Does it matter where it's from?


May 6, 2005, 06:13 PM
A question in the Shotgun Forum about the high cost of Ruger Red Labels got me thinking.

Being on a very limited budget, I spend much more time reading posts here than I do shooting and have absorbed quite a bit of useful information. As I try to decide between a shotgun or semi-auto pistol for my next purchase, I am drawn to the apparent high value that imports like CZ, Rock Island Armory, and Khan offer in both categories.

The closer I get to purchase, however, the less comfortable I feel sending a large portion of my hard earned money overseas.

I remember the "Buy American" mantra from the auto industry, and Barbara Mandrell touting the "Made in the USA" tags at WalMart. I don't see much of either anymore.

I used to see globalization as an okay thing, allowing consumers in the U.S. to reap the benefits of comparitively lower labor costs in other countries, while that labor could reap the benefits of comparitively high wages. This thought process may make sense for labor intensive products such as automobiles or textiles, but the Indian accent on the other end of my cell phone's customer service line reminds me we are on a slippery slope. I mean no disrespect to any other nation or its peoples, it's just that technical support is a little closer to home than pant manufacturing.

Trying to stay on topic....

On the verge of purchase, I am willing to reaccess the value of "Made in America", and I would like to hear other opinions on the subject as it applies to firearms.

Do you make a point to buy American?

What counts as American (e.g. a machined-slide Sig)?

Do you expect more quality, value, or attention (customer service) from an American company?

Do you accept less quality, higher prices, or bad customer service from American companies, and give them your business anyway?

I don't expect definitively right or wrong answers, but I would like the perspectives of those who have put a lot more money into the industry than I have.

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May 6, 2005, 06:56 PM
Many firearms that are American made are extremely high quality:
* Winchester
* Remington
* Kel-Tec
* Marlin
* Mossberg
* Smith & Wesson
* Kimber
* Springfield Armory
* Bushmaster

...and so on. (At least I believe they're all still made here...)

Many foreign made firearms are also extremely well made:
* SigSauer
* Glock
* HK

...and so on.

I try to buy American as much as reasonably possible. I also try to avoid mega-corps as much as possible, too. I try to stay away from Federal/CCI/Speer (except for their .22s and Gold Dots) as much as possible as they're owned by a massive defense contractor. Sometimes I must bend these rules, but such is life. I usually buy pistol ammo from Miwall, a local commercial reloader in California that makes extremely high-quality ammunition at prices cheaper than imports.

Wolf 7.62x39 is about 1/8th the price of American ammo. It's not worth reloading, the Russians have been making it for quite some time and know what they're doing, and its cheap as dirt. It and the Yugo milsurp is all I fire through my SKS.

I too support globalization, but I really get sick of all the "Made In China" labels on stuff around here. Too much money, IMHO, is going to China for things that are critical in the US -- microchips, electronic components, etc. I may buy Chinese milsurp firearms, but I'll be damned before I buy ammo from over there. I try to support democratic (Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Britiain, etc.) or struggling democratic foreign countries (i.e. Russia) over non-democratic countries like China as much as possible.

CZ firearms are of incredibly high quality, and its hard to go wrong giving them your money. Remember, your money also goes to your local FFL, the wholesaler/distributor, the importer, etc. Money gets spread around in the US too. :)

Do you expect more quality, value, or attention (customer service) from an American company?

Yes to the former. Occasionally American companies cannot reasonably compete with foreign companies (it's hard to make 7.62x39 cheaper than the Russians). I wrote Remington a thank-you email for making such high quality reloading components. Within hours, I received a personal reply thanking me for my kind words and letting me know that letters like mine were precisely what they strive to do. That made a big impression on me.

Do you accept less quality, higher prices, or bad customer service from American companies, and give them your business anyway?

Although I'm a college student, I do not buy firearms based solely on price (within reason). I absolutely refuse to compromise on quality for the sake of price. If so, I'd buy Bryco and Jennings firearms and swear at them a lot. :scrutiny:

Remington makes rifles more accurate than I am, that fit me properly, and are reasonably priced. They get my money. They also make excellent virgin brass for reloading (wow, talk about innuendo), so they get my money too.

Glock, an Austrian company, makes exceptionally high quality pistols. Even though they're a foreign company, their quality overrides financial concerns.

Norinco, a Chinese company, makes occasionally good products. Still, I refuse to willingly give my money to them when I can avoid it. I paid a hundred bucks more for a Mossberg shotgun that was made in the US rather than save some cash and buy the Norinco one.

