My car is comfortable, useful, gets excellent mileage and with routine maintenance will go 150,00-200,000 miles with no issues. “Yeah, but will it make it through the Paris-Dakar Rally? No? It’s unreliable!”
Pretty stupid, huh? The car does everything it’s designed to in exemplary fashion, but it’s unreliable because it won’t do something it was never intended to do.
The handguns I rely on do not experience a meaningful number of malfunctions in the conditions I use them in, and every single one of those issues has been ammo related. I suspect many of them would not make it through a high-round-count training course without issues. How many shits do I give about that? Zero. Because the purpose of these guns isn’t to make it through a marathon training session. It’s to do the job and protect my life if everything goes utterly and completely sideways. I am as certain as anyone can be that they will do that.
I recently had someone comment, “I wouldn’t own one of those because it won’t make it through such-and-such training course.” I asked if they intended to take that course. Well, no actually, they can’t afford that! Guess what Sparky, most of us can’t. So you’re going to diss a gun because it won’t do something you’re never going to do with it? You’re a Muppet.
You May Not Like This…
…but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. You will never, ever, under any imaginable circumstance, need to fire over a thousand rounds from a handgun in self defense over the course of a weekend or even a week. NEVER. It. Will. Not. Happen. You will never, ever need your handgun to perform to this standard in a real world defensive shooting situation. If some utterly bizarre set of circumstances occurred, which would pretty much require Divine Intervention, you’re going to die long before a quality defensive pistol malfunctions. Life is not a movie and you’re not John Wick.
If your gun functions in reasonable use under reasonable circumstances it’s good enough. If you have the interest and can afford it exceeding that minimum standard is never going to be a bad idea, but you don’t need to.
But You’re Arguing for Mediocrity!
No. I am not. I am arguing for realism. I am saying it’s not reasonable to judge a tool by an unreasonable standard. No car owner needs to race in an off-road rally to insure their car is reliable in day to day use. No gun owner needs to do a high-round-count training course with their defensive handgun to be as sure as they can be that it will save their life. Taking your bog-standard Ford hatchback into the 24 Hours of LeMans is a stunt, not a reasonable test of reliability. Insulting it for not getting the job done is idiotic.
Don’t get me wrong here. There are plenty of out-of-the-box guns that will probably make it through a HRC course fine. That’s fantastic and admirable. Worthy of praise? Absolutely. But is it necessary? For the average user that will never require their gun to do this? Nope.
That being said if advising a new defensive pistol user I might steer them towards one of these guns over something else. Not because they need that, but because it speaks well of the gun.
My lightweight J-frame S&W is a fine, reliable gun. I will sometimes toss it in a jacket-pocket for a quick run to the store and be absolutely confident that the gun will not experience a mechanical failure if I need it. But I would definitely not take it to an HRC course. That’s not what it’s for and it likely would not do the job in those circumstances. But there is no world where that makes it a bad gun. Context, people!
If someone came to me tomorrow and said, ‘Pack your bags, you’re going to an HRC course!’ I would cheer, pack my bags and grab my CZ P-01 Omega. Of the guns I own it’s probably the best tool I have for the job of doing an HRC course and I love shooting it. If I go to the shooting range this afternoon I’ll pack my custom sub-compact 1911 9mm because I have every confidence that it will do the job of keeping me alive in any plausible scenario I might encounter. I also shoot it at least as well as the CZ and it’s easier to carry. If I am told, “C’mon, we’re going to go handgun hunting for deer!’ I’d grab my single-action .44 Magnum. Different jobs, different tools.
Now, that sub-compact 1911 might make it through an HRC course, it’s a damn fine gun if I do say so myself. But I am as certain as I can reasonably be that the CZ will and I don’t want gun-bobbles to spoil my good time if I can avoid it.
Are HRC Courses Useless?.
Not at all. With a good instructor teaching a good curriculum you will learn useful things, gain confidence in yourself and what you can do with your handgun. If you take the right equipment and have the right mindset you will also, not insignificantly, have an absolute ball. It is possible that you will gain knowledge that will stand you in good stead in a real-life defensive shooting, but odds are you don’t need the course to do as well as can be expected should the worst happen.
