"Planned Obsolescence"......could it happen to firearms?


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Rembrandt
June 2, 2012, 12:06 PM
I've come to the conclusion that of all the products on the market today.....firearms may be one of the last to have escaped "Planned Obsolescence". Everything from computers, cameras, appliances, cars, TV's, recording formats, and consumables have a shelf life of only a few years.

Nearly everything that contains a chip or program has a planned life expectancy that will render it obsolete. Government has seen to it that freon standards and energy standards need upgraded to be compliant with codes and regulations. Don't much care for changing everything I own every 10-15 years.

Could it happen to firearms and ammunition?.....your thoughts?

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AlexanderA
June 2, 2012, 12:24 PM
Only if there's a technological breakthrough, such as some kind of directed-energy weapon. But the R&D for such a weapon would be very expensive and thus would be done under the auspices of the government, which would then make sure that it didn't fall into civilian hands.

So, no, guns won't become obsolete. Even black powder guns still have a certain utility. And guns seldom actually wear out.

Gunmakers would love to be able to replace the stock every few years, through planned obsolescence. But ironically their problem is that their product is too durable. They still try to market minor tweaks. But, relatively speaking, there hasn't been any major advancement since the invention of smokeless powder.

Midwest
June 2, 2012, 12:26 PM
I've come to the conclusion that of all the products on the market today.....firearms may be one of the last to have escaped "Planned Obsolescence". Everything from computers, cameras, appliances, cars, TV's, recording formats, and consumables have a shelf life of only a few years.

Nearly everything that contains a chip or program has a planned life expectancy that will render it obsolete. Government has seen to it that freon standards and energy standards need upgraded to be compliant with codes and regulations. Don't much care for changing everything I own every 10-15 years.

Could it happen to firearms and ammunition?.....your thoughts?
In NJ there is a law on the books that when smart guns become available, conventional new handguns will be outlawed in New Jersey. No, I am not making this up.

http://articles.latimes.com/2002/dec/24/nation/na-smart24

"Under the law, smart-gun technology will be required in all new handguns sold three years after the state attorney general determines a smart gun prototype is safe and commercially available. Weapons used by law enforcement officers would be exempt until a separate decision on whether the requirement should apply to them."

Iramo94
June 2, 2012, 12:26 PM
In short, a Pentium 4 just can't do what a Core-2-Duo or an i3 does in computers, but an M1 will kill a deer just as dead as a Barrett, although the Barrett may cook it in the process. :D

Guns have been around a long time. When is the last time tile floors had a revamp that totally changed the market? How about hammers?
Computers and such are still babies, and because of that, they are growing extremely quickly. The time will come when all of the necessary computations in the entire world can be done in an arbitrarily small amount of time, and then computers will cease to grow as well.

Guns have just already hit that mark, by my estimation, around the beginning of the Cold War.

Loosedhorse
June 2, 2012, 12:32 PM
Some guns (most infamously the Beretta Tomcat) have a specifed lifespan--1000 or so rounds, and then expect the frame to crack.

Trouble is, that the guns currently "on the street" (I feel like such an anti when I say that! :D) are mostly designed to last a few lifetimes of normal use; so you'd have to collect all those "old-fashioned" guns to make any planned obsolescence scheme work.

Bubbles
June 2, 2012, 12:33 PM
I'd say it's highly unlikely unless market forces dictate that a caliber becomes obsolete. Designed planned obsolescence implies that the item will fail at some point because the manufacturer intends it to fail, and with a firearm that can get someone killed.

MedWheeler
June 2, 2012, 12:42 PM
Heck, even with the advances in every other technology in the film Starship Troopers, cartridge firearms were still the norm for weapons usage... same for Total Recall..

HGUNHNTR
June 2, 2012, 12:51 PM
The simpler the tool is the more immune from obsolescence it is.