A poster here mentioned in another thread that Federal gave them a free brick of .22 because they wrote to Federal in regards to a manufacturing defect on a single cartridge. That's extremely kind of them, and if I didn't try to avoid Federal and could afford their ammo, I'd make it a point to buy from them. :D

Argh. This got way longer than I wanted it to be. I'll go shut up now...

May 6, 2005, 07:05 PM
Wouldn't give you twenty bucks for a savage 20 ga. I borrowed a few years ago, but wouldn't trade my Savage rifle for a Remington or Winchester.

Know what you are looking for, shop and compare. The "new" Stevens double is a Baikal with a new label.

Caveat Emptor.

May 6, 2005, 07:09 PM
I buy what I like. However, I try to buy quality whenever I possibly can; sometimes this means it's made in America, Germany, or wherever... most of the time, though, China is on the very low end.

Often, if it's something like a desk fan or lamp or the like, I go to antique store (NOT a thrift store) and get one made out of steel rather than go to Wal-Mart and get one made out of plastic. I figure that if it lasted that long, it won't break on me for quite a while--and if it does, I can fix the thing without having to worry about the wiring being stronger than the case. :mad: :banghead:

When it comes to guns, sheer reputation of the company/model/design comes into play. Location? Not really. It wasn't until I finished the yellow sheet on my Bersa .380 that I realized it was made in Argentina. :scrutiny: :)

Standing Wolf
May 6, 2005, 07:12 PM
I don't buy anything from communist China if I can possibly avoid it.

On the whole, I'd rather buy American; when it comes to cars, cameras, musical gadgetry, computer peripherals, and so forth, America doesn't even begin to compete.

May 7, 2005, 12:01 AM
I don't believe there is a consumer anywhere that doesn't comparison shop based on a host of factors, country of origin being but one factor. I feel that too many people have abandoned the U.S. auto industry for years now, and it took me several European cars before I came to be a domestic believer. Living in the "cradle of the U.S. gun industry - Connecticut River Valley" (Colt, S & W, Savage, Marlin, Mossberg, Winchester, old High Standard & more are all within 50 miles north/south). I'm aware of the effect of gun control laws and lawsuits on the industry and local employment. I like to search out products not only from major American manufacturers, but new innovative products from smaller, upstart U.S. companies as well. For example, I was talking with a fellow about a newer local company named Stag Arms, a longtime Colt subcontractor that has been making a name for itself as a new AR manufacturer. To my surprise, he told me that he was recently able to be among the first to try out a brand new left handed receiver that Stag Arms had produced but never got around to finishing until he requested some through an aquaintance. This was news to me since I'm not left handed and not an AR shooter. He gave the product a great review and just think about how many left handed people (and the economy) could benefit from the innovation, not to mention the military.
We all exercise our economic decision making to the best of our ability and personal preferences. I try to not be too judgemental when somebody buys a product that they prefer simply because of the country of origin, even if it's a firearm. Rather than be negative about foreign products, I think we all need to remind ourselves and each other about all the positive benefits of buying American made, at least whenever feasible, all else being equal. The problem though, is that usually, all things are not equal.

May 7, 2005, 12:28 AM
I think most Americans (at least they should) make a good-faith effort to buy American products from American firms. Personally, I only buy U.S. firearms and there are lots of choices: Ruger, S&W, Kel-Tec, Kahr, Kimber, STI, etc.

Currently, the U.S. is running a trade deficit with most of our major trading partners, including China, Japan, Germany, England, Canada, etc.
We buy more from foreigners than they buy from us. More capital is flowing out than back in. Sure, the foreigners are re-investing much of those profits BACK in the U.S. but those assets are now controlled by foreign interests. Not a good thing, IMHO.
Look up your favorite trading partner here:

Even if it's a foreign-made product from a U.S. firm so that firm can be competitive, then at least the majority of those profits stay here in the U.S.

We're all on the same team, right? :scrutiny:

May 7, 2005, 12:43 AM
I fail to see why I should let nationalism reduce me to wasting my hard-earned jingle on an inferior and/or overpriced product.

I've no problem buying American, but only if it's because the American product offers superior quality or a better price. Where it's from is of very little importance.

May 7, 2005, 01:02 AM
Currently, the U.S. is running a trade deficit with most of our major trading partners, including China, Japan, Germany, England, Canada, etc.

"trade deficit" is one of the most meaningless econ statistics in existence ... EVERYONE here has a "trade deficit" with someone (I spend considerably more money with Walmart then they spend with me ... am I about to be "put out of business" by Walmart? I think not).

In a free market economy, nationalism and international borders should be meaningless. Only communist nations trading with each other could have a "trade deficit" because its not the governments of the US China, Japan, Germany, et al that are trading, its individuals in each of those countries.

