Improvements vs. Necessities

Need vs. Benefit

Just because it makes your life, in this instance your shooting life, better does not mean that it is a necessity nor practical.

 “Give them the third best to go on with; the second best comes too late, the best never comes.”-Sir Robert Alexander Watson-Watt, Inventor of RADAR.

When it comes to shooting practically and effectively, the absolute cutting edge in tech often has prohibitive factors that we like to dismiss. We cannot purchase our way to skill, but developed skills are enhanced by good tech. We get bogged down in chasing next better tech that we start to dismiss the good systems that have come previously.

This is an odd benefit to the military being “10 years behind” the cutting edge civilian small arms tech that can explore concepts on a whim. Those concepts have time to shake down, prove out, and settle in to an easily repeatable format that has a substantial net benefit. Sure, gear item Y and gear item Z are newer, and cooler, and can do ‘more’ than gear item X can, but if gear item X gives most of the benefits of Y and Z for a much more manageable cost, gear item X covers the needs of the service requesting it, and gear item X is easily acquired compared to Y and Z, then gear item X makes more sense to pick up.

What Steve Fisher is talking about in the title image, offset reddots, is folks seeing that the offset RDS produces a benefit. They then take the fact that it produces a benefit and over-extrapolate that now you need an offset RDS. There is a world of difference between need and nice. These are the improvements I call ‘quality of life’ upgrades.

You don’t need ambi-controls on an AR, but its nice. A mil-spec trigger can get you by just fine, but a premium 2-Stage is rather sweet shooting. You don’t need to free-float the barrel, but there are benefits. You don’t need the cutting edge LPVO, a good 1-6x will do nicely. You don’t need _______, but it is nice to have and improves what you can do with said rifle (in this instance).

Very nice to have doesn’t equate to necessary.

I joke about my $10,000 home defense rifle. An FN SCAR16s all gussied up. It’s ridiculous from a practicality stand-point. I’ve spent “absurd” amounts of money on it, mostly making it better from stock when it was perfectly serviceable stock. Trigger, optic, barrel, suppressor, M-LOK all around, offset optic, all have tangible benefits that I’ve experienced, enjoy, and happily spent $ to put into place.

But “needed” to fulfill it’s intended role as a General Purpose Carbine? I put an ACOG I had available on it and it was perfectly serviceable with a sling and light. Still would be today. I could have done a red dot or a middling cost LPVO and very much set. No ‘need’ for a Razor Gen III. no ‘need’ for an offset RMR HRS.

Editor’s “M4″gery AR-15

Even my M4gery is substantially more than necessary, and can be run efficiently without the extras on the SCAR. The KAC RAS, the ADAC lower, the TriCon trigger, all are quality upgrades. However quality upgrades on a build or to a running firearm are usually quality of life upgrades. They make a running rifle run nicer, but it was already running. I mod because I can, because I enjoy it, not out raw of necessity. “Need” is a concept that can be very loose and broad reaching or tightly defined and meticulously catalogued.

You can run a stock rifle. You can make a magnified optic work up close. You can push a dot to hit targets at distance. Don’t let the existence of gear that makes life easier override the development of skills that make that durable tool run. The shooter who can run his or her rifle with equipment several years “out of date” on it will be able to keep doing that, the shooter who relies on the little niche equipment at all times for the little niche events will stall out if one of those things isn’t working.

Train so you don’t stall. Train so that the gear you buy that makes your life easier isn’t depended upon so heavily to solve your problem that if it isn’t there you’ll stop solving the problem. Be as good with a bare bones carbine as your gucciest gun. You might be faster with the gun that is running the higher end gear, but your efficiency with what is in your hands should be there.

Keith Finch
Keith is the former Editor-in-Chief of GAT Marketing Agency, Inc. He got told there was a mountain of other things that needed doing, so he does those now and writes here when he can. A USMC Infantry Veteran and Small Arms and Artillery Technician, Keith covers the evolving training and technology from across the shooting industry. Teaching since 2009, he covers local concealed carry courses, intermediate and advanced rifle courses, handgun, red dot handgun, bullpups, AKs, and home defense courses for civilians, military client requests, and law enforcement client requests.