Beater Guns and Why You Should Have One
After a very short period of time as a gun owner, you get the itch. It doesn’t take long for just about all gun owners to want to become an at home gunsmith. You’ll want to change the grip or the hand guard, or the stock or the trigger group, or springs, BCGs, barrels, gas blocks or muzzle device. Pretty much anything you can swap or wrench off a gun and replace, you’ll want to. For AR owners it’s insanely easy.
But what about the handgun owner who doesn’t want a rifle?
I have owned just about every model and style of handgun over the course of the last 22 years. Some were expensive as all get out. Some were mid-range Sigs, HKs, S&Ws etc. My FBI NICS file has to be a little scary to look at.
Then there is my favorite class of handgun. What I call the ‘Beater’. The Beater is mainly your workhorse. You toss it in your trunk, in the back seat, under the front seat, glove box, wherever. It ain’t pretty, but dammit, every time you grab it and dust it off, it just performs like it should. It’s the old reliable and not the safe-queen.
Beaters come from all over. Police trade-ins are a great way to snag a cheap, but completely functional Glock or S&W M&P, for cheap. They may have holster wear and have only a few hundred rounds through them. Gun shows always have those couple janky tables with the LLamas 45s, old imports, or Hi-Points. Don’t laugh, I have yet to see someone actually kill a Hi-Point. I don’t mean I would ever buy one, but the things do have a reputation for being the ugliest gun ever made, but know one will ever say it completely failed. But I digress. This isn’t a article praising Hi-Points, even though I just checked gun broker and come on, I mean $139.99, new? But no. Nope. No.
Another good way to find your future Beater is to watch the new imports. I started looking at the Canik (I know exactly what a lot of you will complain about here, Turkey…) but when I first looked into them, Century was selling them at $259. They went up and down after that period.
We have a couple TP9s here. An SA and an SF. They are reliable, eat just about everything, come as a complete kit and the 18 round magazines from MecGar are great. But to me, they are Beaters.
A Beater I don’t feel bad about messing with. A Beater is there to be screwed with. What I would never consider doing to a more expensive gun, I don’t feel bad about doing to the Canik. When I wanted to perfect my stippling technique I didn’t start on something else. I had a couple Glocks available, but until I knew what I was doing it never would have happened. But the Caniks, I didn’t care. Needless to say one may have a “meh” stippling job, one is slightly less “meh”. Thankfully Caniks have pretty thick polymer and I could just bust out the roto tool and sand it down a bit and try again. I now have pretty nice stippling on both.
But it goes further than that. I picked up a couple different lights and I couldn’t get one to fit the way I thought it should, so again I used the roto to grind and shape the trigger guard to my liking, keeping an eye out to make sure I didn’t do anything too drastic to make it unsafe. Light fits perfectly now by the way.
I wanted to learn to Cerakote. I don’t feel bad about using a beater to teach myself. It’s just not a big deal. You don’t worry, you don’t feel bad. That’s what they are there for. You wouldn’t grab a HK USP and decide that today is the day you’re going to learn to stipple.
But that is the point of the Beater. You don’t feel bad about trying new mods on a Beater gun. You can grind, stipple, shape customize and turn something that was nothing special into a unique part of your collection. It’s still a beater, it still gets thrown around, but it always shoots straight, fires every time you want it to and you’ll have better memories and a longer history with that gun.
Put a beater gun in your rotation. Buy one that you can mess with and teach yourself some new skills. For me at least it was rewarding learning how to do a trigger job. Same with stippling and shaping and Cerakoting. Same with polishing feed ramps or connectors. People pay me for those skills now and I have yet to hear a complaint. Accept for one. I refused to re-crown a guy’s Mosin because it wasn’t mine and I didn’t know how. That will come. I’ll gain that skill.
You’ll see the Caniks on here quite a bit. I always take at least one of them to the range, hell, I almost always have one in the car. Neither one is pretty to anyone else, but yeah, okay, they are still ugly to me too. But they fit me perfectly and if the don’t in the future, I know I can make them again.
Now, if anyone can point out a modified Hi-Point that is actually cool. That would indeed be something to see. Is anyone making a titanium nitride replacement barrel for them yet? No, really.
What’s your beater gun? Tell me about it below.