Do Gun Buyers Really Want Innovation?

The Grand Power K100 MK12 has an outstanding design, why aren't there more out there?

U.S.A.-(Ammoland.com)- In recent years there has been this massive cry for innovation from the shooting community but when something that might qualify as innovative hits the market it often seems to be ignored.

Author's note: Since I am a heavy handgun shooter, this article is centered on handguns, not rifles. 

When I was writing the review on the Grand Power K100 MK12 I got to thinking about how pistols like the Grand Power are ignored by most gun buyers and Glock remains one of the best selling pistols on the market. There seems to be no real rhyme or reason for the abandonment of firearms that are outside the norm other than people being reasonably ingrained in their ways.

You see the same when it comes to accessories that enhance a pistol's capabilities. All too often things like high output weapon lights and red dot sights are ignored for whatever reason. You will hear objections to these performance enhancing accessories like “Anymore than 200 lumens will blind you if you shine it on a wall” or “The batteries will die and I might get kilt in the streets.”

Funny enough the same objections were made when red dots on rifles started becoming commonplace, I don't hear any of the same objections when it comes to long gun red dots or high output lights on a rifle. I guess the shooting community just needs to warm up to the idea of innovative accessories that enhance the performance of your gun.

Tell me what your thoughts are on the aforementioned pistol mounted red dots and 600 to 1,000-lumen pistol lights? What are your concerns?

So back to innovation in pistols. I have compiled a short list of firearms that could be considered as innovative that were launched in the last several decades. I tried to limit the time frame to the last several decades and not dive into anything that might be considered historical. Some of the guns on the list are still in production but seem to have rather low sales numbers.

I do want to note that not all of the pistols mentioned below are good firearms, they just had some innovative features.

Steyr M Series:

The Steyr M9-A1

The Styer M series of pistols arguably laid the groundwork for the Sig P320, Beretta APX, Remington RP, and other pistols that have a removable chassis system. While the M series doesn't reap the benefits of serializing the chassis, it is removable and can be transferred to another firearm.

So why does the M series not get any love? It is a wonderful pistol by all accounts and is just as reliable as you would expect a modern pistol to be. My guess? Steyr failed to market the pistol properly in America when it was launched in the early 2000's and never was able to recover. The gun is popular with shooters that I might describe as gun hipsters and saw very limited adoption as a service weapon. Unfortunately, the popularity seems to end there as best as I can tell.

Medusa M47:

The Medusa M47 was able to shoot over a hundred different cartridges according to Ian and by that respect was rather innovative. How were they able to get such a wide range of calibers? Phillips & Rogers developed a cylinder with small spring loaded fingers that held the cartridges in place.

Ian even gets into the issue as to why innovative guns fail at the 5:11 mark in the above video. Only about 500 of these innovative guns made it into circulation before Phillips & Rogers closed their doors forever. Sadly no one has revived the design and the innovative cylinder died.

 

Arsenal Firearms Strike One:

The Arsenal Firearms Strike One

While the locking system in the Arsenal Firearms Strike One wasn't new, it was innovative when applied to a polymer pistol. The unique locking block that was reminiscent of the Bergman action keeps the bore of the pistol extremely low and makes the pistol very flat shooting.

I am not going to harp too much on why the pistol failed on its first go here in the US but will simply say that the importer that had exclusive rights to the Strike One in the USA did an awful job promoting the gun and getting it into gun shops. I have only seen one Strike One in person and that happens to be the gun that I own, that should tell you something.

Now the Strike One design is being revived as the compact Archon Firearms Type B to be released later this year. Archon also plans to offer a full-size gun that is more reminiscent of the original Strike One pistol as a Type A at some point, but no word as to when that might happen.

Heckler Koch VP70:

Photo Credit: Eric Eggly

The Heckler Koch VP70 was the first pistol to use polymer as a frame material, beating the Glock 17 to market by over a decade. For whatever reason, the VP70 just wasn't appreciated by the shooting public. It was introduced in 1970 so you could argue that the pistol was facing some pretty stiff skepticism as a result of the M16's abysmal initial performance in Vietnam.

Other than the material used for the frame, there wasn't much else that was revolutionary about the VP70. Sure, there was a spring-loaded striker, but let's face it, that has been done before. The stock that turns it into a machine pistol? The Mauser Schnellfeuer 712 already kinda did something similar.

The pistol wasn't really adopted by anyone and as best as I can tell was largely overlooked in the gun shops during its production run.

Taurus 180 Curve:

The 180 Curve hugs you in ways you have never been before.

The 180 Curve is sort of innovative and sort of not. While the outside shape is different than just about any other gun on the market, it is basically a Taurus TCP shoved in a curved frame. The gun might have been rightfully ignored, but it did take a novel approach to the struggles of trying to hide a gun with tight clothing like yoga pants or something of the like.

CONCLUSION:

While there have been some guns that have changed the market as we know it like the Glock, HK USP, AR-15, the Henry Repeating Rifle, the Gatling Gun, Maxim Gun, etc. The success of the Hudson H9 tells me that there is some hope for innovative design in today's marketplace, but how much?

