Even More Hate Mail!


Looks like the panic buying this year has brought out the real experts.


  1. God forbid you denigrate their choice of shitty ARs…they have a significant emotional and monetary investment in that gun, and you have no right to make them have to think about whether or not it was a bad decision. They might have to question the value of their own existence if you keep that up…

  2. I don’t understand why people get so invested in one brand vs. another of a gun that will never be a “nice” gun. Collectible? Maybe in the distant future, for obscurant reasons. The AR-15 pattern rifle may be several things – it may be more accurate than most military-pattern rifles of the last 100 years, it may be lighter, it may be handier, it may be more configurable, it may be less expensive to customize, but no one who knows anything about guns would call any AR-15 a “nice” gun in which one should invest some huge amount of pride in the provenance of same. An issued M-16? OK, that’s something else, where provenance of being carried by a particular person, in a particular battle is worth something – much like Goering’s Luger is worth 10X+ what a similar Luger is worth – because it carries documentation and a chain of evidence that it was the Chubby Air Cargo’s pistol before he snuffed himself.

    But get chapped about one AR vs. another? It’s like people who have never known there was such as thing as a Duesenberg getting pissy about which is better: A Ford Pinto or a Chevy Vega, based on the quality of Timken vs. New Departure bearings.

    Even in guns that could be made into “nice” guns, I see this stuff. eg: There’s a stripe of gun owner who gets their dander up when I explain that some versions/vintages of Mauser 98’s are better than others. Until the AK-47 came along, there was no firearm in the world that was more-produced, by more companies, in more countries, with a wider spectrum of quality than the Mauser 98. Too many young people today buying Mauser-pattern rifles think they were all the same – or worse, that the ones produced in Germany were always better quality than any other 98 made anywhere else.

    Yet, there are some people who are highly invested in owning a 98-pattern rifle with German proof marks, and they think the Turk or Yugo’s are the bottom of the barrel – then I have to tell them to go look for a Chinese-made Mauser. The Chinese production 98’s sometimes look as if they were finished with a hoof rasp on hot metal and the stocks look as if they’ve been sexually molested by a rabid beaver…

    and suddenly the Turkish stuff looks pretty good by comparison. Then I have to explain that by late 1944 to the end of the war, the Germans were taking significant shortcuts in how they made their ’98’s, and the quality, while it appears OK, would never be as good as the 98’s produced before WWII kicked off, and this was because of the shortcuts taken in heat treatment of the receivers and bolts.

    Then the acrimony starts… “but it was made in Germany!”

    “Yes, probably by slave labor who had 500 pound bombs filled with RDX falling on their heads… empty stomachs and loud noises tend to distract people from their best possible efforts.”

    Never mind that Mauser’s pre-war production was rarely as good as FN’s production, or that the steel in Swedish or Norwegian (Husqvarna) production Mauser-pre-98-pattern rifles was of superb quality, or there are absurdly nice actions from Dumoulin made from tool steel, or the exquisite quality exhibited by a couple of American custom gunmakers of 98 actions today, where the price for just the action starts at $3000 and goes up, are using steels of a quality that Mauser never had available to them at any time in their history.

    At times, I run into gun people who claim that the French never made, and can’t make, nice guns. Really? OK, so they’re telling me that they’d turn down a Verney-Carron shotgun? OK, if they think it’s such crap, I’ll give it a home. I’ll try to look all glum and dejected as they’re offloading that French “piece of crap” on me. I’ll probably fail in the effort, but I will try.

    I’ve even run into a young man who complained to me, knowing that I’m an engineer and gunsmith, that his “Cooper rifle won’t shoot worth crap – I can’t get it to group any better than 1/2 inch at 100 yards.” Really? You’re bitching about a 1/2 MOA rifle in a sporting configuration (ie a light-profile barrel), a rifle made for hunting, with a high figure wood stock, you’re bitching about 1/2 MOA? BTW, that’s Cooper’s guarantee: 1/2 inch at 100 yards. In other words, Cooper delivered on their promise, and this guy is bitching.

