We all experience it. If you're the kind of guy that's reading this, you know what I mean: the sleepless nights with caliber options floating through your mind; the hungry feeling as you drive past your favorite sporting goods store; the developing interest in a new-to-you aspect of shooting. The undeniable, insuppressible urge to buy a new gun.
Significant others and responsible siblings call it an addiction. You call it an instinct for investment. And assuming you channel your passion wisely, you're right: Firearms knowledgably purchased rarely lose value and can gain value faster than a fat hog in a vegan colony without veggies. So don't suppress your urges, your instinct to purchase; instead, channel it.
Here's how to recognize the signs that it's time — that purchasing a new firearm is an imminent occurrence. Armed with this information, you'll be better prepared to spend wisely, to invest with the best. Otherwise, you could be blindsided; you could end up impulse buying (which in itself isn't necessary bad) something other than the passion-suppression perfection in firearm art or utility that really deserves to be in your safe.
Enough. Here are 10 of the most reliable signs that it's time. Time to rally your wits, time to marshal your spare change and time to bring home a new gun.
Common among gun owners with a taste for perfection, this condition is one of the most reliable indicators that there's a hole in your collection. When the lights go out, images begin to besiege your mind, bringing to conflict caliber options, action types, barrel lengths, rifling types and twist rates, stock materials, Cerakote colors and myriad other provocative choices.
To a point, cherish this. Your half-conscious mind is good at ironing out what you really want. When it becomes overwhelming, go shopping.
A lesser-known sign, this consists of the wistful notice of distant rocks; threatening dirt clods; challenging stumps; and other objects, invariably accompanied by the mental query: "Wonder if I could hit that" The very act of questioning one's ability is indicative of subconscious recognition of the need for a more precise rifle, or a more accurate handgun. An early warning sign, it helps savvy shooters channel their buying power toward a really capable dirt-clod-reducer.
Often indicative of a developing passion coupled with a fear of one's spouse, this is a dangerous condition that stems from a desire to purchase a new firearm squelched by the knowledge that doing so is likely to meet with severe displeasure on the home front. It's manifested by the eagerness to drive to one's favorite gun shop coupled with the inability to actually turn into the parking lot and go in the store. Typically the type of gun is not in question; however, investment support is.
One of the most difficult signs to react appropriately to due to the varying severity of different spouses, we can only recommend that you keep long-term survival in mind and estimate carefully whether domestic bliss is likely to be permanently compromised by the purchase. That said, we do advocate the clich©-but-applicable "better to ask forgiveness than permission" approach.
The ability to converse intelligently on various topics without digressing to gun talk is one not typically prized by firearm connoisseurs; to be sure, I personally am not inflicted with any such weakness. However, the ability to talk only about guns without seguing even slightly ("Those hotdogs about ready?") is a sure sign that a purchase is brewing. Commonly coupled with insecurity in the validity of one's latest interest, this affliction is usually directed to one's friends and gun-savvy acquaintances and is—without doubt—contagious. Don't worry; if your buddies catch it, the cure is as simple for them as it is for you. That's right: Purchase a gun. However, it's worth noting that like Malaria, this illness will crop up at more or less common intervals through most of your remaining lifetime.
If, while in your favorite gun shop, you find yourself speculatively fingering cartridges in a caliber you don't currently have, it's a sure sign that your purchasing instinct has located an unfilled need. Don't suppress it; feed it. Examine those cartridges. How else are you going to distill the future into recognizable form? Various cartridges are like crystal balls; find one that speaks to you, and then go buy it a home in whatever firearm it prefers.
Last fall, good buddy Joe Kennedy went airborne in Alaska on a DIY moose/brown bear hunt with his father. Both of them are good folks, but they are way too practical for their own good: Joe felt the need for more authority than his trusty .30-06 provided—he even had a delightful .375 Holland & Holland Magnum in his hands at the gun shop—but he suppressed the urge and just carried the .30-06. Great caliber, but genuinely irresponsible for big bears. Perhaps thankfully, they didn't see any.
Plans to hunt a new species significantly larger (moose, brown bear, eland) or with significantly different habits (aoudad, bighorn sheep, mountain goats) than your average whitetail is a no-brainer. Buying a new rifle is part and parcel of the adventure. Don't question it; it's one of those "investment" urges that just could save your life.
Future Sgt. Yorks
While the legendary Alvin York turned out just fine learning on a rather humble muzzleloading riflegun, you intend to start your kid right, with a broad selection of the most capable shooting irons available. This tendency begins when your offspring hits about age two, as — with a fatherly gleam in your eye — you proffer a (unloaded of course) .22 to your son or daughter: "Want to try?" Most kids do, which, of course, is a sure sign that your progeny is a future Doug Koenig or Julie Goloski. Time to shop Crickets, Savage Rascals and other compact rimfires.
Whether it's a nearby earthquake, volcanic rumblings, the threat of a hostile nation, hints of financial collapse or the neighborhood ice cream truck going out of business, disasters tend to prompt us to examine our emergency preparedness situation. Invariably, the more perspective among us find that we need another gun: a compact takedown Ruger 10/22, perhaps, or a backup Glock G17. Or perhaps an AR-15 for Grandma to carry when the frozen lactose goes south. For peace of mind, always heed these subconscious promptings.
When the ballistic app on your iPhone gets more screen time than FaceBook or texts, it's a sure sign that your gun collection is distance-deficient. Clearly, if you're researching and exploring (no, it's not obsessing!) aerodynamic projectiles; velocities; pressure densities; and of course mentally debating the relative merits of Mils versus MOA, you need a new long-range precision rifle. Thankfully, today is an era with reach: More honestly capable long-distance rifles and cartridges are available now than ever before. So do your research (remembering all the while that the decision-making journey is half the fun) and get that deficiency taken care of.
All kidding aside, this is probably the single most important reason you could legitimately need a new firearm: If you live in an area that's experiencing high rates or increasing rates of crime, it behooves you to be prepared to defend hearth, home and family. If you're worried about how you'd take care of a bump in the night that turns out to be — well, what we all fear bumps in the night to be — you'd best consider carefully how to protect your home and those in it. And, by all means, get to the gunshop and purchase the appropriate tool(s).
Here I'll give a shameless plug: For guidance in selecting, using, and caring for personal protection firearms, check out my five-star-rated book Firearms for Personal Protection, about which Guns & Ammo author Richard Mann said in his review: "If you are new to this notion of using firearms for personal protection I'm going to go out on a limb and say that there may not be a better first book."