You likely know DG from the comments here and weaponsman.com. The other day the maestro conducted another of his masterpieces in the comments and it was good enough to be worth sharing.
Of course we old farts know what we’re talking about.
The worst thing for the American gun buyer has been the “tacti-cool mil-spec” wave of marketing in firearms.
For those who don’t understand why I get down on “mil-spec,” allow me to elaborate. My first job out of school was working for a defense contractor. For me, the term “mil-spec” means “lowest bid, cut-throat cost cutting, cheapest POS we can ship and still pass the contract requirements” level of quality. People who equate “mil-spec” with “quality” are likely from that segment of the US population who have a) never served, b) never been involved in making materials for the DOD, c) and they don’t pay much of anything in the way of taxes, and they just laugh at reports of $640 hammers.
I don’t rant about “mil-spec” just in guns. Example: Just this morning, my ass was in a 5-ton military truck that has been repurposed to a fire truck, ferrying it for our VFD. Folks, I don’t care if you get a boner like Bert Gummer over military trucks while you’re standing on the curb, watching them go by in a parade. Once you’ve sat your ass in one and had to move it around, you’ll know that there’s “no there, there.” They’re durable, they might have been cheap, but the idea that they’re something to wish to drive? Utter nonsense. If you still lust after these trucks once you’ve sat your ass in one and had to drive it, then there’s nothing I can do for you: you need some strong therapy and some medication. My nightmare is having to drive that wretched POS two+ hours to a fire.
Same deal with modern “mil-spec” guns. If you’re willing to toss ludicrous amounts of money after a modern “mil-spec” firearm… well, you do you. Don’t waste my time asking how it can be made “better on a budget.” Something made prior to 1960? Let’s talk. Something made after the Beatles showed up? No.
Since the early 90’s, I had seen the quality of US firearms go down, down, down, down. Since becoming a gunsmith and handling/disassembling/repairing many more guns than I’d ever see if I were just buying them myself, it is beyond question that in the 1980’s (a decade earlier than I perceived the decline as a gun buyer), the quality started declining – rapidly. At first, the quality decline was seen by only those of us who do detailed strip/re-assembly of firearms. By the 90’s, the rot and progressed to the outside. Today, it’s shit through and through. Sometimes, my fingers get shredded while pulling apart a gun – because the manufacture could not be troubled to take the burrs off the metalwork inside the gun. That’s beyond shoddy – that’s a company that doesn’t care what you think about their product. That company, BTW, is Mossberg. They can’t be bothered to de-burr their action rods.
When you look back at the fit/finish/workmanship of guns from about 1960, and then you compare them to guns from the 1990’s, there’s no comparison. None. Compare 1960 to today, and all you can do is shake your head and ask “WTF happened?” Well, firearms customers got stupid, that’s what. They’ve been bamboozled that “mil-spec” is a good thing, when it’s a highly dubious appellation to use as an indicator of quality. But it is now what infects the US firearms market. Then they delude themselves by thinking that their dollars are still worth something when purchasing something tangible. Why is it that gun buyers will happily spend $40K (and up) on a pickup to haul their boat, but they’ll piss and whine about spending $2K on a quality shotgun or rifle? When I was a kid, you could buy a pickup for $3500. Is it because the bank won’t give you a loan to buy the shotgun?
High Standard is (or was) well known for their quality .22LR target pistols. They were popular, accurate and reasonably priced compared to S&W 41’s and Colt “Match Target” pistols. Nicely finished, straight blowback pistols. The 1200 line of shotguns were solid guns, built with steel receivers, and had a basic (not “nice” but basic) finish of blue and basic, low-figure, walnut stocks. You can find 1200’s from the 1960’s for sale in the shotgun market for between $150 and $300. The 1200’s were cheap shotguns in their day – but compared to the shit being shipped out of major companies today, those low-end High Standard shotguns look pretty damn good today. That gives an indication how far we’ve fallen. High Standard fell on tough times in the late 70’s and early 80’s, like so many other quality firearms companies in the US.
And people wonder why I go on epic rants about the quality of firearms available today…
Howard and I both would quibble with DG over the denouncing of all mil-spec guns and modern guns in general across the board. Milspec now a days not so much “lowest bidder” as it is best value. and milspec does meet a standard that it has to conform to and we know what we will get with milspec and what kind of performance and longevity. Many companies just make up whatever standards they want with no track record of proven performance or can’t even meet the low end requirements of milspec. They just don’t tell the buyer that is the reason they don’t try to use the milspec yardstick . Of course milspec is not the end all be all but it is a baseline if that is useful and trustworthy for hard use combat guns for hard work. but I think Howard and myself would agree with where he was going with it.