Before microwaves we used ovens. Before cell phones we use payphones. Before the internet we used libraries (and we actually had to talk to people). Nowadays we get what we want NOW! Unfortunately, if we blindly go to the internet intending to find truth, we will most likely not find it on our first search. Finding information on the internet needs some scrutiny and frames of reference to find accurate information and, more importantly, accurate sources. Forums can be a great source of information on guns and gear. I was lucky to find Lightfighter.net before I made too many bad decisions with my money. Fast forward to today and social media (mainly Facebook) has a ton of gun groups. Which ones provide accurate info? Which ones have less bad information from inexperienced enthusiasts to sift through?
Not all social media gun groups are made and operated the same. When looking over your options consider their mission. Most groups are without focus and are just enthusiasts – this provides a fun atmosphere for relaxed discussions about guns. Some groups are fan clubs for public figures and social media personalities and allow fans to interact with the celebrity and get further insight regarding his or her views. Some groups focus on assembling weapons – this can be incredibly useful if you have a baseline understanding of the weapon and you verify info provided to you. Unfortunately, with many groups egos are attached to false ideas which are perpetuated by people who don’t know better and just enjoy the attention and popularity that comes along with being in the public eye. When correcting falsely held beliefs, it is common to draw the ire of the group when disproving a popular idea that the group leader passionately espouses. There are many white knights that come to rescue the damsel… or bad info.
An issue that comes up frequently is the use of airsoft-grade components on real firearms. The worst argument I have encountered is, “Since the part is listed as ‘Made in USA’ it is good.” My typical response is, “Don’t let savings help you make a bad decision with guns and gear.” Emotional attachments to bad ideas are nearly impossible to break up. We can get the most vetted and well-known highest paid Machine Gunner/DEVGRU/Delta/MARSOC/Custodian explain the faults in their logic and they will hold on to those ideas even more tightly. I still try to explain the issues. I lead many horses to water.
In some groups the use of the magwell grip is popular, even the add-on magwell grips. My most complete response to help people understand some downsides of this concept was presented as followed:
“Magwell grip works well if you are getting as small as possible in a fixed position behind cover. The magwell grip isn’t a good CQB (close quarters battle) method, if anything it works worse in CQB. If there might be friendlies anywhere around, you want more positive control of your muzzle. HR (hostage rescue) needs that precision that magwell grip takes away. In a team environment, typically our muzzles don’t sweep closer than a meter within a friendly – magwell adds more negative wiggle room.”
“Imagine a tripod – imagine the legs are together, that is pretty unstable. Now, separate them further apart – that creates a much more stable platform. This applies also to magwell grip and extending your support hand out on the handguard. You gain greater control and stability (superior recoil control, quicker and more precise transitioning from target to target) when you have your support hand out further. Magwell grip was adopted with lightweight MP5s – M16’s/M4’s aren’t the same and have a much different center of gravity.”
I posted a simple question on two separate groups:
“What is your optimal combat rifle/carbine for 0-300m? Get as specific as you can: make/model, caliber, barrel length, barrel manufacturer, trigger, furniture, rails, optics, sling, laser, buis, grip, muzzle device, etc.”
Group #1 provided 176 responses within two days. Known, vetted sources as well as industry types provided insight. There were a couple posts containing thoughtless advice that were deleted within minutes of their posting. Many posts gave very detailed answers as to “what” and went on to discuss the “why” behind the suggestions. Some posters desired to more finely scope their suggestions and requested further information as to what the task and operating environment may be for which the rifle would be carried. Discussions started from several of the fairly in-depth responses.
Group #2 provided five responses in 30 minutes. Unfortunately, three of the responses were copied from group #1 – since those members belonged to both groups. One Nutnfancy hour-long video was provided as well. One answer explained the upper and lower manufacturers do not matter.
Providing personal insight in group #1 ends up in a conversation. Ideas are shared, learning occurs. Do the same in group #2 and get called names and get dismissed. Saying things like “Gun, gear, optics – if you are buying or use something due to appearances (outside of hobby use) you are wrong. Firearms are not like modern sports played by kids where everyone gets a medal – not everyone is a winner. Optimal and effective are not opinions,” does not make friends.
