Shooter’s Remorse: Definitely Don’t Buy These Guns

Not all guns are created equal. For every category-defining model there will be a handful of true competitors and a few abysmal also-rans. Guns that, if bought without knowing better, you’ll wind up regretting ever clapping hands on in the gun shop. These are the kind you don’t tell your friends about. The kind you’ll quietly sell and deny ever owning.

These lesser guns may suffer from poor manufacture and quality, or perhaps their design suffers from lackluster human engineering. They might be unreliable, prone to breakage, or just flat-out hard to shoot well. Some guns are so baffling in their intended purpose you can only wonder at what must have been postulated at the meeting conceiving of it. And a few lonely models don’t have anything particularly wrong with them, save that they are not as effective, accurate or refined as their more popular competition.

In today’s gun market, so many excellent choices abound in nearly any price range that deliberately choosing a lesser make is close to lunacy. Whatever type of gun you are looking for, and for whatever reason, there are some models you’d do well to avoid. Some are popular, others are obsolete, or obscure, but they all share a common bond of suckitude. Below I’ll list some of the worst offenders I have encountered in my career and why they are poor choices for discerning shooters.

A Word on Firearm Selection

Before we get to the fun part of the article, I believe it will be helpful to explain my thought process on what criteria I consider when separating good guns from bad. A gun, like any tool, is intended to serve a purpose. The purpose dictates the choice of tool, and not all tools are viable for certain purposes. Obviously certain tools are completely inappropriate for some tasks; for instance, you wouldn’t use a knife to drive nails, and so we don’t use handguns to shoot down geese. You would not fault a pistol for being a wholly terrible gun for the hunting of waterfowl; failing at something it was never designed to do.

Examples like that are elementary comparisons, but you take my meaning. What I am concerned with is how guns that are appropriate to the task compare against each other, and which ones offer the most advantages to the shooter.

I have been accused of being everything when it comes to my appraisal of the suitability of guns for particular tasks. Some would argue that different guns may suit certain shooters better than others, or the unique features of one may make it just the most perfect gun imaginable for a very specific task.

That may be true, but my concern is only this: what is better, what is optimal, and what is lacking. You may like or own a gun that has much sentimental value attached to it that is unabashedly awful in every respect. That does not diminish or invalidate your affection for it, but I am not inclined to see someone profess their terrible pet gun or brand as a “great choice.”

Quality and performance speak, and care little for opinion. If you want a gun just because it is fun or cool, go crazy, but don’t let your affection for it cloud your reasons for owning it. The list below represents a few of my most hated designs, but is far from complete or comprehensive. I have deliberately omitted perennial failures among the lowest of low quality manufacturers- Hi-Point, Jennings, I.O. Inc, , etc., in order to discuss some specific guns and designs that may escape casual notice. Rest assured I could go on but this would be a very long article indeed.

Horrid Handguns

Sharps 4 barrel .22 Rimfire derringer

By HmaagOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Any Derringer

Once, a long time ago, Derringers were viable choices for low profile defensive or backup pistols. Their twin barreled action is usually reliable if made well, and in days long past would give a rambler, gambler or cowboy a chance at two more shots to save his life. The popular image of a sly cardsharp or sultry femme fatale producing a small Derringer seemingly from nowhere before dispatching the subject of their ire with nary a word is iconic and endemic to American folklore.

Sadly, as awesome as it looks in old movies, Derringers have no place at the table today except as conversation pieces or novelties. Many examples are very poorly made, and even high-quality ones suffer from the shortcomings characteristic of this type of gun. Namely, manually cocked single-action operation, meager capacity, lacking or awkward safeties, terrible ergonomics and questionable utility.

As a backup or pocket piece, they are totally outclassed in every way by subcompact semi-autos or snubbie revolvers. Their staunchest adherents rally around the .410 shotshell firing versions, attributing to them some monstrous effectiveness for self-defense. This is of course total bunk, as a .410 with shot or slug is not renowned as a particularly effective shotshell when fired from an actual shotgun, but is now, mysteriously, a flame-throwing, man-killing cannon when crammed into a tiny, archaic pistol, with all the terrible patterning and loss of velocity it entails.

Some folks think the shotshell-firing versions are ideal snake killing guns. Why? Because a proper shotshell can fire a spray of appropriately sized shot compared to a tiny rat-shot cartridge? Fair enough, but why not just use some other handgun with regular loads to shoot the snake instead? If you are close enough to ensure a kill with a .410 from a very short barrel, a well-placed bullet from a revolver or semi-auto should be a simple affair.

Don’t be fooled. Leave these vintage pistols where they belong: In the past.

Subcompact “Officer” 1911s

Love it or not, the 1911 is the most popular and enduring pistol to ever spring from the prodigious mind of John M. Browning. The sheer number of manufacturers and variants, past and present, is huge and further testament to this venerable design.

