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July 19, 2006

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There's No Excuse for Ugly Guns

One of the dumbest pieces of conventional wisdom I’ve ever heard is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Spare me. Does anyone think that Angelina Jolie is a skank? Does anyone think that Rosie O’Donnell is a babe?

Ugly things are depressing not only because they are awful to look upon, but because most of them didn’t have to be ugly. Firearms are no exception. It’s no more trouble to make something with graceful and harmonious lines than it is to create an aesthetic abomination. That is, assuming that the designer has artistic talent and not just mechanical ability.

Through the history of firearms, many of the most effective guns have also been the most graceful—the Kentucky rifle, the Springfield Model 03, the Colt Peacemaker, the Winchester Model 12, the Savage Model 99. Gun designers who put ugly firearms on the market should be sealed in a room where the collected speeches of Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) are played at a deafening volume for all eternity.


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mike shickele

Mike D

Thank you for your response.
If you have rifles that don't loose their POI with changes in moisture and/or elevation, don't get rid of them. They are marvles indeed.
I had Two rifles in particular that changed impact with moisture and humidity. One was a Winchester model 70 Westerner with a walnut, blind magazine stock. The other was a Ruger 77/22 with a walnut stock; I still own this one with an MPI fiberglass stock attached.
Both of those guns unfortunately would not keep POI with climatic changes.
I live in British Columbia, and within an hour I can go from 1100 meters, to 4000 meters; sunny in one spot, and sleeting in another; 20 deg. C in one spot, and -2 deg C in the other.
Though I like the looks of wood, those conditions are very hard on it.
Also, when I drop a fiberglass stock, black paint washes those tears away.

Fritz Krueger

I wrote to you regarding the two rifles(300wsm) that my son and I purchased. Forgot to tell you that we were using the 300wsm 180gr. power-point from Winchester. It is our first time using the wsm caliber and we can't understand why our points of contact at 100yds would be so far off when we had it sighted in at 25yds. Thanks, Fritz


I will add this: There is nothing more beautiful than a rifle or shotgun stocked with a really fine piece of walnut. However, my hunting rifles have synthetic stocks. They are not pretty, but they hold zero and seem to absorb recoil better. For further discussion: Catherine Zeta Jones over any of the above mentioned beauties.

Fritz Krueger

Thanks for your helpful information. I found the problem with my 300 wsm Winchester featherweight. The trigger pull is too strong. What poundage is the proper pull for this gun? Fritz


It is all a matter of personal preference. some people buy guns to look at, some people buy guns to "Make Meat", and some others for both. however one thing is for sure; pretty engraving will never make a gun shoot better.


So far this year I have purchased a Remington M700 SF Limited 100 year Anniversary 30-06 and a Stevens 200. The Remington is a work of art, but it also cost the same as 3 Savage/Stevens and it sits in closet having only fired 10 rounds. The Stevens gets to go hunting, and it has lit up about a case of ammo so far. Which one was the better purchase???

Mike Diehl

All this talk of Jarrett this and Dakota that makes me wonder whether all the animals shot with rifles purchased on an ordinary fellow's income never really died. Where'd they all go? Should we be concerned?

JA Demko

Well, of course they died. They just didn't die with savoir faire.


I do believe that Mr. Demko has come up with the best line. Bravo!


What a bunch of whiners in the blog.....

First: Unless you are a guide and your gun is going to be in the woods for a month at a whack you don’t need a synthetic stock. I have hunted more times in Alaska than most have dreamed of. If you take care of your gun and keep it up you don't need synthetic/stainless guns. On the other side of the coin…………there is a Famous quote...."The only interesting guns are accurate ones”. I know many guns with blued steel and wood that are plenty accurate to hunt with. You have to spend time with your gun to know how accurate your gun can be.

Second: People have to live with what they buy. I drive an old reliable Toyota pick up but shoot a SAKO DELUXE with a Zeiss scope. That is my preference. People have their priorities. Have you passed through a Ghetto Hood and seen a 50,000 dollar SUV parked in front of a 30,000 dollar trailer home???? Some people drink BUD and that makes them happy, others need a fine Cognac (and by the way Cognac should be consumed from a Snifter not with coke or water on the side).

And yes the 870 is a fine gun. I have seen everything from dove to black bear successfully hunted with the 870. It is just my taste to buy something that fits my personality. The most important thing is buy what makes you happy.

Dave: I think you are onto something with this coincidence with guns and women. You must ask yourself.

