Why Most Modern Guns Are the Lowest Quality Guns Ever Made

The vast majority of so-called “modern” shotguns and rifles sold today are among the lowest quality firearms made in the last century. If you tell a lie long enough, it seems sooner or later people will throw up their hands and eventually accept lies as the truth. It is hard to miss, for most guns made today are not built to a standard of quality, they are designed, “engineered,” and manufactured to be as cheap as possible to make. The problem is, we buy them, although Bic lighters are often better finished.

1) The Reliability Myth
Guns are marketed as being “reliable.” However, reliable firearms have not been in short supply or of any significant issue since the Mauser 98 in rifles and the Browning Automatic-Five in autoloading shotguns. Both are late 1800s designs. We could also consider the Colt 1911, also by Browning, the B-25 Superposed O/U, the list goes on. Yet, reliability is marketed like it is something new. No one ever wanted an unreliable firearm, not 150 years ago, not 100 years ago, and not today. What has improved is the weak link of reliability: the ammunition. The firearms themselves have rarely shown improvement, many or most are downgrades.

2) CNC Machining Does Not Equal Quality
CNC machining was news, at in MIT in 1952. Merely calling something “CNC made” means nothing, for it does not speak to the quality of the tooling, quality of the set-up, tooling wear, or quality of the raw materials. We are too willing to accept a vacuous, vague, meaningless, overly broad term like “CNC” as somehow being meaningful. It means nothing measurable.

3) The Stock of Deceptive Marketing Practices
Polyurethanes have been around since 1937. In the 1950s, they became common from Dow Chemical, Dupont, Monsanto, and Bayer.

Yet, all too often excruciatingly cheap blow-molded thermoplastics are called “composite” or “synthetic.” It is hard to overlook the cheesy, flexible, Mattel genre stocks . . . with visible, unsightly mold lines. While it might be fine for milk jugs and garbage can lids, to call them “technopolymers” is insulting. A “composite” or noisy, flexible poly combined with more more noisy, cheap, flexible poly is no composite of anything. It is all from the same molten pot of extremely cheap melted little plastic balls.

4) Unfinished Goods Accepted as Finished
While we won't tolerate nasty, coarse, unfinished parts on a motorcycle fender or an automobile, unfinished parts and poor finishes are misrepresented as “tactical” or “matte.” Poor metal finishes are just that, both difficult to look at and an invitation to corrosion. If it saves a few minutes of tumbling in media, it is cheaper and that is the sole reason this poor quality exists. Certainly, there are outstandingly good modern metal finishes, such as salt bath ferritic nitrocarburizing. It too has been around since the 1950s. It costs money, though, so scuff and abrasion resistance, corrosion resistance, lower wear, and the lower friction properties are largely ignored: it does not satisfy the primary design parameter of cheapness.

5) Old Steel Technology Sold as New
In the 1938 S.A.E. Handbook, it states S.A. E. 4140 had been used extensively for rear axles. It was used a decade earlier in the aircraft industry. Even 416 stainless steel, patented by Crucible in 1968, is essentially completely ignored for shotgun barrels . . . over 45 years later. It isn't cheap enough to work with, apparently.

The problem is, while we say we want steak, what we actually buy is hamburger. It really is hard to miss. Take the T/C Venture, the Savage Axis, the Browning AB3, the Remington 783, the Ruger American. All of these center-fire rifles are clearly, obviously, loudly downgrades from prior product, with no exception. All of these companies can do better and have done better. We don't buy quality, we buy cheapness. It is hard to fault companies for giving us exactly what we asked for.


Copyright 2014 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.

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