While slim, accurate, easy to shoot and potent, the classic 5” Government model 1911 is still a lot of hog leg to tote around for most, and since the middle of the 20th century manufacturers and custom ‘smiths alike set about shortening and lightening the 1911 while keeping its essential design characteristics and controls. The smaller 4 ¼ inch Commander size was first to be codified, and remains popular today. When well made, they are reliable and good shooters. Sometime after that, though, in the endless quest to make guns smaller and more concealable, the tiny, 3 inch or so Officers size was developed. Sadly, it has been here ever since.

The tiny Officers 1911, endlessly pushed in a hundred variations by Kimber, among others, is a great example of an OK idea taken too far: the greatly abbreviated cycle of operations necessitates several deviations from standard 1911 barrel and feed ramp geometry. Ammunition selection for maximum reliability is essential for these little guns to run at all. Recoil when chambering the .45 ACP is very sharp, and any error or weakness in grip will commonly result in a failure to feed or eject. Some custom makers may make models that run well within close tolerances, but they are very expensive.

Their mechanical fickleness, poor handling characteristics and typically high cost means the juice from these tiny 1911’s is simply not worth the squeeze. If you want to pack America’s pistol, choose a Commander size or larger.

Taurus Judge Magnum

Attribution: Harvey Henkelman

Taurus Judge and Variants

One of my most hated guns. Ever. If there was ever a more popular gun that has no real redeeming qualities, I don’t know what it is. This ungainly beast lumbered onto the scene around 2006, and has multiplied in ever greater numbers and variations since. The typical versions chamber the .45 Colt, an old, expensive but trusty big-bore performer and .410 shotshells, with whatever filling you prefer. Some versions like the Raging Judge (sigh) chamber the mighty .454 Casull as well as the .45 Colt and .410.

These guns are overwhelmingly popular with people that seemingly know the least about guns for defense. The concept isn’t even new: Taurus was not the first to engineer such a revolver, as is commonly said. Way back in the early 1990’s there was a company called MIL. They made one product: the Thunder-5, a short barreled, double-action revolver chambering, yessir, the .45 Colt/.410 shotshell same as the Judge here. They didn’t make too many, and the company didn’t even survive into the 2000’s. The concept was “niche” even back then, if you are being kind: .410 shotshells suck in handguns, thus ends the sermon.

Taurus succeeded where MIL failed by good, old-fashioned slick marketing. Selling this abomination as an ideal close-in and counter-carjack defense gun, they proceeded to vaunt it as a can’t-miss pistol that could fire bullets or shot in any combination the wielder desired. Yes! Brilliant! You can load the first chamber with birdshot to give your assailant a warning, kinda, then a pair of .45’s in case they keep coming, then the last two as buckshot, cause by then they’ll be right on top of you and you’ll need to shrap ‘em good.

This is all as dumb as it sounds. Videos popped up of silhouette targets getting plastered with tiny birdshot and various kinds of melons meeting grisly ends at the muzzle of this lame handgun, and the crowd went wild. They flew off the shelves. Little did these unsuspecting owners know they were now in possession of a revolver with a hideous trigger that was prone to breakage despite its produce-killing potential. This was thanks to being typical Taurus quality, meaning not very good. Nevertheless, it is the company’s best seller.

However you try to find a use for this thing it comes up short: as a .45 revolver, it is overly big, very heavy, has a crappy trigger and is prone to breakage. As a .410 shotshell revolver, (once again worshipped as cannon since it is stuffed into a revolver) it suffers from terrible patterning and attendant liability, has mediocre effectiveness against humans and is prone to breakage. Some diehard fans that aren’t complete fruit-loops claim it has merit as a backpacking or survival gun thanks to its two chamberings, one for large game or self-defense and the other for small game and birds, but in light of all the other failings you can lay at this gun’s chair, especially its poor build quality, I’d recommend a hard pass.

Regrettably, Smith and Wesson, not content to let this part of the market slip away uncontested, no matter how misguided the residents of it may be, introduced their own take on the concept, the Governor, and while it is made to a higher standard of care than the Taurus, even they cannot overcome the inherent limitations of this design. Don’t buy that one either.

Reprehensible Rifles

Cheap ARs

Here I must bundle many manufacturers together because never before have so many made them so poorly. If the 1911 is America’s handgun the AR-15 and all its variants are certainly America’s rifles. While quality AR’s are more available and affordable than ever before, the design is one that does not lend itself to substandard materials, manufacturing and assembly procedures. There is a price point at which quality becomes impossible.

The line of demarcation for this is subject to debate, but generally good, reliable guns start at around $1,000 and go up from there. Here you can get one of several Colt models like the 6920, nicely equipped from the factory, which will serve you well in most roles. But even in that price range there are several manufacturers that are sketchy. Going lower to $800 we get slim pickings, indeed, with only a handful of manufacturers offering rifles that you could stake your life or match on. Foremost among these is, surprisingly the Smith & Wesson Sport II.

