I was going to share this with you last week, but then the whole RECOIL mess came up and pre-empted my planned programming!
Over at the Vuurwapen blog is the entry "Why I Don't Care If Military Or Police Use Certain Items", and it's all about the silliness of picking a gun (or anything else for that matter) because a particular police or military group uses it. It's a good read.
There are a bunch of logic failures associated with that kind of aspirational marketing or consumption, but unfortunately people fall for them constantly:
- Let's say you've got one police agency using a specific gun (like, oh, the Kimber) and you make your decision based on that. What if another agency that picks, say, the HK P7? They can't both be "best", so how do you make your choice with such contradictory endorsements? What usually happens is that people actually end up arguing about which agency is the best/toughest/most respected, as if that somehow validates their choice - and therefore yours.
- Use of a specific product by any group isn't proof that it is superior to any other choice under all conditions. In fact, it isn't even proof that it's a superior choice for any specific conditions! The testing and procurement process is byzantine in complexity and subject to many kinds of coercion and meddling, from kickbacks by vendors to top brass intervening in the process to influence the selection of their personal favorites. That a product manages to survive that process isn't proof of any intrinsic superiority. Our cops and our troops often end up with inferior gear and supplies, but for some reason the private sector looks upon the failures as having the same stamp of quality as the successes. (CLP, anyone?)
- The presence of an NSN doesn't even mean the product is even being used by the people who are presumably using it. Lots of products that have an NSN aren't actually wanted or needed by the people on the front lines, but they're invariably sold to you as being "the choice of our brave men and women!" Look at the marketing of gun cleaning and lubrication products; when any product claims to be in use with Navy Seals, complete with the NSN, it's probably bunk. And even if it were true, that still doesn't mean it's the best choice for THEM, let alone you!
- Finally, remember that the procurement process (when it works) is designed to get a product that is minimally acceptable for its purpose at the lowest cost to the agency. It's useful to remember what the late, great Alan Shephard once said: "It's a very sobering feeling to be up in space and realize that one's safety factor was determined by the lowest bidder on a government contract." Not very reassuring, is it?
You need to make your purchasing decisions based on an honest assessment of your needs and the product's suitability for your purpose, not internet loudmouths going by names like Geck045 who drone on about how their gun "must" be the best because "LAPD don't buy junk!"
Yes, they do. Very often.
-=[ Grant ]=-
Monday, July 16, 2012 Filed in: General gun stuff
Last week I got a great email from a fellow who works for one of the major oil companies as a lubricant specialist. He complimented me on my article on lubrication, and said it was "the best and clearest explanation I have ever read." That's nice to hear from someone who does that sort of stuff for a living!
He related the tale of searching for lubricants for his shotguns, and found that none of the many oils or greases his company makes (a huge oil company whose name you would instantly recognize) were suitable for the job. He spent "several months" talking to his company's scientists and came to the conclusion that he, too, needed to go to a speciality lubricant company that makes food-service oils and greases.
What was most interesting to me, however, was that through that speciality company I managed to get a copy of the certification letters for their food-grade lubricants. I did not know this, but one of the criteria for getting certification is that the product must be able to do its job (lubrication, wear and corrosion protection) after being wiped clean from the surface being lubricated. I've mentioned before that the "miracle" lubes which claim to work even after being wiped off aren't doing anything that a food grade lube couldn't do, and now I have solid proof of my assertion!
This only reinforces my recommendation: if you want the best lubrication for your guns, use oils and greases made for food processing machinery. Their needs are the closest to ours, and they have the additional advantage of being non-toxic and non-staining. They're also a screaming bargain compared to the products sold to an often credulous shooting public.
-=[ Grant ]=-
We have a lot of trite phrases in the defensive training world, and one of them sets my teeth on edge: when someone asks how they should choose a gun for personal protection, the usual answer is to "pick the biggest caliber you can shoot well."
It's nonsensical, and I'm tired of hearing it.
The problem is how to define "well". Are we talking in terms of accuracy? If so, I contend that anyone can shoot any handgun caliber "well" - at least for the first shot. If we're talking group size, given sufficient time between shots I'll hold to my contention: anyone can shoot any handgun "well" if they have enough time to regroup between presses of the trigger.
I've heard the variation "....the biggest caliber that you can handle." Same thing - what do you mean by "handle"? I've seen many guys at the range who claim to be able to "handle" large-bore Magnums, but it's clear they have significant trouble with recoil control. Obviously there's a difference between what I consider control and what they do, which illustrates my point. Without criteria, there's no way to evaluate whether the person can "handle it" or not. Again, most people can handle any gun for a single shot. What about the second, third and fourth?
