Saturday, February 06, 2010

Saturday PM...

...and my Sweetie is in the kitchen making mush for tomorrow me on this, she makes world-class mush. If there was an Olympic event for mush, we'd have gold medals hanging all over the house. I go for the classic Southern presentation — a little salt, a little of that wretched substance that passes for faux butter and there you are! My Sweetie, having roots in Indiana, insists on putting pancake syrup on hers, which, I believe causes Martha Stewart to spotaniously belch, regardless of where La Stewart may be or what she is engaged in doing...sort of that bell ringing, angel gets wings thing.

Anyhow, today's cowboy match in Cheyenne went pretty well...I shot .44 Special today — 2 Ruger Blackhawks and a Cimarron/Winchester 1866 clone, with Winchester Cowboy factory 240-gr/750 fps loads. I'm a little more tentative with the heavier caliber guns, but I'm starting to get a sense for how they run, which is pretty quick. I dropped a pistol shot on the last stage, once again proving categorically that if the sights aren't on the target when you pull the trigger, it's highly unlikely the bullet is going to hit the target.

On the way home we saw 2 spectacular moose (Mooses? Moosi? Moosae? Moosey-goosies?). Cool!

I'd like to talk a bit about the previous post and the of the things we all talk about is "best," what is; what isn't; etc. It's a question we deal with weekly on the television shows and in all our media, and it is a damn hard question to answer. That's because "best" in the context we're talking about doesn't have a single set of objective criteria. Rather, "best" is a purely subjective judgement, with criteria based on the individual and the individual's use of the product being evaluated.

Example...I recently bought a 7.62/.308 semiauto rifle after agonizing for, like, years. In the course of my  endless fretting about which rifle, I shot all of the ones I could lay my hands on...M1A, .308 Garand, FAL, H-K, CETME, FNAR, a proto SCAR Heavy, AR10, some other more exotic flavors from various AR15 guys. Here's an example from the "Not-A-Liberal Anymore" Gunner blog of the kind of agonizing I went through. Or I could refer you to Boston's Gun Bible, one of the classic texts IMHO, for his amazingly complex and thorough decision tree. In the end, I got a plain vanilla Old Skol FAL, an SA58 from DS Arms. Why? I thought it was a gun I could live with...I liked the fit, the way the gun recoiled, how it shot with cheap and expensive ammo, cost and availability of mags, etc. But the factors were specific to me. As Frank said, your mileage may vary.

New tech is new tech, and we first adapter types accept that. I like new guns and new weapons systems, but I believe in debugged technology. As Frank noted, the jury is still out on gas piston ARs. Remember how long it took the AR system to get from kludge to debugged? A decade or so? From my perspective as the producer of TBD/SURVIVAL, I would say that one of the attractions of the AR system is how common it is...lots of easily replaceable parts. The drawback of new systems is that they're new systems...if you buy into the system you need to make sure you have enough parts to carry you through in case the system doesn't succeed in the marketplace.


Kyle said...

Sometimes it seems as if certain facets of the gun culture are heavily invested in anti-progress and anti-intellectualism. In the minds of those individuals old always triumphs new. New technology's failure becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as the stoic members of community will berate and discourage adoption of new technology with intense vigor. Consequently, anything outside of conventional thinking has a nearly impossible time achieving the "debugged" stage to which you refer.

Dave S. said...

"New technology's failure becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as the stoic members of community will berate and discourage adoption of new technology with intense vigor."

Au contraire. I love Early Adopters. Do you know how much money you guys have saved me, and not just in firearms? I might have an attic full of Betamaxes and laser-disc players if not for you.

So I say, embrace the new! I'll cheer you on from the sidelines as you load trounds into your Dardick pistol.

clark said...

The best writing I've ever seen on why best is often a snare and a delusion and good enough is good enough was on your site by Patrick Sweeney - and I can't find it anymore.

Similar results from zero defect vs. continuous improvement. Temple Grandin writes that when the standard is perfection folks ignore the standard and pretend when the standard is 95% and getting better it works much better. Stanley Marcus said something similar about putting together a fur coat with the best fur from one year or from sorting over successively longer periods.

Wish I could find that Patrick Sweeney article on why there is no best maker or best 1911 or best choice of much of anything.

Michael Bane said...

Kyle, sometimes the marketplace kills a worthy, even superior, product — the 9 X 23 round in a 1911 platform, for instance — but I do believe that the "invisible hand of the market" is more often right than wrong, e.g., the Glock.

