Saturday, June 10, 2006

Too good to be "Tactical" ?

Okay, so the Tactical Tommy thing has gone way too far. There are light rails on pistols that are too small to put a light on for chrissakes (the KelTec PF9 for example).

For most guns the light rails is a useless appendage that will just snag on things. Weapon lights have their uses (clearing house for example), and I think any defensive shotgun or carbine should have some kind of lighting system available to it; and MAYBE bedside guns if you want to train with the light, but on a MINI POCKET PISTOL FER CHRISSAKES?

Then theres the tactical tommy mall ninjas. Funy to read about, sad to see; and giving a bad name to all shooters everywhere.

I won't even talk about the SAS (Special Air Softers), and counterstrike commandos. Just one thing guys, videogame physics, no matter how good, are NOT REAL.

And what's this with everyone labeling everything "tactical"; I'm getting damn sick of seeing that word.

That said though, there are a few good things to come out of the tactical craze. I can think of a few more, but here's my top ten; in approximate reverse order of "goodness".

10. Lots of sling/carry/holster options: Prior to the tactical craze it was pretty much GI canvas/nylon, GI leather, or padded hunter slings. The holster market was mostly "fancy" or "plain" with far fewer designs and variations available; and pretty much only in leather and cheezy ballistic nylon (not that the new materials are better). Now, you have every kind of carry option you can think of, in every material you can think of.

Oh and one thing on that... for most rifles, in most situation, the GI leather sling (1917 sling) is still one of the best options, "tactical" or not.

9. Good quality, very hard to break folding knives: A few years ago you wouldn't even think of abusing a folder the way they can be now without worrying about it closing on your fingers or breaking the blade.

8. Speed load/reload gear: Much better mag pouches, magpulls, mag followers, speedloaders etc.. are available now than before the tacticool invasion.

7. Tougher gun finishes available on almost everything: Before Glock and the tactical craze you pretty much had the choice of Blue, Nickel, Parkerized, or Stainless. Now even from the factory you can get seriously tough finishes in many colors.

6. High intensity flashlights; These are FAR more useful than the old maglight and minimag light etc... I wouldnt be caught dead without my surefires and the like.

5. Common accessory rails: Prior to this whole tactical thing, very few weapons used common mounting systems. If you wanted to attach something to your gun you could either use hun tape (or for advanced OSTers, 550 cord), or see a gunsmith. Now, like them or not, if you want to mount something, you generally just need a 1913 rail mount.

4. A lot less sharp edges and snags: The tactical craze and widespread CCW brought with it guns and accessories designed not to snag on things; straight from the factory. Prior to this you had to go to ASP or a high end custom smith for a meltjob

3. Tough field optics and night sights: The tactical boom has brought the red dot, and holographic sighs, and tritium night sights along with it. 20 years ago you had the AimPoint, and the CMore, and both were expensive; and though much tougher than a regular scope, both were relatively fragile. The thought of getting Trijicons or Meprolights straight from the factory was almsot ludicrous. Factory iron sights were even worse than the optics (and in some cases are still as bad). Factory sights on auto pistols for example, were generally horrid little invisible things and were almost considered sacrifical; as they would be the first thing the gunsmith would change. Now you have dozens of manufacturers making sights that you can quite literally SHOOT with another gun, and then still use; in the dark; and jsut about every gun is availabe from the factory with high wuality, ow profile tritium night sights.

2. A general emphasis on toughness, reliability, and field usefulness: When I first started shooting over 20 years ago (and lord knows there are many of you who've been doing this far longer than that), it was generally considered normal (not acceptable, but not uncommon) that sometimes things would just break for no reason, or just not work, without being specially tuned by a gunsmith or armorer. Nowadays this is simply not acceptable from any reputable factory. In fact you can now buy guns straight from the factory with all the bells and whistles that custom gunsmiths used to add (and still do) for less than 1/3 the cost of a custom build up. Sure they aren't quite as good, but are the custom guns $1600-$2600 better for most folks?

1. The proliferation of advanced training: 20 years ago we had Gunsite, Clint Smith, Massad Ayoob, and a few other travelling trainers (yes I can think of a half dozen too, I jsut didnt want to make long lists). If you were LUCKY you had a local facility giving a CCW training course. Other than that, you were pretty much out of luck. Now you can get at least decent quality training in most states that are gun friendly; and really great training is usually a short trip away. Not only that, but the expectation that someone SHOULD take training if they can afford it, is a good and useful thing.

So do not bemoan all things tactical; for the flipside of the mall ninja is the advantage brought to you, the serious and/or professional shooter.