Books / Guns and Gear

“Gucci Kit” for the Concealed Carry Set

I found some extra material that got left out of my first three posts (here and here and here) reflecting on Matthew Ford’s study of military small arms innovation.

So this is a bonus post reflecting on the idea of “Gucci kit” applied to those who carry concealed. Recalling Ford’s definition of Gucci kit (taken from a military discussion board):

“Gucci Kit = non-issue kit. Most of what a soldier carries with him in the field falls under the definition of Gucci. Issue kit is mostly bollocks, Gucci (sic) kit is normally the dog’s bollocks” (p. 141).

“Gucci Gun” by Debora Spiro, concept artist, from https://deboraspiro.artstation.com/

DEFINING “NEEDS”

Ford argues that industry can play on soldiers’ desire to be professionals and have status to shape their weapon preferences. “From a material point of view, we can see this happening in the way that soldiers increasingly look to modify their kit and weapons in order to make it peculiar to themselves” (p. 143). Ford suggests that “industry has long recognized that the key to selling equipment is not simply to show that it ‘does the job’ but also that it ‘looks the part.’ In many ways, then, arms manufacturers are doing much the same as any other purveyor of technology: trying to make weapons that reinforce the social standing of one group relative to that of another in order to increase the appeal of their brand of design” (p. 143). In doing so, “industry has helped to create the needs of the soldier” (p. 144)

One particular way the firearms industry has done this with respect to the military is to associate their products with “Special Forces,” giving influencers in the special forces community products and entertaining them much like Glock officials did with police officers (see Paul Barrett’s account in Glock). They do this, Ford concludes, because “industry itself is very aware of the benefits of upselling gold-placed, high-tech solutions to a user community that likes ‘Gucci kit’” (p. 182).

This passage made me think of highly elaborate concealed carry “rigs” some people assemble as their “Everyday Carry” (EDC) — the “Gucci kit” of the concealed carry set. Some of them look heavily influenced by Tier One Operators.

Although these look cool, they do not always address the actual security environment and needs of the average gun carrier. At least not according to John Correia of Active Self Protection, whose study of well over 10,000 gunfight videos finds no or almost no incidents in which a civilian required a weapon mounted light or a back-up magazine.

Drawing on the work of Mary Kaldor on the M-1 Abrams Tank and the F-111 bomber, Ford suggests that “military equipment has a tendency to become unnecessarily complex in the absence of war. . . . Whereas the military preferred to stick with existing systems, industry constantly sought to keep and win new customers. This dynamic led to the perfection of technologies for their own sake, producing what she describes as a baroque arsenal. While these weapons might sustain a relationship between the military and industry, the equipment that came out of this process did not address the actual security environment. Moreover, by consuming limited financial resources, alternative approaches to security were made impossible” (p. 19).

These “Gucci kit” EDC rigs are the equivalent of what Kaldor calls “baroque arsenals.”

To the argument that baroque arsenals develop in times of peace, the CCW equivalent is the reality that most gun carriers will never have to use their weapons in self-defense. Effectively, an absence of war. So, CCW “weapon systems” never really get tested anyway leading to these gold-plated solutions.

 

 

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3 thoughts on ““Gucci Kit” for the Concealed Carry Set

  1. I’m struck by the parallels between how weapons designers cater to what users say they want (‘must look cool’) and how the training industry caters to what their clients might want (‘must train like a Tier One Operator’ and, of course, look cool doing it). Or maybe it’s the other way around – the gun companies and trainers develop the products that they think will be desirable to their target customers and then use marketing tools to create the demand for those products.

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    • Mike Weisser’s comment comes to mind. Guns can last 100 years with a modicum of TLC (well, I do know one colleague here who shot a little plastic LC-9 to pieces but I think it took him thousands of rounds). You have to invent new stuff and convince people that they need it or you go out of business.

      The bicycle companies finally figured that out. Even a three to five year old bicycle is now pretty much old news and the parts standardization that once was…now is not.

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