I beat the "less but best" drum with annoying regularity.
Case in point:
NOTE: I will be using Knights Armament ARs as an example of my concept. I could have chosen Wilson Combat / Cabot / Nighthawk / Alchemy / Guncrafter 1911s, Caesar Guerini shotguns, Anschutz rimfires, SIG San rifles, Korth revolvers, etc. etc. etc.
Over the past few months I've been seriously considering investing in a pair of Knight's Armament SR-15 E3 Mod 2 carbines. The best deal I can find on this model is $2250 each. What makes them special? They have ambi lowers, special bolts / barrel extensions / bolt carriers / and gas system. The E3 MOD 2 is reputed to go 20,000 rounds without a bolt failure. In fact, they rumor is they've never had an E3 bolt break. AR-15 bolts are the weak link in the AR-15 system.
I'm on vacation this week and have spent another 20 hours reading / researching this carbine (so far this week). Last night I spent five hours reading, and the rabbit hole was deep.
The five hours last night took me through a labyrinth of pro LAV (Larry Vickers) and anti LAV threads (tangentially related to the KAC AR). This spun concentrically to gun forum A vs gun forum B competition and a lot of accusations of well known (some only in their own minds) online gun "personalities" like Rob_S (made the famous "AR Chart"), Ken Hackathorn, Grant Timberlake, Stickman, Jack Leuba, IraqGunz, and others. All of whom I've spoken with personally (mostly online).
Long story short (too late), I typically prefer "SME" (sub-matter-expert) laden websites over "hobbyist" websites. However, over the past year I've found the SME sites to be "echo chambers" for fanboys as opposed to the "I can build a KAC level gun for $500 in my basement" sentiment on most hobbyist forums.
What does this mean and why does it matter?
1st ... just because product A cost more than product B doesn't mean product A is the best product for everyone.
2nd ... You have to be very careful and discerning when reading online forums. Many of them support brand X because brand X is a secret site sponsor (or may even own the website).
3rd ... When a site openly censors open debate and dialog about the actual Cost To Performance (CTP) of a product you have to question the motivation.
Where am I going with this?
Again, you'll have me say "buy less buy best" very often. I still believe this to be true, but am starting to think the advice should carry with it a "conditional disclaimer". By "conditional disclaimer" I mean follow the advice if you plan on using the item to defend your life. Not every gun we buy will be with us when we fast rope out of a 'hawk in the middle of a sand storm firefight. For most of us, 99% of our guns are range toys or hunting tools.
For example, the KAC SR-15 E3 MOD 2 I've been considering has a price point of $2,250. I have several PSA AR-15s that I bought for around $500. Does the "buy less buy best" advice apply here? Yes and no. Yes, I would support a person's decision to buy the KAC if it was going to be their only AR and they planned on: shooting it a lot; using it for self defense; have enough money left over to put a good optic / sling / ammo with the gun. No, I would not support a person's decision to buy the KAC if they just wanted a fun gun for the range and weren't wealthy.
Is the KAC 5x more gun than the PSA? I think this depends on your application. If I'm going into a WW2 Stalingrad situation I'd want the best of the best of the best, but for 99.9999999999999999999999999999999999999% of us no the KAC isn't 5x more gun because we won't ever push the gun enough to wring out the last 10% of performance that costs 90% of the price.
Practice What You Preach
I have a large pile of PSA AR-15s I bought new from PSA and have been trying to sell (to fund my KAC purchases). All of my PSA guns are brand new. I'm considering shooting these "cheap / cost effective / inexpensive" PSA guns exclusively until I have a problem with them to see how far a $450-550 AR will go under normal (re: range and maybe a class) situation.
I'm not 100% committed to doing this but am strongly considering it. After all, I can replace the entire PSA upper for $100 less than a KAC bolt. Each PSA will be equipped with a Vortex optic (or carry handle in one instance).
I'll feel pretty foolish if the "I can build a KAC level gun for $500 in my mom's basement" crowd is actually correct ... since I've been bashing those people for the past 15 years.
Last edited by Endeavour Morse; 03/06/20 12:11 PM.