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Old February 16, 2005, 01:48 PM   #1
Handy
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Anyone else peeved about the material quality downward spiral?

As I'm sure the P22 fans are painfully aware, I have written reams about the downgrade in material qualities used throughout the gun industry. While a pricey .22 plinker made of cast zinc currently gets me the most riled up, I see the whole move away from quality forged steel and wood towards inexpensive castable materials as the beginning of the end.

Everyday, many folks across the world get some range time with handguns and rifles that are over 100 years old. With no special procedure or care, Lugers, Broomhandles, Steyrs, S&Ws and old Colts are being loaded up and shot. That's because those guns were made of the best materials of the time, carefully built and have small parts that are easily replaceable when they fail. These weapons were, in essense, of unlimited life.


The Germans changed this by making a move toward maximum production line output and expedient design. This wasn't so bad, at first. But now a "top notch" product might be 50% degradeable plastic, and have a painted on finish.

Guns are not cheap. A Glock is really easier to make than a $20 electric kitchen mixer. We pay extra because guns are more critical than mixers, but we also have a deep affection for them that prices them based on our sentiment.


I'm perfectly aware of the "market driven economy" and supply and demand. My quandry is why we aren't demanding more? Why is there such a lackadaisical attitude about what you get and how long it might last? Why not pay $50 more for a steel slide? Why not expect your grandkids to own it someday?


I fear the day of the 90% plastic handgun is rapidly approaching. By current trends, this gun will cost you no less than an all steel gun and will only be safe to shoot for a limited number of years, or shots. That's the message we're sending when we don't blink at the rising prices of the most inexpensive designs.


I can think of one or two people on this board that agree with my thinking, but are they really the only ones?
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Old February 16, 2005, 03:00 PM   #2
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Well said. There is a complementary case to be made for publicizing our support of manufacturers that specify best quality materials and uncompromising fabrication techniques. The mass market will do what it must to supply the mass demand at prices most people are willing to pay. But in an intensely competitive sporting goods industry, most manufacturers seek advantage by touting sexy aspects of their products, while glossing over crucial shortcuts. . A modern rifle bolt advertised as "turned from bar stock" is not made to the same standard as a classic Mauser or Springfield, if its handle is welded into place. A manufacturer that claims that its "frames and slides are precision machined from solid blocks of stainless steel" should be made to clarify its alloy composition, manufacturing tolerances, and origin in castings, forgings, or billet. Vague claims about durability should be spelled out as specifications of mean time between component failure and expected service life with different grades of ammunition.

Asking these questions is only the beginning. An Internet forum is a perfect venue for empowering informed consumer demand. Its interactive medium will make traditional marketing communications and feedback channels obsolete in the long run. The industry is listening to us. All that remains is to organize and inform the consumers. Individual opinions can be aggregated in volumes and formats adequate to influence the supply. The manufacturers are eager to replace speculative focus groups with spontaneously generated consumer feedback. What we need is a counterpart to consumer surveys that evaluate the existing supply of goods, organized to express the demand for new goods and modifications to the existing ones. The business proposition of generating and channeling this information will be easily as big as Google, Amazon, or Ebay.
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Old February 16, 2005, 03:01 PM   #3
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Profit margins may be much of the reason for the cheapening down of todays guns. The glock is another example of producing a less costly to build product and then selling it for the same price as the more costly to produce steal and aluminum guns of the times and the buying public goes along with it because it is "good enough".
And notice how much we spend on cars and the like but then complain about the comparativey low price a well made pistol would cost. Or how government procurement wants the cheapest guns but then does not follow the same principle when it comes to anything bigger than guns. And the official sidarm of an army often leads to it becoming a civilian choice as well.
Maybe if there is enough pent up demand for a really well made and designed pistol a large group could be put together and we could go about comissioning a suitible munufacurer to build it. But a government contract would still be preferable I think.
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Old February 16, 2005, 04:09 PM   #4
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"Why not pay $50 more for a steel slide?"

$50? Heck, I paid $999 for a Colt WWI repro (looks good and shoots good, too) and today a local shop quoted me $950, up front, to order a Rohrbaugh. I'm thinking I'll go back tomorrow or Friday and do it. I like nice guns, but will admit to owning a P-32 and a Finnfire with a polymer triggerguard. Now, Cooper makes a 'nicer' .22 rifle, but a Custom Classic is about twice the price of a Finnfire.

Life's too short to shoot cheap ugly guns.