    OK, Junior. Whatever. Upon inquiring what he was using for bullets, powder and primer, he tells me that he’s using factory ammo – “Federal, someone told me to try Federal ammo…” OK. Guarantee met on Cooper’s part – 1/2″ on factory ammo – and, IMO, absolutely nothing to complain about. This young man couldn’t be bothered to learn how to load his own ammo – couldn’t see the point.

    By this time, I’d gotten so pissed off at hearing this bellyaching, I offered to buy his rifle from him, to ease his pain you understand, for $700 without the scope. Only his girlfriend, who knew me and my dark sense of humor, prevented him from being taken by me – and she knows nothing about guns at all. She doesn’t like guns, doesn’t shoot guns, doesn’t talk about guns. She just saw the expression on my face, that I was nearing the limits of my patience, and I was ready to put a stop to this nonsense – and she properly sensed that I was about to solve his “problems” with that rifle by teaching him an expensive lesson. She’s a smart girl. Smarter than he is about guns, apparently.

    At the core of this issue is this: Most American gun buyers today wouldn’t know a quality firearm if it fell on their head for free. They’ve been indoctrinated for the last 20 years by marketing departments that have used the term “Mil-Spec” as if it were something to brag about, they’ve been told that forgings are vastly superior to castings (despite Sturm, Ruger & Co making a very good business selling various models of cast-frame handguns that are known for their ability to handle loads that will disassemble other, forged, handguns), that “billet” is the sort of metal that gets loaded into CNC machines (a favorite gripe of mine is the abuse of the term ‘billet’ when what someone really wanted to say was ‘bar stock’), that three-round groups are statistically valid, and that there’s nothing to be gained by loading your own ammo for accuracy…. to cap this all off, I’ve gotten a load of snippy back-talk from youngsters who inherited a family heirloom pre-war Winchester Model 70 as “just some old gun” when I try to educate them just how valuable their inheritance is today.

    The amount of ignorance is overwhelming, and there are some days it feels as if I could hold lectures in halls with 1,000 seats and I’d be more productive by trying to boil the Pacific Ocean with a Bic lighter.

    Today, I lay much of the blame for this sordid state of affairs at the feet of gun rag writers who have no technical education – ie, they’re liberal arts degree holders who figured “Well, other gun rag writers don’t have a technical background, so I can do it too!” – but they try to sound more impressive than other gun-rag writers by using terms and nomenclature about which they know little to nothing. eg, writers who fawn over the accuracy of cold hammer-forged barrels. If such barrels were really that accurate, then benchrest and F-class competitors would be using them. They don’t. They use single-point cut barrels for which they might be waiting 6 to 9 months for delivery. Single-point rifling cutters on sine-bar machines was how barrels were made before and during WWI. By WWII, we were using broach/button rifling on hydraulic machines. High-quality barrel makers are still using sine-bar P&W rifling machines from before WWI to make their barrels to this day.

    Yes, earlier, famous, gun-rag writers held liberal arts degrees, the most famous of whom in the US might have been Jack O’Connor. O’Connor wrote extensively for the American gun reader for decades – and he was paid reasonably well to do so, but he also held a job as professor of journalism at a college. Here’s the big difference I see between writers of O’Connor’s era and today: I’ve read extensively of O’Connor’s writings, and he didn’t throw around terms like “Mil-Spec,” “billet,” or got into the weeds about forgings vs. castings when he had no background in metallurgy or engineering. Most of what O’Connor wrote about was hunting; guns, bullets and loads happened to be a part of that. He was buddies with the first custom bullet makers, and knew a number of gunmakers and gunsmiths. He would point readers to the people who knew what they were doing. Was O’Connor wrong in his day? Yes, I think that he used the 130 grain .270 Partition on game he should not have, and he should have used a 150 grain bullet on some of his larger game. I’ve shot animals with a .270 Winchester using a 130 Partition, with O’Connor’s load, and seen bullet failure. But the man could write, and write well, and I attribute that to the fact that he was educated before there was a “Department of Education” at the federal level, a bureaucracy that has as their mission dumbing down education so that people who cannot pass an eighth grade grammar or math test are able to hold a teaching license.

