I’ve had complaints about my lack of strictly gun-related posts lately, so I’ll address that complaint right now by talking a bit about guns.
On the Intertubes, nothing draws traffic like controversy. Therefore, I have decided to generate some controversy among my gun-owning readers. And what better way to do that than to talk smack about your particular favorite brand of gun? And since I don’t know your particular preference, I shall now talk smack about a whole bunch of popular designs.
M14/M1A: Clunky, heavy, and overpowered. Essentially a Garand tarted up with a removable magazine, in a half-baked attempt to adapt a 19th century rifle design philosophy to the mid-20th century. Most often named as favorite infantry rifle by people who never had to hump a 10-pound wood-stocked rifle with lots of sharp protrusions and no collapsible anything on a three day exercise, or try to make it through a firefight with the standard battle load of five 20-round magazines.
AK-47: Crude and inaccurate bullet thrower designed by and for illiterate peasants. Chambered in a caliber that manages to cut the ballistics of a proper .30-caliber battle rifle in half without passing on any weight savings to the grunt. Ergonomics only suitable for Russian midgets. Archaic cable trigger spring, crummy sights, no sight radius to speak of, no bolt hold-open device, and a clumsy safety. Favorite infantry rifle of Middle Eastern goat herders, guys named Abdullah, and backwoods militia types who like the fact that it shoots cheap ammo and has ballistics like their familiar .30-30.
H&K G-3/HK-91: Ergonomics of a railroad tie. No bolt release, and a locking system that requires three men and a mule to work the cocking handle. Fluted chamber that mauls brass, and violent bolt motion that dings the brass that didn’t get mauled too badly by the chamber. Stamped sheet metal construction, yet just as heavy as a milled steel M14. Safety lever that requires unnaturally long thumbs, and a trigger pull that feels like dragging a piano across a gravel road with your index finger. Favorite infantry rifle of Cold War nostalgics and third world commandos.
M-16/AR-15: Underpowered varmint rifle burdened by a crummy magazine design. Nasty direct-impingement gas system that poops where it eats. High sight line, flimsy alloy-and-plastic construction. Generally favored by range commandos, tactical disciples, military vets who have never fired anything else for comparison, and Brownells addicts who a.) enjoy spending three times the cost on the rifle on bolt-on accoutrements, and b.) never have to use their rifle away from a dry, sunny range.
G-36: Flimsy plastic rifle with non-user adjustable fair-weather optics that fog up when a gnat farts in front of them. Magazines that take up twice as much pouch space than others in the same caliber because of the "clever" coupling nubs on the magazine housing. Skeleton folding stock that is about as suitable for butt-stroking as a plastic mess spork. Twice as expensive as other rifles in its class because of the "HK" logo on the receiver. Preferred infantry rifle of SWAT cops, and soldiers whose militaries haven’t been in shooting conflicts since the 1940s.
Glock: Butt-ugly plastic shooting appliance with the ergonomics of a caulking gun. Five-pound trigger with no external safety makes it ill-suited for its target market (cops who shoot a hundred rounds a year for qualification). Favored by gangbangers because the product name is short and rhymes with other short, rap-friendly words.
Beretta 92F/M9: Clunky and overweight rip-off of a clunky and overweight German design from the 1930s. Shear-happy locking block, ergonomics that are only suited for linebackers, barely adequate sights that are partially non-replaceable, and low capacity for its size. Favored by Eighties action movie fanatics and John Woo freaks.
1911: Overweight and overly complex piece of late 19th century technology. Low capacity, useless sights in stock form, and a field-stripping procedure that requires three hands. Favored by people who are at the cutting edge of handgun technology and combat shooting…of the 1960s.
H&K P7: Wildly overpriced, heavy for its size, low capacity in most iterations, and blessed with a finish that rusts if you give the gun a moist glance. Gas tube has a tendency to roast the trigger finger after a box or two of ammo at the range. Favored by gun snobs who think that paying twice as much for half the rounds means four times the fighting skill.
SIG Sauer: Top-heavy bricks with the rust resistance of an untreated iron nail at the bottom of a bucket of saltwater. Ergonomically sound, if you have size XXL mitts. Some minor parts made in Germany, so the manufacturer can charge 75% Teutonic Gnome Magic premium. Favored by Jack Bauer fans and wannabe Sky Marshals/Secret Service agents.
Did I leave anyone out? Feel free to add to the list. Let’s not, however, have an argument about how very wrong I am about your favorite blaster, because, hey, I’m not.
Disclaimer: I’ve owned multiple copies of most of the designs mentioned above, and I think they’re all fine and dandy designs. However, a good debater can take both sides of an argument at the drop of a hat, so take it as an exercise in debating skills, and try to pick nits about your particular darling. Ready? Go!
UPDATE: Friend MattG has taken me to task for not butchering my own darlings as well. Fair’s fair, so here’s a late addition to the list:
S&W Revolvers: Archaic hand weapons from a bygone era, the missing link between flintlocks and autoloaders. Low capacity, and reloading requires a lunch break. Heavy for their capacity, unless you’re talking about airweight snubbies, which hurt as much on the giving end as they do on the receiving end. Rare stoppages, but few malfunctions that don’t require gunsmith services, which are hard to come by in a gunfight. Favored by crusty old farts who just now got around to trusting newfangled smokeless powder, and Dirty Harry fans with unrealistic ideas about the power of Magnum rounds vs. engine blocks.
SMLE/Enfield: Refinement of a 19th century blackpowder design. Weapon of choice for militaries who either couldn’t afford Mausers, or had ideological hangups about Kraut rifles. Rimlock-prone cartridge that only barely classifies as a battle rifle round because of blackpowder derivation and insufficient lock strength of the platform. Favored by Canadians with WWII nostalgia, and people who think that semi-auto rifles are a passing fad.
Browning HP: Fragile frame designed around a popgun round. Near-useless safety in stock form that’s only suitable for the thumbs of elementary schoolers. Strangest and most circuitous way to trip a sear ever put into a handgun. Favored by wannabe SAS commandos, wannabe mercenaries, and Anglophiles who think that hammer-down, chamber-empty carry is the most appropriate way to carry a defensive sidearm.
Benelli shotguns: Plastic boutique scatterguns made by people with the martial acumen of dairy cows. Hideously expensive, and therefore popular with police agencies that get their equipment financed by tax dollars.
FN FAL: Long and lightweight receiver that’s impossible to scope properly. Overpowered round, twenty-round magazines that run dry in a blink, and an overall weapon length that’s only suitable for Napoleonic line infantry, but utterly useless for airborne and armored infantry. Made by Belgians, a nation with a military history that is limited to waving German divisions through at the border. Favored by Falklands veterans, Commonwealth fanboys, and people who think that dial-a-recoil gas systems are the epitome of infantry technology.
There. Happy now?