There’s an old adage about poker- if you’ve been at the table half an hour and haven’t spotted the sucker- it is you. This is how I recently felt when I paid TEN dollars for a magazine to pass the time.

Inevitably, the magazines have a very small handful of people doing the lions share of the articles. Inevitably, the articles cover just about…nothing. This magazine honestly contained a 5 step draw sequence, via photos that were potentially relevant in 1989. The guy in the pictures was of the necessarily shaved head type- complete with tactical pants and his war face on. I know I got shivers, and I’m secure enough within myself to admit it.

There were 2 articles on normal pistols that the authors had acquired, but of course, these firearms just were not quite good enough. Thus there were rambling lists of nonsensical adaptations and modifications to reduce/polish and pretty up a firearm that was fine to begin with. The really arrogant part was at the end of said articles when it came to the prices. In each case, the price was “N/A”. Really? So, if I’m a self described “newbie” and have drank your glorious Kool -Aid, I cannot know how much this absolutely marvelous gun costs? Buzzkill.

Another interesting article ( if you’re into narcissism) was from a guy who’d went to an acclaimed school back in 1989 (not the same guy with the shaved head, but I’m not making this up) and he was promoting the virtues of a revolver for self defense. As you often hear on late night infomercials, let me inject this phrase- “but wait, there’s more”. The revolver in question couldn’t even be in a conventional revolver cartridge, it was chambered in .45 ACP. This means that if you’re of a belief that 5 or 6 bullets are indeed enough to end a confrontation, these cartridges depend on a moon clip for reloading. This is assuming that you have a spare moon clip on your person (they’re really easy to hide) and that you have superhuman abilities in the reloading department.

And the article continued to get worse. The barrel has a screwdriver type slot on the muzzle, but under no circumstance are you, the end user, to tinker with it. This barrel was installed by experts, after all. To make this tedious and arduous dissertation brief, this barrel came loose in less than 250 rounds, and several shooters on hand could not hit a 2×2 foot steel plate at 50 yards. The bottom line left me perplexed. After all, this outdated tool that was well over a thousand dollars was the nexus of the article, and it FAILED. However, the author (slightly out of touch with reality) continued to sing its praises.

I look at the loss of my ten dollars as a teaching point for those who may be kind enough to digest what I type up for the editor. It seems fortuitous to pass on 10 things that I learned from being a sucker.

1-Accept the firearm you purchased to be fine as it is. It was built by professionals. The ability to become highly skilled with it is up to you. If you insist on changing something, put night sights on it.

2-Understand that obsessing over a firearm (especially a pistol), and spending thousands of dollars on it will look wonderful for you in court.

3-Understand that if you have thousands of dollars to arbitrarily fling to the wind, that equals more magazines, and lots of ammo to practice with.

4- On the whole mags/ammo thing- cut those funds in half, and take a quality class led by quality people- outdated illustrations from last century do not a ninja make.

5-Do not vilify me for saying revolvers are ineffectual. Horses once had a purpose, too.

6-No amount of hankering for the past makes up for our violent present. There will be no time out when your overpriced revolver barrel loosens. A 500 dollar semi-auto would be very handy at that point.

7-Buy the best equipment that you can afford. A multi thousand pistol sprinkled with fairy dust and unicorn tears does not a ninja make.

8-Read and learn from those who have been to the circus, and don’t pick up the souvenirs offered by the clowns

9-Understand that your situational awareness will see you through the encounter you weren’t even aware of. If you are plugged in to your surroundings, the meat eaters will likely pass you by

10-Situational awareness must be developed by you- and it is a lifelong commitment. The best sources for this come from those who do this stuff for real, and chances are, they will be happy to teach you. If they are not, chances are, they got their war face from a ten dollar magazine.

Stay Safe, and Train Often