Reminds me of the validity of this quote:

In anything at all, perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Don't try telling that to an AR afficianado however. :)

qwert65
June 2, 2012, 01:19 PM
Post #4 summed it up well.
New technologies always have more turn over look at the different upgrades of Winchester rifles from 1866-95 Or colt revolvers 1836-1873

Jorg Nysgerrig
June 2, 2012, 01:35 PM
Everything from computers, cameras, appliances, cars, TV's, recording formats, and consumables have a shelf life of only a few years.
I would contend that for most of those it has as much to do with the consumer's desire for the latest, greatest, fastest, thinnest, and lightest gizmo at low everyday prices as much as any sort of planning by the manufacturer. While there are certainly some industries where machinations of the producer play a part, such as the classic examples of pantyhose and cars, consumers are driving a lot of this, particularly in regard to technology.

RaceM
June 2, 2012, 02:32 PM
+1 to JORG

Planned obsolescence is a myth. It's all about the cost/profit ratio. If you want better stuff you're gonna have to pay for it. Until the consumer gets out of the Wally World mindset, cheap prices, and equally cheap quality, junk is what we're gonna get.

But, it ain't all Joe blow's fault. Gov't regs, worker benefits, etc., also drive this from the manufacturer's point of view. With all the restrictions/costs to the business the way to make a profit is to cut as many corners as they can. As an example (firearms) the use of injection molded plastic frames vs. machined metal.

TennJed
June 2, 2012, 03:03 PM
Conserning the New Jersey smart chip link posted above. I read that to mean all NEW guns would be subject to the chip. It would not outlaw any current gun. You should still be able to buy and sell used guns without the smart chip

Remllez
June 2, 2012, 05:07 PM
Rembrandt,

Are you asking if the guns themselves will wear out physically or the idea of gunpowder projectile launchers will?

danez71
June 2, 2012, 09:23 PM
Its not so much a planned obsolescence as it is a planned evolution of those products.

Ragnar Danneskjold
June 2, 2012, 09:52 PM
There is also the fact that one of the biggest aspects of a good gun is it's reliability over time and wear. It's a tool meant to stand between you and death. If the tool were purposefully designed to start failing, no on would buy it.

A gun that sells is a gun that keeps working.

Rembrandt
June 2, 2012, 09:58 PM
I think what's currently being produced is safe from obsolescence for a while.....but products of the future could give firearms a short term life. Perhaps powders whose components deteriorate after a few years, or chip guided bullets that would be subject to change every time a new technological advancement emerged.

No one thought the big guns of Navy battleships would be historical relics only to be replaced by GPS guided armament....makes you wonder.

parsimonious_instead
June 2, 2012, 10:11 PM
Planned obsolescence or cutting corners on quality to preserve profit margin? In the approx 10 years that I've been an independent IT consultant, I've seen the longevity of internal hard drives drop from 5-6 years to about 2.5 - 3. Power cords on HP printers have gotten thinner and shorter, and the tranformer boxes smaller and smaller running hotter and dying more quickly.

husbandofaromanian
June 2, 2012, 10:43 PM
I expect a big shift to electronic ignition in the near future. This, of course, would make primer and existing cases obsolete.

Skribs
June 2, 2012, 11:52 PM
It depends. Every year, something new comes out, most of the time it's just a rehashing of something someone else did with a different combination of parts, every once in a while its a revival of a fifty-year-old idea that works this time around or a new idea entirely. New bullet designs are released, most offer nothing new, some offer a minor benefit here and there, and some offer a totally new option, but are slow to start off.

While we have come a long way, for self defense purposes, a lot of stuff still "works" even though there are better options out on the market. Today, semi-autos are just as reliable and create just as big a hole as revolvers, in a smaller package with greater capacity and easier reloading. But revolvers are still popular.

22-rimfire
June 3, 2012, 12:04 AM
For the military, single projectile firearms may become obsolete in time. For common people, they will have value and purpose for a long time. I can't see using a faser to hunt deer... smoked that one... that meaning may be a little too literal.

Technology results in a complex inter-dependance between people. If it fails, all fails.

