This is the third of three posts reflecting on the civilian defensive firearms lessons to be learned from Matthew Ford’s book about military small arms innovations. Part 1 considered balancing competing features of weapons, ballistic science and lethality, and Part 2 looked at the implications of how the “battlefield” is defined.
This third post considers how definitions of the end user of firearms affects their design.
PART 3 of 3
DEFINING THE END USER
Ford reports, based on studies conducted, “In 1967, during the Vietnam War, the average frequency of soldiers zeroing their M16 was every 4.96 months, with 10 per cent of those surveyed never zeroing their weapon at all” (p. 53). Consequently, the engineering challenge became how to optimize weapon design for “a user community whose level of technical understanding is not always as great as is sometimes assumed” (p. 55).
I don’t know much about how guns targeted to the concealed carry market are actually designed – but I’d like to know! Since many people who become gun owners out of interest in concealed carry have no background in firearms, I would assume that designers and engineers try to optimize weapons for these low-level users. Then again, to my naïve eye, many “concealed carry” guns are just small version of duty pistols (e.g., Sig P238 is a baby 1911, Baby Glock is a Baby Glock, etc.).
Of course, there seems to be a fundamentally different challenge in designing a weapon system for military service that will be widely and uniformly adopted for all end users, and designing a firearm for concealed carry which will be sold in an open market to a large and diverse group of end users. How does THAT affect design? Perhaps it leads to gimmicks that have more marketing than practical value?
I often hear gun trainers complain about “low information” gun owners who make bad choices in concealed carry guns and gear. The “Don’t Dig the Rig” series by Greg Ellifritz of Active Response Training is a case in point. But in a free market for concealed carry guns and gear, anything goes.