Recently I was put on a mission from a military buddy to find a good gun for $300 or less for his wife. Somehow or another the guys I served with thought I was an expert on guns since I always figured out what was wrong with theirs. Let me state that for the record that I’m no expert, just lucky sometimes.
I figured this would be an easy mission since I’m always reading about guns in magazines, online, and going to different stores in my day to day. Was I ever wrong! The first lesson I learned was these “magazines” put up articles and press releases based on the almighty dollar, not usually because some new gun is really awesome or ground breaking.
The second big lesson I learned is doing “research” online means you are really just price shopping or looking for someone who agrees with your opinion. This wasn’t as big a shocker in the connected society of today’s continual bombardment of bad information. Fake reviews and content stuffing are the norm I’m afraid.
The third and probably most important lesson I learned is big retailers don’t cater to the shooter, they cater to volume numbers and the almighty dollar. What this meant to me is I was only able to find guns of the type which yielded the most profit and the lowest quality. Sure a lot of guns looked good but when I put my hands on them it was apparent who they were targeted for.
To make a long story short none of the guns from all of the magazines, and internet articles or adds measured up to what I’d consider as a good gun. This made me think of what it is that I consider a good gun, and what level of workmanship or lack there of I could live with let alone recommend to my buddy. I couldn’t let him down, he never let me down no matter what, not once , not ever. I decided this was what I should be looking for him and his wife.
I needed to get real and so did they, there is no such thing as a good $300 gun unless it’s a good used one at that cost. All of the plastic or polymer or whatever you want to call them guns bandied about were absolute garbage. The only thing they did well was be cheap, and depreciate after you bought one. Comparing investment cast parts, metal injection molded parts (MIM), and plastic parts to forged steel is pretty eye opening.
I didn’t know where the disconnect came from, why did these technologies grow and thrive in the firearms industry? Going back 30 years or so I think the picture becomes clearer, it seems to line up with the 9mm craze that started about then. If you’re not old enough to go back that far you’re probably not old enough to agree with anything I’m saying because you are the target for these $300 guns. A good gun cost more than that back then and frankly a good used gun from then commands much higher prices today. Manufacturers aren’t stupid, when they see they can create a product for less than 1/3 the cost and sell it at the same price as the higher quality more labor intensive unit they jump in with both feet.
But technology has advanced and with CNC machining et al ad nauseam blah blah blah. I’ve been a machinist since 1985 in one form or another and have worked in many aspects and forms of manufacturing so my eye is very critical. I stopped by every gun store in the greater Portland area and what I ended up with was The Gun Room on Se Foster Rd. They seemed to have the biggest selection of good used guns out of all the places I went to, however I didn’t find any $300 good guns.
Once I came to grips with cost VS quality I gave my buddy a call and he took his wife in to see the guys at The Gun Room Inc. ending up with not one but two guns. The first one they selected was the Sig Sauer 938 for him and for her they went with a S&W model 640.
Like I said I’m no expert but I feel that the guys at The Gun Room Inc. took care of us with good stuff at the right price. The next time you’re looking for a good cheap gun, temper your expectations or save a bit more. You’ll be better in the long run if you practice patience and use good judgement. Just because your brother or cousin says his gun is the best it might not be the best for you.