While most firearms are at least fairly reliable on a beautiful range day, the cold reality is that those same firearms may not be suited for hard use such as duty, training, or even daily carry. Common offenders within this firearm category are some of the smaller .22 through 380acp pocket pistols, inexpensive 1911s, and various “value” manufacturers with unlimited warranties. While an unlimited warranty is nice, if it is there to offset mediocre quality control, then it may not be the best use of your money. There is a reason that some companies have a sterling reputation…it’s not that their guns never fail, it is that the occurrence of a breakdown is much slimmer than guns of lesser quality.
Another aspect of choosing ones equipment is the ability to supply a plethora of spare parts, and offer accessible armorer support. There is a very real reason that companies such as H&K, S&W, and Glock offer civilian armorer support and easily accessible replacement parts. Armorer support is crucial so a shooter can find help to not just fix, but to perform routine maintenance on a firearm. It doesn’t take much time in the gun world to realize that aftermarket manufacturing for support gear and high quality replacement parts is significantly higher for a Glock 19 than a Bersa Thunder or a Ruger SR9. Not all manufacturers and firearms have this claim to fame. A word to the wise, just because aftermarket parts are available, doesn’t mean they should always be used…but the option is always nice.
In the firearms industry “just as good as…” rarely pans out. We would love to believe that the Taurus 85 series is just as good as a Smith and Wesson J-frame. It is not. An established “1st world” firearm company is often more expensive because of the materials used, the quality control measures, and the manufacturing processes that are used to build their products. Polymers are not all created equally, and neither are steels and alloys. For example, H&K uses a proprietary barrel steel that is specifically manufactured to handle the over pressure of a squib load being caught in the barrel and another round being fired behind it. S&W reinforces their polymer frames with steel. FNH cold hammer forges their barrels which is the same process that is used in our military issue M-4 rifles. The point being, not every gun maker can claim such high levels of engineering to ward off the degradation of hard gun use. Yes, a lower tier gun may shoot fine even the often disregarded hi-point won’t explode in your hand. However, a few more dollars goes a long way to ensure that your guns will hold up over time, and if something catastrophic happen(criminal assault, overcharged reload, etc), your odds of remaining unharmed are much higher.
The lesson to remember here is that all firearms are not created equally. It is imperative that an individual does their due diligence on their firearm selection. Considering the vast consumer resources of the internet, your local gun store, or training academy, there is really no excuse to not have a good understanding of what you are purchasing. Should the firearm be acquired for defensive use, with the added rigors of every day carry, then these ideas should be underlined and highlighted. While a shooter may not need an expensive pistol, the goal of this article is to encourage a higher standard of equipment.
There is no doubt that skill and mindset are the biggest factors in any defensive shooting scenario. We cannot factor in the countless environmental, emotional, and legal elements involved in any shooting situation, but we can stack the deck in our favor. With the appropriate weapon, support gear, and the vital training, it doesn’t matter if you are facing a home invader or the buzzer just started your latest IDPA round . . . you have done what is in your power to come out on top.