Some have apparently figured out that "well" and “handle” don’t mean anything and say instead to "pick the biggest caliber that you can shoot quickly and accurately." How quickly? How accurately? With any gun/ammo combination, given a specific set of environmental variables, there will be a certain balance of speed and precision which the shooter can achieve. A .454 Casull will have one, and a .22 LR will have another. Which one should the person pick? Which balance of speed and precision is best?
As one goes up in caliber or power, at any given level of precision the shooter's speed will decrease. How far along that line should the shooter travel before settling? There are many examples of arbitrary tests that people take to determine these things (so many shots in so many seconds with a minimum score), but they're contrived. Take a 12-gauge and a 20-gauge shotgun; any given shooter may be able to use the 12-gauge and pass a qualification, then logically conclude that it's the largest gun that he can shoot quickly and accurately. However, if that same person shoots the same course with a 20-gauge, they'll find that they can shoot it faster with the same level of precision. Which, then, is the better choice?
Starting to get the idea? These statements - and their variants - sound profound, but they're not. Unless very specific criteria are defined they mean nothing.
-=[ Grant ]=-
Monday, June 21, 2010 Filed in: General gun stuff
I got an email last week from a client whose relative was concerned that his new Glock "didn't have a safety." To remedy this perceived fault, he's considering buying one of these.
So, let me make sure I understand the concept: a safety device that forces you to mess with the trigger in order to either put it on safe or take it off safe. What could possibly go wrong?
(Bonus question: how do you take the safety off if you're suddenly forced to use your weak hand?)
-=[ Grant ]=-
The Firearm Blog alerts us to a company called Lightfield Less Lethal that is now selling rubber buckshot rounds for the Taurus Judge. (I'm sure someone will point out that a Judge loaded with .410 birdshot is already "less lethal" and thus has no need for this product. Can't say that I disagree all that much, either.)
I'm concerned that the Judge is already selling to people who profess to "not wanting to kill someone", but have a desire to protect themselves. (I've heard that phrase so many times regarding this gun that I've become numb to the stupidity of the statement.) We've been working hard over the last several decades to eradicate the concept of the warning shot, and along comes Lightfield with products intended to just "scare them off." (Read the company's statement at the link.)
Given the market segment which appears to be buying these guns, it's only a matter of time before Lightfield is sued because their "less lethal" ammo killed someone. No matter how you rationalize or justify the use of these things, to the legal establishment discharging a gun is still lethal force even if Lightfield doesn't understand the concept.
-=[ Grant ]=-
Monday, March 09, 2009 Filed in: General gun stuff
Coffee is one of those vices in which I do not indulge. Not from any religious objection, mind you - it's just that I can't stand the taste of the stuff. I admit to loving the smell of brewing java, but coffee is one of those things that smells a whole lot better than it tastes!
Stay with me, I'll get to the point.
A number of years ago I knew a district sales manager for one of the major coffee companies. (Coincidentally, his first name was also Grant. Obviously a man of superior intellect, charm, and modesty.) Grant told me that the coffee brand with the largest market share at that time was Folgers, due largely to their "mountain grown" ad campaign.
He commented that the campaign was so much hot air, as all coffee was grown in the mountains - but people had been conditioned to believe that since a) the mountain environment was desirable, and b) only Folgers was grown in the mountains, therefore c) Folgers was the only coffee to buy.
Yes, the mountain environment was desirable, because without it there would essentially be no coffee, but no - Folgers wasn't the only coffee which was grown there!
His story came back to me this week when I received yet another email from what was obviously a salesman for one of those multilevel marketing (MLM) "miracle lubricant" scams. One of the consistent claims by all such snake oil concerns is that their product "bonds with the metal at the molecular level", that it is a very desirable thing to do, and only their product does so.
Reality time: all oils bond with metal at a molecular level, because that's what oils do. Were there no molecular attraction between oil and metal, the oil would simply slide off of the surface to which it was applied. Not drip off, not ooze off, not pour off - slide off with absolutely no trace of itself left behind. No film or residue, not a single atom of the oil would remain. Absolutely nothing.
Of course, that doesn't happen. Apply any oil to a piece of metal, then turn the metal upside down; the excess oil may drip off, but a layer of slippery liquid is always left stuck to the surface. That is molecular attraction - bonding, if you will - at work.
Those who wear glasses know how difficult it can be to completely rid lenses of even a drop of oil; there always seems to be some that stubbornly refuses efforts at removal. This is because there is a molecular bond between the oil and the material from which the lens is made, and the same thing happens when oil is applied to metal.
Molecular attraction is why the water in your coffee is in liquid form, rather than the elemental hydrogen and oxygen from which it is made. It makes metal alloys possible, and is why lubricants - all of them - work. The companies which claim their product "bonds with the metal at the molecular level" are simply saying that their oil does the same thing that all other oils do.
Admitting that fact wouldn't sell much oil (or coffee), would it?
-=[ Grant ]=-