A Fisking


The Havok Journal posted a whine about the gun industry that required some gentle fisking.   I’ve not heard of it before… but it bounced around my Social Medias a bit and caught my attention.

Since around 2008, the firearm industry has taken a dramatic turn.  It hasn’t exploded like some predicted after the presidential elections.

Actually, yes.  It did.  Retail Firearm Sales went through the roof.  So much so that dealers and distributors were emptied of product for years.   To this day, supply of some products has still not caught back up to demand.  Such as .22 Long Rifle ammunition.

It hasn’t come to a screeching halt like some legislators dreamed.  It has become retarded in the last several years. Yes, I used the word “retarded” specifically for its dual meaning: it’s slid backwards and also become less able to think clearly or with purpose. I said it. Most industry promoters are idiots, and they are passing on useless garbage to the masses. Here’s why…

Because People Buy It.   The Gun Industry – I’m going to call it the SHOT Industry, because it’s more than just Firearms – Reacts to Market.  Not what people say they want, but what people actually spend their money on.  Which is why there is no S&W M&P 10mm, just for example.   

We all like to think of ourselves as being educated, some having nice paper diplomas up on the walls showing we can survive a few years of college.  Add in the widespread availability of the internet on every electronic device possible and we can’t go wrong: right?

Human Nature… go on.

There are countless magazines online about firearms and new items, reviews by countless people, and forums for every subject imaginable, not to mention the guys (and gals) at the gun counter.

And Bloggers like yourself, and I… but please, go on…

With all this information readily available at our fingertips, we can research every future purchase and discuss them on forums and chats with other enthusiasts.  So how is the industry losing information then? Because the people writing the articles and talking on forums or behind the counter are usually full of shit and have NO CLUE what they are talking about.

When you are behind the gun counter, we see people all the time that act like they know more than we do.  Very rarely is that ever the case.   Having formed an opinion does not equal knowledge of the subject.  IE, Politics.  And when we try to correct some misinformation, we are then slammed as “assholes, know-it-alls, or we have bad customer service”.

While they may, and often are, smart people, they are not experts in their hobby. Yes, hobby. Someone cannot be called a professional in something if they do it just for fun or for rent money, can they? Does owning 10 guns (usually based on the recommendations of others) make someone an expert?

At what pay level, Sir, does one become a Professional?  Because I know HUNDREDS of Professionals who work in the Gun Industry part time… Just to get a little extra for Rent or to support the Hobby.  This doesn’t mean working in the gun industry is the hobby.  Thanks to Obama Care, many can not work Full Time because the company can’t afford it.
What makes someone an expert on anything is experience and study.   For the record, a professor at the University of North Carolina told me that if you study something 2 hours a day for 2 years, that makes you an International Expert on that subject.   Nice thought, but I’m not sure what an International Expert is.

Most firearm professionals are busy working, either in the field, the shop, or on their next project.

Project or Hobby?

Firearm professionals are on deployment, constantly looking for the most efficient systems for their needs, because their lives depend on it; or are on the range deck diagnosing and fixing the bad habits of self-proclaimed YouTube experts as they do every week; or are in a busy workshop after a 12-hour day figuring out how to solve a weapon issue or how to cut weight on a future product.

Very few people in the Gun Industry that you would call “Firearms Professionals” are on Deployment.  I’ll get to more on this later…

Firearm experts are not the college kid at the gun counter, regardless of how well he knows the price of Brand X rifle or if a barrel is 1:8 or 1:9 on Brand Y.

Stop right there.   There is no such thing as a Firearms Expert.  The SHOT Industry is too large, with too many Specialty Sub-Industries for anyone to be an Expert.   You can be an Expert in some Specialty within the SHOT Industry, and that’s the most you can hope for.  Anyone that says otherwise speaks through a mouth full of bullshit.

Do you honestly think that the 300 pound “Instructor” with ketchup & mustard stains on his shirt knows anything about shooting under stress or how to enter a room when he himself can’t fit through a normal doorway without turning sideways? While the home inspector may be a great guy, just because he put 30 rounds through a magazine off a bench to “T&E”, it doesn’t mean it has been tested. The industry has turned to hobbyists for information about products and this has led to the retardation of the industry as a whole.

