Monday, February 20, 2012

Black guns aren't for everyone

People's fascination with black rifles. I don't get it.

I was in a gun store today. Being a holiday, business seemed busier than usual. And most the shoppers were spending most their time around the displays with AR-15s and their variants.

Checking the prices, I saw most were over a thousand dollars. Including used ones. Some way over a thousand.

When I've been shooting, I've seen guys strut into the range with an AR strapped across their backs. Or packing 'em in fancy cases. But when it came time to pull the trigger, they can't hit paper at 15 yards.

For the price of an AR, you can pick up a used Ruger Mini-14 and good .22 rifle for practice, and you will have a bunch of money left over. I priced used Minis today. Found 'em starting at $475 for one from the early 1980s in excellent condition. Last time I priced 'em, in November, I found one for under $400.

New Mini-14s now range from the high 500s into the 700-plus dollar range. But do you really need new?

If you're looking for a good semi-auto rifle in .223 (or 5.56) with detachable magazines, give the Mini a hard look. It's a simple design, easy to take down and clean, easy to reassemble. Chances are, under harsh conditions or when cleaning has been neglected, a Mini will keep firing long after an AR has begun having issues.

With the money saved on a Mini, you can buy several spare Ruger factory magazines. Yes, they are pricey. But they last. And you still have bucks left over for a bunch of ammo.

If you're into shooting, and have an AR, I'm not suggesting you go back. But if you're new to shooting, or want to get started, don't fall prey to black gun fever. A techie looking, tricked out rifle won't make you a better shot than you are. Start with the basics.

I'll repeat my suggestion of getting a .22 rifle. Either as first gun or, if you feel you must have more, in tandem with something bigger.

Most indoor ranges can allow .22 rifles. Many can't accommodate high powered rifle rounds. And .22s are still cheap to shoot. You can still get .22 ammo for around four cents a round. Expect to pay closer to 30 cents a round (or more) for the stuff an AR or a Mini eats.

If your biggest concern is for home defense, an AR or even a Mini is probably not the right choice. Start looking at 20 gauge shotguns instead. Brand new, they can be had for under $300. Another good home defense option is a .38 Special revolver. You can still find a good used .38 for around $300, and some new ones are still under $400.

Don Dickinson and I will be talking guns and ammo on our next Don and Doug on Thursday, February 23, at 1:00pm EST on Feel free to shoot us some questions ahead of time. Voicemail comments can be left at 404-981-1775. You can find me on Twitter as @TalkSouthRadio. For old fashion email, use

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