I may be stirring up a hornet’s nest here, but I assure you that this is not my intention. Over on YooChoob, some guy named Bear Independent has a go at the gun industry, claiming that they are “lying” to us gunnies. (It’s nearly half an hour long, so get some coffee and settle in.)
Basically, the executive summary is that he has come to realize that his gun hobby has cost him a lot of money, and he’s spent WAY more than he should have on all the different kinds of guns available. I know nothing about the man, but from what he says on the video I gather that he’s a prepper extraordinaire, and he has an awful lot of guns: guns of different types, of different calibers, and of different utility. (You can see them carefully racked on the wall behind him in the video.)
All those guns have essentially sprung from his need to be self-sufficient, in gun terms. Need to take a 1,000-yard shot? Got a gun for that. Clear a house of bad guys? Got one of those too. Close-range work? Check. Trench warfare? Yup… and so on and so on.
All his guns are meticulously camo’d up and worn in all the right places, denoting hours and hours and thousands of rounds of usage.
And after all that he’s come to realize that when the S finally does Hit The F, he really only needs one rifle — what he calls a “GPR” (general-purpose rifle) — which is essentially an AR-15 with a scope and night light. It’s very much “operatized”, to be sure, but it’s no different from any black rifle of that genus. Here’s what I’m talking about, more or less:
(One thing Bear says that I agree with is the need to own two identical guns — as he puts it, the best source of spares is a gun like the first.)
Now I had to laugh when he talks about how the gun industry “lies” to gun owners about all the guns it has to offer — basically, of course, it’s really catering to gun owners, or rather to their tastes and perceived needs. And the best way to do all this, from the manufacturers’ perspective, is by marketing the product(s), which means both primary advertising (in magazines etc.) and through third parties: originally, with gun writers like Petzal and Seyfried in Guns & Ammo, and now by YouTubers like GarandThumb and their ilk. There’s nothing new about this, it’s been going on ever since the gun industry started and there’s nothing wrong with it. (He himself sells Bear merchandise through his website, publicized, of course, through his channel, and there’s nothing wrong with any of that.)
Here’s the point. Nobody forces you to go down the rabbit-hole of your hobby — any hobby — your own fascination does. Are you a long-distance shooter? We have just the gun(s) and assorted gear for you. Are you a varminter? Say hello to Cooper Arms. Are you a hunter? Ho, do we have the right gun for you, says Winchester, Browning, Remington and the rest. Need a carry piece? Say hello to S&W, Ruger, Springfield Armory, SIG, and the rest of the alphabet soup.
Are you a… wannabe operator? Oh boy, say all the AR-15 makers and purveyors of allied products like slings (2-point or you’re nobody), scoped sights (red-dot? IR? we got you covered), telescoping stocks and on and on and on.
So on and on (and on) you go until one day you suddenly realize that you’ve just spent thousands and thousands of dollars on gun stuff, when all you need to combat the Zombie Apocalypse is a single rifle that you’re very familiar with — and just like that, you become a one-gun man, philosophically at least. You’re no different from the old Fudd living in the Pennsylvania hills who owns but one Marlin .30-30 lever gun because that’s all he needs to fill his annual deer tag.
(Look on the bright side: instead of being a chastened wannabe-operator who has twenty guns he doesn’t really need, at least he didn’t decide to be a dedicated bird shooter — because in that world you could drop well over a quarter-million bucks on just five guns, none of which can take a 30-round magazine or a red-dot scope. By design.)
The same, of course, is true of hunting: plains rifles, deep-woods rifles, bighorn sheep rifles, African dangerous game rifles… you get my drift. Unless you’re like Mr. Free Market, who has done (and plans to do still more of) all those kinds of hunting — and has the necessary wallet to do so — you’re not going to get one of each kind, UNLESS: there’s a faint chance that one day someone will invite you to go hunting with them, and you don’t have the proper equipment to do so. (Don’t even get me started on the different calibers…)
Which is precisely the situation our self-sufficient prepper finds himself in.
Me? I’m not an operator, never been one except when I had to be, and now I’m at the age when all that is behind me. I carry one handgun, a 1911 (okay, and occasionally a .38 S&W snubbie as backup); for “social work” I have one very reliable semi-auto rifle of Communist origin, and if I feel like plinking there’s a sufficient number of rifles and handguns in Ye Old Musket Sayfe. I’m unlikely ever to go hunting again — I’m too old for the exertion and frankly, I’ve killed enough animals to satisfy me — so other than the odd .30-30 Winchester lever gun and single-shot .45-70 Browning 1885, I don’t have a “proper” hunting rifle anymore. (When my lovely scoped CZ 550 6.5x55mm disappeared in the Great Gun Theft Of 2021, I never replaced it.)
My gun hobby is, as any Loyal Reader knows well, a weakness for old military bolt-action rifles, which take up the rest of the safe — but I’m unlikely ever to add to them because, well, over the years I’ve owned enough and fired them all — and moreover, my old eyes are too crap to use their iron sights anymore. One day I’ll just go to the local pawn shop and offload them all, the ones that the Son&Heir doesn’t want, anyway.
But after all that swimming in the pool of gunny goodness, none of it is the fault of the gun industry. I did it all by myself.
And oh yeah, I still get the urge to buy a new gun, even after all that. It may be a good thing I can’t afford to satisfy that urge, or else… there’s this one.
After sixty-odd years, they still call to me. [sigh]
But it’s not Mauser’s fault. Damn them.