AR Mania At 2014 SHOT Show?

January 10, 2014

As I’m gearing up for SHOT, I can’t help but be a little concerned.  I sure hope there will be some “traditional” hunting rifles and shotguns to play with on Monday.  If I based my assumptions on the inundation of SHOT Show press releases I’ve received, the only thing in Las Vegas will be ARs… parts for ARs… and ARs.

Look, I’ve got very little against the AR platform (more recently dubbed “Modern Sporting Rifles”), except that I don’t care for them.  Aesthetically, I find them sorely lacking.  I guess I’m getting old, but I think they’re ugly as sin.  Give me the artistry of a nice Sako or Blaser… technology and beauty in one, sweet, functional package.  Or even if I had to go to a synthetic stock (it’s no sin), I still find a bolt gun or lever-action much more to my tastes than some modular, space weapon.

Performance-wise, if you want a quality AR you’re going to spend the equivalent of a higher-end bolt-action (some of the better ones cost as much as a custom rifle).  Sure, there are “less expensive” ARs, but good luck finding one that shoots or handles half as well as a basic Savage 110 or Remington 700.  It’s just not likely to happen.

And forget about the big-bore, “sniper” guns.  They are a kick in the ass to shoot, of course, but only if you’re shooting someone else’s ammo.  And while I won’t rush to judgement on other folks’ happiness, I don’t see much joy in shooting a deer or elk from two zip-codes away.  I’ve got no use for them.

I have yet to see anything from Browning/Winchester, Ruger, or even Remington touting the latest bolt-action or lever-action… much less anything in the form of a double-barrel shotgun.  The handgun manufacturers are representing, but if you look at what they’re offering, it’s almost all semi-autos, designed for fighting off the zombie hordes, serial killers, and third-world militia.

Even the ammunition makers are rolling with the trend.  A big chunk of the Winchester press release is about ammo designed for self-defense firearms with stuff like “Train and Defend”, “Defender”, and Win1911.

Am I slouching toward obscurity… clinging to the past? Did I miss the memo?

Seriously, I recognize that the AR platform, or MSR, is a huge part of the industry right now.  I’ll definitely be interested in learning a little more about some of the new stuff, although I doubt I’ll be relaying a lot of it back to you guys… unless you ask.  The Hog Blog is, after all, about hunting.  Hunting guns are what I’ll look at, regardless of configuration.  But I’m human, and I’ll be paying the most attention to the guns I love best.

That’s just how it is.


8 Responses to “AR Mania At 2014 SHOT Show?”

  1. AR Mania At 2014 SHOT Show? | on January 10th, 2014 19:07

    […] AR Mania At 2014 SHOT Show? […]

  2. Neil H on January 11th, 2014 10:35

    What he said. Aesthetics, handling, marginal most common caliber, cost, trigger, yes.

    Also, one of the upside-down things with the AR craze is that they are not, as one might think, usually bought by the well developed gun nut who has all the basics covered and wants a toy. I have friends that own them for that reason. Fine. What’s surprising is they are often people’s first gun these days.

    But then again, my interest in shooting is primarily with an interest in having meat at the end of the barrel. Every bit of practice has that somehow in mind. I’m a “Fudd”, to use their parlance. They and I have a different narrative playing in the background. I like guns that evoke the idea of standing on a mountain pass looking over elk country, hunting my family land, sneaking up on a pig wallow, or watching ducks come across the sky at sunrise. My Walter Mitty fantasies don’t involve fighting the “zombie hordes, serial killers, and third-world militia.”

    There’s a considerable group of people for whom hollywood was their first exposure to guns, and never were sent out with a .22 or .410 for rabbits or squirrels when they were 12. A lot of that is simply the shift from rural to urban in this country. So they start with the zombie killer weapons. If they cross over into hunting they try to adapt that gear, and gun makers seem happy to encourage them.

    I don’t think that means you or I are obsolete. We may just be starting out where some of those people might eventually end up once they become more interested in actual hunting vs. just shooting. Things that become overwhelmingly popular have a way of falling out of fashion. I think that there is also a resurgence in interest “traditional skills” in this country. Canning, sausage making, gardening, raising chickens. Every other urban person dreams of a little piece of land somewhere. So maybe you are ahead of your time. Maybe after people are bored with clunky plastic the “next big thing” might be wood and walnut in classic doubles and finely made rifles.

    If not, well, I’m pretty used to not relying on popular culture already. I don’t think I’m alone in that. So keep up the great hunting blog. Sift through that Mattel stuff for some hunting gear for us.

  3. Phillip on January 11th, 2014 13:17

    Thanks, Neil. I think we’re sharing a page here.

    Just so it’s clear for other folks, I’m not knocking ARs if that’s your own choice. I totally get why folks are liking them so much, and it’s really not much different from the way the bolt-action rifles took the market by storm after the World Wars… lots of folks get their first introduction to rifles from the service, and if that’s what you’re handy with and what you like, then go for it. I also think a lot of the shooting competition sports, like 3-gun and long-range, are pretty cool to watch. I suppose if I had tons of time and cash, I’d find myself slipping over the transom and getting involved too. But I don’t. So I won’t.

  4. Neil H on January 11th, 2014 16:12

    You bring up a point, in that I see a lot of veterans, who are used to the format, buying them.

    I also have to admit, during the recent hysteria it was pretty tempting to buy one on general principles. But for me a gun has to “earn it’s keep” (If I had more money this rule might bend a whole lot) I think as a hunting weapon they are a square peg in a round hole, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t fun to shoot. I just don’t dig the overly broad marketing or the hype.

    I might also note that I absolutely hate bell peppers. Yes, bell peppers. I’m not trying to pass a law or anything about them though.

  5. Phillip on January 14th, 2014 10:10

    Your last sentence says it perfectly, Neil. If my comments section had a “Like” button, I’d click it.

  6. JAC on January 14th, 2014 10:04

    I’m iffy on the Browning BAR and the Remington Woodsmaster because they lack bolt-action accuracy. I can’t imagine I’ll ever get behind the MSR thing. Tacticool you say? I tactican’t.

    Have fun at SHOT.

  7. Phillip on January 14th, 2014 10:08

    Hey, John.

    For the record, my BAR (.308) is extremely accurate, and not too picky about the ammo I feed it. Unfortunately, I think it also has a hex, because while I can shoot the hell out of the target range, I have missed every animal I’ve shot at with it. Go figure.

    My 742, on the other hand, is limited to minute-of-deer accuracy. It’s good enough to hunt with, but it won’t ever impress at the range. I haven’t used it on game, partly because I just don’t use the semi-autos very much, but also because it’s kind of heavy and bulky for a field rifle.

  8. Brian on January 15th, 2014 11:09

    I agree,

    AR’s bore me, big time. If others like them, good for them, but like you I appreciate a classic ‘sporting aesthetic’ , commonly found from about 1900 onwards (Farquharson styling being the earlier exception). I appreciate, and compete with, modern pistols but black rifles just dont turn my crank. I would like an FAL, but they are prohibited here.

    I also find the fashion of tacti-cool, the ad nauseum application of skulls, zombies etc is starting to become a little lame, but don’t dare critique it!