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Would the gun culture of 1934 drive the same number of guns as the gun culture of 2018-19 Login/Join 
E tan e epi tas
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I have been around the gun culture my whole life. I remember when evil black rifles were damn near unsellable. I remember the 94 ban driving the development of “pocket rockets”.

My question is looking at the market today there is literally something for everybody in size and caliber etc. much of that seems driven by the internet.

Do you think the gun culture of the early days was more fervent then now with more “forbidden” options but less disposable income and available knowledge base or do you think now is the golden age.

I think now is the golden age. There are SO many options and all are high quality and cheap. Sure you might not be able to buy an M4 off the shelf but the myriad of choices and the speed at which they are offered is mind boggling.

The Glock 43x / 48 in response to the SIG P365 made me think of this.

I can get ANY firearm for ANY niche I could imagine, frankly at a few button presses and an instant background check at my local FFL and the vast sea of choices I have are amazing.

As I said I would posit this is the golden age of firearms for the masses.

What say you?

Not to mention that we expect any modern firearm to run eleventy billion rounds with no PM and frankly many do.

"Guns are tools. The only weapon ever created was man."
Posts: 4344 | Location: Nashville, TN | Registered: July 25, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I think people didn’t know they needed so many options.

A cop was happy with a 4” .38 Military & Police or Police Positive.

A detective was happy with a 2” version or a Detective Special.

The military guy was happy with the 1911.

Some people wanted a flat little auto, so the got a Colt 1903.

Some folks were ok with a little .25 Auto in their pocket.

But, that was also the era of great innovation. The .357 Magnum came around in 1935
for everybody who wanted as much power in a handgun as they could get.

Things were simpler. People were easier to please. The folks that lived through the depression would have been way more frugal than we are now. A .38 Special in a desk drawer would serve them their entire lives.

I love the times we live in. It’s fantastic. I can buy a factory gun with almost every single feature, finish, sight, Bell and whistle I can imagine.

I wasn’t around then but, I’ll bet the grocery store didn’t have 35 kinds of ketchup...40 different mustards..and 50 kinds of dish soap.

Posts: 777 | Location: DFW Metroplex | Registered: April 15, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Gracie Allen is my
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I think if you look at the range of revolvers and rifles available in the late 19th/early 20th Century, the various "gee whiz" developments of the '50s and '60s and the plethora of commercial and wildcat cartridges available since the advent of brass-cased ammunition, you have to conclude that gun nuts have always gotten a kick out of variety.

1934 was a weird time in that the world was still coming out of the Depression and a series of wars were just peeking over the horizon. The .357 was mentioned, but in a way that was the logical offshoot of several years of development via the .38/.44. Semiauto pistols in general were really beginning to hit their stride, especially those with SA/DA lockwork. My vague impression is that for long guns, the slow regrowth of disposable income may not have fed many new civilian firearm designs so much as improvements in gunpowders, metallurgy and bullet construction. In other words, gun nuts seemed to have been gun nuts enough to notice and pursue whatever technological improvements were happening at the time.

Having said all that, I have mixed feelings about the proposition that this is a golden age. In many ways it's true - disposable income, maturation of designs, construction methods (especially for small buisnesses), the post-WWII development of intermediate cartridges (and corresponding improvements in gunpowders and bullet designs) as well as the internet have put a variety of options at our fingertips. On the other hand, have there really been that many major improvements in single shots, revolvers and shotguns recently? They're often cheaper and more durable, certainly, but are the designs being marketed fundamentally better than they were 85 years ago?
Posts: 23374 | Location: Deep in the heart of the brush country, and closing on that #&*%!?! roadrunner. Really. | Registered: February 05, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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^^^^ What he said. Many modern designs are still based on time proven designs by John Moses Browning.
And I think that the firearms of the 1930s were chosen more as seriously purposed tools as opposed to a recreational device.

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Posts: 8993 | Location: Marquette MI | Registered: July 08, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I would have been good to go with a 4 in 38 or 45, and I was anyway for a long time . Now it seems guy`s have a few of everything .
Posts: 861 | Registered: July 10, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I know a number of people who lived in that era, and have dealt with several of their estates. Most had a rifle, a shotgun, and a handgun, usually a Colt or S&W. That's about all they could afford, and many stuck with just the shotgun. The rifle was most often a .22. A lot of them accumulated guns later in life as they gained wealth, but I seek in particular classics, and there were few owned in that era, I believe. So, the answer to your question from my perspective, is no. People just didn't have the money for "new and improved." That came much later, perhaps after the Korean war.
Posts: 14957 | Location: Lexington, KY | Registered: October 15, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Go ahead punk, make my day
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Show me any product from 1920-50s era that was replaced every year, or even every 5 years?

