Post By PEF
June 18th, 2013 12:03 AM
Are we living in a Golden Age of Firearms?
I often marvel at the imaginative ingenuity of firearms manufactures during the mid- to late 1800’s. In a period of about 30 years, firearm technology advanced from muzzle loaders to fully automatic machine guns. If I pause for a moment and think about not only the technological leaps necessary to bridge such a gap in firepower, but also about how it necessitated changes in tactics and warfare in general, I am simply astounded by the impact of the emergence of modern weaponry.
I have heard this period referred to as a Golden Age of firearms. But there’s an argument to be made that the first half of the twentieth century brought about equally significant advances. Perhaps the “perfection” of the semi-automatic pistol in terms of a balance size, lethality and reliability; the emergence of manufacturing techniques that facilitated the production of relatively cheaply made but relatively highly reliable semi-automatic and automatic rifles and machine pistols; etc.
Then there’s the post war/cold war years, or the “second half” of the twentieth century, during which assault type rifles emerged and were the main implements in may theaters across the globe. We civilians seem to be the beneficiaries of these most recent developments, as the AR/AK and “polymer” pistols seem the current standard for most self defense platforms.
But often we compare and contrast the guns of today to the guns of yesterday, and bemoan what we, the firearms community, have “lost.”
But I wonder if we have really lost anything at all.
There is so much variety today. A person shopping for a self defense weapon faces a daunting task. There are a multitude of calibers, designs, and sizes from which to choose, and each outperforms the others in some task and is outperformed by the others in some other task.
Take pistols, for example. They are now made with polymers and lightweight materials for many low stress parts, reducing weight and aiding in concealability. Furthermore, sub-compacts chambered for the more powerful calibers – e.g., the .40 and .45 – are now available and extremely reliable.
And these are just the handguns. One can make the same observations regarding rifles and shotguns.
Yet even with all these advances, these guns are still priced within the reach of most Americans, and are not much more expensive, and in some cases less expensive, than the guns of yesteryear.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ll take a Smith & Wesson revolver with a 1960’s – 1980’s serial number date range any day of the week. And I’ve yet to see a handgun with lines that can match a Browning Hi Power. But that doesn’t mean these old guns are “better.” For me, it’s about history.
What do you think? Are today’s guns of lesser “worth” because of the replacement of artisans with modern manufacturing techniques? Or are today’s guns lacking in the intangibles that we seem to attach to many of our older guns? And with respect to those older guns, were those “intangibles” ever really attached by the original purchaser, or did that original owner all those years ago merely look at that gun as we look at our new guns today – merely a tool?
I wonder what people 50 years from now will say about today’s quality of weapons and advances. Might they consider this a Golden Age?
-PEF, a Framer with a Steelie...
1. All guns are always loaded.
2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
4. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.
June 18th, 2013 12:58 AM
I think that's a good way to put it. I checked out the new Gander Mountain firearms super-center in our area last weekend, and man, it's hard not to be impressed by the array of choices available (less so by the prices, but that's Gander for you). They had easily 150 handguns on display, no two of them completely alike. And many, many more long guns. I was there for an hour and barely glanced at the long guns. Maybe next trip.
As for the intangibles, my opinion on handguns is that form IS function - there isn't a single aspect of a handgun's form that doesn't impact its function, even if it's only by changing the weight or balance, or making it more or less likely to snag on a draw. I'm not a huge Glock fan, but I find the Glock to be beautiful, because it's so well suited to its task. If you put a Glock 17 on the table in front of me, and next to that placed an actual 1911-production Colt antique in absolutely perfect condition and completely functional, and told me to choose one - well, I'd choose the Colt, because it's worth a bit more. BUT, if you told me that the weapon I chose would be the ONLY firearm I could ever own, carry, or fire again, I'd go with the Glock. At the end of the day, as good as the Colt was for its time, the advances made in technology since make the Glock a far more reliable and durable weapon. (Please note that I'm not saying the Glock is better than MODERN 1911's, which incorporate most of the same advances, and leave some out due to questions over what "advances" actually means.)
For me, what makes a gun beautiful isn't elegance or scrollwork or fancy grips. It's that, when I look at it, I see LIFE - or more precisely, I see something that I can use to protect my life, and the lives of my loved ones, and if called upon by circumstance, the lives of my fellow free citizens. I believe this is a Golden Age of Firearms, not only because so many of these beautiful tools are available, but also because, despite decades of vile slander from the worst kinds of statists, our culture is re-awakening to their beauty and demanding that the right to carry them be recognized.
"Yet this government never of itself furthered any enterprise, but by the alacrity with which it got out of the way... The character inherent in the American people has done all that has been accomplished; and it would have done somewhat more, if the government had not sometimes got in its way."
June 18th, 2013 03:11 AM
I think this is a Golden Age of firearms, on so many levels. First off, we can get pretty much any gun we want that was designed from 1900 to today. The old guns are, for the most part, still here. And many of them are better. I think a Wilson will stack up pretty well to any 1911 ever made. If you want traditional, you're covered. That said, I'm extremely fond of the newer breed of poly & steel guns. Right now I have three HKs and one more on the way, and I don't think there's ever been any better out there.
On another level we actually live in a Golden Era for ownership, too. Despite the recent (and frankly, ongoing) attacks on the RKBA, things are actually pretty good. The SCOTUS has handed down some landmark rulings that have been the best news gun lovers have had in a century. And there's probably never been a time in American history where this many states have legalized CCW.
It's a great time to be alive and into guns! Now, those pesky ammo prices would come back down...
"When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." - Sinclair Lewis
“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” - Naguib Mahfouz
June 18th, 2013 08:30 AM
With the level of computer design and machining available today, I think the quality of today's guns is much higher--when the manufacturers take the time to use it properly and to its full extent.
Retired USAF E-8. Lighten up and enjoy life because:
Paranoia strikes deep, into your heart it will creep. It starts when you're always afraid...
"For What It's Worth" Buffalo Springfield
June 18th, 2013 09:02 AM
Couldn't agree more.
Originally Posted by Phaedrus
"There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences." ~ P. J. O'Rourke
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