This article is not about what firearms I consider “Entry-Level” firearms, but rather why some firearms are referred to as “Entry-Level” firearms.
“Most that buy entry-level guns are either buying their first gun, have little to no actual knowledge about firearms, or are just cheap/frugal spenders.
While today’s entry level guns are accurate, they lack many attributes of a higher quality firearms.” – Source: Anonymous
- Appropriate for or one who is new to something, such as a job or activity: an entry-level job in sales; an entry-level computer.
- Of or relating to a job or position that requires little experience and is low in a hierarchy: entry-level wages.
- Appropriate for a beginner; basic: an entry-level digital camera.
I once heard a statement to the effect of; “Glocks are great beginner guns, because they teach you about trigger control!” I must agree that they will teach you about trigger control, and it is usually in the form of what’s called a ‘negligent discharge.’ That fact alone does not make a Glock pistol a great beginner’s gun. In fact, numerous seasoned hand gunners have become humbled (and sometimes wounded) because of the Glock trigger when they were first introduced to them. Early on, it became quite evident that a Glock pistol was not an ‘entry-level’ firearm.
I once purchased an ‘entry-level’ hunting rifle, but I didn’t know that it was an ‘entry-level’ hunting rifle at the time. It was the first rifle chambered in .308 Winchester that I had ever bought. I ended up buying another ‘entry-level’ hunting rifle soon afterward, again without knowing that it was an ‘entry-level’ a bolt action rifle in .243 Winchester that was already outfitted with a scope. I wanted to compare the .308 Winchester to the .243 Winchester, as I was told that the .243 Winchester was a good, but minimal cartridge, for deer hunting.
Both rifles were Savage Axis rifles, and I bought them because they were affordable, and Savage had a good reputation. Both came with a Weaver 3-9 x 40 mm scope mounted from the factory. These two examples did not have the Savage Accu-Trigger, but I was not that familiar with Savage products and did not know about that trigger. I purchased a Savage 110 later that had the AccuTrigger, and yes it was a definite improvement over the Savage Axis without the AccuTrigger, and I had to buy my own magnified optic. How was I to know that because of that trigger, and that I had to purchase my own scope, I stepped over the boundary from an ‘entry-level’ firearm to a firearm that provided the fit and function of a custom rifle—right out of the box. Well; “Golly, Sergeant Carter, Sir!”
So, does purchasing an ‘affordable’ firearm make it an ‘entry-level’ firearm? Does this mean that if I purchase a firearm that I can’t afford that I have stepped beyond the ‘entry-level’ level? Is there a price break that separates levels? If so, who is setting them?
I have purchased several modern sporting rifles and several 1911 pistols that are considered ‘entry-level.’ Frankly, I don’t consider either as an “entry-level’ firearm, although they can be introduced to a novice shooter. I do believe that there are ‘entry-level’ shooters, but I don’t believe that there are ‘entry-level’ firearms.
Firearms, for me, generally fall into four groups of affordability; mostly affordable, somewhat affordable, pay through the nose affordable, and forget about it. I set the boundaries between the four groups, and sometimes there is an overlap depending on how I feel about a certain firearm. Price alone does not dictate the level of a firearm. Would you consider a 91/30 Mosin Nagant rifle that was purchased for $99, or a Chinese SKS that was purchased for $135 an ‘entry-level’ firearm? I don’t think so.
I read somewhere that when it came to firearms, ‘entry-level’ meant that there was room for improvement or customization. There is room for improvement or customization on virtually every firearm sold, and that includes custom firearms, just because somebody says that they can improve on it or can customize it further.
The term ‘entry-level’ has a stigma attached to it, and I don’t think that it is a term that most seasoned firearm operators endear themselves to, in fact it is a demeaning term. If somebody calls me a ‘neophyte’ or a ‘novice’ or even a ‘Probie’ to something, I can live with that, because with training I will no longer be a ‘neophyte’ or a ‘novice’ or a ‘Probie’ for long. I can be a seasoned shootist and still be a novice to long-range shooting. I can be an expert rifle shooter, but a novice to shooting handguns and vice-versa.