RBid
June 3, 2012, 12:16 AM
Firearms won't go this route. Here are some reasons why:

1. In order for this trend to be accepted, every manufacturer would have to go along with the 'deterioration of durability' scheme. This is HIGHLY unlikely, as reliability and durability expectations are a huge purchasing point. If one company began to try to schedule obsoletion, it would become evident, and that brand would wither, while competitors enjoyed larger slices of the pie.

2. Cars, computers, TVs, etc tend to be few-units-per-purchaser items, and would not be purchased frequently, without a manufacturer provided reason to do so. Gun companies know that we (gun buyers) are significantly more likely to buy multiple guns, each year.

Glock is clearly known for reliability and durability, but the company is fully aware that MANY guys who bought a G19 6 months ago would turn around and buy another one this week, if they launched Gen 5. We all know that there are still Gen 2 and Gen 3 Glocks all over the place, and that they don't need to be replaced. We just... don't care. We love our guns, and the industry knows it.

Driftertank
June 3, 2012, 12:24 AM
Carbon Fiber barrels.

Electronic ignition.

Teflon Coated bullets.

Caseless ammunition.

These are just a few of the ideas that have been heralded as the next big thing in the time i can remember paying attention to new things in firearms. None of them have quite panned out that way. I think the issue is largely that nothing created a paradigm shift, a new and noticeably better way to do things. Manufacturers can make new and more efficient designs, but firearms have been built well and efficiently for generations now. If manufacturers want to cut corners and cheapen their product, it will only cost them business and increase the comparative value of their older products. A perfect example is the pre-'64 vs. post-'64 Winchesters. By trying to cut corners they dealt a huge blow to their reputation and market share, and drove up the value of their older products.

Until something as groundbreaking as HD-TV comes to the gun world, manufacturers won't have any opportunity to implement "planned obsolescence"

leadcounsel
June 3, 2012, 12:58 AM
It won't be firearms designs but rather designs in defensive measures that will ultimately make small arms nearly obsolete, except for hunting.

Imagine a world where technology has advanced to the point that a personal security forceshield is as inexpensive and common as a tshirt. This device is worn very conveniently and provides a shield against kinetic energy impacts from gunfire, car accidents, etc. to effectively stop shots from rifles, shotguns, pistols, etc.

That will have a devestating effect on the relevance of firearms

I venture that day will come someday, but not for few centuries.

Until then, guns are technologically very simple and rely upon rugged metals and polymers, gunpowder, and forces of physics and potential and kinetic energy. They aren't going anywhere soon.

The difference is that other consumer goods are a combination of fragile plastics, a lot of moving parts subject to wearing out (to make them inexpensive and lightweight), and the technologies are ever "improving" at this early stage in their lives.

JTHunter
June 3, 2012, 01:05 AM
parsimonious_instead said:Planned obsolescence or cutting corners on quality to preserve profit margin? In the approx 10 years that I've been an independent IT consultant, I've seen the longevity of internal hard drives drop from 5-6 years to about 2.5 - 3. Power cords on HP printers have gotten thinner and shorter, and the tranformer boxes smaller and smaller running hotter and dying more quickly.


The HP printer I'm using is a 722C that I started using almost 15 years ago with my Windows 98 400 MHz P2. I'm still using it with my 6 y.o. Win. XP machine. The hard drives in those two computers have never failed although the oldest drive in the 98 is only used for back-ups now. Its replacement (a 30 gb!) is 12 y.o. and still going.
The raid pair in the XP is used daily for at least 4 hours and is almost 7 y.o.

I have been VERY lucky!! :D

parsimonious_instead
June 3, 2012, 07:58 AM
parsimonious_instead said:

The HP printer I'm using is a 722C that I started using almost 15 years ago with my Windows 98 400 MHz P2. I'm still using it with my 6 y.o. Win. XP machine. The hard drives in those two computers have never failed although the oldest drive in the 98 is only used for back-ups now. Its replacement (a 30 gb!) is 12 y.o. and still going.
The raid pair in the XP is used daily for at least 4 hours and is almost 7 y.o.