Weight has nothing to do with being able to teach.  And your Strawman Instructor with the stained shirt – I’ve never seen anyone that matches that description with the combination of poor personal hygiene and poor ability to eat foods with condiments.  This is not just an exaggeration…  You are making a statement that any instructor packing too much weight shouldn’t be an Instructor.   I’ve seen many instructors that could ace a PT test, but can’t teach for shit.   Those guys are usually too full of Ego and Arrogance to actually coach someone that’s not as high speed as themselves.   Teaching itself is a talent.   I’ve seen many Instructors who were awesome teachers who could stand to lose a few pounds.  Weight has nothing to do with Knowledge or ability to transmit Knowledge to another.
And here’s the other thing, your experience in Counter Battery Fire, Calling in for Mortars, or Assaulting an Objective is all fine and well if you are on a Military Operation.  But that experience really amounts to little more than Liability when you put it in the context of Civilian Self Defense.  We want our students to be able to save lives, not take them.  To be able to go home to their families, and not spend the rest of their life in jail.   Slow your roll, High Speed.  

So where are all the SMEs (Subject Matter Experts)? Honestly, they are tired of this exact phenomenon I’m discussing. It used to be that gun articles were written by the “Been There, Done That” guys. Magazines featured men like Clint Smith, Jim Cirillo, and others who’ve successfully survived several gunfights and had firsthand knowledge to impart with others. These are guys who’ve spent countless hours at a range, pushing past blisters and bone chilling weather because they have to, not on weekend trips to the mountains with a cooler of beer.”   

Ask any of them – and they well all tell you that they would rather be in the mountains with a cooler of beer.   The Old Guard is mostly out.  Only a few are still plugging away.  Clint Smith, Massad Ayoob, John Farnham…    Now we have the new guys.  George Hill, Daniel Shaw, Rob Pincus and a myriad of other fantastic Instructors who are working hard at providing the best training experiences possible.    Everyone of them will also take some time to refresh because you can’t be All Hard All The Time.  That’s fantasy, and you should probably contact your doctor about that.

Current legends such as Kyle Lamb, Mike Pannone, and Kyle Defoor have spent some time writing, publishing videos (for free), and putting their knowledge out through forums only to be chastised each time by some teenage Airsoft want-a-be with nothing better to do.

Only Legends to some.  Look, the SHOT Industry is the SHOT Industry.  Those guys are not nationally known outside of our little world.   We know each other, but don’t expect your local dentist to know any of us, or guys like Kyle Lamb.  Be careful of running into the “Do you know who I am” problem.  Because no one cares.

They’ve been unjustly insulted and criticized by so many people who don’t know shit. They’re tired of trying to help and have just stopped. Some, like Larry Vickers and Pat Rogers still maintain a presence on some forums that have a strict vetting and no BS policy, or contribute to some decent magazines. However, you have to wade through 95 pages of advertisements and articles by the hobbyists to get to the five pages of good information.

Just like everyone else, sometimes they say or do something that deserves some chuckles.  They are not infallible.  LV’s video about Fireclean is evidence of this.   We should never take ourselves too seriously or we deserve some mocking.   The generalized statement about the “people who don’t know shit” is another trap you should not let yourself fall into.   It’s very easy to assert that someone that doesn’t share your opinion is less intelligent than you.  Just like driving in traffic… Anyone driving slower than you is an idiot and anyone faster than you is a maniacal moron.

Let’s knock this chip off your shoulder here.  Just because you Went There and Did That does not make you a Firearms Expert.   In fact, any Military Service is pretty much just a “Basic Introduction Into The Firearms Industry”.  Your average Veteran is easily an Expert with 1 or 2 Weapon Systems.   I’ll give you the AR-15 Platform and another weapon system that you were assigned to.  Mortars.  TOW’s.  155mm’s… Maybe a Beretta 92 or Glock… whatever it is.  Weapon Specialists in the Military are maybe experts in 6 to 8 different Weapon Systems.   Let’s be generous and say that a hardened Vet is an Expert with an AR and 9 other weapons.    Now let’s look at that guy behind the Gun Counter at the local Sporting Goods Stores.   One I worked at, all of us had to be experts on some 800 different types, in a myriad of different chamberings.  We had to know the guns and the calibers and which is better suited to what purpose, what game and what season.   The Military Guys, Solid on 5.56mm and 7.62mm.  You gave the example of just price and rate of twist… friend… You have no idea.  

Most Military Guys these days grew up playing Call of Duty and Counter Strike, Enlisted, come out Veterans and do not know how to strip down a 1911 or 870, or even how to take the bolt out of a Remington 700.   