But, even farther down the road into $600 and even, gasp, sub-$600 rifles is where things really get wooly. Makers like Anderson, DPMS, PSA and a multitude of others pump out guns made with questionable components, poor or improper assembly, and lacking in quality control. Heck, even Colt has jumped in the bargain-basement AR world with the Expanse models, which though marked Colt, have very few Colt parts inside them.

My rage over these guns stems from consumers lack of education on what makes for a quality AR. Contrary to endlessly repeated drivel like “All AR’s are the same parts, the marks are just different,” and “AR’s are like Legos, anyone can put them together,” the quality of both the components, attention to detail and adherence to best practices in assembly and rejection rate of non-satisfactory parts all add up to superior rifles.

Items of concern on cheaper rifles in particular is the quality of the bolt, improper or absent staking of the gas key screws and castle nut, out of spec gas port sizes (typically way over-gassed to “ensure reliability”), and improperly sized chambers. Consumers drastically underestimate the importance of quality control and quality assurance protocols in turning out a good AR. Also, last time I looked, you don’t need punches, vises, mallets, wrenches, receiver fixtures and anti-seize compound to put Legos together. Tolerance stacking is a thing. Factories are equipped to deal with such occurrences. Amateur builders are not.

“Welp, my Brand X budget gun is just as good as BCM/Daniel Defense/ Knight/Colt.” No, no it isn’t, and if it was it would be marked accordingly. Suffice to say that the purchasers of very cheap AR’s either do not know better or are operating under the assumption that their arbitrary budget is immutable, and don’t understand that merely being patient and saving up will net them an heirloom-quality rifle, where these bottom-of-the-barrel blunderbusses will likely go belly up within a few hundred rounds.

I am not unsympathetic to those with limited means and the desire to own an AR, any AR, but I have myself shot, sold and serviced far too many of these pitiful toasters to give them any mercy. Fans of a given cheapo brand will tout that their gun has been flawlessly reliable and can shoot a flea off a peach without disturbing the fuzz. With scarce exception, few of them have more than a couple hundred rounds through the rifle, and these almost always fired in casual plinking.

I on the other hand have seen countless dreams dashed and savings squandered over a difference of a few hundred dollars. I have seen students fuming with impotent rage trying vainly to get their cheap carbine running in the middle of an expensive class before sheepishly accepting a loaner gun from the teacher or fellow student.

It does not have to be life or death at stake to make for real regret: Your time and money are both valuable. Don’t waste either piddling around with a cheap rifle.

Marlin Model 1894C .357 Magnum pcc

By The original uploader was Jeff dean at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by TFCforever., Attribution, Link

Pistol Caliber Carbines, or PCCs

Another highly popular type of firearm, and one that is available in a variety of designs from a host of manufacturers. If you are unfamiliar with the name these are simply rifles that fire pistol cartridges: 9mm Para., .45 ACP, .357 or .44 Magnum, whatever. There is nothing inherently wrong with pistol caliber carbines, whatever their make, although some designs have more merit than others. My biggest gripe about them is that they simply don’t make much sense from a performance standpoint.

Think it through: you are committing to the length and bulk of a rifle, and often times comparable weight as well, but won’t be getting rifle performance. Not range, and not power. The velocity increase gained from a longer barrel is insufficient to bump a pistol round up into that realm. Not even close. They do offer increased hit probability over a pistol, all things considered, and can share ammo with your sidearm if chambered in the same cartridge, but those are the only perks this class of rifle brings to the table.

Proponents argue that those two attributes are enough to recommend them, and that further for a home defense gun they present less risk of over penetration concerns than a rifle. That is not necessarily true: many modern handgun loads have significant penetration through typical home construction materials, enough that they present a significant downrange hazard in the event of a miss.

Fans will also point to the long and successful track records of various submachine guns in military and police service. Fine, but please note that these are not submachine guns: automatic fire getting poured on a foe at close range helps to make up for the lack of performance of comparatively meek pistol bullets. Furthermore, times have moved on, and the submachine gun is in its twilight. Compact rifles, firing rifle cartridges, offer all of their advantages with few disadvantages except for very specific circumstances.

They are undoubtedly fun and nice guns to shoot, but for serious purposes if you are going to choose a rifle make sure you are getting rifle capability from it.

Insufferable Shotguns

Winchester 1400

Winchester’s best days are behind them as a manufacturer of guns, but many of their designs persist today, being produced now by other makers or made in such vast numbers that they will be around for the foreseeable future. While their 1300 series pump-actions have something of a cult following among scattergun enthusiasts, their 1400 model was an ill-advised attempt at making an entry-level semi-auto shotgun.