Why is it that so many interesting and serviceable firearms are left to rot in the dark corners of the gun case?

Are gun buyers serious about wanting to add guns to their safe that are truly innovative or are they just looking for something to talk about?

Tell me what you think.


About Patrick R.Patrick Roberts

Patrick is a firearms enthusiast that values the quest for not only the best possible gear setup, but also pragmatic ways to improve his shooting skills across a wide range of disciplines. He values truthful, honest information above all else and had committed to cutting through marketing fluff to deliver the truth. You can find the rest of his work on FirearmRack.com as well as on the YouTube channel Firearm Rack or Instagram at @thepatrickroberts.

  • 25 thoughts on “Do Gun Buyers Really Want Innovation?

    1. The same thing happened when the H.S. 2,000 hit Americas shores. I am not sure if it was 2000 2001. Then nthe very same gun cam back with Springfield Armory all over it and the public could not get enough. I have no problem with Glocks either.

      1. I just could not resist! ” Do Gun Buyers Really Want Innovation? or How the “mention of Boberg, Rhino and some of Kel Tecs offerings” are innovative too by Dr. Strangelove.

        Never new someone was using that screen name until now.

      2. I just could not resist! ” Do Gun Buyers Really Want Innovation? or How the “mention of Boberg, Rhino and some of Kel Tecs offerings” as innovative too by Dr. Strangelove.

        Never new someone was using that screen name… until now.

      1. Have you ever been in an actual gun fight? On the street 7 or 8 shots is not what I want to rely on when my life is on the line. I prefer 15 or 18 before I think about reloading, knowing I’ll probably dump my magazine with anywhere between 2 and 4 rounds still in it when I reload. It’s pretty damn hectic and so scary it’s beyond belief. My partner was involved in a running gun battle at 15 to 20 yards that seemed to go on forever. Another officer on my squad was involved in one of the most horrific and fastest gun battles recorded. He and two bad guys all ran out of ammo, fought it out and they beat him to death. You can NEVER have too much ammo.

        1. @Vanns40: I AM WITH YOU ON THAT ONE! One of the best suggestions ever! I would not settle for any defensive firearm with a capacity below 15 rnds. Not if I (slurred), have a choice. Never will you know how many ‘perps’ that there will be or the length and strength of any given confrontation. Very true is the age old adage “You can never have too much ammo.” Especially in a ‘God forsaken’ gunfight.

          Makes me think of ‘Rango’. “I killed him with just one bullet!”

          To ALL Veterans out there. LE/FM/EMT, Have a Happy Memorial Day! “John 15:13”

    2. I know I am old school but I prefer my handguns to be made out of metal rather than polimer. I Know Glock has a long following but I still trust metal.

    3. I have my S&W Mod 19, a Ruger Blackhawk, and a Springfield Range Officer for general use. A Kimber Ultra Carry II, Bersa Firestorm, Firearms International Model D, and a S&W Mod 60 for CCW. In general, each is simple. Simple to shoot and simple to maintain. The more “innovation” the more that can go wrong.

      Cars are perfect examples. In my garage is a 1965 Mustang with a 289 4BBL V8. No electronics. I can work on it any time I want. Parked along side it is a 2013 Mustang with a 5.0 Coyote V8. It’s filled with “innovation” and things that can go wrong, but I can no longer work on it because I don’t have a $10k computer system to analyze what is wrong between all the systems and subsystems.

    4. It’s often simply about the money. Most of us can’t afford each new innovation that is touted in the market place. My first pistol was a 9mm Star. Plain Jane, no innovations. Over the years I have purchased a Beretta 9mm and a Kimber 45 since the Star. No special innovations. No red dots, special triggers, night sites, etc. etc. I just practice. Even at 80 you wouldn’t want me shooting at you with my innovationless guns. At 10 yards I can hit center mass by point shooting. Practice, practice, practice.

      1. You hit the nail right on the head. Not everyone can run out and buy each overpriced new toy that someone dreams up. I will stick to my 1911’s and Glocks I know the work first time every time that is good enough for me.

    5. Cartridge firearms represent a mature technology, and so called “innovations” are often just different, not better.

      Steyr? The manual lock safety has been known to have problems. A clerk at the gun shop had one that locked up the gun more than once, so he had to send it in for repairs under warranty. Steyr ended up sending it back to Austria as they had no domestic repair capability. He eventually got it back and it worked well, but still . . .

      Medusa? Oddball off brand from a company that promptly folded. Good luck getting service if yours breaks.

      VP-70? A big, clumsy gun with one of the worst triggers EVER, coming from a company whose customer service motto is “Because you suck and we hate you.”

      Taurus Curve? Hey, it’s still a Taurus. When working as a range officer I saw WAY too many troublesome Taurus handguns to ever want one myself.

      For a time, I had a Kahr P9, considered to be an innovative polymer compact. Many, MANY problems with it – so many that Kahr eventually gave up trying to fix it and replaced it. I traded the unfired replacement for a Glock 26, which may not be as neat a package, but unlike the Kahr it actually WORKS.

      1. LOL. I had a VP70. I couldn’t get through a magazine before my finger ached. Worst trigger pull ever. Made a Ruger LCP look like a gold cup.