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Old February 16, 2005, 04:19 PM   #5
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I call it the "Will you have frech fries with that?" principle. It's a lot easier to create mass demand by persuading people that they want what you have, than to meet individual preferences by eliciting a negotiated compromise. Most people will gladly give up the burden of personal choice to accept a ready-made solution. Hence the Glock.

Can we persuade enough potential buyers to pony up a 40% non recoverable engineering fee for a benchmade production run of $5,000 handguns built to the standards of S&W Registered Magnums or pre-war Colt National Match? That is what it would take to persuade a manufacturer to absorb the startup costs.
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Old February 16, 2005, 04:39 PM   #6
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Unfortunately companies are forced to look for cheaper alternatives to the more expensive, and DURABLE parts. Some companies do a great job of being DURABLE and INEXPENSIVE like Glock and Springfield Armory with their XD. However some companies do a very poor job of it and make CHEAP products with their less expensive components.

Sadly this issue has not only plagued the gun market but the electronics, car market, and other markets as well. More and more people are offering this cheap @$$ alternative but does it run as well....

Korean Cars vs. American etc. etc.

Althought like Honda with their Accords and Toyota with their trucks they seem to be more reliable than their smaller parts. Just like Ruger and Smith and Wesson seem to be reliable chunks of revolver steel or scandium. Because they have that down home feel and care about their customers. But unfortunately one day when prices are exploded (more than they are now) even our favorites will become cheapened versions of themselves.

Hold on to what you got because firearms are one of the most sound investments. That is if they aren't cheap
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Old February 16, 2005, 05:00 PM   #7
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The majority of Americans do not consider themselves to be buying cheaply made products. With all the hype about how Glocks will last forever and never jam even if you drag it through the mud behind your pickup truck and then run it over...... People are thinking that the Glock is a superior design made with superior materials to that of the steel framed pistols that may actually be built with higher quality.
Your task would not be to convince the gun manufacturers to make us fanatics a specific gun to fit our needs (because we each have different tastes and we could never agree on one thing), but rather to convince the general gun owning public that their guns are indeed not built to the standard of quality that they are paying for (most of which don't really care).

Also, it is a decision that is made in the mind of the consumer... I would be willing to bet that 90% of the people that go to buy a P22, notice that it is not nearly as well built as the Ruger Mk II, or the S&W, or the Brownings.. but they still make the decision in their mind to sacrifice that extreme level of quality that you might find in the Ruger and go with the P22 that shoots well and looks good, despite that they know that it won't last quite as long. You have to understand that not everyone makes logic based decisions about buying guns as some of you do... in that, most people will buy a gun to shoot every now and then and if it serves that purpose, they will be thrilled with it. Whereas you will buy it only if you know that you can shoot it every day for the rest of your life and have no major problems out of it.

Polymer framed guns such as Glocks, XD's, Rugers, etc. all seem to be pretty reliable and though they are not metal, seem to made of quality materials. Will they last as long as an old Colt 1911? probably not... but that doesn't change that fact that a Glock is better suited to carry than a 1911 in most cases. We all sacrifice quality for convenience, everyday, all the time. Look in your kitchen.. you will probably find some appliance that you got at Walmart, that is made of plastic and will probably break in the next 5 years. You used to be able to buy appliances that lasted for 50 years for just a few more dollars. Our entire society has become very cheaply constructed, from the pre-fabricated houses to the plastic clad disposa-cars that we drive. Technology advancement is not necessarily always a good thing.

So you ask, does it bother anyone else? I think that you will find the overwhelming answer to that question to be YES, it bothers us. But what are we to do about it? There is no clear answer and especially no easy one. Boycotting all gun manufacturers would do the trick, if you could get EVERYONE to agree to do so. They would then lower prices on the existing guns and everyone would start buying them again... but unless you can completely stop the sales of polymer and inferior metal alloy in handguns, there is a very very slim chance that the general gun manufacturing community will just wake up one day and decide to make higher quality guns.

You have a good point and you are very right, unfortunately, it is a hopeless
cause.