Like a lot of other things in life, quality becomes impossible at too low a price. The 1400 series Winchesters suffered from poor durability and middling to poor reliability. This was due to the cheap materials used as well as questionable design choices. These guns are known for ammunition sensitivity and plenty of owners report consistent failures to feed and eject.

In a market crowded with cheap and relatively unknown semi-auto shotguns, a less seasoned shopper may reach for a nice used 1400 thinking that the legendary Winchester livery assures them a quality gun. Sadly, this is not the case, and many examples of this shotgun give nothing but constant headache.

Don’t be lured in by the name on this one.


Oh, boy. Where to even begin on this thing. This pump-action, twin-magazine tube bullpup shotgun is a commercial competitor to Kel-Tec’s KSG, a similarly configured shotgun. Bullpup firearms as a concept are far from new, but their merits have primarily revolved around rifles and submachine guns. If executed well, the idea of a compact shotgun that holds a bunch of shotshells is a sure winner. Regrettably, no design today has truly cracked the code to make this concept stick, though Kel-Tec has perhaps come the closest.

The UTS-15 is much admired for its undeniably menacing and chunky sci-fi appearance, high capacity, and its inclusion in all kinds of media, but its problems are far more than skin deep. The design is complex, and it suffers from a clunky manual of arms. Loading is a process best viewed on video, consisting of opening the receiver cover to reveal loading ports and then snapping the followers of each magazine tube forward ahead of the shells prior to sliding them home in the tubes. A switch on top of the receiver controls blockage of one magazine or the other for controlled feeding, though manipulation of this switch is very rough without the slide at the rear. Once both tubes are full, the gun can be topped off by inserting the final 15th shell into the chamber before closing the action.

Speaking of action, the action on the UTS-15 is fairly rough, and reliability spotty: even with full-force manipulation of the slide failures to feed and eject are common, even after design revisions from the manufacturer.

While a fairly innovative design, the UTS-15 is simply not ready for prime time, and not even close to the quality bar that its price tag should command. If you must have a bullpup shotgun, the Kel-Tec KSG is the only tentative choice on the market, and I’d further recommend you stick with a more mature shotgun like a Remington 870 or Mossberg 500 or 590.


The gun world has seen its fair share of lemons come and go. Some burned out quickly, recognized for what they were. Others persist, even grow, thanks to the misguided appreciation of the unknowing. It is my hope that after reading this missive you’ll be just a little better prepared to avoid these junkers and others like them.

Do you have any experience with the guns on this list? What is the gun you regret buying most? Sound off in the comments!

guns not to buy Pinterest image

45 thoughts on “Shooter’s Remorse: Definitely Don’t Buy These Guns”

  1. Well, I’m a fan of pistol cartridge carbines. The .357 Magnum in a 16″ Trapper length (20″ carbine max.) is very versatile, moreso if you are a handloader. Easy to carry and provides great accuracy unless you require precision shots. Small game – varmints – small big game and anti-personel – all can be provided with the very common .357 Magnum. New shooters are easy to train with these long guns too – not much recoil.

    The Judge – well, I sort of agree. One of my acquaintances carries one where running into poisonous snakes and feral hog is reality. Load 1st shell for snake and index the cylinder for solid bullet for hog – not bad idea at all. I’ve read that these are good choices for a boat gun where the cottonmouth are common – I don’t have any experience in that arena.

    Thanks for the post.

    • Yeah, I’m with you on the .357 mag ballistics when used in a lever rifle. That extra 10-16″ of barrel takes the bullet ballistics into the .30-.30 range, which is plenty for any whitetail within 100 yds and the cartridge is economical to boot.

      • Hey, Rob. You are correct that the .357 Magnum can be pushed up close to .30-30 velocity, and has harvested plenty of game when fired from both revolvers and rifles. No question it is viable for hunting or defense.

        But, its trajectory is seriously inferior to the .30-30 past 125 yards +/-, and it loses velocity much faster. Combined with typically used handgun projectiles this adds up to pretty lackluster performance at 200 yards and beyond, where the .30-30 still shines.

        It is apples to oranges, of course, which is the point I was attempting to make in the article; if I am carrying a rifle, it is pushing proper rifle bullets.

        Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it.

        • Hey Chad,
          Your POV on the ballistics of the .357 is correct. If one is determined to use a pistol cartridge in a long gun for short range (within 100 meters) brush popping of deer, hogs and so on, I would offer the .44 magnum as a good choice in that environment. There are still several rifles marketed that are chambered in this caliber. My choice for some decades now remains the Ruger .44 carbine. It’s seen many hogs an more than a few deer when hunting in the southern Lower 48 where I don’t need my .300 or .338.

    • While I _mostly_ agree with much of the article, I’d say that Chad paints with too broad a brush sometimes.