As importantly, the market drives evolutionary changes in products that ultimate refines them into much better products...the AR platform is an excellent example of that evolutionary process. Interestingly, the Clinton Ban issues in an explosion of entrepreneurs making AR upgrades and parts, which IMHO advanced the platform much farther than all the military refinements multiplied by 10.

Regarding gas piston system, I wish I had a crystal ball to see which, if any of the diverse systems, eventually emerges as the winner — a big military contract, for instance, or runaway success in the civilian market. For the companies involved, the financial stakes are huge. The market acceptance is a fickle thing. When Sig introduced their SIG556, which I shot in prototype and production models, I loved was superbly accurate, easy to shoot and very ergonomically sound. But when it came time to plunk down my money — essentially, close to the cost of 2 "regular" ARs — I took a pass...apparently I was not alone...if the SIG556 had been a huge success, would Sig have introduced a gas pistol platform AR?

As I have said on the podcasts (both audio and video), if you're new to ARs or a heavy volume user like a 3-gun shooter, by all means look at the gas piston guns...Ruger's a sponsor, of course, but I do like their SR556...the more time I spend with the Para TTR — a totally different system — and the people who designed the gun (Hi, AL!), the more I think that it indeed might be the breakthrough technology...but only time will tell...


Kristopher said...

Put an izzi forward assist charging handle on that FAL, Maybe one of DSA's great dustcover rails, stick a fork in it, and call it done.

Beaumont said...

Even heavy volume shooters are better served, IMO, with a 20" barrel and a standard-length gas system, than with any M4gery I've seen, piston or not. Put a M4-style stock on if you want it. But if you're not ducking in and out of Humvees, Bradleys, and the like, OAL isn't much of a factor. The extra barrel length and "debugged" pressure curve will serve you better and cause less heartburn.

Anonymous said...

I don't see this as a "best" vs "best" issue. The statement that there is something wrong with the beliefs of one group of believers vs the other, was what got me up on my hind legs! You remember, the part that said that we must be "living too deep in our own fantasy" part. All because some see an evolution of design as being better. It was an issue of attacking the character of those that you (fuguratively speaking, of course) disagree with. It was kind of akin to saying that my mother wears army boots, when you couldn't find any suitable response to what we are actually saying.
Life Member

Anonymous said...

Hello and thank you Life Member for bringing the focus of the previous blog back in point. I agree with you. While some may see all of the messages as old skool verses new I see it as addressing an attitude that pervades the gun culture. Granted there are people who have seen more and done more than me, I am a novice when it comes to firearms and weaponry. I do understand the art of war, win or die. I didn’t have to read the book to figure that out, street fighting gave me that education. I believe this discussion could go on further and soon become stale if it hasn’t already. I will end my part by saying I do enjoy forward thinking and ingenuity. I do enjoy futuristic items and weaponry but the practical side of me reminds me of the saying, “will it work when you need it to?” I agree with the other gentleman that I am grateful to many who spend hundreds of dollars more for the first production of a gun because they have to be the first on the block to have one; they sort out the shakes and rattles so when I look to make the same purchase my gun will work. MB I hear what you are saying about manufacturers and their attempts to introduce new product lines and how some fail to make their mark in the market.

To those companies all I can say is,”what were you thinking?”

Hundreds of thousands of dollars if not more put into R&D and what they come up with is a rifle or pistol that is priced out of the average man’s market. I also looked at the Ruger 5.56 with slobbery stuff running down my chin but one whiff of the price tag instantly told me it was out of reach for me. Quality costs, that is true but at the same time not many Bentlys crowd my city streets, more like vehicles tens of thousands of dollars less that the average man can afford. Companies who pursue creating a weapon and expect to sell that weapon over the $1,500.00 mark are now looking at courting a smaller and more selective crowd with fatter pockets but still, there are fewer of them. In my world that is considered trying to make one month’s rent on one week’s worth of work. If the gun manufacturers want to know what will sell take a look at what the people are buying and what the average price is, that is what will sell. Give the people what they want. It amazes me how companies make it sound like voodoo science to get a product that will capture a corner of the market. Ruger did well with the LCP, using a caliber that is common, can be shot from a compact pistol and said pistol can be manufactured inexpensively.

I would drive around with a WW II tank if I could, I mean, that is what using a rifle is for right? To fight your way back to your tank :-).

I believe you made my point when you stated that you liked the rifle right up until you saw the price tag.
Does it work? Can I afford it? Does it work?
Lou Giacona
(palmbay lou) 

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