My grandma had a refrigerator from 1950 that lasted 40+ years. Her stove was similar in age. The only reason the washer and dryers were newer was because they did old school bucket and clothes line well into the 1980s. My dad, Aunt, and Uncle finally bought her a washer and dryer, against her protests.

Different times.
Posts: 43045 | Registered: July 12, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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1934? not too much. As others have said while there were a wide choice and a wide variety of guns. Most that I have run across via estates were at max 4 gun households. Shotgun (usually sxs or single shot) centerfire rifle (pretty rare), 22lr rifle most common behind shotgun, One pistol (revolvers being 80% small caliber auto's being most of the rest).

post world war 2 that changes a bit. Incomes and free time rose. A lot of bring backs, a lot of cmp, a lot of imports. Folks started collecting. that 4 gun cabinet became a 6 gun wooden locker. Now you see folks have 15 to 50 guns without much Wow factor.
Posts: 5434 | Location: Virginia | Registered: December 23, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Definitely not.

People were more frugal, there was way less affluence, and I don't believe people bought consumer durables "just because".

We live in the golden age of production capacity and innovation for sure, but I do wish I can buy a new Smith/Colt/Marlin/Whatever with the same labor intensive polished blue finish pre-1960s.
Posts: 901 | Location: Manufacturing Ghost Town | Registered: April 01, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Let's be careful
out there
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Most of the previous generations in my family made do with a 12 ga, a .22 rifle, and some kind of handgun, often of dubious heritage. If they had a centerfire rifle, it was a .35 or a .30-30.
Posts: 7164 | Location: NW OHIO | Registered: May 29, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I think just about every post here nails it: People nowadays have more disposable income, and the firearms industry has risen to the challenge of capitalizing.

I think the consumer/producer relationship is a two-way street: It starts with consumer demand, which the producers try to meet, but in an age of relative affluence producers will also try to create new demand by bringing out all kinds of new whizbangs that you've just "gotta have."

If we had a drastic downturn in the standard of living, I think you'd see a return to the "basics only" paradigm of gun ownership. The "basics" have shifted, though. The standard .38 revolver has been replaced by the semi-auto 9mm, and the .22 everyone has in the closet would more likely be a 10/22 than a bolt-action.
Posts: 584 | Registered: December 07, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I agree with above. The shooting sports were not nearly as diverse as they are today, and people had guns more as tools than toys in those days. Looking at just my local shooting scene in addition to a pistol to carry or a versatile rifle and shotgun for hunting ( which would have been the profile in the old days) to participate in the gun related activities of my local gun clubs would regulate not less than five handguns 2 shotguns and 5 rifles. Back in the old days you might need a couple pistols for bullseye competition and a small bore (.22) target rifle and a high power rifle. Today with so many gun games out there the “need” for multiple various guns is much higher that it use to be
Posts: 2471 | Location: Finally free in AZ! | Registered: February 14, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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As mentioned many times, the level of relative affluence has changed greatly in the past 50 years, not to mention since 1934. At one time it was more common than not for the wife in a family to earn no income. Many families were also larger. It was far less common to indulge children with material possessions, but raising a number of children wasn’t free, either. As just one example, a household with two cars was considered well off at the middle class level, and we didn’t see the equivalent of two or three $60K pickups outside one trailer after another in a mobile home park.

I suspect the most important reason for the change in the number of different guns was the drastic change in why people own guns. Again as mentioned, even men (it was virtually always men) who owned guns owned only a few, and that was because a centerfire and rimfire rifle and a shotgun served the purpose the vast majority of gunowners put them to: hunting. Many fewer handguns were owned because most people—such as my father and uncles—saw no need for handguns. They weren’t useful for hunting, so why own one? One uncle was an exception, but that was because he had a reason. He was a prison guard who was required to purchase his own weapon, a used Colt Army model revolver in 32-20.

It’s only been in more recent times that, in addition to the availability of more disposable income, shooting per se rather than hunting has become a popular sporting activity. In my youth that only goes back to the 1950s, boys were often given rimfire rifles, but only one, usually as cheap as could be found, and usually only a limited amount of ammunition. I still recall how the Ruger 77/22 was one of the first to break into the ranks of rimfire rifles that that looked like adults’ guns. Mine didn’t even have iron sights, so the obvious assumption was that some owners of the rifles would actually put scopesights on them! Eek

It was almost unheard of for adults to go out and burn up ammunition for the sake of making noise (as is probably the most common reason today) or even to hone their skills. There were exceptions, of course, such as handgun bull’s-eye shooters, but I never knew anyone like that. It wasn’t until the mid-1970s that metallic silhouette shooting moved into Arizona from Mexico as a sport that ordinary hunters could compete in. Of course that changed in time and there was an explosion of other types of competitions that brought in more sports shooters.

