OSD 86: Make something people want

If the products aren't good enough, political wins won't matter.

Here’s an experience one of us posted in the OSD Slack this week:

A friend is buying his first gun and he’s asking me about which AR to buy.

He sent me a link to a Del-Ton that’s for sale on Gunbroker, one of the few Maryland-legal ARs that’s under $1000 right now.

I gently steered him towards an LWRC, and he made a really interesting point that I hadn’t considered: he was pretty intimidated by the fact that the LWRC doesn’t come with sights or an optic.

For a newbie, the prospect of having to figure out which sighting system to buy and how to install it is daunting. Enough to change their choice of gun, or maybe even enough to make them not get a gun at all.

From a user story standpoint, a newbie wants to walk into the gun shop, buy a great gun, put ammo in it, and hit the target on the first shot. With no installing anything, no tools, no setup. And for ARs, there is basically no way for a newbie to do that.

At its core, spreading gun ownership isn’t a political task, it’s a product task. If every gun law disappeared today, it wouldn’t matter if there aren’t products out there that people want to buy. The example above is just a small one, but that’s the point: the journey of a newbie is beset by a long series of small hurdles. When you’re deep into guns, you forget how intimidating this stuff seemed at first. But each little thing that someone has to google is one more opportunity for them to fall off.

The good news is that for all the rough spots that still need to be smoothed out, it has never been easier for a newbie to onboard than it is today. That’s because there are resources like Pew Pew Tactical, Lucky Gunner, Active Self Protection, and, oh, YouTube in general that technologically could not have existed 20 years ago. The creation of those things is itself the result of a series of technological, product, and content innovations which today is only accelerating.

So don’t get too wrapped around the axle on laws and politics. They matter, sure. And a favorable legal environment is a necessary condition for progress. But it’s not sufficient. So it’s on all of us to be thoughtfully, perpetually dissatisfied with today’s products, and to keep making better ones. When a newbie walks in the door to enter this community, let’s make sure we have something they’ll want. And keep making it better.


This week’s links

ATF suddenly decided that the pistol brace on the Q Honey Badger is actually a stock

It’s been a few years since ATF brake-checked us on this, but the reality is that they have unconstrained power to do … just about anything to pistol braces. Well, unconstrained except for one thing: bump stocks sold in the tens of thousands, but braces sell in the millions. A good evergreen lesson: facts on the ground are our bulwark. So create positive facts on the ground.

Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing is this week

As we described in “OSD 84: Judge Dread”, a Justice Barrett (which, just from a naming standpoint, is perfect and we look forward to all the .50 cal memes) would probably tip the Supreme Court into codifying the “text, history, and tradition” test for gun laws. And that’s a test that a lot of gun laws would not survive.

Gun control orgs are painting this as a step backwards. Which, for gun control, it is. But historically, it’s a continuation of a trend. Felonizing the possession of guns with cosmetic or ergonomic features. Mag capacity crimes. Jail for privately selling a gun to a friend. These things all really only became A Thing in the late ‘80s. They are not a historical trend, and when the history is written, it’s becoming increasingly plausible that they’ll simply have been a 30-year blip.

(More on this in our piece “Gun rights are winning and nobody has realized it”. The summary of that article: with a single-digit number of state-level exceptions, we are currently in the throes of a multi-decade trend towards gun rights.)

Larry Vickers breaks down the gun stuff in No Country for Old Men (part 1)

Part 6 in a series of movie breakdowns that Larry has been doing.

OSD cofounder Chuck Rossi on the Vortex Optics podcast

Check it out. Chuck talks about guns and social media, drawing on his 11 years as a director at Facebook.

Ninth Circuit oral arguments in Rupp v. Becerra (a challenge to California’s AWB) just happened

Check out @2Aupdates’s live tweets of the args ☝️. A decent number of the questions from the three-judge panel seemed gun-rights–friendly, particularly this exchange where Judge Bumatay jiu-jitsus California into arguing that the state has an interest in making guns less accurate.

The sniper button on your AR

Something that unites cultures all over the world: we all have our fuddlore.

Knife Steel Nerds

If you want to go way too far down the rabbit hole of which knife steels do what, this hyper-detailed site is a good place to start.


OSD Office Hours

If you’re a new gun owner, thinking about becoming one, or know someone who is, click here to come to OSD Office Hours. It’s a free 30-minute video call with an OSD team member to ask any and all your questions.

Come to office hours


Merch and coffee — new this week, OSD patches

We’ve got merch that you’ll want to wear. Check it out.

If you like this newsletter, you can donate to OSD instantly on our Buy Me a Coffee page. Donations aren’t our biggest funding mechanism, but they are a dead-simple way to kick in a few bucks to help us keep growing like crazy.