I have been VERY lucky!! :D

You sure have.... I tell my clients when their 6 year old PC has a wheezing internal hard drive that they've already gotten more than the statistical lifespan out of it, and that it would cost nearly as much to fix as it would to replace (new hard drive, plus billable time spent backing up, reinstalling the OS, reinstalling programs, repopulating data) When you factor in the faster speeds of the new
PCs, and the fact that manufacturers are still offering 1 year warranties
And as for your HP printer - I remember that model - that was back when HP made much sturdier inkjet printers - the 722c seemed to last people quite a while.

Back to firearms - the other "planned obsolescence" issue is that in order to degrade the longevity on purpose, they'd be dangerously compromising safety. It would be a huge liability exposure if manufacturers started thinning out or substituting cheaper metals where they're needed.

Tcruse
June 3, 2012, 09:39 AM
Taking the example presented earlier of Windows XP. There are about 1/2 of all business computers that still are using XP. Lots of reasons, however, there have been numerous studies that show the "total cost of ownership" for XP computers is 2 to 4 times that of Windows 7 based computers. Other issues that will eventually kill XP is the need for IPV6 (XP implementations are really bad) and lack of security built-in the code. Microsoft and a lot of others have done over the top measures to try to extend the life of this obsolete operating system, but it will become obsolete enough that it will disappear.
When enough software applications fail to run on XP, people will upgrade. Just as when ammo is not available (or too expensive/hard to find), people will change to other calibers. I just do not think that 9mm Luger, .40SW, or .45ACP will disappear during my lifetime or that of my children. Probably, the list is much longer.

Remllez
June 3, 2012, 09:41 AM
I don't think it will be planned per se but it's happening slowly with older guns as we speak. It becomes increasingly difficult if not impossible for some replacement parts to be found for certain models/brands of not just handguns but most all older guns, which is in effect, rendering them obsolete.

All the manufacturers have to do to render a gun obsolete is quit making replacement parts for it, it doesn't need to necessarily make the gun unsafe just render it inoperable. The original patents of course would expire but another manufacturer then has to assume responsibility/liability if they want to manufacture that part. Just my opinion.

elrowe
June 3, 2012, 09:54 AM
Heck, even with the advances in every other technology in the film Starship Troopers, cartridge firearms were still the norm for weapons usage... same for Total Recall..
Not trying to change this to a movie-review thread, but...

Only in the absolute abortion of the conversion to the screen. Hollywood even got rid of the full powered armor suits that every soldier wore, and ignored that it was an anti-freeloader and anti-communist treatise about responsible citizenship. It's a fictionalized version of Atlas Shrugged.

Please read it - everyone - you'll be amazed at how close its "downfall of western civilization" matches what's happening in the US now. For example:

"There is an old song which asserts that "the best things in life are free". Not true! Utterly false! This was the tragic fallacy which brought on the decadence and collapse of the democracies of the twentieth century; those noble experiments failed because the people had been led to believe that they could simply vote for whatever they wanted… and get it, without toil, without sweat, without tears."

FWIW - It's even on the reading list published by the Chief of Staff of the US Army (or was about two years ago anyway) so it's considered relevant enough to be recommended for our military leaders.

sawdeanz
June 3, 2012, 10:27 AM
I think remllez has a point, manufacturers could impleme a planned obsolescence simply by ceasing to provide support to a particular model, although the current market seems to favor lifetime warranties or something similar, making the longevity of the model dependant on the lifespan of the xompany or the size of your spare parts bin

Bigdog57
June 3, 2012, 10:51 AM
Yes. In a word..... "Kel-Tec". Nuff said.

beatledog7
June 3, 2012, 02:29 PM
Do people still shoot flintlocks? Bows? Slingshots?

Do hot rodders still fit carburetors onto big V8s?

Have any of you ever ridden a horse?

