Disclaimer: This isn't intended to disparage anyone's favorites. The "neato factor" trumps any argument for practicality when it comes to firearms and "it's cool looking" is a valid reason for acquisition.
Is there anyone else out there in firearms forum-land besides me who looks dubiously at some firearms creations that have been marketed with great success? There are some designs that have become accepted in our hobby over the years, even becoming wildly popular. When critically examined though they don't always make sense to every shooter.
Anyway, confession is said to be good for the soul so I'm going to have true confessions here about some firearms concepts that I just cannot warm up to. They just seem like pointless tangents to me.
Thompson Center Contender Growing up I had an older cousin up with who obtained a Contender and 3 accessory barrels fairly early on. He had a .44 Magnum barrel, a .45/410 barrel, and another that I can't now recall. He'd had it for a couple of years when I first shot it at the side of the hill at at our old family place on the lake, using the .44 Magnum barrel, back in the very early 1970s. This was my first experience with .44 Magnum but I don't remember much about it. I was a high school kid and it was shooting so I was tickled.
The Contender has undeniably been successful. Some more seasoned forum members may recall more about them in the early days than I do but it seems to me that they came onto the market with no real purpose in mind. Silhouette shooting hadn't risen to prominence and handgun hunting was more of a stunt than anything to be taken seriously. Folks snapped up Contenders and then developed things to do with them. At least that's my perception.
I always figured on jumping on the Contender bandwagon at some point. Several times I cam perilously close to purchasing one. The concept grew and so did the barrel configurations.
About the time that the 7mm TCU caught fire a friend in Oklahoma acquired a Contender with a 7mm TCU barrel. He scoped it up and had fun handloading for it. He took at least one deer with it too. He was down for a visit on one occasion and we took his Contender to Alpine range in Fort Worth and spent an afternoon shooting it off the bench rest at 100 yards. He shot it quite well and got great groups with it. I was "deer accurate" with it but just didn't shoot it all that well. It was a particularly unsatisfying experience to use that pistol. It felt like a rifle with a handicap.
That's about the time when I realized that I probably wasn't ever going the Contender route. It wasn't a pistol in any traditional sense and made for a poorly configured rifle. Bob Milek pushed Contenders in those days in his magazine articles.
I was shooting silhouette competition quite a lot about that time and Contenders were showing up with greater frequency on the firing lines. After the 1982 season scopes were allowed so I bailed on silhouette competition. I really enjoyed shooting the steel targets but didn't want to compete using that type of equipment.
Does anyone remember when one had to have a grip of steel to open a Contender? They were later produced to be easier to open but all the ones I was around were tough to open.
Accessory barrels, yippee. I always enjoyed the notion of more guns rather than consolidating things into a frame and barrels.
I really don't see the attraction in the Contender but I'm missing something for they've sold like hot cakes for years and there's a mature collector's market out there for the myriad barrel chamberings/configurations.
Remington XP 100 (and similar bolt action "pistols") I got to shoot a scoped XP 100 on an occasion at the gun club range and felt it shared all the same attributes of the Contender but in spades. Wasn't it built on the Remington 600 rifle action? The same gun club member who had the XP 100 later rebarreled it from its original .221 Fireball chambering to a .243 Winchester. I shot it that way too. This conversion did nothing for the contraption in my view.
It was heavy, awkward and felt exactly like a bolt action rifle missing a certain integral bit. I've not kept up but haven't these and most other manufacturers' similar creations (the Weatherby bolt action pistol comes to mind) been discontinued for some years now.
Seems nonsensical to me. It wouldn't even be fun to store. It wouldn't really fit in with the handguns and won't go on the rifle rack either. I guess it could hang in the closet with the compound bow.
Revolving Rifles Whether percussion or cartridge, this is just wrong. It would be a nuisance to have to be stuck with only a revolving long arm of any sort. Minding the barrel/cylinder gap with eyes and body parts would rapidly become irksome and, with a percussion model, a chain fire could be disastrous, leaving one maimed. Colt originally had a full line of these prior to the Civil War, including shotgun configurations. All were percussion. These modern cartridge renditions apparently aren't even historically accurate. I have never shot one. While I'd certainly take the opportunity if given it, I don't feel I've missed anything.
That street-sweeper shotgun is another that fits this category.
"Watch-fob" .22 revolvers. Freedom and NAA have sold a lot of these. They make a great novelty item and can be entertaining on a pleasant afternoon's plinking session out in the country. It's great fun to speculate about their capabilities if that was all one possessed for self defense (short answer: one could be said to be wanting in defensive capabilities). Sure they can't be beat for concealment as one can practically hide one between the cheek and gum but is there really a crying need for a "tear duct" gun?
Realistically they are a bit annoying to hold, aim, shoot, and reload. For me the initial fun of shooting one would wear off pretty rapidly. Then there's the very real possibility of losing it in the clutter of the reloading bench. It might get swept up with the spent primers or something.