Don’t be offended at this – this is just what we guys who don’t know shit have observed.   You Cocks of the Tactical Walk are the ones that don’t know shit.   You talk big game.  You have the Swagger.   But you High-Speed Guys (In General) can’t tell my why a .270 is better suited for Antelope in Western Colorado vs .30-06.  Or the difference between a .460 and a .500 Magnum, and what’s better for what task.   Because that’s not been your training.  It just wasn’t.  Can you tell me, off the cuff, the difference between .17 Mach 2, .17 HMR, and .17 WSM?   .218 Bee vs .22 Hornet?   Or what’s faster, .22-250 or .220 Swift?    Or how many different 7mm or .30 caliber factory chamberings are and which might be best of Elk up in the mountains or Mule Deer in the open plains.     My brothers behind the counter could talk to you in detail about all of this while your eyes just glaze over.  We’ve seen it before.   Because it happens all the time.   Most of you guys, .308 is huge.  .308 is barely AVERAGE. We want to scream at you when you ask me what 5.56 load is better for Elk.  But we can’t scream at you… because that’s not good Customer Service.

The current trend of firearm “superstars” further propagates this retardation. By emulating and even giving false validity to people who don’t deserve it, we’ve given the firearm enthusiasts false idols to learn from.  The industry, with some exceptions, has turned into a group of garage AR builders, web developers, and other part-time hobbyists jerking each other off through social media, thinking that likes on Facebook, Instagram, or other media sites, somehow relate to product quality.

This is because everyone want to be the next Clint Smith or Jeff Cooper… And building an AR is easy.  But be careful of the term Superstar.  Because of the No One Cares factor.   Take yourself for example.  No one knows who you are outside of your own circle.   Just like me.   We are only popular with our friends.  And really, nothing else matter.  So get over that shit.    

Those who are actually trying to do informative research on a firearm-related product are misled into thinking that a product or service is worthwhile, because all the hobbyists who are made popular are celebrating it. The use of celebrities to market a product is not new. At least Wheaties puts real athletes on their boxes. I see countless pictures of people saying “that rifle is sick,” or “that’s the best set up ever!” to gear that is often redundant and/or has no practical use.

Everyone wants to make “The Next Big Widget”.  That’s how capitalism works.  Even the biggest gun companies do this… Make something, throw it against the wall, see if it sticks.  Look at the .45 GAP.   It’s actually a great idea.  Didn’t stick.  Doesn’t mean it was a bad idea.  Then there are those Slide Rackers.  Plastic blocks to help you rack your slide.   I laughed my ass off when I saw them.   And then I saw them at Bass Pro and Cabella’s and Gander Mountain.   If it’s stupid but works, it’s not stupid.  Well, if it sells and makes you money…

I’ve seen rifle with three of the same sling attachment points at the same place and short-barreled AK pistols with high power scopes being hailed as the next thing in weapons only because it has X-brand parts on it or it was “run hard” on a flat range for a few mags and put on YouTube.

That’s how the SHOT Market works these days.  Our trade magazines are fading out… Guns & Ammo, American Handgunner and the others… on the way out.  The New Media on the Internet is the new reality and in time it gets vetted based on the market reaction to it.   If you don’t embrace and use it you sound like one of the Newspaper Moguls bitching about why people are dropping their subscriptions to the newspaper.

What happened to testing things before making a decision about its use?  Where are the bad reviews? Negative reviews are almost nonexistent now. If you do happen to disbelieve the hype or call them out on any BS, then suddenly you are the asshole. I’ve seen this infection spread to the training industry as well, however, that is topic for another day.

Welcome to Retail and Marketing!

The firearms industry is a small world. While there are many new designers, builders, manufacturers every day, most of them are just weekend hobbyists.  Not very many have actually made a career behind a trigger. There definitely are exceptions. People who started in their basement or people who are popular that have made it a life’s quest and succeeded at it. However, this is not the norm.

You say Hobbyist like it was a bad thing… Albert Einstein was a File Clerk in a Patent Office.  That was his full time job.  That was his Profession.   Being a theoretical physicist was just his hobby.  

Most of the people you see promoting the industry today have no experience, no background, and no idea how to properly test, evaluate, or describe the proper application of a product. Keep that in mind as you research your next purchase. Experts are there.

