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Story by Brandon Council

Whether you’re a collector, competitor, or hobbyist, buying firearms is something you’re committed to. Some are inexpensive, some…well, not so much. When I started my own collection, I was more concerned with quantity. Quality came second. A close friend told me the expression “buy once, cry once” when I purchased a particularly bad optic for a rifle. Without giving it away, it was (is) the cheapest red dot on the market. Initially it worked fine, but the more and more I used it and moved it from rifle to rifle I soon realized exactly what he was saying. It stopped holding a zero between range trips. The clarity of the glass very quickly deteriorated. Above all else, I wanted something better. I concluded that my friend was 100% correct. It’s better to spend a little or lot more money for quality products from a reputable company than to spend a little money on something that’s inferior, only to spend more and more upgrading to what you actually want.

Ultimately, it comes down to what you want out of your collection or how you intend on using it. For instance, if you plan on taking a 10-22 to the range once or twice a year and are going to be shooting beer cans at 20 yards, a cheap inexpensive option for an optic may work fine for you. If you’re in law enforcement and need an optic for duty use, it would behoove you to spend more on a quality, reliable optic. You wouldn’t want to buy a handgun that is notorious for jamming for concealed carry because it was cheap. See where I’m going with this? I abuse my firearms, in that I shoot a lot and run them hard in all weather. I need something that is going to withstand harsher use and remain reliable. If something breaks, I’ll either need to get it repaired or buy a new one. More money, and often times, if you spent more on a superior product in the first place you’d already be ahead.

A lot of people say that all you’re doing when spending more money is paying for the name. In some cases that may be somewhat true, however you can’t put a polymer framed AR-15 in the same category as a Daniel Defense AR-15. They both shoot, however it’s only a matter of time before the frame on the polymer AR-15 cracks. There is a common argument over certain firearms manufacturers. One side says the products are junk. The other says that they’re as good as any other offering in that category. The truth of the matter is that yes, it may work fine for you, however I’m not willing to take a chance on a manufacturer that commonly sends out-of-spec firearms out the door. I don’t want to take the chance of my concealed firearm jamming if I’m using it to defend my family. In general, spending more on any quality product is going to benefit you over time.

It’s well known that firearms can be an investment. Look at first generation Glocks. They commonly sell for thousands of dollars. If you’re strictly a collector spending more now could pay off big time in the future. If you find something out of the ordinary, do some research and find out as much as you can about it. It’s easy to determine if there’s any collectors value to a firearm. It may hurt the wallet now, but years in the future you could find out you’re sitting on a goldmine.

Don’t interoperate my words wrong. I am not a millionaire who can afford top of the line in all aspects of my collection, although I wish I was. I’m all for getting a good deal. Knowing the difference between getting a good deal on a good product and regular price on junk is key. Shop around. When I bought my Trijicon MRO, I went to at least ten different websites. There are always sales happening. Major holidays are great times to make these kinds of purchases. I found my Trijicon MRO a couple of years ago for almost $100 off and it included an American Defense Manufacturing QD mount. Timing is important, but so is patience. If I have my eye on something that is out of reach, I simply wait and save until it falls within what I have available to spend. For me, it’s currently a Benelli M-4. It means skipping out on deals on other firearms I want, which is incredibly hard, but I will be smiling next year at the range with my new shotgun.

We all know that this is an expensive hobby to get involved in. It can definitely be made all the more expensive when you’re spending money on the same thing over and over. The best thing I’ve found is to do as much research on any firearm related product possible before committing. Determine what your use will be and what it may be in the future and choose best for you. I wish I had this knowledge when I was just beginning. Looking back, I wasted so much money on junk that would eventually be replaced.  Hopefully this saves someone a few bucks.