I’ve been writing for SOFREP for a bit now, and in that time, I’ve revealed some things to you, dear readers, that I’d be reluctant to announce to a room full of my friends. You’ve been supportive and respectful, but what I’m going to tell you next might make some of you gasp in disgust, and possibly even remove all of my credibility in your eyes.

In 2006, I bought a 9mm Hi-Point pistol.

I know. I know. It’s an awful pistol that sees more action as the butt of jokes than as any respectable gunfighter’s sidearm. It’s the pistol of choice for drug dealers who don’t have the good sense to steal the gun they carry. You’re wondering what could have driven me to such a ridiculous purchase, or if maybe I did so under duress. Maybe Theresa Hi-Point, the evil heir to the Hi-Point fortune, forced me to buy it at gunpoint (using a much more reliable gun than her company offers)? Sadly, no. I bought it because I was poor…and an idiot.

See, in 2006, I was a brand new Marine private first class. At the time, I hadn’t ever even fired a pistol at a real range—in Vermont we usually just chose dead trees and then spent the day trying to cut them down with shotguns (a great way to spend a Saturday)—and in my mind, a gun was a gun. I figured practicing with a pistol I could afford was better than not practicing at all, and I had aspirations to be as deadly and accurate a shooter as I could be. So I strolled into a gun shop about an hour from base, slapped 200 dollars on the table, waited my cool-off period, and headed home with my first-ever pistol—a heavy, black 9mm Hi-Point that looked a little like if Sloth from the Goonies had mated with a Glock.