Reasons for this is because of what you had described.   “Celebrity Endorsements” are the big Marketing thing…  and Merit has nothing to do with Market Success. (10mm and .45 GAP again)  Companies get those big names guys to pitch their products while better products who can’t afford the celebrity struggle.  People do not want to buy what’s good – they want to buy what’s popular.  

They’re just sitting quietly in the corner and not running around like a five year old in a toy store, drooling over each item they see in fancy packaging. Be smart and take some time to learn who’s helping you make decisions about YOUR needs.

That’s the problem.  How do you take the time to learn?  Where do you go for that information?   Blogs, Forums, and YouTube… just like you just cried about.    As they say in the Military – Embrace The Suck. Because until you do… you are why the Gun Industry has become retarded. You still have spots. You are the SHOT Industry’s Bernie Voting Liberal Arts Major who thinks just because you graduated have a DD-214, the Industry owes you. Son, you haven’t paid your dues yet. You still have a lot to learn.


23 thoughts on “A Fisking”

  1. “Only a few are still plugging away. Clint Smith, Massad Ayoob, John Farnham… Now we have the new guys. George Hill, Daniel Shaw, Rob Pincus”.

    Wait… did you just insert yourself at the front of the list of “next-gen” instructors? Smooth, George, smooth 😛

  2. Do you know how many “operators” I have seen trashed at IDPA matches by the 65 year old overweight guy with a bad hip? Or by the 100 lbs soaking-wet 18 year old girl and her mom?
    The truth this guy cannot handle (one of many) is that plain civilians will outshoot 99% of the Military and police…. which might be the reason why those entities go quietly to civilian instructors to improve their training.

    1. I learned some really neat 3-gun carbine tricks from a SF Major.

      He learned them when his unit called up some professional 3-gunners to help them with transitions and tracking during a high-tempo year in Sadr City.

      Now, who’s the expert?

    2. There are allot of chubby guys in seal team, and rangers.

      Not full on fat, but too many people have seen too many movies where the actor has a stunt double for abs, air brushing, and almost shut his kidneys down starving for the role.

      There are allot of guys carying 30 lbs of fat they do not need who kid world class ass.

      Lots of them on tv look like they are big boys, 6’2″-6’4″ 240 lbs. And not 6 % body fat

  3. George, I don’t know why you even waste your time reading or even reposting & replying to this drivel. This seems to be in the minority of opinions so IMO doesn’t really bear worth repeating.

    1. He’s got a point, George. Your response is actually significantly longer than his whole article (and that’s without the direct quotes). You might’ve done better to just write your own article and benefit from the social media publicity instead of giving him even more press…

      Also, do they have the date wrong or is this an old news? The tagline states “This article first appeared in The Havok Journal on 24FEB15.”.

    2. George was just using him as blog fodder. He ain’t arguing with him, he’s making a point to HIS readership.

      1. Not really… I read that on and it pissed me off and I had to vent. Venting was the whole purpose of MadOgre.com from the beginning.

        1. And I for one quite enjoy seeing the Ogre get riled up on a topic. Always entertaining, and I end up learning something new. Thanks!

  4. It’s the same in the car industry, motorcycle shops etc
    I worked in the casino industry 20+ years. 95% of all pit bosses couldn’t count cards or don’t know basic strategy .
    Ya just gotta self educate yourself or find an expert. Good luck. And don’t even get me started on golf instructors.

  5. I agree with 100% of what you said. I responded to that post as well, but you just put it way better than I did.

    I was particularly irritated at the weight thing, and not because I myself am a big fat guy, but because as you pointed out weight and the ability to instruct are not related. Trust me, I have been the fat kid virtually all my life (even when I wasn’t fat, oddly enough), and that stereotype doesn’t even bother me anymore. But I also happen to be a pretty good teacher and it does bother me that this guy basically reduced the exchange of knowledge to looks.

    Anyway, enough of that. I am going to go try and scrub the ketchup stains off my shirt.

  6. When I am not wearing a uniform, I am at home with my wife and kids in the suburbs. My tactical situation is not requiring 1200 yard shots in the wind down a hill. I carry a 1911, and shoot skeet at the local club. I am not “operator as fuck” but I also don’t have high blood pressure, nor a silica/sand infection in my uterus.


    Can the old man pass a PT test? Likely not, but he still has his mojo.

  7. Very well done. Yeah, there are bad ideas and dolts in the shooting community, but that doesn’t render the entire industry “retarded.”

    I loved the sly insertion of the name George Hill in your response–that fella’s going places!

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