I’m a marketing guy, first and foremost. I was raised that way. From a very tender age, my pater familias drilled into my head how to get past the hype and determine if the advertiser was playing us. So I tend to look at things from a very skeptical, analytical point. But I’m also human. Marketing works on me, too, even if most of the time I can see through the techniques. Marketing is designed to make you react emotionally instead of logically. You can see that in the way people express their preferences. I can’t drive from here to school to pick up my daughter, without seeing at least one pickup sporting a vinyl cutout of a demonic looking Calvin, whizzing on the logo of a competitor’s product. And you see it a lot on TTAG. We have a variety of fanboys – 1911’s, Glocks, wheelguns – they all have a devoted base. But a reply to RF’s post last week asking if John Browning was the greatest gun inventor who ever lived got me to thinking: is this a good thing?
When I made the conscious decision to get trained and buy a gun, I did what I usually do. I get a lot of reference materials from a lot of different sources, and I study. Then I did what I always seem to do: make an emotional decision and rationalize the Hell out of it, with all my newfound knowledge.
I’d grown up with a father who’d served in the U.S. Navy, in fact, he was on Admiral Nimitz staff, as a Petty Officer, Third Class. I grew up imagining all the things he never told me about – gun battles, near misses, danger, excitement…all the things a pre-pubescent boy dreams about. But he didn’t tell me those stories, because they never happened. Like tens of thousands of our military in WWII, he served behind the lines. He was shot at by a Japanese sniper (once) on Guam. And he almost got his head blown off by a nervous M.P. when he couldn’t immediately remember the password.
In fact, he never carried the very gun I imagined was at the heart of all his adventures, a U.S. Navy Colt .45 ACP semi-automatic pistol, Model 1911 M1A. Hey, lots of guys came home, having served honorably, doing whatever Uncle Sam asked of them. The fallacy we enjoy in hindsight is that everybody saw action.
But all the fevered imagination of my 10-year-old mind left me with a keen appreciation for the 1911. So when I began to look at guns, I was already favorably disposed towards the 1911.
Allow me to digress for a moment. As a kid, we had lots of pets. Hamsters. Gerbils. Goldfish. A rabbit named “Lucky” that hung himself. (Don’t ask.) Dogs. We never had a lot of luck with pets, but as an adult, I decided that having a dog would be the thing to do. So not long before I married, I bought books and magazines and started researching the perfect breed.
Keep in mind, I was to be a newbie pet owner, living in Dallas, Texas, in a nice residential area (Lakewood) with nice sized back yard which was sadly, fence-free. There are many breeds the experts recommend for those new to dog ownership, living in a part of the country that’s hot more often than not.
A Siberian Husky is not one of them. Nope. Huskies are “headstrong” and “willful” (read: waaaay too stubborn for an inexperienced owner without the patience to deal with them). They have a “Winter Coat” (read: You’re gonna get a basketball-sized ball o’ fur every time you brush them. Which had better be daily, unless you want everything in your house to take on the look of dull gray snowy slush, days after a good-sized snowstorm in Chicago’s Loop.
I bought a Husky. I thought, “Inexperienced owner? Feh. I can handle it. How hard can it be brush a dog every now and then? Working dog? Sure, I’ll walk her regularly.”
Let’s just say the reality of owning a Husky was nothing like my fantasy of owning such a dog. Don’t get me wrong. I loved my dog. She was everything a Husky should be – beautiful, playful, mischievous, and ate a lot. Like a small horse, actually. So let’s just say I’m not unaccustomed to making decisions based on emotion, and using “logic” as a cover.
I did do a lot of research on guns. Some of the best advice I received came from shooters that told me, “Ignore everything you hear about brands and models. Go with what feels good in your hand.” And to this day, nothing feels more natural or more like an extension of my arm, than John Moses Browning’s most famous offspring.
I got other good intel – namely, if you’re buying but one gun for concealed carry, make sure it’s lightweight and you can carry it comfortably all day long. But no, I was determined to own the gun my dad WOULD have carried, had he carried in WWII.
I bought a Springfield Armory 1911 “Loaded,” which was essentially a WWII 1911 with a few modern conveniences (like a beavertail grip safety). Think of it like a modern Jeep, which looks like a Willys, but drives more like an SUV.
I got the 5″ barrel model, “Parkerized” finish, with a steel frame. Damn thing weighs 40 ounces, and that’s when it’s bereft of bullets. Carryin’ that bad boy on my hip all day long is like dragging around a free weight strapped to my hip. And that 5″ barrel? It knew just how to pinch an inch of flesh between my chair and my hip. Not fun.
Being a couple of years older and presumably wiser, I started a search for my “dream gun.” Problem is, I have champagne tastes (and NOT for the cheap stuff) and a beer budget. But I had my heart set on a Kimber Crimson Carry Pro II. I eventually acquired same. And it’s a great gun. Feels great in my hand. Shoots reliably. Lightweight. And a 4″ barrel is a nice compromise between a 5″ (too long to carry) and a 3″ (too short to depend on accuracy).
For some time, I counted myself in the 1911 Fanboy club. You know the type. The ones who have that faint air of superiority about them, when someone tells them that they shoot a Glock. Yeah. One of those guys.
But something funny happened along the way. I began to see the virtues in a number of different handguns, many of them as far removed from Browning’s babies as you could get and still have them shoot bullets.
For instance, I have developed an appreciation, nay desire to own a polymer gun. I’m still favoring the Springfield XDM over the 4gen Glock, but again, that’s because of how it fits in my hand.
I’m also warming to the idea of a wheelgun. My dad’s S&W .38 Special is a neat little pocket pistol with it’s snub nose and small size. Can’t stand the trigger, though. It’s either like trying to move a cornerstone of the Great Pyramid into place with your finger, or cocked, it’s just one hair’s breath away from a hair trigger. I’m really intrigued by the Chiappa Rhino, to tell the truth. I think that could end up being my wheelgun of choice.
Then there’s the “other” guns. The Berettas, Sig Sauers, Kahrs – you name it, the ones that aren’t 1911s or Glock/clones. I’m warming up to them, too.
One thing that stands out in my newly-cloud-free thinking. There are a lot of brands of guns out there, because everybody’s different. Not everybody “fits” a 1911. And not everybody has the same requirements as I do. Some feel more comfortable with a higher-capacity, double-stack magazine. Some want a small gun. Some go large. Some want the latest technology. Others want to rely on the tried and true.
So where do I come down on the Fanboys and Firearms question? Call me a “universalist.” I have preferences, but I’m working hard to insure that they are based on facts and not the fantasies of a younger me. If I were a wealthier man, I’d invest in a bunch of different guns, and keep selling off the ones I don’t like. But for now, I’m going to do some more research.
And the next time I hear someone prattle on about how anything but a 1911 is craptastic, or how Glock has no competition, I’m going to smile politely and go back to my reading. If that’s heresy, then so be it. I’m done with the Fanboy fandango. I’m no fanboy. I’m a gun owner. Period.