Shooting is one of those hobbies that takes on a life of its own. I know people with a couple guns. I have met people with a couple hundred. The limiting factors tend to run toward space, finances, and interest.
Last year I did some soul searching. Looking at spending trends and our financial goals it was clear that something had to give. I needed to find a way to make shooting cost effective, enjoyable, and sustainable. That meant consolidating platforms, calibers, and accessories. When I started getting into firearms I wanted a gun and caliber for every conceivable contingency—hunting, home defense, concealed carry, Armageddon, target shooting, new shooter introduction, wild animal attacks, home carry…etc. I didn’t expect to have to ever deal with those situations, but on the off chance that I got my sight back or that the next generation wanted one of those platforms, I wanted options on hand. The problem with this approach is that having a ton of calibers and platforms requires you to keep a massive amount of maintenance supplies, ammunition, accessories, and magazines on hand to say nothing of the cost of the firearm in the first place. Ammunition is best bought in bulk. You don’t start to get meaningful savings till you start buying in the 500 to 1,000+ round range. That gets cost prohibitive when you have to supply ten or more calibers and reciprocal platforms. Magazines can be difficult to get in bulk and you really want at least 4 magazines per associated firearm, more if you aren’t sharing across platforms. These are just a couple examples of how multiple calibers and platforms can suck up resources
I started my clockwork bullet thrower obsession back in 2009 with very little big picture planning. I liked guns, all of them, so I bought whatever I could whenever circumstances and finances permitted. That approach ended up seeing me buy and sell off guns regularly as my interests changed—partly to fund other purchases and partly because after a couple months of shooting and tinkering I often found that the purchase that looked so good on paper had unanticipated limitations. I lost a lot of money to consignment fees and dealer discount. With the benefit of hindsight, it was clear that I had to change my habits. I came up with the following goals:
• Develop a small stable set of calibers.
• Develop a fixed set of long guns and handguns.
• Plan for future ammunition shortages/bans.
• Plan for parts and smithing limitations.
• Focus on quality over quantity.
• Minimize paperwork.
• Develop a functional maintenance kit.
• Where possible, focus on cross-caliber platforms.
Ultimately I limited myself to .22lr, .45acp, .45lc, .410 gage, 12 gage, .4570, and .308win. This gives me a range of popular military and civilian calibers. With this spread I have .22 for inexpensive shooting and 2 chamberings each for handguns, rifles, and shotguns. I gave myself some hard limits—no more calibers, no extra magazine types, and most important, no firearms I can’t maintain myself. With this in mind I was able to focus my collection and get rid of some of the outliers.
So, I have new objectives and projects for 2016:
• Get and install the Hogue stock for my 10/22 takedown.
• Get the AR10 up to the point where it is functional in basic form—magazines, ammunition, and sling.
• Finalize the grips on my two Ruger single action revolvers.
• Learn how to clean and maintain all my firearms.
• Work on getting a backup supply of 1,000 rounds for all my calibers.
• Pick up 4 more magazines for my 1911s.
• Sell off the Nagant and the .22 bolt action.
• Go shooting at least once a month.
• Learn the manual of arms for the AR10.
• Hone in on the last long gun and couple handguns to fill my case.
• See if I can line up training on basic pistol and shotgun through the range.
A quick read of the above items exposes my biggest current challenge—I have reached the point where my goals have outpaced my income. Professional gun writers make shooting sports seem relatively affordable; however, what doesn’t get said much is that professional gun people often have the benefit of decades of collecting, family legacy firearms, and sponsors who provide guns and ammo at little to no cost. After 7 years of collecting, researching, and shooting, my tastes are finally stabilizing. I don’t have the benefit of family firearms passed down through multiple generations. I don’t have a collection built over decades. So I am going to have to build up my stable of clockwork bullet throwers over the next couple years. It is my hope that by 2020 I will have all the guns I need to fill every role. Until then it is back to pinching pennies.