      I’m not sure where Chad is pricing his firearms, but there are companies making completely adequate quality ARs that are selling in the $800 neighborhood and even a bit south of there. Yes, there are plenty of low-quality low-cost ARs on the market — but even top name brands don’t guarantee quality in ANY mass produced product. Note that the Army just found a ridiculously high rate of failures in their latest batches of M4 carbines from BOTH Colt & FN – it turns out that both prime contractors had apparently bought their fire control components from the same subcontractor (and it looks to me like neither prime contractor bothered actually inspecting the parts they received or the finished rifles). The bottom line is that very few AR builders actually produce their own components and most buy components from multiple sources selected based on the lowest bid for nominally “mil spec” parts.

      As for the PCC, they have a niche – or perhaps I should say they have a few niches. The increase in effective range combined with commonality of ammunition can make them a viable choice for law enforcement — especially in rural or suburban areas. Likewise the PCC can be a viable defense option in rural areas where again the increased effective range becomes a significant factor.

      On the other hand, among the guns that Chad missed in this list, my #1 would be the Pistol Caliber “AR Pistol” — all the disadvantages Chad points out for a PCC with little or no gain.

      Also on my “Don’t Buy” list would be any AR or AK pistol with a barrel under 10″ — I can see a niche for the 10-11″ AR pistol as a truck gun; taking advantage of its legal status as a pistol in states with excessive regulations about rifles in vehicles and its advantages as an SBR substitute with the (wink, wink) wrist brace. But when you shorten the barrel to the ridiculously popular 7.5″ length you run into reliability issues, more velocity loss significantly reducing effectiveness, and of course the obscene fireball of almost every 5.56 load.

      • Hey, Tom. There are a few, very few examples of what I would describe as good quality AR’s at $800 or below, not including some blowout pricing of a higher end brand or some such sale. The differing definition of “good” between two parties by itself leads to much locking of horns.

        If you are speaking literally, there is no guarantee on anything made by man. That being said, your chances of getting a good-running rifle are proportionally higher when choosing one made by a better manufacturer. Are some overpriced for their quality-gradient? Depends on who you ask. Some might be. The fact that even the very best will occasionally turn out a lemon, or even botch a batch does not mean that lesser makers are their equals, not to me.

        PCC’s for LE? Well, I’m straying outside of my lane, but I’d argue that all the reasons a LEO would pull out his rifle on duty would necessitate rifle performance, no matter what he was up to, including dispatching a large, injured animal or self-defense across wide open spaces.

        I totally agree with you on the rifle-caliber AR pistols (boy, what a tangled state of terminology we are in): with a 10.5″+ bbl., they make way too much sense from a logistical standpoint to ignore for a host of reasons. As you wisely said, to include traveling across state lines without needing a permission slip from the Fun Police, or storing in vehicle. I have seen some 7.5″ AR’s that run well enough, but they are very special purpose guns. Most civilian buyers just want them for they way they look, I’d say.

        Thanks for reading and the thoughtful comments, Tom!

      • you clearly dont understand reality. The point of the AR pistol is to have a SBR very quickly, if shtf, cheaply and easily, without having the feds know about it, or paying $200 to them. Simply have a buttstock buried somewhere, not on your property. Some also use a pistol “brace’ on the back of the AR pistols, letting you shoulder the “pistol”.

  2. Honestly. You have never actually used any of the ARs you denigrate- that said I’ll gladly do what I’ve done with others…put my PSA “junk ” up against your spikes or whichever company using the same barrels, and components you decide.

    This is a a typical no evidence article-

    • Hey, Jesse. Your assertion that I have not used any of the AR’s I am knocking in my article is false. I have not owned any of them, but have sold, shot, serviced, and trained students on plenty of them. DPMS, Bushmaster, PSA, others; I have found them lacking, with drastically higher rates of breakage and malfunction than better brands. My opinion is mirrored by other trainers who see similar numbers of guns in the wild.

      Anecdotal evidence may be considered an oxymoron, but enough anecdotes pile up from reputable sources and you’ll see trends develop. Samples sizes are important. Your PSA may be as a reliable as a mule. Good. If you have put it to the test and declared it worthy, drive on. I’m happy for you. All I care about is that it works, reliably. My experience with PSA as a whole has led me to think otherwise.

      I’d be happy to coordinate an assessment of your PSA versus any rifle, mine or otherwise. The data produced from such a test will be statistically insignificant, but it might make for good fodder for discussion.

      Thanks for reading.