BTW: if I could buy a P22 with a steel slide for even $100 more, I would do it in a heartbeat. Walther just realized that no one else could compete with the P22 right now. I guarantee you that as soon as someone else (maybe Ruger???) will come out with a sweet looking quality .22 pistol that is moderately priced, the P22 will probably be either discontinued or go WAY down in price.
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Old February 16, 2005, 06:05 PM   #8
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I generally agree that product quality in general is going down hill, however! Mentioned are some polymer framed examples of firearms, that I must disagree with. Glocks, IMHO, are not well suited for a gun to pass on to your grandsons, etc. They are great for working guns, and that kind of thing. There are still great 1911 makers out there. Glocks are great working guns. They are reasonably tough, they don't aim to be the most beautiful rendition of a firearm on the market. What they do do well, is offer a reliable, no frills, inexpensive for the quality, light weight, high capacity to those who are looking for a carry gun. I would buy one in a heartbeat for a ccw, or duty gun. The same with the HK USP, love them, shoot well, but really ment as a working gun. Would I really look to pass it on? No, but would I rather pass on my working gun, or a well kept piece of art such as a custom 1911. I wouldnt carry a 1911 for duty, or ccw, as it is rather large/heavy/low capacity/expensive/high court liability for that. Again, Im not arguing that material workmanship has gone up or down, I am too young to know firsthand. All I am saying, is that wanting a gun to do everything, and stay cost effective for the company making it is just a bit.....out there. Buy a gun for the purpose intended, dont complain when your glock duty gun isn't anything its not, when you already know its limitations. Kinda like buying a KIA compact car, when you need to haul 2 tons of sand each day.
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Old February 16, 2005, 06:47 PM   #9
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abelew: exactly.
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Old February 16, 2005, 07:37 PM   #10
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Well said, I do like my Beretta though. It has more metal then my other weapons, except the desert eagle.
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Old February 16, 2005, 07:59 PM   #11
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My opinion on things like this, is:

Vote with your money, meaning if it isnt your bag of tea, dont buy it, and dont complain when you buy it and then it isn't what you wanted.
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Old February 16, 2005, 08:04 PM   #12
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Some very good post here

But its not just plastic guns that bother me. I had a discussion with another person about quality of Ruger single action cowboy guns the Valquaro.
I said that I was unhappy with the poor fit of the grips and the way that many (And I am talking about 3 that I fired) of them wont hit the side of a barn.
Not that they wont group but the face that the one I have hits 8 inches low and right, a friends hits about 6 low and left and were talking at 15 feet.
He thought that our complant wasnt valid that all you have to do it bend the front sight and grind out the rear sight and get new grips that fit and the gun is worth the money.
My point was that for 500 you shouldnt have to do that much tuning.
Any way I myself dont care for plastic guns, but with that said I do understand there apeal. A Glock 26 was what my wife picked out, out of over 8 guns that she fired.
There safe, function flawlessly, easy to carry. BUT I still dont like them, give me a good STEEL 1911 any day.
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Old February 16, 2005, 08:06 PM   #13
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Its not just guns!

Look around everything is being made faster and cheaper. I own high end stereo equipment. I have about $10,000 in amplfiers, preamp, CD player, DVD player and speakers. I own cables that cost more than some peoples entire stereo systems. I have a Rotel CD player that was built in the late 90's that is built like a tank. The chasis and the transport are rock solid. It cost $1500 new. But they just couldn't sell enough of them to keep building them and make money. Remember its all about making money. So they cheapened it and cut the cost down to $1000. Sony used to make good products. Now walk into best buy and buy your Sony DVD player for $90. Its pieces of junk. When it breaks throw it away and get a new one.

I agree with some of the posts that ploymer does not equal poor quality. They have their place and offer benefits along with thier downside which maybe longevity. Many of todays guns are tools to be used and discarded when they have run their life span to to be handed down from generation to generation. Like it or now we have become a disposable society. Again I say its not just guns its all consumer products. When was the last time you didn't buy clothes off the rack and had a suit tailored from scratch?

I went into a Pizza Hut once for lunch when I was in college and they had a 15 minute lunch deal. The waitress asked me "do you want that fast or fresh." I think that this applies to todays guns, do you want your gun to be made fast or fresh. I will take mine fresh please. Consumers need to demand more and not settle for cheaper products. If we don't demand more we will continue to get things fast.

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Old February 16, 2005, 08:10 PM   #14
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Abelew,

That is exactly my position: I do vote with my money.



