Thursday, November 10, 2005

The Evolution of the Handgun Market

I roiginally published this on the SIG Forum as a quickie outline of handgun evolution, and a buddy of mine suggested I transfer it to the blog.

Think of the evolution of the handgun market as something like this:

Post WW2 and the 1950s — "You NEED a handgun, even if you're not a cop, motor-bank bandit or a target shooter!" The birth of the modern civilian market for handguns. (Thank you Mr. Ruger...)

1960s — "Hunters need a handgun to carry along with their rifle!" Handgun market pushes into traditional firearms markets. (thank you Mr. Keith and Mr. Skelton...)

1970s — "No, you need THIS handgun, because it actually shoots well!" Handgun market begins to focus on self-defense; birth of "practical shooting." (Thank you Mr. Cooper...)

1980s — "You need every kind of handgun, because they've got lots of different calibers, lots of bullets and lots of...everything!" The handgun market overtakes more traditional markets and begins fractionalizing. {Thank you, Mr. Glock...)

1990s — "You need 1911s! Right now! And then you need the expensive ones in purple!" The beginning of "botique" marketing of handguns, essentially primarily marketing on features rather than function. (Thank you, Kimber...)

2000 to present — "You need this year's model, plus that model from 30 years ago!" More sophisticated marketing of handguns on features, ranging from different finishes, specifically branded models, in-line expansions and even retro versions." Welcome to the New World, which is quite literally the Golden Age of Handguns. (Thank you, NRA, for making sure there is a present!!!!)

Handguns were initially marketed on function, because the function varied so widely. Now, in all honesty, virtually all modern handguns are reliable, accurate and will do what they say they will do. If a high level of FUNCTIONALITY is universal, what is the differentiating factor that drives you to buy a specific gun ovr a different gun? Or, put differently, why are there a thousand different flavors of KImber 1911s and a Glock Collectors Club, Little Grasshopper???


Anonymous said...

I'm SO embarrassed to say this....
I LIKE the wacky colored guns. Why not colorful, pretty guns? I loved the guns in Romeo and Juliet.

Michael Bane said...


I am so THERE!

Wait 'til you see the SHOT SHOW/SHOOTING GALLERY giveaway gun, a Ruger Mark II in electric yellow with contrasting grips and muzzle break.

I have an STI racegun in fetching red, white and blue.

I tried to get Glock to pour a few G19s in electric green, but those darned Austrians have no sense of humor!


Anonymous said...

"Why are there a thousand different flavors of KImber 1911s and a Glock Collectors Club, Little Grasshopper???" Because were Americans and we can! Besides it's fun to piss off the Brady Bunch, UN and EU.
Happy 230th Birthday USMC

Anonymous said...

"I have an STI racegun in fetching red, white and blue."
OH HELL YEAH! (Despite my general objections to the 'spaceman spiff official death ray' look of most race guns- lol!) I'm in the slow process of making my "Kalashni-klone" into something purty. I'm going to inlay stained glass looking pics of Russian saints(Icons)into cuts in the magazine sides, providing I can do it while still maintaining functionality(so far, I've ruined 2), and an inlay of actual glass depicting Gen. Kalashnikov himself into the stock.
I'll call it the Avtomat Kathedrokov!

Publicola said...

Thanking the NRA for making sure there is a present? Sorry, can't sign on to the thank you card. I'm thinking that until they stop supporting the gun control that they do support (GCA, NFA, Hughes Amendment, Brady, shall issue ccw instead of no permit required CCW, Colorado's guilty til proven innocent law, etc...), any good they do is penance, not something worthy of praise.

I'd also have thrown in the 1900-1910 "bicycle" gun ad as well as the 1920-1930 short barreled shotgun (Ithaca Auto Burglar comes to mind) a truck/car handgun push. Perhaps not that relevant to your overall point but neat to talk about, especially to folks who don't think that self defense was an issue (or marketing strategy) until the 70's.

Michael Bane said...

The Ithaca Auto Burglar is one of my favorite guns...and I've never even shot one. GOT TO BE SG episode on short-barrel shotguns!

Pixs of Russian saints! Now we're talking serious cool. You can probably get a date with Tina Fey with that AK...


Anonymous said...

Since this is 2005, I demand a gun that matches my iPod!

It could be called the iShoot.

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