Do you want a WALMART BABE (you know….. the 870 shotgun type) or a Beretta Gallery grade gun from Madison ave. (the high maintenance Manhattan women type). Maybe this is the beginnings of a new article with the correlation between women and guns????

What kind of women is compared to a SKS?
What kind of women is compared to a Holland and Holland?

Dave Petzal

To Fritz Krueger: I didn't send any information, but I'm glad you found it helpful anyway. A hunting rifle trigger should be set at 3 to 3/12 pounds. If it had an exceptionally good pull, I could live with a 4-pound trigger.

The reason that rifles can be boresighted and not even be on the paper at 100 yards, or zeroed at 25 and still be off is because they are peverse. Satan dwells within them. trust me on this.


What kind of women is compared to a SKS? I'd say some of the hot Russian babes who flock to Williamsburg, VA every summer.

Fritz Krueger

Thanks for the information about trigger pull. Your humor made my day. Fritz


Mudd: you hunt with FMJ military ammo? Your nasty tirade aside, uncouth jerks like you give ethical hunters a bad name. Even if you were just pulling that rant out of your ass, there's a reason that hunting with military ball ammo is illegal in most places in the USA.

Have we forgotten Dave's original point to begin with here?

JA Demko

Women and guns have been my two chief hobbies since my teens. Both have brought me great pleasure and both have done their share to make sure that my wallet stays empty. I don't think you should compare one to the other though. When a gun isn't doing what you'd like it to do, the gun is never acting out of spite.

Mike Eldridge

Just to throw my proverbial hat into the proverbial ring; I seem to like ugly guns, or rather the guns I like are seen by others to be ugly. I have a very deep interest in military surplus firearms and the ones that interest me the most are those that were used by England and her empire/Commonwealth since the 1870s and on. I also have a very high level of respect for these old warhorses and even more respect for the brave men who carried them in service to King in Country.

As such I am very much a devotee of rifles like the Martini-Henry(and later Martini-Enfield),the SMLE(No.1 Lee-Enfield), the Pattern 14(from which the U.S. M1917 was copied) and the No.4 rifles, in both the Mk.I and Mk.2 forms(neither of which are considered SMLEs). Rounds like the 577-450 and the .303 British have earned my respect.

I'm guessing you've already guessed what I'm going to say next; that the British rifles are some of the greatest battle rifles ever produced and the cartridges they were chambered for are just as great. What you might not expect is this; that I completely agree that they aren't the best in the looks department.

I think that's one of the resons that I like them so much. They are perfect examples of form following function. Think about it. The SMLE was introduced in 1907 and by WWI it was a powerful, reliable, and accurate rifle with a capacity twice that of the Mauser 98 and 1903 Springfield rifles. The action is smooth as buttered silk and extremely fast and easy to cycle. The British took full advantadge of this speed and on more that one occasion during the bloody fighting on the Western Front of 'The Great War' Germans mistook fast-firing, rifle-armed Tommys for machine guns.

That said they lack aesthetics. But to me it doesn't matter; they're excellant firearms and it seems a shame to dismiss them simply because they aren't 'art'. If that makes others ingore them, then so be it; more for me. That's basically it for now; my rantings over' I think I'll go load me some .303 ammo and fondle my SMLE.


Poppa Bass

Yes, Angelina Jolie is a major skank.


It seems to me that things here have run on a tangent. I believe Mr. Petzals aim was to call into question the current evolution of firearm styling that another writing has dubbed "euro-trash". Case in point, the demise of the Win. Mod. 94 & 70, and the subsequent release of that God-awful looking autoloader they've put out. Also note the ever increasing amount of wavy plastic lines and inserts that find their way onto stocks. I feel like firearms design is becoming to mainstream, and soon we will lose timeless and classic beauty to modern day, over-hyped, and useless styling.


I agree on most counts, except for two: the sten and greece guns. Both of these guns looked something you just pulled out of a rubbish heap, but they worked well and helped our Allies win WWII.

JA Demko

"Also note the ever increasing amount of wavy plastic lines and inserts that find their way onto stocks."

Life imitates art. In this case, firearms design borrows from The Jetsons.


I have a Camerin Manheim at home that has put about 30 deer in my freezer. That same rifle has about 4000 rounds to it's name.I have an Angelina Jolie in my safe that has only about 100 rounds through it. It only has one kill. But she makes you harder than algebra everytine you open the safe and look at her.


So you overpay for a $2 dollar ho,
and then complain that she's ugly?
Buyer beware

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