What makes a gun "high end?"

What makes a gun "high end?"

This is a discussion on What makes a gun "high end?" within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I've been thinking a lot lately about "high-end" vs "low-end" firearms, especially when comparing 1911s. JD and I have often gotten comments such as "Wow, ...

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  1. #1
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    What makes a gun "high end?"

    I've been thinking a lot lately about "high-end" vs "low-end" firearms, especially when comparing 1911s.

    JD and I have often gotten comments such as "Wow, you don't mess around with the 'low-end' stuff," when it is discovered that we own one Wilson Combat, a Les Baer and we have a Nighthawk Custom being made at this very moment.

    No one has argued that these are not high-end 1911s, but I have also heard argued that the Taurus PT1911 is high-end because of its features or that any Kimber is "high-end" because.. well.. they're Kimbers and you pay big money for them.

    And so I have been thinking... what makes a high-end pistol a high-end pistol.

    Is it the price?
    I should hope that price alone does not warrant any kind of status as a "high-end" product.

    If I put a $3,000 price tag on a Bryco-Jennings I hope that some idiot wouldn't call it high-end (though I'm sure SOMEONE would try). Though anyone "in the know" would laugh ceaselessly.

    Is it features?
    I have heard a lot of people claim that the Taurus PT 1911 is "high-end" because of its features. Even Taurus advertises that you get so many "high-end" features for a much lower price.

    If that were the case then should I be able to slap a pair of night sights and an ambi safety on a Hi-Point and call it "high-end?"

    Yes, features could add to a reason for something being high as more options and better features are desireable but is that the qualifier for "high-end-hood." Yet it seems that something in addition to features should be considered.. build, perhaps?

    Is it customization?
    So I call up the Springfield Custom Shop and give them a few specs I want on my firearm and they do that for me. Does that automatically make a firearm "high-end?"

    Is it the quality of the parts?
    I think quality of parts should certainly be part of a high-end firearm but I do not necessarily think it to be "the qualifier." You can take quality parts and poorly put them together and have a terrible firearm.

    I'm sure there are firearm that would also be considered "mid-end" guns as well and how would one classify those?

    How would you describe the characteristics of a "low" "mid" or "high-end" firearm and when one passes from one category to the next?


  2. #2
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    That's tough to nail down except for the obvious "low-end" examples you gave.

    In the end it is most likely about price tags and perceptions and little else of substance.
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    VIP Member Array tkruf's Avatar
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    I think it is just a term people use and is not defined specifically. I also don't think anyone could give you a straight "correct" answer on that Lima. :) Sorry, but I think this may be a stumper! LOL
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    I'd say it's a combination between reputation and attention to detail, with that you'll also get a higher price tag. You can buy a gun thats perfectly reliable but might not have the fit and finish as another brand who might have higher quality standards and maybe even hand fit them to make sure it's meets their standards 100% before it heads out the door.

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    From what I've heard you just need to stamp the word "Kahr" on the gun and immediately becomes "high end."
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  6. #6
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    Its a combo of things. Design, materials used, machining quality (AKA workmanship) and reputation. There are sub categories as well, but they will all fit into those I've listed.
    "Just blame Sixto"

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    i think fit, finish and features all come into play when youre talking about the level a gun is described at...

    the taurus 1911 is not considered a high end gun and has some fit and finish issues...but it does include many standard features that are added to 1911s at normally extra cost...including skeletonized triggers and hammers, ambi safety, etc....those dont make it a high end gun but it functions very well and has some features many would not be able to afford if not included with the gun...

    the les baer, kimbers, etc have beautiful fit and finish and are a work of art to look at...most end up customized to some point anfd regardless of their cost its not unusual to need some tweaking to make em run right with certain ammo types....

    a high point is never going to be a high end gun as it isnt designed with anything in mind other than function...which seems to be a strong point for them regardless of what people think due to the look and price...

    so maybe high end is more of an asthetic value placed on a gun based on its attention to detail and correspondingly high price...as i know a few people who own high end 1911's and have shelved them for just as if not more dependable lower end models (taurus & ria) because they shoot as well and arent as likely to mind getting a scratch or 2....

