Why You Should be Careful About Firearm Trends

Some trends among gunmakers can be a little irksome.

posted on March 10, 2022
small statue

Thanks to the magic of magazine-production schedules, you are reading this in my future. It’s starting to feel like springtime for you, and hopefully all the ‘Rona nonsense is in the rearview mirror and the shelves at your local gun store are groaning with reasonably priced ammunition.

But, I’m writing this in the early days of December and that means it’s time for the Festivus Airing of Grievances, and boy do I gotta lot of ’em.

What got me in this mood was an otherwise fantastic pistol, the Ruger LCP II chambered in .22 LR. I love this little gun; it’s fun to shoot in a way its centerfire siblings aren’t. Further, when loaded with the new Federal Punch Personal Defense ammo, it has the potential to be a pocket pistol game-changer for the recoil averse.

But, every time I handle it I have to ask myself why Ruger felt it necessary to add forward cocking serrations to a nano-scale blaster with barely an inch of pistol ahead of the trigger guard. In fact, the forward cocking serrations on the LCP II themselves are largely not forward of the trigger guard.

Forward cocking serrations were originally a flourish added by pistolsmiths to custom 1911 pistols to facilitate press-checking, whereby the shooter reaches up under the dustcover with his or her support hand, grasps the front of the slide between thumb and forefinger, and retracts the slide slightly to ensure there’s a round in the chamber. Given that history, adding them to a pistol where there is literally not enough physical room to do this seems—well, sort of cargo cult-ish.

Further, in this era of ubiquitous witness holes in magazines, there’s a way to confirm your pistol chambered a round that doesn’t involve risking an out-of-battery condition or putting fingers up by the loud end of the handgun: Observe, via the witness holes, that you have a fully loaded magazine. Insert it in your pistol and drop the slide. Remove the magazine and inspect the witness holes again. Is a round missing from the magazine? Well, there’s only one place it could have gone.

When factory 1911 makers started adding forward cocking serrations to their upper-end models back in the day in order to make them seem more “custom,” the gunsmiths at the shop where I worked at the time called them the “Lesser Manglers” for their propensity to shred leather out of holsters. The reason they were the lesser manglers was due to the feature that they called the “Greater Mangler” and the star of my next grievance, the accessory rail on
the dustcover.

Back in the day, when usable weaponlights were scarce and expensive—and holsters designed to carry a light-bearing pistol practically non-existent—it felt like the only reason to buy a 1911, Beretta or classic SIG  with a railed dustcover was to make it hard to find a holster from an off-the-shelf leathermaker, and then to tear that holster up with the rail once you did.

Eventually, though, more usable weapon-mounted lights hit the market and holsters to accommodate railed pistols, whether with or without the light mounted, became common. Further, the increasing popularity of Kydex meant that holsters resistant to mangling were a thing.

In 2022, accessory rails are normal—so why are some companies insisting on adding abnormal light rails to their pistols? There’s very little more bizarre than a pistol that has a little one-slot Picatinny-type rail on a nubbin of a dustcover that’s too short to accommodate even a SureFire XC1 or Streamlight TLR-7. Mr. Pistol Manufacturer, if your subcompact Blastomatic’s dustcover isn’t long enough to accommodate even the stubbiest functional WML on the market, that’s a clue that maybe it doesn’t need a light rail on it in the first place.

Even worse are the companies that decide, in the third decade of the 21st century, to introduce their own proprietary rail mount.

While we’re on the topic of industry standards, can we pick one for iron-sight dovetails and optical-sight footprints? I feel like we’re so close. So many new pistols out there sport Glock or SIG dovetails and so many new MRDS optics bolt onto RMR or DeltaPoint Pro footprints that we’re within sight of an industry standard. When a new product comes out that doesn’t fit these established formats these days, it almost feels like it’s just trying to be difficult. After all, two jillion different custom sight makers for 1911s settled on a bare handful of dovetail cuts years ago.

Hopefully this time next year, I’ll have to find new grievances. Only the future will tell.


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