I own guns made in Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, USA, South Africa and Austria. In absolutely EVERY case I had to give my money to another American before I took possession of said firearm (with the exception of a carbine kit I bought for my Steyr M40).

Anyway, as usual Walter E. Williams explains it ( much better then I do and has many ( many times ( (that's just three examples ... I'm sure Thomas Sowell has explained it as well.

May 7, 2005, 01:12 AM
It's become more of a world that says, "Buy what you want for the price you can afford," than "buy American." I am willing to not buy American if it means I'm getting a great quality firearm that I really like. However, more than half of my collection are American made, just happens they are the best quality for their class. Almost all my revolvers & rifles are American made, and all my Autos are foreign. Buy what you really want.

May 7, 2005, 01:14 AM
Jennings/Bryco, Cobra, HiPoint, Raven .... all are American gun manufacturers ... I guess that makes them better then Sig, Glock, CZ and Korth :neener:

May 7, 2005, 01:15 AM
Frederic Bastiat on trade balances by way of Ludwig Von Mises:

A French merchant is said to have shipped $50,000 worth of goods to the U.S., sold them for a $17,000 profit, and purchased $67,000 worth of U.S. cotton, which he then imported into France. Since France had therefore imported more than it exported, it "suffered" an "unfavorable" balance of trade. A more "favorable" situation, Bastiat'sarcastically wrote, would have been one where the merchant attempted a second transaction in the U.S., but had his ship sunk by a storm as it left the harbor. The customs house at the harbor would therefore have recorded more exports than imports, creating a very "favorable" balance of trade. But since storms are undependable, Bastiat reasoned, the "best" policy would be to have the government throw all the merchants goods into the sea as they left French harbors, thereby guaranteeing a "favorable balance of trade"!

May 7, 2005, 04:41 PM
I do like to buy American whenever possible. This is not only in guns but in everything possible. I do however own guns from other countries. I have several milsurps from "over there".
BTW, I own a Ruger Red Label and I think they are wonderful O/U shotguns. A lot of my friends also own the Ruger Red Label and swear by them.


May 7, 2005, 11:33 PM
"...firearms that are American made..." Many of which are made outside the U.S. or have parts made outside the U.S. Springfield Armoury, Browning and Weatherby in particular.
No matter where a firearm is made, the people who import, warehouse and distribute and sell them are in the U.S. No matter where a firearm may have been made, somebody locally has a job because you bought whatever they're selling.

May 8, 2005, 12:02 AM
I would love an O/U 28g. The only problem is that the cheapest American made O/U I can think of is a Ruger Red Label, and I'm not about to drop four digits on a field gun. I've been seriously looking at the Baikal's (yeah, I know, they no longer exist) that run about $300.

There are some things that the American market can't/wont market. An affordable O/U is one of them, so I'd definitely consider foreign.

Now, something like the Rem 870 and the New England clone that comes from China, I'd gladly drop the extra $50 or so to get the American.

May 8, 2005, 01:00 AM
From what I understand, Winchester firearms (aka USRAC) are made in Japan. American name, but not American made.

Brownings are also either made in Japan or in Belgium (FN).

Springfield Armory gets its 1911 frames (or at least the forgings) from IMBEL in Brazil.

I'm sure there are others as well.

May 8, 2005, 07:45 AM
Zundfolge, Justin and Sunray have already expressed my beliefs better than I could by myself. :)

I notice that a lot of people who complain of, and fear trade deficits drink coffee. That coffee is always imported. If they were to be consistent, they would only drink American grown coffee. This is an expensive proposition, so they drink the cheaper imported coffee.

Adam Smith explained it quite well over 2 centuries ago. He explained that grapes could be grown in Scotland, and good wine made from them. It was better for Scotland to concentrate on producing products where they had a natural advantage, and then to trade these to France for wine, since France had an advantage in producing wine.

I think it would be amusing to see statistics on trade deficits between different religious groups or political parties. Are Catholics running a trade deficit with Baptists? Are Democrats running a trade deficit with Republicans? :neener:

Doctor Suarez
May 8, 2005, 03:40 PM
Being Jewish adds a whole 'nuther wrinkle to this, mostly because my wife, while she is super-cool about the whole gun thing, has some political qualms with certain nationalities.

I didn't particularly enjoy shooting the rental USP, but if I did, that would be a problem. And while Sigs are from the joyous Swiss, you never know if you'll get a Sauer frame, a Sig frame, or a SIGARMS frame.

And while GLOCKs are made in Jew-hating Austria by a man who supports Jorg Haider, the Israelis buy bucketloads of them!

