Spend Your Money on YOU, Not on Guns!


As I write this article, it is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  As a teacher, I have the day off from work.  In between various “how do I entertain the kids enough to tire them out so they’ll leave me alone” events, I remembered that today marks an anniversary of sorts.  It has been exactly four years since I last shot my AK.  Four years! 


My first long gun was a jam-o-matic post-WW2 M1 Carbine.  I liked it when it worked, which, unfortunately, was not often.  It was sold and replaced with a quality (non-Century) AK.  I used that AK in my second carbine class, a one-day class in which I first met Civilian Gunfighter co-founder John.  I liked that AK a lot, but sold it and replaced it with a side-folding Arsenal AK in late 2013.  On this day in 2014, I test-fired it with about 20 rounds at a local indoor range, cleaned it, and put it in the safe.  I have taken it out many times since to handle, but it never again had live ammunition fired through it.

This article is NOT about AR vs. AK!  It is about philosophy. 

Over the years, I have collected a lot of items—firearms and other gear—that filled some perceived need at the time (at least that’s what I told my wife, who always knew I was talking trash anyway!).  It is very easy to get sucked into the black hole of firearms and gear when you choose this as your “hobby”.  Sometimes you need certain pieces of gear in order to partake of a particular class (for example, many shoot-house classes require body armor and ballistic helmets, items I would never really use outside of such a specific training class), and sometimes you want to prepare for Mad Max scenarios.  However, there sometimes comes a point in life when you have to just say, “enough is enough”, and focus on the true needs.

I already had much of this article written when I ran across this article by our like-minded friend, Short Barrel Shepherd.  I recommend reading the article (it is short), but to sum it up:  he is not going to buy any new firearms or gear this year unless it is to replace something he already owns that gets worn or damaged.  I applaud this resolution!


I am proud of myself for only purchasing one firearm in 2017.  Though technically it is a firearm, it is a just a stripped lower receiver for an AR-15, and frankly I am not even sure what I am going to do with it.  For now I just wanted it as a spare.

My firearms are built around one thing, and that is defense against two-legged predators.  I am not a hunter, so lack any “hunting-specific” firearms.  In addition, although I recently took up competitive shooting, none of the forms of competition I have thus far tried require specialized “competition” firearms. 

In building my “collection” with an expressly self-defense purpose, I started to look inside my safe over the last year and wonder what role certain items fulfill in my battery of firearms.  If I already have an AR-15 (more than one, see the article I wrote for GlockTalk here), do I really need an AK?  As noted, I have not fired my AK in, as of this writing, exactly four years!  What sort of need does a firearm fill if it is never fired?

I also have to keep in mind that I am not someone who shoots tens of thousands of rounds each year.  As noted in this article, I fired a total of 4,682 rounds of ammunition in 2017, and that includes everything, including .22LR, shotgun, carbine, pistol, etc.  I can only spread myself so thin across multiple platforms.  As someone whose training time and ammunition budget is limited, I would rather focus on one pistol platform (see here), one rifle/carbine platform, and one shotgun platform.

Considering the above, and also keeping in mind Grant Cunningham’s advice here, I have decided to sell my AK.  The money will go towards the rest of my ammunition/training fund, where it will no doubt see more (and more practical) use than in the form of a rifle I have not fired in four years.

Go Forth!

Recently, someone on Reddit, who I gather is some sort of a firearms instructor-to-be, posed the question to fellow Redditors:  what are the barriers that keep you from taking classes?  Not surprisingly, cost was the biggest factor (“I can learn so much from YouTube, why pay a couple hundred dollars to some instructor who’s just gonna yell at me?” was a definite theme!). 

To our readers, I am going to make a suggestion.  Look in your safe.  Look in your holster box.  Check your closet for gear you haven’t used in years.  Look for things that do not fill a need.  Is there unnecessary overlap in your firearms/gear?  If you have three ARs, do you also NEED an AK, a Mini-14, a Mini-30, and a SCAR-16?  Do you need a chest rig AND a battle belt?  If you are facing a training budget shortfall, SELL SOMETHING!  Sell a gun, sell a chest rig you will probably never need (Mad Max ain’t happening!), sell the six holsters you tried out but found fault with.  The classifieds on the main gun forums are a great place to sell, but you can also try eBay, Gunbroker, gun shows, pawn shops, whatever works for you. 

