Jack of All Weapons or Master of One?

Part of the fun of the firearm hobby is being able to choose your own hardware. People have been making guns for more than half a millennium, so even if you spent a lifetime trying out different makes and models, there’s no way you could see everything the gun world has to offer. Even within one platform, there are often many choices of configuration and caliber to match any conceivable use case. With so many options, why stick to just a few?

I used to work with a gentleman—I’ll call him Brent—who was a die-hard AR-15 fanatic. Most of us are fond of the platform, especially in my part of the country, but Brent’s affinity went to another level entirely. When offered, he would outright refuse to shoot an AK or any other semi-automatic rifle, let alone own one. Brent’s justification was that he wanted to be a master of that one weapon, and because he’d trained with an M16 in his military days, switching to anything else would waste all that practice (never mind that he hadn’t even been an infantryman).

Brent willingly closed himself off from a huge part of the firearm hobby, and in so doing, took away his own ability to learn about and appreciate other semi-auto rifles. Self-defense aside, one of the biggest reasons we all choose to shoot as a hobby is for the simple reason that it’s fun. It’s an enjoyable experience to try different firearms and gain an appreciation for their designs and the history behind them. Expanding your horizons can help keep the hobby fresh and exciting in a way it can never be if you force yourself to shoot only the same three guns on every range trip.

Even if you’re mostly concerned with honing your own skills, there’s nothing wrong with trying something new. The most highly skilled shooters I’ve met generally do not share Brent’s aversion to alternate platforms, instead they shoot anything they can get their hands on and try to learn from the experience. Because different firearms have their own unique handling characteristics, trying one with which you’re less familiar can reinforce different shooting fundamentals and make you a better-rounded marksman.

I have known several people who deliberately limited themselves to only a few types of firearms or sometimes even only three calibers. Anecdotally, every shooter I have known who does this seems to view shooting as another form of work, an activity that must be practiced strictly out of necessity. On the other hand, every shooter I have known who enjoys branching out and trying new things seems to derive much more enjoyment from the hobby. I can’t dictate how you should live, but at least consider my recommendation: don’t arbitrarily limit yourself. Life is too short not to try a different gun just because it’s interesting.