The latest blood pressure-raising event centered on brand X being just as good as the high-end brand options because they come from the same forge. Brand X is a brand that has a deserved bad rap for lack of quality control and quality assurance – visible failures, uneven finishing, lack of needed holes. Known entities laugh at its name. Group#1 provides feedback along with results and reasons. Group #2 just says they like them and they run flawless (under what conditions, round counts, cadence, and duration of fire I can only guess is in the low end).
Mike at Austere Provisions provided a great analogy:
“There are also only a handful of meat packing plants that can supply fast food chains but a Wendy’s burger doesn’t look or taste like a Hardee’s burger because each one has a recipe. Just like company A insists on tooling being swapped earlier, finishing processes, and tolerance limits whereas company X will take all the ground up hooves and assholes they can buy.”
Why does this matter? If you were looking for specific information which group, in your opinion, could be providing more thorough answers to your questions?
Here is a little more background on the groups:
Group #1 is a group that focuses on professional firearms use. It is populated by many gun industry professionals; manufacturers, gunsmiths, armorers, instructors, as well as professional end users in law enforcement (from beat cops to chiefs) and military (from new recruit to tip of the spear). Several recognizable names are on the roster and participate. The group has rules that are enforced. 45 rules… yes, 45.
Group #2 is a group that is focused on discussing firearms and is mostly populated by enthusiasts. There are six rules. This group’s population is almost double the size of group #1.
Group #2 provides a nice, warm blanket of false info the members seem to share. Their emotional investment is far more valuable to them compared to real-world facts and results. I understand it is an enthusiast group and no one wants to hear they have an ugly baby – but when it comes to guns, more importantly, guns used for home defense and self-defense, shouldn’t people be more discriminating?
A big part of the issue is people motivated by appearances and what they think should be the answer. This translates not only into gear but also training and techniques. Many use a hardware solution for a software issue. Actual training trumps perceived benefits of inaccurate assumptions. A single legitimate course through a vetted instructor can greatly change one’s perspective, motivation, and mindset in regards to these concepts. Within these groups, trained people (military, law enforcement, civilian) seem to back each other up due to similar mindsets and experiences.
I have personally been surrounded by professionals within my career field that resemble group #2. This is because they didn’t know better. They took what they were told and ran with it for years. I have done tactical missionary work for a year in enthusiast groups to understand them better and to help me provide a better source of information for people who want it. Group #1 is run by me. I have an expectation of the staff and members to provide the most accurate information with the least amount of bias possible (though this piece is on the biased side). The information we provide can affect people’s lives and I take it very seriously.
I found a serious lack of information resources for military and law enforcement within social media in regards guns and gear. I was a member of several gun-centric groups which would argue about simple gun/gear concepts. After getting tired of the same arguments daily, I started my own groups populated by verified subject matter experts in ballistics, military, law enforcement, weapons, gear, and precision shooting. This group sprouted several more groups which are related in purpose but different in focus. We are actively looking for more professionals to add and more members to help advance the goals of providing a network that will be useful a useful resource of the best information for professionals and novices alike.
Some comments we have received from people outside of the network:
P&S has too many rules.
Having been part of enthusiast gun groups, rules and rule enforcement separate us from the rest. The rules maintain order, order allows the unobstructed exchange of ideas – exchange of ideas helps a better and more personal learning environment.
P&S is groupthink/echo chamber.
We expect explanations when people post. Even the answers we agree with we need the why behind the answer. We want fact and experience/results as the basis for input, not opinion. Some opinions have more value than others but fact is an absolute. P&S members from various backgrounds come to their conclusions independently of P&S prior to membership – yet may of those conclusions are the same among the network – that is experience, not an echo chamber or groupthink. Experience helps refine those conclusions. If we have all found a Safariland ALS holster to be the best duty holster to date, that isn’t group think.
If you are interested in seeing the entire network, it is all here and waiting to be used for your benefit:
Primary & Secondary Network