There are times when I am amazed at how lucky I am to test and own some of the finest firearms ever manufactured. I admit that sometimes the newest variation of the theme (a different finish or new sights) isn’t quite as exciting as a fresh start, but there are few genuinely new things under the sun.
I remember as if it were yesterday. A time when each handgun had to have a well defined chore, or I could not give it house room. Back then, the good guns I owned could be counted on the fingers of one hand. I was a lucky man to have had that handful. I do not forget the good guns that had to be sold to fill some need. Family is a million times more important than firearms after all, but now my sons are grown and I can really keep the good guns!
There have always been more cheap guns than good guns, and the same is true today. Likewise, there have always been very few inexpensive but good guns. Sometimes when looking over the choices in handguns the heavy hitter may say, ‘What is your life worth after all?’ This is true enough but life is what it is and many of us cannot afford an expensive firearm despite our best intentions.
As an example, I consider the 1911 handgun, in quality examples, the finest fighting handgun ever made. First quality 1911 handguns, beginning with Springfield and Colt, are not inexpensive. However, a Glock that always works—a Glock that doesn’t work would be exceptional—is better than a cheap 1911. By the same token, modern Smith and Wesson revolvers are the best revolvers Smith and Wesson has ever made—as far as reliability and accuracy. The tolerances are amazing.
For someone who purchased his first Smith and Wesson .357 Magnum for less than $150, sticker shock is real. Ruger revolvers always work. Perhaps saving for many months for a dream gun is the American way. Laying a gun away, patiently paying on it, and finally paying the layaway ticket off at the gun shop is as close to pregnancy and childbirth as a man may come. But when you need a gun right now, well, you need a gun right now.
So what is your life worth? Your life is priceless. The life of your family more so. The preservation of life is worth the best gun you can afford. You have to consider the price against the piggy bank. But you cannot spend it all on the handgun—ammunition is important. You should spend an amount equal to the price of the handgun in mastering the pistol. Otherwise, you might as well get that cheap gun because you will not be well armed with a handgun you have not mastered.
By the same token, formless fabric holsters are acceptable at the range, but unsuited for daily use. A good quality holster must be chosen. Galco offers real quality for a fair price. As for handguns, the Glock always works—letting you concentrate on marksmanship. The Springfield Range Officer Operator gets real performance into the hands of those who previously could not afford it, at the price of a parkerized finish versus bright blue or stainless. I can accept that. The Springfield is a precision instrument that will compliment a trained user.
Among my students, and not just the young ones, I see what appears to be an inability to discern quality. Some handguns are cheap and made to sell. They are copies of good, solid designs but done so cheaply the advantage of the original are lost. The Glock copies nothing, and it is affordable. The CZ 75 is affordable and so are the Remington 1911 and Springfield Mil Spec. These handguns are made to save your life and will do so if you do your part.
After many years of hard work and saving, I am able to afford a few top quality firearms. After years of training and practice, I am able to fire the handgun to its potential. You have to decide if the features or quality of the parts are worth the expensive, will you aspire to master the piece or simply leave it in the safe? Will quality fitting and finish make a difference when the chips are down? It depends on the end user.
If you choose a high-end pistol, learn to detail strip, maintain, and lubricate the piece. Reliability isn’t an option and must be maintained. Accuracy is less important; most any quality handgun will put five shots into four inches at 25 yards. That is enough to save your life, and a standard very few shooters are capable of even off a solid bench rest.
There are handguns that will hold a two-inch group at the same distance, but they are not common and neither is the pistol shot that brings out the best in these handguns. And they will not exhibit such accuracy with cheap ammunition. When someone asks what your life is worth, there is only one answer. You life is worth whatever it takes to preserve it. When a member of our protein-fed ex-con criminal class attempts to usurp the prerogative of God and take your life, you should have the best tools in hand you can afford.
Most that have showed up at my training classes with a defective poor quality handgun could have afforded better, they were simply cheap. Like the contractor that purchased a $229 dollar revolver on sale at a chain store, or the pastor that purchased a 20-year-old Llama 1911. The revolver action locked up during class. The Llama was wet with lubricant and firing hardball ammo and did not make it through a magazine without a jam. Buy cheap buy twice—if you get a second chance.