I will purchase a firearm because it is reasonably-priced for the value of the firearm, but I have never considered a reasonably-priced firearm an ‘entry-level’ firearm because of that. The term ‘entry-level’ implies that the firearm is cheap, and I don’t mean inexpensive. I have purchased several Ruger SR1911 Firearms and the AR-556. These firearms fall into my ‘somewhat affordable’ yet they are considered, by some, as ‘entry-level’ firearms. Get outta’ here! The same with Rock Island Armory (Armscor) firearms. The basic models (Rock) fall into the ‘mostly affordable’ group, while the next higher version of these pistols (Rock Ultra) fall into the ‘somewhat affordable’ group. As I mentioned earlier, I don’t consider the 1911 an ‘entry-level’ firearm; they are simply affordable firearms that don’t creep into the ‘pay through the nose’ group.
With all of this said, there are firearms that I would not let a neophyte shooter shoot. I would not hand a $7000 Nighthawk Custom to someone who has never shot a 1911 pistol before. Remember that Rock Island Armory “Rock” pistol I mentioned in the previous paragraph? That would be the one that a ‘Newbie’ to the 1911 pistol would be shooting. That does not make the “Rock” an entry-level pistol. The “Rock” puts big bullets downrange as does the Nighthawk Custom. You can; however, impress your friends by putting big bullets downrange with the Nighthawk Customer. The “Rock?” Not so much.
Here is something that should not surprise you. Despite being told time and time again to never put the finger on the trigger until they are ready to shoot, a neophyte shooter will invariably put the trigger finger on the trigger before they are ready to shoot. And, it may happen several times. Hopefully, the firearm will be pointed in a safe direction when that happens. And, sometimes it happens with seasoned shooter who might get distracted – nobody is immune. As a side note, when I am driving, that is all I care about. When I am shooting, that is all I care about. If I feel that I am getting sidetracked when shooting at the range, I unload the firearm and place it on the bench, get rid of my distraction (it could be a conversation with somebody), and then reload and pick up where I left off. But, that’s just me.
Here is another fact, a firearm nor a person new to shooting knows the following rules (compliments of Jeff Cooper):
RULE 1 – ALL GUNS ARE ALWAYS LOADED
The only exception to this occurs when one has a weapon in his hands, and he has personally unloaded it for checking. As soon as he puts it down, Rule 1 applies again.
RULE 2 – NEVER LET THE MUZZLE COVER ANYTHING YOU ARE NOT PREPARED TO DESTROY
You may not wish to destroy it, but you must be clear in your mind that you are quite ready to if you let that muzzle cover the target. To allow a firearm to point at another human being is a deadly threat and should always be treated as such.
RULE 3 – KEEP YOUR FINGER OFF THE TRIGGER TIL YOUR SIGHTS ARE ON THE TARGET
This we call the Golden Rule because its violation is responsible for about 80 percent of the firearms disasters we read about.
RULE 4 – BE SURE OF YOUR TARGET
You never shoot at anything until you have positively identified it. You never fire at a shadow, or a sound, or a suspected presence. You shoot only when you know absolutely what you are shooting at and what is beyond it.
A person new to shooting should receive instruction on the above well before ever placing hands on a firearm. That is the first step to becoming a non ‘entry-level’ shooter.
One article that I read that highlighted affordable ‘entry-level’ pistols listed the Beretta 92FS and CZ-75. Neither of these pistols are ‘entry-level’ but could be used to introduce a new shooter to DA/SA pistols. I mean, it’s like saying that the new mid-engine Corvette is an entry-level Corvette, because the engine is not in the front of the car. Even if I had the money, would I foolish enough to hand over the keys to a C8 Corvette (Starts at $60K) to someone who has never driven a sports car before? Not Hardly. (Although I’m sure that someone with money would buy one for his sixteen year old daughter who just got her license, they are also too foolish to own a firearm – IMHO). I might allow them to drive a Mazda Miata (starting at just $30K), which I do classify as a ‘wanna-be’ sports car.
Let’s put the term ’entry-level’ to rest along with some other terms I would like to see no longer used, which is a topic for another article.
Now, according to my grammar checker, and according to the Flesh-Kincaid readability test, the reading level for this article is 9.2. This means that it has been written in plain English and is easily understood by 13- to 15-year-old students. So, for college graduates, you may have been bored to tears reading this article since, by your standards (Flesh-Kinkaid readability level of 30), this would be an ‘entry-level’ article. But, if you only made it from 10th to 12th grade, you may have found it simply difficult to read, but readable. Due to the technical language that I use in the article, I missed my mark of writing to an 8th grade level, as is required when writing to military standards. So, I am assuming that most of you are above entry-level status in your education. However, if your reading level is around the 5th grade, this article is a technical and systematic exposition in writing that includes a methodical discussion of the facts and principles involved and conclusions reached of the highest order.