But I voted Libertarian, too. Both seem like pointless votes.
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Old February 16, 2005, 08:23 PM   #15
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Before I knew any better or did any research I went and bought a jennings j-25. When I felt the weight of the gun I thought how nicely that heaviness felt, surely it would be some tough metals. Well then I come here and find the whole story about these jennings and other "junk guns". Anyways, I bought it just for fun and it has been %100 reliable....On the other hand I have been looking into a kel-tec .32 which has gotten alot of praise here. I have had toy guns that felt better than that when i was a kid. I realize the whole point to this gun is its light weight..but is this a selling point, or just an excuse to cut down on material cost? (although it does feel good in the pocket) I rented one at the range and it just seemed so darn flimsy to me. Granted I have never shot a glock or anything so I cant account for other polymer pistols. Plastics have come along way and some are stronger than certain metals...Maybe its just a personal preference. I for one am thinking about saving some more cash and getting a seecamp, from what I have read they are carefully crafted and made of stainless steel (just like in the good ol days).
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Old February 16, 2005, 08:28 PM   #16
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While many things are being made cheaper, and not as well, there always seems to be an exception. It seems to be somewhat cyclic in nature. Quality is high, price is high, not many people buy, so they reduce the quality and price, and sell more to make more money. Then people get fed up with the shoddy quality, and they dont buy as many, so the maker has to up the quality. Computer products are a great example of this, as their cycle seems to be faster than most other products. 1 month brand X is great, the next month, that same brand is crap. Some brands cater to people who want the best, and are willing to pay for it. Most ubiquitous gun makers fall into the mass producer category, which isn't bad. I dont complain about this, because I get a decent product for a decent ammount of money. If I wanted a premo revolver, Id buy a korth, but I dont think the money justifies the end. A s&w will do the job well enough for me. Glock, while everyone knocks them, is a prime example of this. Im not a glock lover, nor am I a glock hater. I do see them as what they are. They are good at what they were ment to do, shoot when you need them to. STI makes a great 1911, but you can buy 3 or more glocks for the same price as an STI, and they will function just as reliably as the STI. Do they look as good, or have the fit and finish of the STI? Absolutly not, but they weren't engineered to eithor. Also, you wont ever have a misaligned grip panel on a glock You complain about quality going down, but its the consumer that is at fault for this. People want products cheaper, so the makers produce them cheaper. Supply and demand. I doubt that korth could do as good of a job as they do, if they were selling for $500 a copy.

Fast or fresh? Sometimes fast beats fresh if it works when I need it to.

When I say vote with my money, I mean spend your money on things that are up to your quality standards. I am sure by now (and im not condecending here) you can pick a good quality firearm by doing a bit of research, and looking at them before you buy.

Remember, above is just my opinion on the matter. I am not trying to say anyone's opinions are wrong, or invalid, just different than my own.
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Old February 16, 2005, 08:43 PM   #17
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They sell what you will buy. They make it as cheap as they can and charge what the traffic will bear. The bean counters care about the bottom line and they run these companies. They like black ink. They are willing to fade the few complaints for the Big Picture. I will not get into that aspect because most of you would be highly offended and I have no wish to do that.
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Old February 16, 2005, 08:58 PM   #18
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Well afterall, this is just a well meaning discussion, isnt it? If I were running a company, I would like black ink too. There are really only 2 ways to get it. More product at less money (which sort of necessitates less quality), or less product for more money. Would I love a uber pistol that did everything and my laundry too, for $500. You bet. Will it happen, not in a million years.
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Old February 16, 2005, 09:25 PM   #19
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I am a quality freak! One of the worst things is the ISO 9000 quality bunk. I have seen this used as a marketing tool. Tautrus meets the standards. Are we going to be led to trust that Taurus is a high quality, 0 reject, 0 returns, 0 defect and the most perfect line of firearms produced in the world? ?
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Old February 16, 2005, 09:29 PM   #20
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No, but they cater to the buyer who wishes to pay less $ and get less quality
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Old February 16, 2005, 10:34 PM   #21
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This isn't a dead end notion. Kahr makes a very nice gun of all steel for a modest price, and got alot of market share for it.

Sig 210s continue to sell, bad ergonomics and all.

Sig and Beretta got alot of people to pony up some serious cash for nothing more than a steel frame instead of their standard alloy.

S&W continues to garner more DA revolver sales over the more expediant (and often more robust) Ruger products.

It is not a done deal.


Quote:
I will not get into that aspect because most of you would be highly offended and I have no wish to do that.
Hey Dave, how about not talking to the forum like we're children? There is no 1911tuner here to kick you off for stating an opinion, so please scale back the Jewish mother routine.
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Old February 16, 2005, 11:12 PM   #22
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If you dont buy American....

Then you are taking jobs from American Factories. That is a huge myth.
I always see stickers on pick up trucks saying "Buy American". I get very pissed off when I see them. To me its like a bumper sticker saying" Vote George Bush, cause we said so"

I am new to guns, so I will use cars as an example as I know what is good and what isnt because I work on cars for a living. Why do people buy hondas and Nissans? Because they last longer, are built smarter, and have way higher resale value than American cars, and did I mention waaayyy easier to work on.

When people say "Buy American" they are telling you to buy the product regardless of its quality, price, reliability, and safety...simply because its American. When you buy a product for the only reason that it is made in America, you are actually making things worse. You are letting the American manufacturers get away with making cheaper, less reliable products because, people are going to buy them anyway.

