Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Where To Save Money (And Where To Spend It)
In these rough times, a gun nut needs to know how to gear up for concealed carry or self-defense without breaking the bank. But there are places where you shouldn't skimp. Here's the short list:
1. The gun!
You don't have to spend $1000+ on a new 1911A1 with all the trimmings, or a shiny new Sig. But you also don't need to take chances with shady names like Bersa, Taurus, and Hi-Point. (Please, no angry "I have a Taurus/Bersa/Hi-Point model X that has never malfunctioned etc" emails or comments. For every one of those I get, I'll get another that says "Amen, I had a Taurus/Bersa/Hi-Point model X that went back to the factory/gunsmith five times and never worked right". I've heard it all, save both of our time.) Instead, look for police trade-ins, second hand Glocks, Sigs, Berettas, or other big-name trade-ins. Also, you can get a S&W M&P-series pistol for $550 or so if you look long enough. Glocks are still around $500 in my neck of the woods, and most Ruger double action six-shooters and their full line of semi-autos come in under $500 new. Some older Rugers can be had for under $400 new. Keep your eyes peeled, and don't rush into a purchase.
As for long guns, most any flavor of pump-action 12 gage shotgun from Mossberg, Remington, and Benelli will be under $400 new, and a very good used one can be had for much less. Military surplus rifles are also usually a bargain if you aren't afraid to do some light gunsmithing/woodworking. If you know what you're looking for, a pawn shop can be quite a gold mine also.
2. Defensive Ammunition.
Your self-defense ammo should be reliable and proven. It doesn't necessarily have to be expensive though. For handguns, the CCI-Speer Gold Dot, Federal Hydra-shok, and Remington Golden Saber ammunition in most any caliber can be trusted. Stay away from Extreme Shock, DRT, and other ammo that costs ridiculous amounts of money and has pictures of ninjas or bikini babes on the box. For rifles, a good jacketed soft point makes a lot of sense. Most any major brand will do. With the shotgun, go with the biggest bite you can get away with, and once again make sure it's from a decent maker (Nobel, Centurian, Federal, Remington, Winchester, Fiocci,etc.).
Once again, you don't have to spend a bloody fortune for a good one, but make sure you get a *decent* one. Concealed carry holsters should be very carefully thought out (how, where, and what position will you carry?) and a one-size-fits-all holster probably isn't going to get it done properly. General or rough duty holsters can be one-size-fits-most and you can get away with it. I use a heavy canvas molle-loop enabled holster that came free with my tac vest. It is blocky and cumbersome, but it holds my AR-24 or 1911 high and firm and holds on tight to them when I'm out stomping around the farm. Good leather and good plastic will cost you money, but you'll probably be happier than if you cheap out on them. A bit of forethought goes a long way with holster selection.
Now, places where you can skimp a bit or just invest wisely to save in the long run.
1. Sub-caliber adapters.
I have .22LR adapters for both my 1911A1 and my AR-15. The adapter kits themselves both cost about $200 each, but consider that 500 rounds of .223 Remington (for the AR) costs about $280, while 500 rounds of .22LR costs about $15. Shoot one bulk-pack of .22 and it has paid for itself. Meanwhile, you keep practicing with the same mag pouches, same holster, and same gun. All that changes is the recoil pulse and the cost of training.
2. Range Ammo.
In contrast to defensive ammo, range ammo does not have to be quite as reliable, nor does the bullet have to do anything special. Thus, full metal jacket bulk ammunition is cheaper than defensive ammo. It used to be just plain cheap, but then Barry O got elected and a buying frenzy ensued. Prices probably won't fall for a while yet, so you may want to look at option #1 unless you have a bigger budget than me (and if you aren't a homeless person, you probably do).
3. Snap Caps
If you don't have money to blow on ammo, then spend less than $20 on a set or two of snap caps and do as many dry fire drills as you can. You can practice most anything with these, to include drawing and firing, reload, unload, clear a malfunction, and plain old trigger control (trigger control is 99% of pistol shooting!). Why not make a minor investment for a major payoff?
Shooting is getting expensive enough that it might make you want to throw up your hands and just blow your money on gold chains and a gym membership. But worry not. With a bit of forethought and careful investment, you can afford to keep shooting or at least keep sharpening your skills.