    i am rough on equipment so the draw to high end guns is purely a like to look at em thing for me...i pick up a custom 1911 and drool...just like when i look at a lamborghini or a hooters girl...both of them beautiful but of no use to me...form follows function in my book and the fact that i traded a 1911 on one of my glocks says it all for me..i loved shooting it but it wasnt practical for me...i love the beauty aspect of some of the high end guns but dont picture myself buying something cause its pretty....i buy it to run it...

    so i guess high end is a state of mind....by the way...i owned a jiminez ja380 for a while and put well over 1000 rounds through it as a fun range gun...it was more dependable than most keltecs and lcp's ive read about...good question...what is high end? (not that i believe keltecs and lcps are touted as high end...but what are we looking for really?)

  8. #8
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    You make some great points.
    I will talk from a commoner's stand point.
    I own Ruger's and SIG's, many will (Me too) say there is Mid and High end autos.
    I have a SR9c and P229R (with nite sites). My Sig cost more then twice the Ruger, buy I fired the Ruger better right out out of the box then my SIG.
    Now when I pull the slides back the the edges of my Ruger are sharper and feels very ruff. The SIG is almost baby smooth.
    I can use the sights of the SR9c better then the sights of my P229 (SIG nite site w/Tricon front), (IN THE LIGHT that I shoot with at the local indoor range and with MY eyes)
    My SIG has a tighter feel of all of the parts, more quality....

    So to me a high end gun is more "refined"... Not just how it shoots...
    I have a so called Cheep gun, Raven 25 auto, and I can qualify for a CCW permit with it (in my State), so it that better then a HIGH end Browning? (No and Yes).

    So after rambling, to me it's the finish and quality of build that makes a "High", "Mid" & "low" end.

    My 2 cents,
    Lateck,

  9. #9
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    My straight answer would be in-line with what SIXTO said. Although I have to say that individual perception plays into this as well. One might consider an "Olive Garden" as a nice italian restaurant....other's might consider this a standard chain restaurant with mediocre food. I personally would consider it the latter. Someone comparing a Hi Point to a Glock might consider the Glock "high end".....but a Glock to an HK....to me the HK wins. So do we compare across all offerings on the market....compare within segments such as "polymer frames"...or comparison within a certain design? This can be debated in so many ways, I'm not sure there is a correct answer to the definition of High End. To each his own.

  10. #10
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    To many people, "High End" perception is relative.
    If you have a Jennings, an XD is "High End".
    If you have a CQB, a Super Grade is "High End".

    "High End" to me is about functionality. My Glocks are high end to me, because they function without flaw.

  11. #11
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    *carguy makes some good points.

    I should state that I treat all my guns as if they were low end and easily replaceable. I've never owned a safe queen and doubt I ever will. I'll lend any of my guns out, even during a class. I'll roll around on the ground with it in the holster during a carbine class - in the rain. Doesn't matter. Just like I park my cars as close to the front as I can!

    I have two Nighthawks (just got rid of another) and one on order. I have a VBOB and a Springer along with some others. I have some low end guns as well, like the Sigs, HK's, Glock and M&P, plus a couple others. To me, there's a few things that make a gun higher end.

    I do not think my VBOB is higher end. I don't think my Springer or even my Benny Hill is high end. My Nighthawks are kind of high end. I drive a Mercedes and my wife drives a Jag, neither are truly high end, though they're only 3 and 2 years old, respectively. My PDP and Talon II (maybe) may be considered high end and the Predator I have ordered may as . There needs to be a few things for me to consider it that.

    1. A "wow" factor to it.

    2. Something that is out of reach for some. I do not consider anything under $3,000 out of reach, so the VBOB, some Baer's and other similar guns aren't high end to me, but are a good mid range gun. Actually, the Nighthawks I own aren't really high end either, but their Masters Edition is higher class just like Wilson's Master Grade. I have suits that cost more than most of my 1911's. They're higher end.

