The Golden Age of Guns

Only 45 units of the “Trump 45” pistols will ever be produced, of which 44 will be offered to the public.
Only 45 units of the “Trump 45” pistols will ever be produced, of which 44 will be offered to the public.

U.S.A.-( We’re living in it. The simple fact is bad guns are few and far between. Accurate guns are available on the cheap and the cost of optics has plunged.

I credit new modern manufacturing techniques, but also a growing market for guns. That growing market means more room for innovation and profits that allow gun manufacturers to improve and expand. The recently signed tax bill will do nothing but help with expansion and innovation.

20 years ago a buddy of mine ordered a brand new Weatherby in 7mm. In 1990’s dollars he spent $2 grand for a new hunting rifle. It shot 1.5 inches at a hundred. He was elated. Back in that day Rifles came in 3 calibers .22, .308 and .3006. Why would you need anything else? Rifles were Weatherby’s if you had the money, but mostly Winchester and Remington. Smith and Wesson only made revolvers, and if you wanted a 1911, you bought a Springfield but more likely a Colt. Your choices were simple, and the few exotic guns that were around were more novelty than a functional shooter.

Many of the brands you know and trust today were not always well thought of. Ruger only made .22s. Savage was joked about or not mentioned out loud. ARs and AKs were rare. Surplus rifles were a dime a dozen and sold by the stack at gun shows. A re-imported M1 Carbine was $150.00, and an SKS was $50.00. You could get 5 for $200 on sale. But cheap guns does not mean good guns. Glocks had more failures than you could count.

Now we have a broader range of calibers to choose from and an expanded AR platform that shoots most of then very well and are available for a modest price. Then there are the new bolt guns. A Ruger American or Savage in the right caliber shoots sub-MOA out of the box. Yup, a $300 gun will do that today.

Glock is the tinker toys of guns, with everything interchangeable and customizable. 1911’s come in a dozen brands, and most of them are as good as anything ever products in the past. With Springfield bringing production back to the US their quality and precision has tightened up. Today their guns are a good buy and ones you should consider.

But let’s be blunt there are no bad guns.

Then there are the micro-calibers. 17HMR, 17WMS and a few others. Tiny little bullets that leave the barrel at 2,500 – 3,000 feet per second. Again Sub-MOA, dirt cheap and use cheap factory ammunition. There is a whole new world of shooting here if you care to look. As for the old venerable .22; you can easily build a rifle that shoots .33 at 100 meters. No kidding.

We live in this golden age of accurate, inexpensive firearms. You should enjoy it and explore it. There are so many guns to shoot, but only 52 weekends a year. Time to explore and get to the range.

About Don McDougall:Don McDougall

Don McDougall is an NRA instructor and member of the Los Padres “Friends of the NRA”committee. If he’s not at the range you will find him setting the record straight with on gun issues and gun safety on AmmoLand Shooting Sports News.

  • 22 thoughts on “The Golden Age of Guns

    1. All firearms are only as good as the operator who is shooting it. Example one shooter may not have shot a great group.
      Shooter number 2 may come up to the line and shoot a tight 1.5″ group
      Followed by Shooter # 3 who just shot a 1.3″ group with his M-1 A. However, shoots a 5.6″ group with the rifle in question. What this proves is that each shooter can shoot his own Rifle better, due to many Variables, from spot weld,
      to The way the Scope is mounted the weight of the Trigger pull, the pistol Grip. As well as several other Variables!

    2. In the 3rd paragraph (“20 years ago” making it 1997) he mentions a 7mm Weatherby that shot 1.5″ groups. Look up the last few years of rifle tests in credible magazines – that 1.5″ group from a 7mm compares favorably with what many rifles (IN LIKE CALIBERS!) do today with factory ammo. And that Weatherby was a 7mm – which contradicts his assertion in the same paragraph that rifles came in .22, .308, and .30/06. 7mms, .30/30, .300 Mags, .338, .340, .375, .444 . . . and on and on were selling briskly — we’re not talking about the 1920’s or 1930’s here. And S&W only made revolvers? Good grief, the Illinois State Police adopted the S&W M39 way back in 1968, and S&W’s semi auto market only expanded since then with their greatly improved 3xxx, 4xxx, and 5xxx series pistols. And as for hunting rifles, there most certainly were more than Remington, Winchester, and Weatherby 20 years ago. Note that Ruger had already brought out the updated Mark II version of their bolt action rifle in 1991, and it was selling briskly. And don’t forget Browning, Marlin, Savage, and Sako,

      Early Glocks splitting in two? I know Gen 1s were more subject to “limp wrist” syndrome malfunctions, but splitting in two is a failure mode that must be incredibly rare.

      And as for his blunt statement that there are no bad guns . . . hogwash. That only means he never had the misfortune of shooting my Kahr P9.

    3. This is probably one of the most poorly informed articles about firearms I have ever read. Was the author living in a cave? It sounds like he spoke with someone who may have been a gun enthusiast in the 60’s ! At 51 years of age , I still recall fondly of thumbing through my dads yearly editions of I think it was Guns and Ammo which had the various fire arms available illustrated And listed by manufacturer. This included surplus weapons. I strong question the authors knowledge and experience with firearms and would recommend he find another subject to write about.

