In the various areas of human endeavor one often runs across an individual who only wants “the best” in the pursuit of his or her chosen activity. Deciding what is the best involves choices about such things as golf clubs, running shoes, automobiles, firearms, wristwatches, and small kitchen appliances, to name only a few.
Some individuals’ opinions about what is the best can be absurdly wrong, but it’s their choice to make–and to live with. They revel in the fact that others–even if they are complete strangers–see them driving a certain SUV model, carrying a certain designer handbag, or pedaling the most expensive mountain bike on the trail.
I’m reminded of a situation in my deer hunting days. There would occasionally be a hunter who showed up with an unusual caliber rifle for the area in which we hunted, such as a 7 mm Remington Magnum or the like. Those who carried “humdrum” 30-06, .308, .270, and .30-30 rifles would gather around him and inspect his new toy, while engaging in the almost obligatory “oohing” and “ahhing” that stroked the owner’s ego. Yet, given the fact that even a 250 yard shot in the terrain around the area was a rarity, the choice of the 7 mm Rem. Mag. was grossly excessive in contributing to a successful hunt.
On the flip side, we’ve probably all seen individuals get involved in an activity or hobby, only to decide that they must have everything that is used in the hobby as soon as possible. The way that many of them do this is to buy the less expensive offerings, the very things whose quality can vary widely, but which they hope/expect to work well enough, if not with perfection.
Some people call those who are preparing for “spicy” times survivalists, and some call them preppers. A disagreement often follows as to what each term means and as to where particular individuals fall in these categories. While the authors of various articles on the subject offer their opinions, there is no general consensus about the matter, and there is no central authority that is capable of issuing an opinion or a “ruling.” As for me, I will just call all of these people (and myself) “preparedness types.”
No matter what these people are called, however, the simple fact is that some of those who are engaged in preparedness efforts are just as prone to demand only the best as much as certain golfers, vehicle owners, fashion devotees, or bicyclists are.
Most of us have heard the saying to the effect of “Buy the best and cry once. Buy cheap and cry forever.” Buying the best is excellent advice if a person’s pocketbook can finance this approach. If you fall into this category, then congratulations and good for you.
Choosing What is the Best is Problematic
Of course, choosing what is the best is often problematic. Some luxury car brands, for example, are surprisingly skewered in surveys of owners because of their poor maintenance records. Yet, people continue to buy a particular brand because it gives them what they perceive to be a certain status, panache, and cachet when that car is sitting in the driveway for the entire world to see. I also suspect that it is sometimes the case that they want their neighbors to know that they drive that particular car because paying for its additional upkeep is not a problem for them.
Many people who want the best often find themselves saving their precious discretionary funds over a long period of time in order to buy their dream item, while, in the meantime, they are forced to forego purchasing many other things.
Yet, here is one important factor that separates, say, golfers, luxury car owners, etc., from serious preparedness types. Serious preparedness types don’t have “the luxury of time” and they don’t know how long they have to acquire critical items, such as sufficient food, medical supplies, equipment, etc. (We all know how that whole “Mayan 2012 thing” worked out.) For them, the balloon could go up tomorrow morning. Beyond that, buying the best and applying the rule, “Three is two, two is one, and one is none” presents even more daunting financial challenges for the “average Joe.”
When is ‘good enough’ good enough?
The question then becomes, “When is ‘good enough’ good enough?” Your life and the lives of others can depend on the choice you make.
Some wise observer once said, “The perfect is the enemy of the good.” Somewhat related to this concept is what General Patton once said, “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” The simple fact is that things often don’t get done because minor concerns are not addressed, and opportunities are often lost while individuals wait for conditions to become perfect. For preparedness types, waiting for an extra six months to buy that $1,800 6.5 Creedmoor sniper rifle that will impress everyone at the range–or at the retreat– rather than buying a well-made, reasonably priced, and accurate deer rifle of a common caliber, could leave a person in the lurch if things turn spicy in the interim.