It's one thing to "plan" obsolescence; it's quite another to eliminate a market.

highlander 5
June 3, 2012, 02:47 PM
I can remember the caseless ammo from Daisy and Remington's electronic ignition system
hailed as the "next step in firearms revolution". Didn't fair so well did they?

Cosmoline
June 3, 2012, 02:57 PM
Firearms have to be able to withstand enormous pressures and stresses by design. They are by nature the most durable of durable goods.

Furthermore, almost all modern weapons are based on the same basic elements that were in place prior to the first world war. Smokeless powder, metallic cartridges, various forms of locking action, and even self-loading designs were all in place by 1914 and in some cases much earlier. There's been very little fundamental innovation with small arms in the past century. It's mostly been tweaking of earlier designs. So you simply don't have the enormous surge in technology seen with the development of computers.

And of course computers don't have to be able to withstand 65,000 PSI.

JohnnyK
June 3, 2012, 03:26 PM
AKs will live FOREVER!!!

MarkDido
June 3, 2012, 03:27 PM
Parsimonious instead said:
Carbon Fiber barrels.

Electronic ignition.

Teflon Coated bullets.

Caseless ammunition.

These are just a few of the ideas that have been heralded as the next big thing in the time i can remember paying attention to new things in firearms. None of them have quite panned out that way.

I rember Popular Science in the 60's and 70's telling me that by 12 years ago, I would be commuting to work in my own personal hovercraft that would double as a speedboat on the weekends. ;)

Texan Scott
June 3, 2012, 04:42 PM
Part of the reason guns will not fall prey to the planned obsolescence you- HAVE- to- buy-new- every- 3- years thing is the same buggabear that has gunmakers by the shorthairs all the time anywa: LEGAL LIABILITY. If a gun manufacturer EVER marketed a gun that was DESIGNED to break or fail, they'd be purposefully marketing a potentially lethal device they KNEW and MEANT to be failure-prone. It would be like a car company designing a car with brakes and airbags MEANT to fail. Their own lawyer will never let them do it.

Shadow 7D
June 3, 2012, 04:44 PM
Seeing how I have at least 1 100 year old gun, and know people who collect stuff from the Civil war, and earlier, I kinda doubt it, until something comes along and replaces the cartridge, or the powder, I don't think the gun is going to change much, it's been much the same basic design, better materials etc. for the last 100 years.

I'm waiting the plastic cased electronically primed round, course, they would probably be pretty easy to reload, and a glow element in the base would be good for at least a few lights, and that would save money for reloaders.... who don't buy ammo

ny32182
June 4, 2012, 11:26 AM
The reason that computers, TVs, etc become "obsolete" so quickly is that the technology is wide open and replacements that perform the task MUCH better are developed at an exponential rate.

With firearms the technology has essentially been stagnant for over 50 years, at least. There is nothing fundamentally different in an FN SCAR than there is in an AK47, or even an SKS or Garand.

The day that S&W introduces a pistol that fires an energy burst that puts down an person with 100% reliability, causes no collateral damage, operates thousands of times on a single AA battery, and has no recoil, and costs $500 then yes, the Glock/M&P will quickly become obsolete. But there is currently no revolutionary technology that promises to make firearms perform their tasks signifcantly better than how they do it right now.

hso
June 4, 2012, 12:03 PM
It is difficult to do with firearms since there haven't been any significant technical improvements since the advent of polymer frames.

Accessories, OTOH, are subject to this.

Certaindeaf
June 4, 2012, 09:12 PM
Monsanto says no.

M.H.
June 5, 2012, 01:31 PM
Hello.
There is also an interesting thread right here.
http://mises.org/Community/forums/t/29149.aspx

(Don't forget to watch the video)

Bigdog57
June 5, 2012, 10:10 PM
Even if a gun design is 'obsolescent', there will be enthusiasts shooting it and keeping it alive. Same with ammo- I handload several 'obsolete' cartridges. They still do what they were designed to do a century ago. The target paper or game animal doesn't know it's obsolete.

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