        1. Same here. I had my FFL and bought two VP 70z’s. Made from a machine pistol and had huge lands/grooves in the barrel. Both had trigger pulls greater than 20#, the highest my gunsmith had. He tried to tune the one I kept and got it “down” to 16#. I eventually figured out not to let the trigger completely reset after that first horrendous pull. I gave it to one of my kids until they could afford something better once they moved out.
          Also, it was virtually impossible to get spare magazines.

    6. Patrick, the Steyr M is only one of 4 “A1” models. It may have been the first but versions released later enjoy more popularity. Designed by a former Glock employee they represent something Glock could aspire too but sadly you are 100% correct, Steyr Austria has their head up their butt with marketing their product. The L is a full sized version and very popular with competition shooters and the S is the compact version and enjoys popularity with those of us who carry concealed. The L9-A1 was my first handgun purchase ever, later I got an S9-A1 and promptly became my EDC. As I allude too, Steyr Austria is just totally farked when it comes to listening to their customers. For a very short period there was an M357 chambered for .357 sig and it was discontinued. We begged Steyr to reissue it as well as offering the other models in that caliber to no avail. Recently a company in Texas stepped up and now offers .357 sig drop in barrels for all 4 models of the Steyr pistols. I promptly sold my S9-A1 to fund the purchase of an S40-A1 and ordered a barrel from Ranger Point Precision. I now carry what would be an S357-A1 EDC and it is a dream to shoot. Something to note, while my S is a Gen4 gun, which added ambidextrous release (I am left handed) Steyr is shipping the guns with the magazine cutout on one side only and has responded to my wtf inquiry that they will not ship updated magazines until they run out of the old ones. That’s the rigid Germanic mindset we are dealing with. I have asked Ranger Point to offer a solution to this problem too.

      1. Thanks for the props! Glad to hear that you’re enjoying your Steyr .357 Sig barrel. In addition to all of the Steyr pistol products we already offer we have tons more in the R&D pipeline. Stay tuned!

    7. Let me help you with that “no real rhyme or reason for the abandonment of firearms that are outside the norm…” statement Pat Roberts. Roberts writes, “While the M series doesn’t reap the benefits of serializing the chassis, it is removable and can be transferred to another firearm.” What is the benefit of this innovation that I would want to exchange hard earned money for it?
      Continuing, “… The Medusa M47 was able to shoot over a hundred different cartridges…” So, a smaller caliber cartridge bullet would not get the benefit of barrel’s lands and groves? What is the monitory cost of that? Sounds like a lot to go wrong that my local gun smith can’t fix.
      “Heckler Koch VP70 was the first pistol to use polymer as a frame material…” Plastic, huh?
      “The 180 Curve is sort of innovative and sort of not… The gun might have been rightfully ignored…” I think that the author has answered his own question.
      As to the no rhyme or reason, how about “A fool and his money are soon parted.” Aesop

    8. If I recall when I was working in a gun shop in miami and the HK VP 70 came in the store the first thing we noticed was how top heavy it was and that it was bulky . I cant speak to the others because I never handled them but without a doubt poor promotion on part of the distributor kept us from trying a number of new builds.Rico.

      1. That VP70 trigger was everything a trigger should never be! Once I tried it I instantly hated the gun no matter how good the rest of the gun was.

    9. There is the Full Conceal M3D folding Glock 19, with more Glocks to follow, and Bobergs bullpup 9mm now produces in improved form by Bond arms, as well. Both are good guns. I have them both!

      It’s not innovation but a problem of advertising and review and practical use, to me.

    10. It is hard for innovation as we dont learn about them in the shop until consumers tell us or we see it at a show.
      But there have been a number of innovative pistols recently.
      Hudson, Honor Defense, Heizer, S&W EZ to name a few.

      My guess is that the small companies don’t advertise enough or entertain the media enough to get adequate attention.
      Writers are also quick to criticize new companies, but there are always love reviews about Glocks, Ruger, Walther, Sig and Smith & Wesson.

    11. A Grand Power, Arsenal Arms and the Steyr M are on my to buy wish list. The older you are, being a veteran or current military/le tend to be resistant to change. I know that I had my own reluctance at times and during those periods. But I tend to know a good thing when I see one and a lame duck also. I have no problem with good smart innovation accessories.

    12. Innovation is great. However there is something to be said of brick stupid. If I’m not mistaken there are 34 parts in a Glock. There are 2 parts in a hammer the handle and the head. There is 1 part in a rock both the hammer and the rock will work for smashing things yet the hammer gets the nod for many things due to its innovation and improvements over a rock.
      The Glock like a rock works. Could there come along an innovation that will far surpass the efficacy of a Glock sure yet till that day comes along the Glock will be king. Like a rock is pick up and smash stupid the Glock is also as easy to use, just pick it up and pull the trigger. It also is just as safe as a rock when left on the ground. The Glock changed the game and everyone has copied them to some extent over a revolver. People will continue to innovate and develop better rocks over time and someone will come up with a better firearm than the Glock however it was a long time between Samuel Colts peacemaker and Gaston Glock.

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