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Do gun designers have your best interest in mind?

Instructor assisting woman aiming hand gun at firing range

Any firearm owner knows that not all guns are created equal. Noted self defense expert Grant Cunningham weighs in on the topic:

How are self defense guns designed?

You might have a romantic notion about engineers meeting with experts in the field, intently listening to their sage advice whilst drawing on graph paper, going back to their labs and making several prototypes to ensure they’ve understood the concepts, and only when the expert(s) approve of the product does it get produced.

In reality, it often works like this: “let’s ask our dealers and distributors what’s selling well and tell engineering to make more of it!” I wish I was kidding — it happens far more often than you might imagine.

Guns aren’t necessarily made with you in mind

When you think about it, new handgun designs really don’t come to market all that often. Most manufacturers find something which works well enough and sells in great enough numbers to meet financial projections, and then simply produce variations of that winning formula. If self defense experts ever get involved it’s well after the design is finalized, and usually only after it’s on the market.

In those cases the company brings in their Expert and tells him/her that they’ll make a special edition just to “their specifications”. The Expert gets to pick sights, finish, and sometimes grips. Then it’s released to be market as being “personally designed by Expert A!”

I liken it to having an anonymous cook build an amazing salad while the Famous Chef comes in at the last minute to pick out the dressing — of course, it’s Famous Chef who gets his name all over the menu for having “created” the salad!

In reality very few new defensive gun designs are made with the input of people who really know about defensive shooting. That the guns we have work pretty well for the job is as much a testament to our ability to adapt as it is the talent of the designers.

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