    I have to give O’Connor this: O’Connor had an eye for actual quality in firearms. I think this was in large part because the manufactures of the day weren’t gaslighting him that a gun slathered with baked-on appliance paint or rapidly shoved through a parkerizing tank was a “high quality finish” or that a gun is “higher quality than ever” because it came out of a CNC machine.

    Sigh. I’m exhausted my quota of invective for the day. I’m going to go do something productive.

    Apologies for this rant, but there are days when my patience is tested.

      • Indeed. DG’s so-called rants have, over the years, taught me more about guns than any other single source I can think of off-hand.

      • Neither and both – it’s a bitch session about this whole “X is better than Y” about military pattern guns in general. They’re made en mass for a military. In general, militaries care about one thing more than anything else: Maximizing the number of weapons they can get for a price. I will pause here to make an exception for the DOD contractors who keep fleecing us taxpayers every few years, trying to create a light arm that is supposed to replace the M16/M4, but which never will due to costs and logistics…

        From my perspective, if someone wants to improve an AR, then sink money into a better barrel, and a better trigger group as the top priorities, and then people can worry about other things later. I’ve got one AR that shoots quite acceptably well, and the barrel is a surplus piece of crap from SARCO that won’t pass a barrel straightness gage. It’s a flat-out reject piece of crap. It lays down 1″ groups at 50 yards, and that makes it good enough for a house gun. Put a slicked-up trigger in it, and it does what I want it to do.

        If someone looked at that particular gun of mine and told me “Dude! This looks like a piece of crap!” I’d say “You’re right, it is. But it does what it has to do for me, and it doesn’t crap on the carpet. So I keep it.”

        • we will probably never agree on this topic. there is a difference in Ar15s and the testing and quality control that goes into producing one that is combat hardened and meant for a fight and abuse and ones made to be cheap to sell to the people who just want an AR because they dont know any better and don’t care anyway. No, they are not fine custom rifles with Swenson like care put into them. They certainly can be fine target rifles capable of excellent accuracy

    • “Cooper rifle won’t shoot worth crap – I can’t get it to group any better than 1/2 inch at 100 yards.”

      In what world this side of benchrest is 1/2 MOA unacceptable?

      • modern gun buyers have unreal expectations of normal rifle accuracy based on the bullshit claims they read from people who “know ” online and the slick gun rags.

        as for gun writers. I am more of a fan of Warren Page. I think anyone who knows my love of the .243 WCF wouldn’t be surprised by that.

      • This country, in this world. Mostly due to the reasons Shawn states.

        Most people have no idea the amount of nonsense gunsmiths hear. One of my favorites: “I want a rifle that will group a quarter-inch, but I don’t want to handload.”

        Riiiight. Another one I’ve heard:

        “I want you to blueprint my action, I’d like the headspace to be as close to zero as possible, but I still want to be able to order pre-chambered, pre-threaded barrels from (insert retailer here), so I wouldn’t need to bother you again to put a new barrel on it…”

        (but they want to “borrow” my headspace gages to do this… so they’re going to be bothering me, just not wanting to pay me…)

        Sure. And I’d like to have my coffee served to me by topless supermodels every morning. The difference is, with enough money to pay said supermodel to wash dishes and do windows (so there would be spousal approval), my wish could come true.

        Oh, yea, and that person didn’t want to handload either. Most young people think you can get 1/2″ and smaller groups without handloading.

        One of my instructors at Trinidad warned me that the day would come that I would never want to talk guns with most people again.

        That day has long since come and gone.

  3. Shawn, the quality of the hate mail you get is lame.
    DG could do better in his sleep and I could do better before I’ve had my first cup of coffee in the morning.
    If it was just one writer I’d chalk it up to the progressive nature of syphilis and the dog they had growing up.
    As it is I’ll blame it on America’s “Education” system.


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