Monday, August 21, 2006

where are all the pretty guns?


So the past month or so whenever I've had a spare minute I've been doing some research for two upcoming posts. I've been wanting to get my concealed carry permit for months now, and soon we will be able to afford the permit and all that goes with it. I've been researching what firearms I'd like to try out and how I'd most like to carry those firearms, and those posts will come later. But while I've been researching how best to use my permit, I've noticed something lacking:

Where are all the pretty guns?

I understand 90% of the repeat buyer gun market is male, and the manufacturers must cater to that repeat market. I understand that men favor function over form, and god help them they think stocky black semi-automatics are pretty. They fit perfectly into male fashion; straight, neutral colors, wood accents for those who replace their stock grips. Gorgeous metal, simple, and clean. Even the more rounded revolvers follow this formula.

I definitely appreciate the function of these handguns, and I will admit that they are appealing, just like a man's dress watch can be a gorgeous marriage between form and function.

That doesn't mean I'm going to buy myself one.

Now to be fair, I have a SP101 with custom rosewood grips. I love it, it's gorgeous, but it's so very male. It has gorgeous smooth lines, is a joy to operate, but it's still the equivalent of a very pretty man's watch.

Here's the problem; men see watches as a tool that can also be an attractive accessory. Women see watches as an accessory first, just a more useful accessory.

Firearms work the same way. Men see firearms as a tool that can also be pretty; women don't see many pretty firearms so they also treat them as tools, since they aren't acceptable accessories. Since women, unlike men, don't see much use in buying more than one of the same tool, they often limit themselves to one carry firearm whereas men will keep collecting.

So why aren't firearms acceptable accessories? For one thing, there are so few ways to personalize them. Revolvers aren't as bad; revolvers start out rounded and more feminine to begin with. Unfortunately even the revolvers marketed to women (like LadySmith) come with so few personalization options. Yes, the grips can be replaced with something other than black rubber, but the options are limited nonetheless. LadyDerringer has more options of course, but for a carry gun I'd frankly like to be able to go more than two shots without reloading. The classic Mozambique drill doesn't work well if you don't get past the chest. So the options for personalized firearms for women are akin to walking into a jewelry store and seeing a sea of rings, all solitaires all in different colors. Yes, they're in different colors, but they're still all the same. That may not bother men, but women find these limitations frustrating.

So last night while looking through Collectors Firearms I found this little gem:

It's like a fine piece of antique jewelry, and like a fine piece of antique jewelry it carries a hefty price tag of $3250. But it's everything a woman could want in a firearm: curves, gorgeous grips, and engraving. Yes, this one happens to have EXTREMELY custom engraving, but it is gorgeous nonetheless.

So here's my problem: why can't you find these feminine options today? Yes, I've seen the infamous bright pink grips. But bright pink grips won't make a revolver, or especially a semi-automatic, any more feminine.

I love revolvers, and revolvers aren't nearly as overtly masculine and utilitarian as the semis. But when it comes to a carry gun, I honestly want a semi-automatic, both for the extra rounds and the ease of reloading. I love Mighty Mouse, which in all likelihood will be given to me when Chris acquires Mighty Rat, but it's just so utilitarian. It is a very concealable, very usable firearm and given the right ammo I have natural aim accuracy. But it's so very ugly and unremarkable that it doesn't even qualify as a man's dress watch.

If I had my way, and I unfortunately don't here, there would be a concealable revolver of useful caliber (NOT .22) with a 7+ round capacity that could be reloaded as easily as a semi-automatic and not require such a high amount of pressure for double action. In other words, I'd love to have a semi with the curves of a revolver. Unfortunately due to physics and design issues, such a firearm doesn't exist.

However, I WOULD settle for a compact 1911 or similar that was something other than metal, rubber, and the occasional wood grip panels. If I could find a 1911 with gorgeous engraving and actual personalized grips that fit my rather small hands for under $1500 I would buy that semi without even thinking twice. Unfortunately such options are few and far between and engraving tends more towards game scenes.

So here is my challenge to all firearm manufacturers: design and produce a firearm with:
  • more curves than the 1911
  • more rounds and faster reloads than your average revolver
  • a frame size suitable for small hands
  • a caliber (or many) useful for self defense
  • semi-automatic loading, or less pressure for double action (liability concerns addressed of course)
  • tons of ways to personalize
  • and less than $1500
If you can design such a firearm I can guarantee you that you will find that your repeat buyer market will include much larger numbers of women. Make several styles, and women who think nothing of paying $200 each for 5+ handbags or pairs of shoes will suddenly think nothing of paying $1000 more for another firearm.

In other words, make firearms for women pretty enough to be accessories and women will treat them like accessories, instead of just a tool. Women will buy more, even without the prodding of their husbands, and you as a result will make more money. And, as a bonus, you will be arming the other half of the population. (note from Chris: Said guns would also be less intimidating or off putting to women who thing "guns are scary black evil things").

I personally think there would be nothing more satisfying than ridding the world of another goblin, exept seeing the look on their face when they are taken down with a .45 with pearlized pink grips and rose scrollwork.

Just a thought.


Just call me Mel, everyone else does.