      • I have owned well over 150+ different firearms in my 35 years of enjoying the shooting sports. Thanks to living in NH, there is pretty much no limits as to what one can purchase. So, in 1998, I purchased a new-in-the-box Norinco SKS Carbine 7.62×39 Sport Model # SK-S56-D (manufactured to take AK-47 Mags). And in 2000, I purchased a new-in-the-box Bushmaster AR-15 A/2 Rifle 5.56×45 Model # A2S-20 (the Original Bushmaster). My Sons and I put over 40,000 rounds through these Rifles, over a 15 year period. Both these Rifles could consistently hit targets out to 200 yards with the open sights (once dialed in). The SKS had only 1 breakage over that 15 year period, the recoil spring assembly; a cheap, easy fix. The Bushmaster AR-15 A/2, a few springs and pins…. BOTH Rifles gave us years of enjoyment. Of course, proper maintenence (cleaning and oiling after each use) and (quality ammo for AR-15) helped keep them running all those years… Eventually, both were traded, to help purchase the next gun I “just had” to have…. My current AR-15 is a Sig Sauer “PM400-11B-EC-FDE-PSB” that I bought new from the Sig Sauer Academy Pro Shop in Epping, NH……

      • What a garbage article… Chad is so full of sh#t I need to go wash my hands after reading his “article”. I don’t own any of these brands but I sold some duh… That’s equal to the checkout guy at a building supply store pretending to know how to build a house. This is an obvious case of I spend way to much for a name brand rifle and want to make myself feel better about paying twice as much as its worth by talking trash about a bunch of guns I have no experience with. Have you ever heard of advertising dickbrain? Like shoes in the 90’s, Nike’s were sold for top dollar even though they were made in a sweat shop by children in a third world country . So why did they cost so much? Because Nike had to shell out a hundred grand for the latest and greatest sports athlete to sponsor and advertise their sh#tty shoe. Same thing with BCM Daniel Defense and others, pay twice as much then its worth because they sponsor every successful competitive shooter they can get on their pay role. PSA for example doesn’t advertise much but makes quality firearms at half the price then others because they pass the savings onto their customers rather then price gouging to be able to afford their next superbowl commercial. PSA’s cold hammer forged barrels are made by FN with the same barrels that are used for the military. Its literally good enough for the US government boys to put their lives on. And to say Pistol caliber carbines don’t have a use is by far the stupidest thing I’ve read in a long time. Your basically saying that pistols are worthless, a 9mm carbine is like a pistol that you can shoulder… Obviously making it more controllable and accurate for shooters. Take the Roni glock conversion, you literally put a glock into it and then have a more controllable platform. your saying attaching a stock and fore grip suddenly makes the glock a piece of worthless trash? I mean did you even read the article before you hit send lol Absolute rubbish!!! You should stick to selling guns and teaching nubies how to shoot and leave the writing to someone with some common sense and basic logic skills.

      • Chad, my information is freely available- feel free to contact- to date I have over 15,000 rounds and multiple intensive 4 day classes of 1000 round plus through 4 different PSA rifles- you havent sold a PSA as they do not generally sell using resellers – their pricing is the result of selling in bulk online and at their Greenville store.

        Several points you failed to address.

        Their barrels were made by FN *with 3 exceptions they make many in house now* with no effective change in quality.
        Their bolts were made by same company that built for your favorites *spikes/bcm etc* now made in house
        Their lowers were made by aero now made in house
        Shall I continue?

        My evidence is not anecdotal and is both documented tested and verified with them.

        I do not do forums and I actually have taught over a thousand people from LE through- mil from 2007 through 2015 I do not own a gunstore and definitely love seeing gunstore owners who say what you have said… “I sell and my customers- buy anecdotal is…” seriously? I do believe your understanding of anecdotal needs work.

        Lastly, my friend *yes friend* at akoperatorsunion has run both the PSA ak47 and the psa freedom *their lowest end rifle* through the 5000 round challenge and they are the ONLY american made rifles to have completed the challenges -mirroring my own documented experience.

        Before this site was purchased I had written several articles with documentation and attached evidence to the point-

        So thanks mr gun store owner- for proving again, you store owners are blackhawk/spikes/bcm fans because the profit helps you not because the facts matter

      • I should mention, I also own a colt le6920 and two bushmaster as well…I still prefer my psa *especially when i was teaching simply to prove that try hards like yourself were in fact wrong*

        You are correct it is all about long term use…and with over a million rounds downrange in active training and other areas…I have plenty of that…all verified and documented- I’m the guy that uses a notebook when I’m at a stand up paper range (like the ones you use most) even if I rarely use them anymore – disability sucks –

  3. I did like the warning of buying a low budget ar market. I do not know a bunch about the ar platform in general. But what a guy in one of the dirty Harry movies said . You do not need to eat the whole egg to know that it is rotten. I do not agree with the assessment of pistol carbine the author expounded. A ruger 44 mag carbine would be a pretty handy hog gun in my area. A ruger pistol in 30 carbine and a m1 carbine would be pretty ugh rah to me also .I did not know Winchester 1400 exhisted and I was kinda sad on how cruddy it was. Another reason why my stepdads model 12 was so good.