    3. Better than average parts with hand fitting helps as does a wait time IF it's for quality. Wait time for a sold out new $800 gun doesn't count. The wait time need to be in addition to the other things that push it towards higher end.

    It needs to be a combination of these things. The main thing though, is that it's held at a higher level than most of it's peers. My $3,600 Nighthawk PDP may be considered high end, but my $42,000 Mercedes and similarly priced Jag are not in my opinion because there are other models that are much more expensive. Not everyone, but very many can own my cars, but not anyone can own the CL65 at $175,000.

    So, there needs to be an indication that it's finer than most, built with better parts with more attention to detail. It needs to be out of reach to some. It needs to give you a certain feeling of pride. At any given moment, I could lose a Sig or HK and just go to the shop and come home with another from the shelf. If that happened to two of the three Nighthawks, I'd have to reorder them and wait three months or so, one could easily be replaced.

    You need to look at the very lowest and the very highest of that particular class of item and the rest fall in to place. HighPoint to a custom Heinie (not talking H&H double rifles here)

    Off the shelf Sigs, Glocks, HK's, M&Ps, some Kimbers, etc. - Lower end with Sig being on the higher end of lower end :) I know to some that the Sig 226 is higher end and may be out of reach. I know for some the 226 is low end and they may buy a few of them for the heck of it.

    Some Kimbers, some Springers, some of the more custom Sigs maybe, most Baers and some Browns, VBOB, CBOB - Mid range

    Wilson Combat, Nighthawk, some Baers and Browns - higher mid range or lower high end

    Wilson Master Grade, Nighthawk's Master Edition - higher end

    Heinie when there was a ten year wait (Yam has a 6+ year wait now, I believe) - high end

    If we were talking double rifles here, $10,000 would be on the low end. It's all relative. I live in a high class neighborhood where houses average $350,000 because we're in South Texas. If we were in my Dad's neighborhood outside LA, a $350,000 home would be a tear-down and you'd be buying it for the lot and build new. Again, it's all relative!

    Walker Blue Label Scotch vs Milwaukee's Best would be higher mid range vs. low end. Louis the XIII Black Pearl for $100,000 vs Walker Red Label - Very high end vs low end. I have a buddy with over $2,000,000 worth of shotguns.... yes, two million and it's not all that many shotguns. that's HIGH class.
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    I own several Colt SAA six guns, I have a Krieghoff double that is worth more than my Harley. Now they are very expensive to buy, but I don't consider them high end because my Rugers and Marlins are actually tougher, just as accurate, and more dependable. Notas purdy to look at but better in ways that count for me. In the early spring of this year I sold my Wilson, Bauer, and Brown 1911s. I think in the end it is what you the individual place value on.

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    VIP Member Array jonconsiglio's Avatar
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    yeah, glockman... we still need to talk about that when you make your way down here
    Proven combat techniques may not be flashy and may require a bit more physical effort on the part of the shooter. Further, they may not win competition matches, but they will help ensure your survival in a shooting or gunfight on the street. ~Paul Howe

  14. #14
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    I would say it comes down mostly to the craftmanship that goes into them. Fit and finish coupled with reliability are what truly make a high end firearm just that. Customer service after the sale, or more importantly how the manufaturer will support their firearm also plays a huge part in the high end perception. I own and shoot several Shiloh Sharps black powder rifles that cost upward in the $4000 range. An $1800 Pedersoli will shoot as good, but put them side by side and you immediately see the cost difference. Then call up the folks in Big Timber Montana and you quickly realize the pride they take in their lifetime gauanteed products and you'll see why it's high end and worth every penny you pay for it.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by glockman10mm View Post
    I own several Colt SAA six guns, I have a Krieghoff double that is worth more than my Harley. Now they are very expensive to buy, but I don't consider them high end because my Rugers and Marlins are actually tougher, just as accurate, and more dependable. Notas purdy to look at but better in ways that count for me. In the early spring of this year I sold my Wilson, Bauer, and Brown 1911s. I think in the end it is what you the individual place value on.
    You mean Baer?
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