07 November 2015


Reading Peter...

Of course we spend hundreds on a knife that's ultimately not much better than the $20 example.

This is the culture that took the M1911A1, a pistol with an international reputation for toughness and reliability, and made a gun that's renowned for accuracy if you can accept fragility and stoppages for "just" ten times (or more) the price of a Glock.

It underscores the question, "What is that tool for?"

There are times I swear that Americans would pay hundreds for the best wrench ever made then complain that it came in inch sizes only when every nut and bolt they have is metric.

But there's lots of times when something is demonstrably better.  Sometimes just a wee bit better.

What we're often no good at is assessing the cost to value ratio for that improvement.

Wrenches are a good example.  A $20 set isn't going to last like a $100 set.  But it will likely survive one use.  Why spend the extra $80 if you're not going to use it again?  On the other hand, the $100 set will definitely survive the single use and nearly every wrench at this price point has a lifetime guarantee.  I've broken wrenches, even good ones, and it's nice to be able to say, "gimme a new one," instead of having to pay for one.

This is why I get kind of mocking about thousands of rounds fired in no maintenance situations.  How much ammo are you carrying again?  Considering I have hundred year old guns that shoot fine and not make it to the end of a box of ammo; but would make it to the end of all the ammo I'd actually carry... if I started from a clean gun...  The endurance testing is like a high-pressure proof round: good to know it can survive it, never going to happen unless you fuck up bad or deliberately decide to do it.

But a gun that goes off like a pineapple grenade on a HP test round or starts choking from dirt after ten magazines isn't necessarily a bad gun.  If you're going to carry two spare magazines; you're out of ammo seven magazines short of the dirt hazard.  If you don't reload you're never going to see the round that will explode your gun (statistically speaking).

And while we're on ammo...  There's two states.  The first is where what you had on you was plenty.  The second is where it's all gone and a constant stream of trucks bringing more is what you need.  The in-between is vanishingly rare.  We hear about every case because they stand out!

A $500 knife might stay sharp a whole day longer than a $20.  Two of the cheap knives and a stone are 1/10 the price and like Peter says if you break the $20 knife it's a shrug instead of FUCK.  Of course if you break your ONLY knife...  FUCK.  In the mind-set that two is one, I'm a ton more likely to have two $20 knives than one $500 just because I can get $40 together easily, but $500 once is a struggle, twice is a real pain.  What I'll really do, though, is score two $50 knives; just a bit better than the $20 and just a bit worse than the $500.

It's why I own and carry a pistol that's been shown to handle the insane endurance tests, but I don't shoot like that and I bought it used.  Letting someone else take the initial depreciation suits me fine.

Sometimes life is compromise.

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