    • Hi, Axelsteve. You’ll get no argument from me regarding the capabilities of pistol cartridges in long guns. They can and certainly have done the job for over a century. My gripe is simply that I am toting a RIFLE, and not getting rifle performance. It just does not make much sense to me. Plenty of shooters love them, as evidenced by the renaissance they are currently experiencing.

      And yes, as far as semi-auto shotguns go the 1400 is pretty abominable. They work fine until they don’t, which typically does not take long.

      Thanks for reading!

      • ” My gripe is simply that I am toting a RIFLE, and not getting rifle performance. ”

        “Rifle Performance” equates to ACCURACY, not necessarily anything else.

        • Hey, Elysian. I disagree. The performance of rifle cartridges as a class- accuracy, BC, terminal performance, etc.- are on another planet compared to handgun cartridges.

          Accuracy is a crucial trait of any good rifle, but not the only one. When I say “rifle performance” I mean the sum of it, not just accuracy.

          Thanks for reading.

  4. Would have been nice to know WHY the cheapo ARs fail. There are a few parts of the AR design that need to be quality. Barrel. BCG. Fire control. Most of the other parts are just parts. What’s breaking? Bolts blowing apart? Yea, spend the $75 on a quality bolt. Barrel blowing up? Spend the extra $100 for a quality barrel. I suspect you have yet to see an Anderson receiver suddenly crack in half or a PSA front sight post go flying down range. Part of the AR design philosophy IS the easy replacement of parts. They’re not designed to be permanent.

    Anyway, you forgot to mention ANYTHING made by Taurus….and the PPC’s are just fun to shoot, that’s all.

    • Hey, Nobody.

      I did not delve into a detailed article on AR assembly and quality analysis specifically because I and others have written about it in detail elsewhere. Who readers choose to believe is another conversation entirely.

      When you say the other parts are “just parts,” what do you mean by that? The BCG and barrel are essential to good function in an AR, but the problem is far more than makers cheaping out on those component groups. Improper assembly, and out of spec tolerances contribute greatly to malfunction and accelerate wear. Quality control practices vary massively between makers. Rejection rates on essential components is likewise highly variable.

      Replacing an inferior barrel and bolt with quality units may solve a host of issues, but if one buys a lesser rifle with the intent of spending more money to attempt to bring it up to the standard, what has been accomplished? You are losing any savings garnered.

      I would remind you that I gave Taurus more than an honorable mention with my rant about the Judge up there! Thanks for reading.

  5. I once had a savage 24 model it was 22 mag 410 shotgun. It was a good gun . The reason I sold it was that at that time I could shoot mil surp 06 ammo cheap as the 22 mag. If it was a 22mag 20 g I would have kept. Sometimes I wish that I still had it. the 410 is not a bad round.

    • .410 is not a bad round from a shotgun, and used judiciously. From a handgun it is lackluster, inefficient and presents significant hazards resulting from a typically wide pattern and subsequent misses.

      Hard pass.

  6. Wait… Spikes, Colt, Daniel Defense etc…. They don’t use Cerro Forge for their uppers and lowers like PSA and Anderson does??

    • Ace,

      Assume that they do. A better question is what processed, machining, finishing, testing and quality control processed does each company implement that will result in a superior end product. All of those processes matter, and all cost money. Those things are reflected in the cost of different manufacturers offerings.

      Thanks for reading!

  7. I have 2 Kimber micro’s one in 380 and a 9 mm

    both are accurate, light to carry, and reliable with superb triggers

  8. Ditto the other readers on the author’s AR comments.
    I own an Anderson, complete lower and upper. Shot thousands of rounds through it. Still as tight as the day I bought it. Shrug… Some people like to spend extra money to get green paint on their mower and tractors, too. I just like getting the job done. YMMV.

    • Hey, Anon. Tightness is not a metric I would rely on to indicate quality or reliability. As I addressed another reader above, sample sizes matter. Your rifle may work great, and may never give you any trouble. Super, that is all I care about. Regrettably, I and other professionals I break bread with see plenty of Andersons, and have see higher instances of breakage and malfunction from them than other brands.

      Based on your parting comment, if you believe that the difference in cost between a budget rifle and a top-tier one is comprised of nothing but the manufacturer’s roll mark, you are sorely mistaken.

      Thanks for reading.

  9. I was unaware that it was necessary to be vice-ridden to put together an AR-platform rifle.
    I have found a vise quite useful, but that’s a different thing entirely.

  10. Reads a lot more like one individual’s personal biases than any carefully researched study. I’ve carried my Kimber Eclipse Ultra II for over a decade and sent many thousands of rounds – FMJ, lead, and a dozen varieties of JHP, factory and handload, WW II surplus to the latest ‘super round’ – downrange with no problems. I can only surmise many other firearms on this list are only there with similar lack of basis in fact.