    4. Glock failures? Typical… Only had 50k through my gen 1 17 when it broke a trigger pin and I bought it used as a police trade in… It was a read like r/Lee Emery’s ak vs ar humorous

    5. Back in the day, as it were I actually owned numerous fine Remingtons in calibers such as 22-25-, 243 ,6mm, 25-06 (my favorite) 30-30 and 32 special and had shot the 270, 30-06 and 458 win mag. Today I have the 22lr, .223, 22-250, and 30-06…. oh and a .44 mag lever gun seems to me that I have come full circle.

    6. A lot of high grade rifles, revolvers and pistols have gone away and there’s more plastic in guns than toy stores.
      I’m not crazy about that at all. Craftsmanship has really gone away.

    7. You say Savage arms where joked about ?? what about the savage model 99 ? I have one that was passed down to me in the 300 Savage , and that rifle has killed a lot of things, and is as accurate as any other rifle, I also have other hunting rifles and some of them cant even compare with my Savage mod 99 , including my Remington 700 in 7MM rem mag……………….Oh and I also have a Savage mod 110 in 308, and a Savage model 111 in 7 MM rem mag that shoots under an inch groups at 200 yards, and can be devastating at longer ranges, my 111 can reach out to 1200 yards with almost pinpoint accuracy ………………………..

    8. Remington’s speedmaster has been a favorite of mine ever since I hit 8 out ten empty shotgun shells at 75 yards , on a bet with a borrowed one,classic looks solid feel and Accurate, It’s still on my “need one” list! One fine rifle!

    9. Sorry Don but I had one of the first Model 59 S&W’s in the state of Idaho – and that was in 1974, so no, S&W did more than revolvers. The Illinois state police had been carrying Model 39s for nearly a decade by then as well. And never mind the abundance of Walthers……..If you are going to pontificate about the good old days you might want to do a ‘bit’ more historical research. 😉

        1. Not to worry, Mr. McDougall. It was a very enjoyable article. And allow me to praise the good old days for just an instant. Remington has not made a good .22 rifle since the model 341.

          1. Wild Bill, I have a Remington Fieldmaster Model 572 that has been one of the best rifles that I have had. It still stands by the back door to dispense with the skunk, racoon,possum,squirrel,rat ,rattlesnake or copperhead that comes around.If I didn’t have to clean it every 15-20 years it would be great.BD

            1. @BDog, Please, oh please, clean that fine and handsome rifle more often, for the sake of some worthy young person in the future! And Merry Faith Based Christmas!

    10. Mr. Mc Dougall,
      A really upbeat article. Had a FFL in the 1980s and a different world of quality back then.Some good and some really bad but CNC machining has fixed most of that.And the Internet has brought the firearms community together in ways not even dreamed of 30 years ago.
      And all these nice good guns still have only 2 enemies today. Rust and politicians like John Cornyn the traitor.
      At least I told his legislative assistant that my vote and money here in Texas now ALWAYS goes against him in his primary elections. That got their attention.
      At least I called him and told him WHY. Did you call yours? If not, why not?
      To a bigger and better 2018!

    11. I don’t know where you were 20 years ago but, there were many fine firearms made before then. Most of my favorite guns are well over 20 years old in calibers other than 22 LR, 308 and 30-06. They include Rem. Model 8 35 Rem, S&W 57 41 Mag., S&W 66 357 Mag., Savage 99 300 Sav., Ruger No 1 various calibers.

    12. TRUE!! when I was ‘a young lad’ if you wanted an automatic pistol, you had your choice of; a surplus 1911; a Lugar in 9mm; a P38 in 9mm; or a Mauser ‘Broom handle’; or you cold opt for a S&W revolver…today I don’t think there are ANY ‘bad guns’; even the lowly ‘Hi-point’ can get the job done.

      1. I don’t know Darrell, your comment about the Hi-Point kinda reminds me of the old moped and the fat
        girl they are both fun to ride\shoot but you don’t want to be seen on one. lol.

        1. agreed, I don’t know much about the gen-1’s but the gen-3” and up seem to be great. never had an issue with any of mine, but I have seen most you tube vids of all the melt downs including a full auto Glock. I forget what the ammo count was before it failed but it was pretty high, and the only thing that failed was the plastic rod and they replaced that then they stopped for trigger malfunction and didn’t realize there was a little frame warpage but could have continued by pulling the trigger forward manually. They also said there is no way possible for one person to run that much ammo through their own glock fast enough to have a failure like that so I guess it’s pretty safe to say in a fire fight of any kind your in good hands with a Glock, but we all do tend to agree to disagree.

          1. I have a model 17 and 34. The 34 has a LOT of ZEV parts (well most of the guts are Zev). … Ok ALL of the guts are ZEV. But 2 decades plus ago Mod 1s were not well thought of. Use reloads or under power loads and the gun… well could split in two. Growing pains aside a modern Glock is a good reliable piece.

        2. DBM: Just because you don’t see something is not proof it doesn’t exist … in large or small numbers. I’d be willing to bet you haven’t seen the “Horse Pistol” I inherited from my great grandfather in the early ’50s, but I can assure you it’s in one of my gun safes and I can empirically prove my statement. Unless you can actually examine every Gen 1 Glock ever made, you cannot empirically prove your claim to be true. Your “proof” is simple “reasonableness” not hard evidence and I make the claim you are incorrect.

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