Then there’s the whole self-defense movement. Concealed carry laws were much more stringent way back, and I never once heard anyone bemoan the laws that kept him from carrying a gun all the time. I remember The American Rifleman articles that were hesitant and squeamish about discussing guns or even holsters that were suitable for self-defense carry. People with concealed carry permits are still a small fraction of the population, but even those without permits are more likely to have guns for the specific purpose of self-defense.

The demand culture has changed and the supplies have changed with it.

“ Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed nonage [immaturity]. Nonage is the inability to use one’s own understanding without another’s guidance. This nonage is self-imposed if its cause lies not in lack of understanding but in indecision and lack of courage to use one’s own mind without another’s guidance.”
— Immanuel Kant
Posts: 40128 | Location: 10,150 Feet Above Sea Level in Colorado | Registered: April 04, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
E tan e epi tas
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Interesting reading all. Thanks for indulging me.

"Guns are tools. The only weapon ever created was man."
Posts: 4344 | Location: Nashville, TN | Registered: July 25, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Definitely not the shear numbers of today with a much larger population. But I wonder what about per capita numbers? Looking back at my extended family growing up, almost everyone had 4 guns; shotgun, hunting rifle, .22 rifle and some sort of handgun.

My daughter can deflate your daughter's soccer ball.
Posts: 10777 | Location: Anchorage, AK | Registered: September 12, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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We have more per capital, too. I know many, many people with more than a hundred.
Posts: 14957 | Location: Lexington, KY | Registered: October 15, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Seems like it was cheaper to get a Tommy gun back then. Wink

My other Sig is a Steyr...
Posts: 4638 | Location: Somewhere looking for ammo that nobody has at a place I haven't been to for a pistol I couldn't live without... | Registered: December 02, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Growing up in rural PA I recall very well that everyone had rifles and shotguns for hunting (as well as 22 rifles). Almost no one had handguns. All men and boys hunted and there were never any "shootings" or "gun violence"... What a warped society we live in now, huh?!
Posts: 1624 | Registered: March 07, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Less people lived in cities and suburbia. People had land. Everyone had a backyard shooting range or a fence post to place bottles and cans for plinking. No one worried about not being able to get a box or two of ammo whenever they felt like it.

We have more guns, more variety, more accessories, more options... but most of my non-shooting friends don't own guns and see no reason for them. We worry about broadcasting gun ownership due to potential backlash from coworkers and bosses, or making ourselves targets for online harassment from fervent anti-gun rhetoric. Or worse yet, target of a robbery once a criminal knows there's guns to be had.

We have to defend ourselves every day from assaults on our rights. Mostly from arbitrary rules politicians push to further their agenda. I'm not convinced they're all gun-grabbers, but the brainwashed who see us as evil are just as effective as those with plans for disarmament.

Washington residents are looking at the possibility of not being able to legally purchase firearms in a few weeks. I1639 put restrictions in place and new permit, training, and red-tape measures that have no promise of being anything less than a clusterfuck for someone trying to work their way through it. Similar situations in Chicago/IL, DC, NJ, CA, MA, NYC/NY, and the like.

We're one incident and/or one election away from losing a lot more, and panic buying is now a thing. I'm sure there was some of that going on in the days leading up to the 1934 NFA, but with how informed everyone is today and the speed of information it spreads like wildfire.

Which is another reason gun shows and LGS are dying. In 1934 the only way to see what was available was to go to the store and leaf through catalogs or wait for a gun show when a wider variety would be available. With the internet one can spend hours every day just researching things to buy.

If we had the gun culture of 1934 in terms of *everyone* owning guns, even if it's just 1, AND knowing how to use them, I think we'd be a lot better off.
Posts: 5754 | Location: Romeo, MI | Registered: January 03, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Absolutely fascinating topic! I think that handguns in particular have evolved from being a tool into being a toy in the consciousness of today's gun enthusiast. It is a hobby. I have or have had all the new stuff. I thoroughly enjoy all the the time and money I spend on this. BUT the dynamics of a force on force encounter haven't changed.... They are up close and personal and over very quickly. In addition to having more disposal income we also have more leisure time to indulge ourselves. Gun games are to gun fights what boxing is to street fighting.
Years ago I participated in a dim fire course at the Sig Academy in NH. There was an LEO from Maine who did the entire multi day course with a five shot S&W 38. That cat was phenomenal! All the high capacity, larger caliber, night sight bearing students never out shot him. The 1934 culture encompassed less firearms, but had no less effectiveness. If someone is kicking in the door in the dead of night, a 12 ga. would STILL be perhaps the most effective choice...maybe not a side by side..
Posts: 18 | Location: NEPA | Registered: February 28, 2019Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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