I used to modify cars to be quicker and handle better, but those mods were neither necessary nor particularly useful in day-to-day driving. They didn’t make the car worse for day to day use, but in the real world they were just a bonus. There was pride in having done the mods and the enhanced capability they imparted even though I would never need and almost never use those enhancements.
Similarly I do gunsmithing to enhance the utility and capability of my guns. These make tiny, incremental improvements in the gun’s performance that I may or may not be able to take advantage of. They will almost certainly make no difference in a real-world defensive shooting. I do them because it’s interesting, fun and challenging. The fact that their practical value in real life is probably nil doesn’t enter in to it. It’s fun.
There are parallels to be drawn here.
I’m Getting Pretty Sick of This Shit
‘Yeah, but will your PSA dagger go 40K rounds without breaking like a real Glock?”
Who gives a shit? I’m never going to put 40K rounds through that gun. Maybe, maybe 5K and it’s probably fine for that. The price, better ergonomics, better trigger, factory RMR cut etc. makes the Dagger a better gun for me in the real world than a Glock 19. I can’t afford an HRC course, so whether a gun will make it through that without bobbles is of zero importance to me. If it will that’s a bonus, but that’s more about bragging rights than anything to do with actual use. I just want the gun to do what I need it to do.
People in our community are too often more concerned with bragging rights than anything that matters. They might buy a $4,000 dollar 2011 for the joy of owning something really, genuinely nice and impressive and I am all for it. You go, dude! But when people use the price and quality of their gun, the training courses they take or the money they can spend as a club to beat down ‘lesser’ gun owners and feel superior? Yeah, they can fuck straight off.
In the same vein Caliber Supremacists irk me. It used to be the ‘God’s Caliber’ crowd, but they are increasingly being eclipsed by the 9mm cultists. In a defensive handgun for the average person or law-enforcement officer there’s a lot of very good reasons to argue in favor of 9x19mm. It does the job, it’s often easier to train with, you can carry more rounds, the ammo is usually significantly more affordable so training is cheaper and training is good. It’s a win-win. But guess what Sparky? Other calibers work too, and for many people 9x19mm’s good points are irrelevant. A .45-caliber bullet is not demonstrably less effective than a 9mm bullet, and if ease of training and capacity aren’t factors for an individual it’s not actually stupid for them to choose .45, or .40 S&W. or 10mm. But a certain segment of the community sneers at them every chance they get.
They don’t do this because 9mm is arguably a better choice. they do it because they’ve want to feel superior and put other people down, or they are so invested in ‘being right’ that they don’t care if they actually are. There are a lot of folks out there that feel it is not enough for them to be right, you have to be wrong. That makes them feel better about themselves. If that’s you seek therapy; you’re broken.
For the Record…
…for the last decade or more I have been leaning heavily into 9mm. As with many other people there are good, objective reasons it suits my needs better than other service-calibers. But if a .38, 45 or whatever works for you I am not going to act like you are stupid or crazy, and I am sure as HELL not going to feel superior about it or put you down for your choice. If you spew spurious information in support of your choice or tell others they are stupid for not agreeing with you, well then it’s on. if you paint a target on your dumb ass you can’t be offended if someone takes a shot.
Also for the record if I were offered the opportunity to take an HRC course under circumstances where it wasn’t bone-stupid for me to expend my limited resources to do so I would be there so fast I’d leave skid marks.
Stop Being a Dick.
We’re all in this together, and these days we ‘must hang together or assuredly we will hang separately.’ I see people dividing our community on a daily basis over shit that has nothing to do with guns, keeping our rights intact or anything else that matters. We’ve got more in common in our mutual firearms pursuits than we do divisions. We need to keep that in mind when dealing with each other.
FFS people! Tolerance, acceptance and focusing on our common ground shouldn’t be this hard. Try a little live-and-let-live, a little acceptance of different people, situations and needs. Sometimes we’re wrong. Sometimes other people are wrong. Sometimes nobody is wrong. A lot of the time it just doesn’t matter. Examine your assumptions, suspend your judgement and make sure your opinions are informed by reality instead of myths, misinformation, irrelevancies and your own stupid need to be the one that is’right.’
Oh, and if this rant offends you I probably AM talking about you.
Hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving!
Stay safe and take care.
Michael Tinker Pearce, 24 November 2023