Allow me to paint in broad strokes. There is the preparedness culture, the gun culture and the training culture. These groups often experience some overlap. You have Preppers who are into guns, but this is usually secondary to them engaging in general preparedness. You often see these folks stock pile lots of ammo and guns (usually budget builds) and can barely use them. These folks are not usually part of the training culture, but exceptions certainly exist.
The gun culture is what I’d say includes everyone from the Fudd on YouTube down to guys who even go to the range frequently. But they rarely have a training plan. They don’t really attend classes aside from maybe a state sanctioned CCW course. They tend to have a bad case of the Dunning Krugers. These are the retreat snipers. The guys who like to go out on the weekend and shoot tin cans and maybe blow up something with Tannerite.
The training culture stands apart. They may also overlap into the preparedness culture, but these people actually train. They attend classes, they have practice regimes, they dry fire relentlessly. You’ll often see instead of having 13 AR15’s that cost 300$ each, and only 1 will work on a given day, they have one or two good ones set up exactly how experience shows them is best that have thousands and thousands of rounds through them and they run.
Why is that the Prepper and gun culture factions of all of this tend to steer toward shoddy equipment or gear? You see it all the time, Prepper types show up at the range with a hodgepodge of stuff bolted onto their rifle and pouches zip tied to various vests and belts and they wonder why they cant perform a sub 3 second carbine reload or can’t get the rifle on target without choking themselves out with their 3 point sling. The Prepper side of this, broadly speaking would rather buy 15 surplus Alice set ups than buy 1 good modern set up that actually works efficiently. Because, they only think, 2 is 1, 1 is none, etc.
I’ve been seriously training, for at least the past 4-5 years and casually for the last 10. I’ve seen the spectrum. Guys who make good money show up at the range or at a class with 2 brand new rifles for themselves and their wife. Both rifles go down before the end of the first day. Optics are so cheap and shoddy they cannot obtain a zero, let alone hold one. Lens fogged up internally. Sights falling off guns. Stuck casings from junk out of spec barrels and guns that wont cycle because they were put together wrong. Receivers blown up from shooting reloads that saved you 4 cents per round. Serpa holsters that become locked in place. Zero’s shift from heat and jarring of riding in a case in a car trunk.
I ask, WHY?
Why are folks so focused on relying on junk, when much better equipment or gear is available readily? For some it is a true financial issue. If they do not buy the PSA gun, they’ll never afford an FN, DD, BCM, Colt or other reputable brand. I get it. But if people make a financial argument, I better not see Netflix, frozen pizza, car loans, restaurant receipts, beer, Blue Apron meal programs, satellite TV or new clothes with holes already torn in them.
For most it is a choice to choose junk. Hey, freedom means the freedom to make bad choices. I support peoples rights to choose. But please do not try to fool everyone on a YouTube gun review that your 350$ AR15 is the same quality as a 1500$ Daniel Defense rifle because you shot 300 rounds out of it on a warm sunny day. That Mosin “Sniper Rifle” does not perform the same as a Accuracy International AX rifle.
Gear reviews are often conducted where some light range play with a certain piece of equipment is done and then it is bandied about as the greatest piece of kit. Claims of duty grade toughness and reliability come out of testing that no where is sufficient enough to remotely make the claim. A Vortex Strike Eagle is not even in the same ballpark as a Schmidt and Bender 1-8x, so why even try to make it seem like it is? What is the ‘proper’ round count to test something and under what conditions? I don’t have any answer to that objectively, but you can be sure testing something for a round count that equals 1-2 practice sessions is hardly sufficient to call something ‘duty grade.’
Sometimes they’ll even meet a low round count critique of the review with disdain and say things such as “I don’t waste ammo.” Or they’ll shrug off hard use or mild impact testing because ‘riflemen don’t drop their rifles!” Are scope companies that test waterproofness of their optics being ridiculous for dunking them in deep pressurized water to do so? I know, I know, “I don’t go trolling with my scope 100 ft down at the lake, so….” Blah Blah Blah.
Often making objective claims about a certain piece of kit is taken as a personal insult. People are married to their choices and any thing that is pointed out that could be a downside is taken as an contest of honor. Divorce yourself from preconceived bias.
It always baffles me that you never seen high level shooters, competition guys, or ‘operational dudes’ running some of the budget stuff that people claim is duty grade. Are the guys at Northern Red running Anderson rifles? Does Max Michel Jr have a Hi Point as his EDC? Do you see a lot of 200-300$ type optics used by elite, grand master type, high level 3 gun shooters? Think you’d be competitive with that Tasco Walmart special at the regional PRS match?
Some folks spend lots of time trying to hone the art of self defense only to lose their edge with shoddy equipment and gear choices. Does it always take the best, nope. But quality gear removes the gears performance factor from the equation. I’d suggest reexamining what the contextual use of said gear is supposed to be and study hard before making broad claims. What is your life worth?