The only thing worse that the .22 Long Rifle versions of micro-revolvers is the bloated .22 Magnum versions which are larger, less cute, less entertaining, more expensive to feed, more annoying, and still so marginal. Larger grip designs and folding grip frames gives a false illusion of usefully improved ergonomics.
The pistol grip version of the defensive shotgun. Mostly an accessory item but some have been sold as a factory variation. A fellow on a deer lease at San Saba, Texas had one of first ones I'd ever handled back in the early 1980s. I can't now recall if it was a Remington Model 870 or a Mossberg Model 500 but it was short, black, and pistol-grip equipped which truly did give it that bad-to-the-bone look. He told me I ought to take it deer hunting one afternoon to see if I could jump one out of a thicket at close range. I thought: "why not" and so marched around a portion of the ranch carrying this thing and feeling bad-to-the-bone. Didn't find a shoot-able deer so returned to camp in time to exchange it for my Savage Model 99 .300 Savage rifle for the last 1 1/2 hours of hunting time before dark. Didn't shoot a deer then either but did hammer the "world's largest" 'coon at dusk from 15 yards away. That's another story but even great, huge 'coons don't hold up the the .300 Savage.
Shot the pistol grip shotgun later on the trip and what a disappointment that was. High-brass 12 gauge loads were wearing to the wrist of the shooting hand and pumping the action was very clumsy. It was unnecessarily difficult to put the shot load on target at any range at all. A traditionally stocked shotgun, fired from the hip is easier to hit with and feels more substantial in the hand.
Pistol grip equipped shotguns look bad in a good sort of way but are easier to stow than they are to shoot effectively. I'll give 'em a miss.
.410 revolvers A recent fad of pointlessness. This revolver is ungainly no matter whether it originated in South America or Springfield, Massachusetts. Just when it appeared that the silly fad had run its course, Smith & Wesson had to go and jump on the bandwagon. Perhaps their stockholders are happy with its earnings. I'm holding out for Colt to reintroduce the Python with a .410 option myself.
The only .410 I have is a plebeian H&R Topper action single shot shotgun and it has more redeeming qualities than the .410 revolver. The .410 could be great fun in a high-grade double or over and under. It'd be the cat's meow for dove hunting over a stock tank if housed in the classic Winchester Model 42. It has no business being in a revolver. I've not fired one but have fired some other .410 "pistols." This was an underwhelming experience in my view. The Dr Pepper can at ten yards was not even incapacitated much. Now there are special self defense loads for these things which are frequently touted as THE thing for defense from car jackings. A common .45 Colt or .45 ACP revolver would be more to the point for settling some car jacker's hash if his hash required settling. The .410 revolver is a waste of cylinder steel with no real return other than the novelty effect. After a trip or two to the range these unwieldy revolvers are likely retired to become conversation pieces. I do think the craze has peaked and is on the wane. I'm embarrassed for Smith & Wesson.
Rossi Ranch Hand Mare's Leg mutilations really don't compute in my pea-brain. Let's see what we can do to mutilate this rifle to make it less effective and more awkward to shoot. Perhaps there are a lot more Steve McQueen fans out there than I though. It ought to be a crime to commit such an atrocity to a good John Browning lever action rifle design and excessively shortening the barrel and removing the useful piece of lumber that is called a stock is an atrocity. It is sold as a handgun but is the absolute worst of both worlds. Gag-a-maggot, the things are hideous! They seem to be rising in popularity though and folks are imagining all sorts of use to which they could be put. Posturing in front of a mirror is probably the unspoken leading use for one.
If a lever action pistol is required, the old Smith & Wesson Volcanic could be modernized to be a much more shoot-able variation of the breed. Think about that one for a moment. Done up in .44 Special, .44-40, or even .44 Magnum.
The in-line muzzleloader concept that has swept the special "muzzle loading" deer seasons by storm. Originally, the muzzle loading season was promoted to give the primitive arms enthusiast an opportunity to be in the field without competing with hoards of hunters carrying modern scoped rifles. The fan of the muzzle loader could enjoy his back-to-the-basics equipment and his special short season, dithering over percussion caps, dressing flints, keeping his powder dry, along with appreciating the limited range of his smoke pole and it's open sights. No more! Now the muzzle loading season has been appropriated by a new breed of hunter. He carries a modern in-line rifle with a scope that has the same fundamental appearance as a modern scoped bolt action rifle, all stocked in the latest high-tech synthetic, loaded with synthetic black powder, primed with shotgun primers, and using jacketed bullets. While it may technically comply with the letter of the law it most certainly doesn't comply with the spirit and intent of the special season as it was originally created and granted to hunters years ago. It's evolved back into the realm of the modern scoped center fire rifle. In my view the inline muzzle loader and all its gadgets amounts to cheating.
There you have it. True confessions about some firearms. Most of these are in the "handgun" category and the pistol gripped shotgun isn't far from it.
Do y'all have any privately held opinions that need to be aired?