Take AR-15s, for example. JWR recently reported that certain Colt Precision AR-15s were bringing as much as $3,000. (Any firearm with the word Colt engraved on it seems to come with a higher premium, even though the quality of some Colt firearms “ain’t what it used to be.”) Around the time that JWR mentioned the prices of Colt ARs, Palmetto State Armory offered a complete upper receiver group for $199, and a complete lower receiver (their “Classic Stealth Lower”) for $119. That’s an incredible $318 for a complete AR-15 carbine, minus the rear sight. (To catch those sales, I suggest that you get on Palmetto’s e-mail list and begin to receive their daily e-mail blasts for guns, parts, magazines, and ammunition.)
I saw comments about the Palmetto State Armory offering on another web site. The Palmetto rifles usually gets very good reviews, yet one person dissed Palmetto States Armory’s ARs and claimed that he only got 5-inch groups (5 Minutes of Angle or “5 MOA”) with an AR he had purchased. Interestingly, he didn’t say what ammunition he used (55 grain? 62 grain? Russian steel case? US brass case?), nor did he say what the twist rate was for his particular rifle barrel, 1/7 or 1/9, something that can make a noticeable difference with regard to accuracy. Others who commented there disagreed with his opinion and said that he was way off or that he must have gotten a bad barrel. As an aside, check out this video with a comparison of a Palmetto State Armory AR vs. a Smith & Wesson M&P AR.
In any event, 4-inch groups are usually considered to be acceptable “combat accuracy.” Compare that with the accuracy of the ubiquitous AK-47. One is having a good day at the range with the AK-47 if groups can be kept under 4 inches, although 5 inch groups (and worse) are more common. Yet, it is usually the AK-47 against which all others are judged around the world with regard to acceptable combat accuracy.
So let’s compare that Colt AR-15 to the Palmetto State Armory AR-15 offering a few weeks ago.
First, if you’re planning on being a lone wolf, you can only shoot one rifle at a time and, if price is no object, maybe that Colt AR is exactly the right firearm for you.
Yet, for most people reading this article, price is an object. Beyond that, most people are not planning on being a lone wolf. They have family to defend and to arm, and many would consider providing guns to neighbors (the much discussed ad hoc “mutual assistance group”) if societal conditions deteriorate past a certain point. (I’m hoping that those responding in the Comments section don’t go off on a tangent on whether or not it is wise to arm neighbors who might have varying levels of firearms proficiency or who might have deficient personal ethics standards. As was said in the first “Star Wars” movie, “Stay on target! Stay on target!” Just save those thoughts for another article where such issues are addressed.)
If you fall in the latter category, you could have bought at least seven Palmetto State Armory ARs that were on sale instead of buying one top-of-the-line Colt Precision AR. You could have bought five Ruger ARs instead of buying one. Or you could have bought three Springfield Saint Victor ARs instead of buying one.
And then you could have purchased several cases of Mountain House freeze-dried food–and still have money left over for ammunition.
I could choose numerous other examples of preparedness items, but I expect that you get the point. By going this route, you would have dramatically ratcheted up your preparedness level today, and not next year or the year after that. Are you sure that the “Apocalypse” is not scheduled until 2021?
Using the example, if the Colt AR is actually the best, which is a big assumption, by choosing it you would enjoy the ego strokes in having everyone know that you owned “the best.” As a “booby prize,” however, by choosing the Palmetto State Armory AR, you might obtain the satisfaction of having your home and much of your neighborhood bristling with so many black rifle barrels after a societal meltdown has begun so as to make it seem impregnable in the eyes of two-legged predators who were considering dropping by that evening for an informal, surprise get together.
As I mentioned earlier, if price is no object, then go with what you believe represents the best quality available in every aspect of preparedness.
When price is an object, however, as with so many issues in life, you will have to determine exactly where to draw the line when choices about quality are involved, and simply decide when “good enough” is good enough.
Unfortunately, it is likely that you will make some mistakes. While I can’t help you make the right choices, I’m hopeful that the points I’ve made provide at least some insight on the decision-making process, and that this article helps you to arrive at the right balance with regard to your own personal circumstances.
I don’t want to trivialize the matter, but perhaps a simple paraphrasing of the Prayer of Serenity is appropriate here:
“God grant me the knowledge to avoid the things that won’t do, the resources to obtain the things that will do, and the wisdom to know the difference.”