Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Total life-cycle cost of buying a new firearm

When I was a kid, I rarely considered the total cost of purchasing something. For example, people buying a cheap, used snowmobile rarely consider the cost of maintenance, storage, a trailer, a truck to pull it up north and the cost of ten nights in a motel up in the snow-zone.

That $1200 snowmachine quickly morphs into $10k. It is different, in my mind, if it is a tool you will use once a week. Then you don't need the trailer, truck and lodging. That would be the difference between a snowmachine in southern Michigan and utility quad or tractor you can use to haul wood, spin seeds, drag deer, carry fencing tools.... through moch of the year.

The cost of a firearm includes buying secure storage like a safe. That presumes you don't already have a safe with room in it and that you might have visitors who are not trustworthy around firearms.

Let's look at the .350 Legend.

Suppose you have room for one more firearm in your safe space. Also assume you have a friend-of-a-friend who will let you borrow an AR lower.

.350 Uppers can be found for about $250. Add twenty bucks for shipping and you are looking at $270.

Budget another $200 for a scope and $50 for the rings. Rolling that into the $270 gives you $520.

A set of flip-up iron sights, aperture rear and post front, are going to run another hundred.  $620

Reloading consumables, bullets-and-cases, and a set of dies will run at least another hundred. $720.

Three hours of range time will run about $50. $770.

Can you do it cheaper? Heck yes. A scoped "package" gun from a major retailer might run $350 on sale. Buy a box of factory ammo. Don't sight it in and you can be hunting with a .350 Legend for half that price.

Or, I could buy the upper and install high quality iron sights on it for about $350. Iron sights are perfect for the finish-wounded-deer mission and very adequate out to 100 yards in any reasonable light. They give up something to the scope when shooting in heavy cover. With a scope, you are more likely to pick a window in the brush and hit the deer in the vitals.

So it comes down to a choice between buying that new freezer Mrs ERJ has been talking about or buying something to fill that freezer more elegantly than the Mausbert 5000 that has been filling it for the last twenty years.

The other dimension is the forlorn hope that Michigan will see the light and allow downstate hunters to use everything up to .30 caliber centerfires as long as they are in elevated stands. The point about the elevated stands is that the hunter is often shooting DOWN at the deer and have a dirt back-stop.

And I have a friend-of-a-friend who would loan me a nice .308 or ought-six.


  1. I claim guilty to having bought a .350 legend upper a couple months ago. 16 year old daughter announced she wanted to go deer hunting and it seemed a perfect combination of low recoil and inexpensive. I'm not usually a "fad caliber of the week club" type of guy. Heck, my up north deer rifle is a .30-06 because I'm not convinced that newfangled .308 is here to stay.
    Also, I got a $200 version without bolt/carrier and charging handle because I had spares already and took the scope from another gun. I did have to spend $24 for a 5-round magazine though because my 5-round .223 mag wouldn't feed .350. Plan on using it with her this weekend.

    1. Congrats on having a daughter who wants to hunt with you.

      I "get it" about setting up younger hunters with friendly firearms for their first five years of hunting. The Mausbert is less than ideal with a 9 pound (measured) trigger and 12 gauge recoil. That is why I started them on muzzle-loaders.

      And the modern sporting arm is even better.

  2. Fellow downstater here. I've been looking at the .350 legend as well. The big draw for me is the common platform with the most-popular defense rifle in America. The second biggest draw is shooting suppressed, which allows one to train with that most-popular defense platform without really annoying the neighbors. Unfortunately, our betters in the imperial capital are set to make suppressors completely illegal, instead of just prohibitively expensive.

  3. The upper was a good purchase. My daughter nailed an 8-point buck yesterday afternoon. It went down immediately but then tried to, and eventually did, stand up and needed a second shot. I think her first shot hit it in the neck area and the shock dropped it. Very difficult to find entry and exit wounds from either shot.

    1. Awesome!!!

      If you had been patient the buck probably would have gone back down. Hunting smaller parcels downstate means you cannot afford the chance of the animal walking off-property.

      Again, congratulations to you and your daughter.

  4. In Indiana there was a rule change several years back, and .44mag break action rifles with a scope became all the rage. Shelves emptied el pronto. Straight-walled ammo in a pistol calibre, dontchaknow. Big brother to the 30-30, perhaps the most meat-gettinest rifle used in northern Michigan since forever.

    In a lever action rifle, the .44mag would be a good choice that could be filled from the used gun racks at a place like Bob's Gun shop in Hastings.

    Umm, buyer beware of what the idiots in Lansing may require or prohibit in the future.

  5. .30-06
    Turning cover into concealment for more than a century.
    The upside is that it can cure stupid politicians and bureaucrats also.


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