“It's got to where writers and gunmakers have to invent a niche to justify making another chambering ... This plague of "Magnums" has got shooters trying shots beyond their ability and flinching while doing it.”
New cartridges are little more than a sales gimmick. There hasn't been a major Browning/Mauser/Garand-type development for decades now.
Inventing a truly new kind of firearm is hard. Inventing a "new" cartridge is comparatively quite easy. And buying into a different cartridge requires a different firearm to shoot it (or at least another barrel) and the ammunition to go along with it. This forces the purchase of another firearm and ammo/components/reloading dies. Of course, that new acquisition will require sights, accessories, maybe a new gun safe to hold it all... $$$
Gun and ammo companies can (and seem to) crank out a "hot new" cartridge every month. Folks on the publishing side are only too happy to praise this "hot new" for answering a question that nobody ever asked.
The fact that none of this helps make us better shooters, does little to get more people participating, and doesn't promote shooting to the general public never gets mentioned.
So what wrong with new chamberings, bullets, and loading techniques? Isn’t that all great for shooting?
A wise man noted, "Perhaps a better question is whether or not the droves of average shooters snapping up the new short action big bottles can make full use of the ballistic advantage under field conditions?"
We don't need new cartridges because most shooters can't shoot up to the 100 year+ old ones (.30-06, or even .30-30) we already have. These new developments will not help typical gun owners become better marksman. Thus, we "need" new cartridges like the auto industry "needs" a V7 engine.
Some people argue that new calibers are good because it encourages people to buy more stuff, which boosts the financial status of the gun industry. If it’s there, people will buy it.
This can work, but is an inefficient way to boost sales. New calibers cost money in development and time, raising expenses. They dilute inventory, because a dealer has to stock a larger variety of ammo/components and the firearms that chamber them all. That means mark ups have to be higher. All so we can sell a few extra guns and a little more ammo.
A better answer to boosting the gun economy is to encourage more participation in events where people actually use firearms, ammunition and accessories on a regular, on going basis.
Look at the retail cost difference between premium trap loads (about $5 for 25) and premium sabot slugs (about $10 for 5). The hull, powder and primer are virtually identical, and the cost difference between the different wads is negligible. True, quality shot is cheaper than a swaged slug, but not enough to justify the $1.80 per round retail cost difference.
Quality jacketed bullets for dangerous game, like 500 grain Round Nose, can be had for 40 to 50 cents apiece retail in 50 count boxes. 405-grain cast, sized and lubricated lead bullets for the .45/70 sell for about 10 cents each when bought in bulk. Where does the rest of the cost for making premium sabot slug loads go?
Even if there is some technical reason that makes the premium sabot slugs so expensive to make, where’s the option for practice ammo? Replace that expensive slug with a simple lead cylinder that is the same shape and weight. Such projectiles wouldn’t have to be lubricated or even have a grease groove as the slug travels up the bore encased in a plastic sabot. Packaged and sold similar to trap loads, there is no reason they couldn’t be made available for a similar price.
So what’s the real problem? Trap/skeet/clays/5 Stand/etc shooters actually shoot. During the season, typical trap leagues meet a few times a week and the shooters will run through at least two rounds of 25 birds per round. Bottom-of-the-score-sheet trap shooters who never practice and shoot only the minimum required to stay in the league will burn up at least 4 boxes (100 rounds) of ammo each week for the several months the league runs.
Sheer volume via regular, organized shooting means the mark up on shot shells is more reasonable. Consider that Trap and Skeet take exactly 25 shots for one round and shot shells are packaged in boxes of 25. This is no coincidence!
Now look at the typical deer hunter, who buys one box all year, shoots 3 off a bench, says "good enough" and hunts with the rest. Many scattergunners shoot more to warm up at each session than most venison fetchers shoot all year!
The cost of lead bullets also bears this out. For those of you old enough to remember, compare the cost and quality of lead pistol bullets from the '70's to today. Back then, they were soft, swaged things and sold by the hundred. Now, they're sold by the thousand, the quality is much higher, and they're less expensive. When you factor in inflation, the value is even better!
Why? The '70's saw the rise and promotion of action pistol shooting. More shooters shooting much more ammo spurned more producers. The mark ups were kept in check by sheer volume. Many sellers offer only three calibers (9mm, .40 and .45) in a one or two weights making inventory easier and cheaper.
More shooters shooting more means more sales for more manufacturers. This raises consumption and increases competition in the market place, keeping costs in line, and encouraging shooters to shoot even more...
Why hasn’t some independent manufacturer stepped in to fill the demand for the shotgun-slug deer hunters? Because the demand isn’t there to fill, at least not yet. The major ammo companies offering premium target shotshells also offer a cheaper variant for practice. These same companies make components available for reloaders, and smaller independent companies step in to offer even lower cost variants. Why? The demand is there for clay shooters, but not for slug deer hunters.
We don't need no stinking new calibers. We need more shooters, true Firearm Users, and we need to encourage them to shoot more often.
Remington, a gun company, has sponsored a NASCAR team. So does the NRA. The MBA-types in the gun industry realize that spending advertising dollars on car events is more cost effective (a better CPM) than spending those dollars on shooting events.
That's how pathetic we've become.