I am hardly the first to suggest this.  Some of our readers may think of themselves as firearm collectors first, and that is fine.  If I had the disposable income, I would own ALL sorts of cool stuff!  All I am saying is that if you have a large safe full of guns and are constantly ogling the next one you plan to buy, but also complain that you do not have the money for a one or two-day class, you are not being honest.  In short:  invest in yourself—your skills and knowledge–instead of more guns.  I will be leading by example this year, selling two of my firearms and all of their associated accoutrements and ammunition. 

As always, thanks for reading.  If you have any questions or comments, please post them below or on our Facebook page, as we welcome civil discourse.  Also, I know that we have recently acquired some new followers.  Welcome.  And to all of our readers, if you value what we provide here, please share our articles far and wide.  Thanks!

8 thoughts on “Spend Your Money on YOU, Not on Guns!

    1. David,

      One of the things I need to keep track of in 2018 is how much I spend on range fees/targets. I neglected to do so last year. I need to determine if it is worth it for me to “join” a range.

      Thanks for the comment!


  1. Great post! The only thing keeping me from selling off some stuff in the safe is that firearms prices are so low that I don’t know if it is worth it right now. I like your idea about selling accessories that didn’t work out; there are a lot of new gun owners that might benefit from a holster we didn’t like but might suit them, etc.

    Good luck this year!


    1. SBS,

      Luckily, despite the buyers’ market, my AK is a rare bird and should fetch some decent $. But I’m always buying and selling. Even selling at a loss compared with the purchase price beats the stuff collecting dust.

      Thanks for the well-wishes (right back at you!) and for the comment.–Robert


  2. I have 2 .45s, a Kimber and an H&K. The Kimber is my most accurate pistol. I got the H&K because in California, the list of approved pistols to buy keeps getting shorter and it was a great price. No, I’m not planning to move.
    In 9, I have a subcompact Springfield (just a cool little gun, handles great, planning to shoot IPSC with it next week), and a Beretta 92FS that’s almost as accurate as the Kimber. I have a .32 Seecamp ( so tiny, beautiful machinery and it would tuck away just about anywhere). I have some WW2 battlefield pick-ups that are either sentimental or attached to great stories and, in any case, wouldn’t bring much at sale.
    Rifles: I have a Diamondback AR I really need to spend more time with and an ISSC SCAR-lookalike in .22LR that is just a lot of fun to shoot. I have a Mossberg 500 with a folding stock (easier to pack, better recoil absorption; yes, it’s pretty tacticool and I have been ribbed about shooting skeet with it). I get offered guns all the time, but I think I’m at a sweet spot- I’ve got the ones I want. I just need to train more with them.


  3. I’ve operated by a nothing new in without something out philosophy in my house for a while. I was buying things at garage sales and estate sales, and filling my home with other people’s junk. No more. Something has to go to make room. I’ve recently applied that to firearms; if I get something new, something has to go. I’ve sold or traded four in the last year, got one new to me pistol in return, and even though it was probably a net loss, dollar wise, I’m pleased.

    I need to keep culling the herd, I just have to decide what to get rid of, and like SBS, I know prices are down. Luckily, I bought a few choicer pieces in years past, thinking I’d shoot them more. A third generation Smith .45, for example, brings a lot more in when sold used than something like a used Glock 23.


  4. Here’s my current inventory of guns:
    (1) M&P 9mm, it’s my competition/EDC/Range/Nightstand gun.
    (1) AR, it’s my competition/travel/advanced nightstand gun.
    (1) Over/Under shotgun.
    (1) S&W revolver in .460 magnum.

    I’ve got some other guns in my safe that belong to family members that don’t have places to store them. The .460 is a total guilty pleasure, but I’m planning on making it an heirloom. Also, it shoots .45 Colt like a dream.


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