Too often I am confronted with the question “why do you have so many old guns?”. Well, the answer is pretty simple, and I lay it out quickly in a three minute video. Modern firearms have their place, but shooting antiques is definitely more my style.
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“I get asked all the time why I prefer old guns to new when someone steps into my gun room, and I have had to explain myself an unusual amount of times.
I have discovered that most modern shooters prefer the latest and greatest to the time-tested. The polymer wonders to forged steel. Videogame cameos to actual battlefield appearances. Marketing campaigns brilliantly are able to sell the public on mediocre products, and the sad part is that people don’t often realize they have been duped until they are either confronted by an honest review or have handed in their hard earned dollars for a gun like the disaster that was the Remington R51.
When you buy an old gun, you have the most thorough reviews and experiences available: decades of soldiers using them, the accounts of ordnance departments, the development history, and even contemporary tests performed by enthusiasts like you. I would highly recommend trusting the experiences of a million men who soldiered long and hard in battle to a small smattering of print or video reviewers, however qualified they may be.
The Enfield that soldiered on at El Alamein, the Mauser from Tannenburg, the Nagant from Stalingrad, the Lebel from Verdun, and the Garand from Iwo Jima all come with a narrative that modern whizbangs just cannot match. As a history enthusiast with a degree in the subject, this appeals to me greatly, and firearms are one of the few tangible objects that come with intrinsic value AND a narrative that helped shape the world.
These old workhorses were made with pride. They were symbols of their nation’s might, and often bore an imperial seal or crest to add to their importance. But, of course some are outdated designs. These guns came from an era when firearms were acquired to win fights, and the way of the gun was law. They came from an era when a man was expected to get everything possible out of the firearm he was carrying, making use of every last bit of its capabilities. Old guns came from a time when fighting men were issued the best tools available, with the research and testing to back up the decisions, and often high costs came second to effectiveness (something that doesn’t seem to happen anymore).
The best part is that you can own these old retired military surplus firearms for a fraction of what they cost to make, and many shoot as well as the day they rolled off the factory floor at Mauser Oberndorf, Birmingham Small Arms, or Waffenfabrik Bern. You can buy a rifle shrouded in wood and forged from iron that is also wrapped in an important historical narrative for much less than a new rifle of questionable quality with obvious cost-cutting measures in place.
I will never turn down a day at the range, but a day at the range with an SMLE dated 1917 that has seen better days, is ridden with arsenal repairs and splits, and an action that has been broken in the hard way makes me happier than getting behind a gun that looks like it was lifted from science fiction.
History, craftsmanship, effectiveness, and affordability all come at a fair price, and that’s why I like old guns.
This is Alex C. with TFBTV, thank you very much for watching.“