Fortunately, her insistence on buying American meant that, when I brought home a 1K Kimber, she said "oooh, pretty." They're made in Yonkers.

I'd say, if you really want to buy American, any firm with an American franchise, such as Beretta, Sig, GLOCK, etc. will dump some of your money into American paychecks.

My issues, however, more involve actively keeping my money AWAY from people we don't like.

May 9, 2005, 10:42 AM
Thanks all for the responses.

Walter Williams' line of thinking is new to me. I'd never really thought about the fact that most dollar bills will find their way back into the United States. I realize that can lead to a growth of foreign investment in American capital, which is another (related) can of worms resulting in a similarly wide range of opinions. However, does the recent devaluation of the dollar ring any alarms? Or should I be comfortable with my 'global' spending as long as I can get someone to take my money?

I think that buying American will still by my goal, but not an absolute requirement. It is reassuring that the U.S. can still compete in the gun industry, even if my current budget may eliminate some of those choices.

John Ross
May 9, 2005, 11:36 AM
The "Buy American" mantra has always puzzled me. It's like Affirmative Action, where we have different (lower) standards for certain groups. That is NOT the way to encourage improvement.

In 1984 my mother wanted a new luxury vehicle. I begged her to get a BMW or Mercedes. Instead, she paid $35,000 for a Cadillac that was a maintenance headache from day one. I brought a BMW 7-series by for her to drive, and she said "Why can't American companies make a car like this?"

I said, "Because consumers like you continue to buy their inferior products out of some misguided sense of duty." Buying a company's inferior goods reduces or eliminates that company's incentive to improve its products.

My mother bought an Infiniti a decade or so ago, and loves it. She won't even look at a Cadillac now. The irony is that Cadillac has been forced to compete with the Japanese and Germans and now makes a car worthy of consideration.

Any time you accept less value out of some sense of patriotic duty, you are doing everyone a disservice, just as you are if you hire a less-qualified person just because he's a relative.


May 9, 2005, 12:16 PM
On the whole, I don't care, as long as the country we're trading with is a democracy, or at least cares about human rights, the enviroment, etc. That means that I don't like buying stuff made in China.

I list the enviroment simply because clean production does cost more, especially if you can 'write off' any pollution. And I like a clean enviroment.

The biggest thing that pisses me off about 'american' companies is that their products are often made elsewhere and they're still trying to get under the 'buy american' campaigns, and they don't produce what I'm looking for.

For example, I'm looking for a new car. I live up north, and due to difficulties experienced last winter, I want something with AWD. Due to gas prices, I want it to get decent/good mileage. I don't want a truck (the biggest thing I store are my guns, and I don't want an open bed for them), and I'm not enamoured with SUV's. My only options are to go with foreign companies. Subaru or BMW. I can honestly say that I tried to give Ford, GM, etc a chance.

Doctor Suarez
May 9, 2005, 02:21 PM
Hey John Ross,

Next time, tell her to buy a Lexus. They're more dependable than death itself.

May 9, 2005, 02:39 PM
Doctor Suarez: I'd hope that Israel wouldn't spend one thin dime on Austrian products, if, as you say, modern-day Austrians "hate Jews." I'm betting, though, that modern Israelis know that their not buying Austrian products would be tantamount to my not buying products made in NY, MA, CT, etc., just because shipowners in those states profitted from shipping slaves to the U.S.

I buy American, as long as buying American is best for me and my family. I don't care whether China is communist or not, as long as they leave their communism at home. The balance of trade issue is a lot more intricate than some posting here seem to grasp. Not importing from China, for example, would amount to a tax increase for the average middle-class American.

Doctor Suarez
May 9, 2005, 02:50 PM
Well, I'm being overly simplistic when I say that Austria as a whole is anti-semitic. However, it has a very troubling history.

Austria, not Germany, was the birthplace of Hitler's anti-semitism. Since the war, Austria, not Germany, has been home to more overtly anti-semitic political movements, notably that of Mr. Haider, a close friend of Gaston Glock.

As a bit of anecdotal evidence, in my whirlwind trip through Western Europe, Innesbruck was the only city in which I saw a swastika in the graffiti. (Though, as proof that anecdotal evidence means little, I also saw one in Bora Bora on my honeymoon.)

The Israelis do far more business with Germany that most American Jews. They're a very practical people. Gaston makes a great, affordable pistol that has amassed considerable cultural credibility. (who would have thought that American hip hop artists would spend a decade rhyming off the name of an Austrian furniture company?)

The Israelis buy what they need and what will work.

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