Times have changed. This is a global market, and your products have to sell around the world. How do you do that? You make the best, most innovative products in the world.

Ford is feeling it. Their pickup sales are going down the toilet. Honda just came out with a gorgeous full size pickup, Nissan has the Titan, and Toyota has the Tundra. These cars(when comparing pickups) IMO are waaayy better products than Ford has ever made. (sorry ford owners, dont mean to insult) But on the upside, I think Ford is going to HAVE to make some really nice cars in the future if it wants to be alive. I would like to see that day, it would be welcomed.

More consumers are getting more educated, and are buying the best products out there. It is forcing the big American companies to rethink their designs, and come out with better products. When everyone buys the best product(at the same price point) , it forces the others to try and make a better products. This benefits us as consumers tremendously.

Most people think of the sterotype that Asians are smarter than us. Actually, as Americans, we are the most innovative, most free thinking, most capable of making amazing new ideas. But...the Asian manufacturers have discipline, they perfect a process. Their ideas tend to be very conservative, but very reliable. As Americans we have so much potential, but we are very greedy. And money is always the bottom line. If an American company makes the best product at a reasonable price, hey thats great...buy it.

I realize this post isnt about guns, but the same principles apply to gun manufacturers.

oh, and edited to comment I own a S&W 340pd, cause its a very well made gun, with some unique materials, and have ordered the S&W1911PD, so it can have a big brother. So I am not anti-american at all. But I have nothing to compare it to cause I havent shot and worked on many other guns.
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Old February 16, 2005, 11:32 PM   #23
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If I walk into a fast food joint I should expect fast food not a gourmet meal at Le Circe.
But a burger fries and a coke really hits the spot sometimes.

If I buy Glock I should expect a Glock not a custom made 1911.
But they're affordable, dependable, durable, easy to carry and maintain.

If I buy a $100 Sony DVD Player I shouldn't expect Blu-Ray or HD output.
But my $100 Sony has served my needs well for the last 5 years.

If I buy a $100 Casio G-Shock I shouldn't expect the prestige of a Swiss mechanical watch.
It may be less "prestigious" but my G-Shock tells better time and is even more dependable than my $2500 Breitling automatic.

What's the problem here? If you have the money it is still possible to get high quality finely crafted products. I agree consumers should stay vigilant since companies will always sacrifice quality if they can get away with it. It is true that many people do not care about quality and will take whatever is rammed down their collective throats. But it is also true that many people do recognize and appreciate quality but simply cannot afford to buy the nicer things in life. Many of the posts completely discount this simple fact. Why are people complaining that mass produced consumer products aimed at the mass market are pedestrian? They have always been pedestrian because they seek to satisfy the broadest base or the lowest common denominator (depending if you are a cynic or not). There has always been a delineation between mass produced consumer products and finely made items for the fabulously rich or those who choose to concentrate their wealth on certain things.

Perhaps the conclusions Handy has proposed are right. But I simply have not seen enough evidence to prove that the finely crafted Colt's, Lugers, Steyr's, Colt's, and S&W's of 100 years ago were as easy to acquire and as affordable as today's mass produced Glocks, XD's, SIG's, H&K's, and even modestly priced 1911's of today. I feel they were just as rare and out of reach for the common man as they are today. I do believe that today's guns have made it possible for the common man (or woman) to acquire a reasonably dependable, accurate, and durable firearm that suits their needs and even their desires. And even back in the "old days" many companies have made their share of mediocre products and junk.

It just may be the better stuff we choose to remember and have lasted.
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Old February 16, 2005, 11:43 PM   #24
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IanS,

I really enjoyed your post, and your comparisons. I agree with you.

There is something out there for everybody. Thats the beauty.

I just hope there isnt one Mega Super company that makes everything in the future. They make your guns, your underwear, your shaving cream and your TV. Dont laugh, it looks like it may happen with all the monopoly laws being ignored since Reagan.
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Old February 16, 2005, 11:49 PM   #25
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Snack, you bring up a good point. My dad and his brothers all had this notion to only buy american cars/trucks. In my teens I had bought a honda...My dad who is very mechanically savy with cars totally changed his perception about foriegn autos. Hell, the car ran without problems well over 300,000 miles. When in college I had a professor that worked for GM. He himself admitted that when the foreign cars came onto the scene that they knew they had to start making their cars to last longer, it was that competition and that only which forced them to do so. My girlfriend just bought a mitsubishi eclipse with 100,000 miles for $1000 that runs fine, I wonder how much steel is on that?
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