We’ve all met them. The ‘back in my day…’ guys. Sadly, shockingly and to my surprise I have joined the ranks of that hallowed and totally annoying brotherhood. Here’s how it happened.
I’m 59 years old. My military experience started in 1980. My competition shooting experience started in 1984 and my law enforcement experience started in 1985. I worked on the street for months as a small-town cop before I went to the Police Academy. It’s a cliché, but things were different back then.
If you were ‘trained’ on a firearm it meant you knew the manual-of-arms for the weapon inside out, backwards and sideways. We called it muscle memory. Under stress, when injured or befuddled you would just do it, because under stress you do what you are trained to do. You didn’t ‘forget’ because it was all done unconsciously while your brain was busy doing other things. Sometimes working the situation, sometimes running in circles screaming. Whatever. Needless to say this was an ideal, and not everyone was up to that standard, not by a long-shot. But it’s what we strove for.
That being where I came from, when someone on the internet said a well-trained person would forget to activate the safety under stress I disagreed. No matter how much training someone had if they would not automatically use the safety under duress they were not ‘well trained.’ I pulled up my ‘old-guy pants and started ranting.
Then the power went out for several hours and I had time for a nap and a good think. When I came back online someone had pointed out it was 2021. That brought me up short.
People know I’m a ‘gun guy,’ so when considering buying a gun for home defense or carry they often ask for my opinion. What do I invariably recommend? A modern, polymer framed framed pistol, which generally don’t have a manual safety. Why? Because modern pistols are very, very good and the simplified manual-of-arms is easier for a novice.
Uh… yeah. Oops.
I like older guns. I carry older guns. But I frequently say that if I were back on duty I’d carry a Glock 17 with an optic. Why? Because as a specific tool for a specific job, by any objective standard modern guns are better than the old guns I love. They are lighter, more reliable, and hold more rounds. The same is true of their smaller, more civilian-oriented brethren.
Old guns may be more interesting, more attractive and have more ‘character,’ These days I’m a civilian, and my self-defense needs are served perfectly well by my beloved old guns. But as a modern tool for serious use in the modern world why would anyone choose one over a modern pistol? I can’t think of a single reason. Hell, I wouldn’t. Time and technology have moved on, and they’ve done so for good reasons.
I still maintain that a genuinely well-trained person won’t experience issues if their gun has a manual safety. Bone-deep knowledge of your weapon’s manual of arms should be the starting-point for considering someone ‘well-trained.’ But honestly if someone isn’t me or someone like me why would they choose to bother? They probably wouldn’t; it’s the 21st century and they have other, better options.
It’s been a humbling evening. Gotta go… that pie won’t eat itself.
Michael Tinker Pearce, 15 November 2021