would figure heavily in this vs other PCC’s.

  29. Unfortunately, on a new Jeep. =( Gun buying put on hold until finances balance back out.

    The good news is I won’t be getting stuck in the woods this hunting season. If anything, I’ll be called to “unstuck” a few friends. =)

  30. The list for 2015 and 2016:
    1. Finish collection of Israeli service and -manufactured handguns.
    2. More accessories and uppers for my M11/9 SMG.
    3. Another safe.
    4. Ammo.

    In 2017/2018, I’ll probably start looking harder at the newer Israeli rifles – start off with a Timberwolf, then move on to the ACE rifles, maybe the X95 if I can stomach the thus-far-required barrel extension for MD.

  31. I got my dream gun last year (M14 clone with a forged receiver). This year and the foreseeable future will be about maximizing the ownership experience. My current priorities:
    1. Ammo
    2. Match entry fees
    3. Standard and high capacity magazines (high meaning larger than the standard 20 round)
    4. Quick-detach optics mount
    5. Beater stock for rough use or inclement weather
    6. Newer, better optics than what I have currently

    • I don’t recall seeing mags larger than 20 rds for the M1A. Darn things start getting heavy in there somewhere, too. Good luck, I managed to get mine scoring at 1000 yards, but you’ll learn a lot in the process.

      • CMI makes a 25 round magazine. I picked one up to test it. It is longer and a little heavier, but I don’t find that it interferes with my positions any, including prone. I haven’t done enough reliability testing with it to make any judgments yet, but if it proves reliable it will likely become my mainstay magazine.

        I believe somebody makes a 50 round drum type also, but I have never trusted drums.

  32. I’d like to get a matching pair of bolt-action 308’s, one lefty for me and one righty for my stepson. Either that or buy an AR10-pattern rifle we can both use. I’m really leaning toward the two bolt-actions though, it would be cool to each have our own rifles set up just so. Oh, and I wanna get a compact/subcompact striker-fired pistol. If money ends up being an issue though, I’ll just continue to spend what I can when I can on getting out to the range and maintaining those perishable fundamentals.

  33. Ammo, and a enough suppressors to never have to swap between hosts again. Then I’ll be done, for a little while……………….

  34. “How am I spending my gun money” Very carefully, depending how much of my wife’s beer allowance I can pilfer!

  35. Spent the last two years accumulating guns for a specific purpose (.22LR plinkers, 3 concealed carry options, 10mm 1911, hunting and black rifles, hunting and self-defense shotguns) now the money is going to hunting, ammo training. Headed to South Africa for kudu, blesbok, bush pig and warthog in June.

  36. 1. Kel Tec KSG (for the Wife)
    2. Kriss Vector SBR
    3. Silencerco Octane 45
    4. Springfield 1911 Loaded 9mm (for the Wife again)
    5. CZ Scorpion Evo SBR

    A handful for accessories, tax stamps, a trust and shit. Wasn’t even mid-April and I have blown through my spousal approved yearly gun budget.

    But I have to say I disagree with the experiences over items for the most part. I have been over this a lot with my Wife because she is the opposite. To me if I have an experience, it quickly becomes a memory and fades. An item you always have. You can enjoy it over and over, instead of just the memory of having enjoyed it. The thing is buying things that give you long term pleasure not short term, and can create fond memories every bit as much as any experience can. Most vacations I have taken I would gladly give up the memories of to have many more thousands of dollars of things I could still be enjoying to this day. Some, like my honeymoon, I wouldn’t give up for anything, but that trip to Carlsbad Caverns and other boring NM sites? I think I would rather have a loaded SCAR 17S that I can take out every weekend if I want.

  37. Most of my “gun” money goes to vehicle repairs and maintenance, my wife’s medicine and dr appointments and then to the computer fund.

    And there is less of it going around any more as well. It sucks but it’s life.

    Wish list is a 300 blackout sbr and suppressor.
    M&P .40c
    And would love to get one of each of the major rifles used in ww1 and ww2

  38. Personally match fees, ammo, then some old wood and steel. Not sure what yet, either a world war Milsurp or a blackpowder revolver. Shot a flintlock that I bought for the first time and now I’m going through a “holy black” phase. Only thing holding me back from buying a blackpowder revolver is NJs insane handgun laws that consider Glocks and matchlock pistols as the same exact thing. 3 months of paperwork and a 70$ fingerprint for a gun that should only cost like 200$? Screw that.

  39. Hmm, next things to spend money on…

    – ammunition
    – night sights for my Shield (and probably for my full size M&P as well)
    – a .22 carbine, probably a Ruger 10/22
    – probably reloading equipment (for 9mm)

    And then save money towards a Garand (hopefully before they run out).

  40. I’m focusing on the complete outfitting of my CZ Scorpion, which means a trust, a couple tax stamps, a silencer, and the 922r compliant SBR kit that CZ alleges will be out this summer. Depending on my choices it may run me a couple grand. So I might be hitting the ramen for quite a while…

  41. Ammo. No point in being the guy with 50 guns who couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat.

  42. I’m done buying guns for the most part this year. I acquired a few I really wanted last fall. My next priority is to outfit the rest of my rifles the way I want. Then after that, acquire or build some of the rifle kits I currently have sitting in boxes. They include a milled bulgy underfolder, bulgy AK-74 and a CETME L. Kits I want next are a G3 kit to make a G3K and also an AMD-65 to build.

  43. Over the past year or so, consolidation has become a priority for me. I decided on three rifle and three handgun calibers to stick with for life and from which I will not deviate. The 12 gauge and .22 will take care of the rest. Let’s be honest though, I’ll probably breach my own contract once or twice, but for now I’m sticking with the handful of calibers I enjoy shooting most.

  44. We buy things to make us happy, and we succeed. But only for a while.

    So true. The sight of the ammo safe practically bursting – oh joy! …but then you have to empty it when you go to the range for the experience. (end of joke)

  45. I can’t afford more guns so twice per month i purchase reloading consumables. Primers, powder and bullets and just add to my stock.

  46. They print “firearms money”? How can I get some of that?
    Actually, I don’t have room in the budget for firearms, so that is all wishful thinking, and I can barely keep up with my bad ammo habit. If I get anymore guns, that habit will only get worse. Plus I took four young adults shooting in January, and all they left me with was 150 rounds of MiniMags and 100 rounds of 9 mm, plus a few boxes of SD ammo. I haven’t recovered yet.

  47. As much as I’d love to do classes or get into competition, currently there’s monetary and logistical factors that prevent me from doing so. At this point in my life (I’m 28) I’m coming down from the “buy one of everything!” mindset and instead am buying ammo by the case as often as I can so I can get better with the guns I already own.

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