The Rifleman Report: The Great American Spirit

posted on October 31, 2023
Brian C. Sheetz

The definition of “win” denotes emerging victorious from a contest. It is an outcome that demands the mindset of overcoming obstacles, not making excuses, as the exigencies of life beset us. These days, however, the age-old connotation of prevailing over life’s difficulties through hard-earned individual enterprise seems to have taken a back seat to artificially concocted societal schemes designed to make us all feel better about ourselves. In fact, such lies do nothing but weaken our country and fail to truly empower anyone.

The authentic spirit of independence is still alive and well, however, as it has been for 152 years in your association and, collectively, for much longer in American and foreign firearm companies. And that’s good news considering that there is no short supply of struggles in which the average American’s individual rights or physical safety are daily put to the test.

In the realm of personal self-defense, the handgun reigns supreme because of its compactness and attendant concealability, and the prevalent form for several decades has been the striker-fired, polymer-frame semi-automatic. In this issue, we cover a new model from a major American brand: the Echelon from Springfield Armory. For nearly 50 years, the commercial American firm has kept alive traditions adopted from its namesake national armory founded by George Washington. Working with Croatian manufacturing partner HS Produkt, Springfield has managed to fit a full-size, duty-grade gun with leading-edge features into an ultra-efficient form factor. The new pistol is more than up to the task of daily defensive carry and most definitely represents a “win” for both companies. For the full story, read “Springfield Echelon: The Leading Edge Of Self-Defense.”

Though the handgun may be the most portable means of self-defense, there’s simply no substitute—when the chips are down and circumstances allow—for a shoulder-fired arm. Increased hit probability and greater power transferred to the target mean that the average pistol-caliber carbine trumps even the most capable handgun. And now there’s a new choice in PCCs from another major American name in firearms, one that has been around for 171 years. In “Smith & Wesson M&P FPC: A Low-Profile PCC,” Field Editor Jeremiah Knupp explores a folding-stock carbine that is compact enough to justify bringing it along on any number of excursions—especially for those who already have familiarity with, and magazines for, S&W pistols. It is further evidence that the compact long gun concept continues to gain in popularity.

WinchesterSpeaking of prevailing in the face of conflict, there is perhaps no better example in the American experience than the taming of the Western frontier. In “The Winchester 1873: Winning The West For 150 Years” Field Editor Rick Hacker takes a look back at the origins and exploits of one of the best-known lever-actions of all time. In fact, the Model 1873 is perhaps the most deserving example of the oft-cited appellation “The Gun That Won The West.” Some of the examples pictured in the story are truly spectacular, and rare, and all convey the mystique that has become associated with one of the most storied American firearm companies, now 157 years old, and the important events in our country’s history from which we had to emerge in order to build a better life.

In this month’s Dope Bag, we cover the Ruger Security-380 pistol and the Sauer SL5 Waterfowl shotgun—products from companies that have been in business for 74 years in America and 272 years in Germany, respectively. The first is a pistol intended for personal defense, and the second is a hunting arm that can put food on the table. Both speak to the necessity for tools that ensure a free citizenry can continue to exercise its right to self-sufficiency.

So, just as it has been since before the founding of our country nearly 250 years ago, winning is not just for sports; it is a noble outcome for which we all must strive as we aim to preserve a nation where every person can find “… Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”


Right-side view of Smith & Wesson Model 5946 Law-Enforcement handgun pistol stainless steel gun on rusty diamondplate steel
Right-side view of Smith & Wesson Model 5946 Law-Enforcement handgun pistol stainless steel gun on rusty diamondplate steel

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