    • Hey American. You are correct: I am absolutely biased, and my biases stem from my experiences and observations. They are not inconsiderable.

      Thanks for reading.

  11. Good read. I’ve raged about the “Judge” since they first hit the market. Basically, an overpriced paper-weight. Same with compact 1911’s, seen too many that have been unreliable to want to depend on one for a life threatening situation. Pistol Cal Carbines harken back to days on the range, when the 44-40 in your gun belt loop would reach a little farther in that model 92 you had strapped on your saddle. They’re a historical footnote but an anachronism today. I really agree 100% about derringers. They have no place but in a museum or display case. Even those high dollar Bond Arms guns are just plain silly when you look at the overall issue. I was surprised the North American Arms .22LR/.22Mags weren’t on your list of peeves.

    • Hi, Chuck. That’s the thing about PCC’s: there is nothing inherently wrong with them as a concept, except they makes very little sense to me compared to a proper rifle. Plenty of them check all my other boxes I look for when selecting a gun, but I am always left wanting a real rifle, no matter what I am doing.

      As I mentioned above, I could turn this list into a “Week of Hate” article, but I tried to restrain myself! This may come as a shock, but I really like the little NAA guns for WHAT THEY ARE: a tiny, tiny, hold-out gun. Would not be my go-to piece unless I was hunting Lego men.

      Thanks for reading and your comments!

  12. I’ve owned a Colt Officer’s Model in 45 ACP for 35 years and it eats anything I feed it with just as much accuracy as any full length 1911 I’ve ever owned. The difference in recoil isn’t even worth talking about unless you’re a novice shooter that’s still afraid of recoil.
    My only problem with it was the front sight coming off after 10,000 rounds, but that’s a possible issue with any handgun that has the front sight peened in.

  13. Chad I had to read the article to see if I had made any mistakes. Not any by your standards but I did have a question about my AR. I put it together from a Spikes stripped lower receiver and an A-4 barreled upper I got from M&A parts I also sprang for the A-2 clamp on carry handle so I could have the option of using glass or iron sights. Did I screw up?

    • Hey, James. I do not advocate home-build AR’s for any serious role, defense, duty or otherwise. I cannot say if you “screwed up” on anything without knowing your skills, training and attention to detail when assembling your rifle. What is this rifle’s purpose? If you know what you are doing, used decent components, and followed best-practices when assembling it, it will hopefully work fine. If it does not, you will need the services of a ‘smith.

      The answer is to shoot it often, run it hard. If it starts to malfunction, or you get something like a dramatic shift in POI, you probably have an issue. Time will tell on any other issues.

      Thanks for reading!

  14. Boils down to, “You get what you pay for.” “Try one before you buy one.” “Opinions are like bellybuttons.” Not a bad article and it is certainly a pause for thought for most readers. No one wants to read that what they bought is being said to be a piece of junk, but put pride aside and think about utility, longterm use versus costs, function, and, most important, reliability in a tight.

    • Evening Barry. No one likes hearing their dog is ugly, that is for sure. There are no gymnastics like the mental gymnastics of those who try to validate the purchase of a poor product that they like.

      I get it! I don’t care for high-end watches; I have worn Timex since I was in my early twenties. But I also don’t make the ludicrous assertion that they are a Rolex, Tag-Heuer, or anything else. Quality speaks.

      Thanks for reading!

  15. Chad says:

    “What is the gun you regret buying most?”

    None of ’em. The only regrets I have is selling them… any of them!

  16. I would add that rifles built from parts kits of demilled rifles are suspect. You might get relatively new parts or very worn parts. The gun must be made to the parts to allow for wear. Some can not be compensated for. Such as ejector on CETME and HK rifles. When you get failure to eject because ejector tore a small piece from cartridge rim you have a worn ejector. It doesn’t stick out far enough anymore.

  17. This will get rather unfavorable reception I’m sure but I’ve regretted ever buying a Glock.
    Yes, the are an inexpensive, Yes, the majority of the world seems to be in love with them, Yes, they are LEO an military accepted an proven, Yes they come in nearly every configuration and caliber worthy of a handgun in today’s world, Yes, they are fairly reliable and well made.
    The Glock is now in its Generation 3. Many of its innovations are without question improvements over previous variants. The only thing that seems to be unchanged is the geometry of the grip where it meets the web of the hand between thumb an pointing finger. It’s very square, and (for me) make operation this firearm very uncomfortable to use. I found the Springfield XD an XDm series to be more ergonomic and far more comfortable. My EDC been an XD now for some years. I might also note that as the popularity of Glocks have increased thru their massive and effective marketing strategies it seems that the quality of this firearm has stagnated and in some areas degraded somewhat. Perhaps by Generation 10 or 11, Model 103 they will get around to making the ergonomics match to the same level as the rest of their handguns.


Leave a Comment