Off the Porch: Hot guns for Christmas

Dec. 15, 2012 @ 02:38 PM

The world has changed. Suddenly, we have main stream TV shows about guns. The most watched A&E TV show in history is the Christmas special of a family of self-professed rednecks who make duck calls. Today it seems everyone wants a gun and wants to learn to shoot. My shooting classes are filled with folks who never had an interest in shooting and now they want to learn to shoot a pistol, break a clay pigeon or run an AR15 rifle. Competitive shooting is growing by leaps and bounds. Gun club membership is skyrocketing. Gun sales records are eclipsed almost every month and suddenly, it seems shooting is politically correct.
A byproduct of this wonderful situation is that certain guns and ammunition are so much in demand, they’re hard to get. In the ammunition department, .223 ammunition, the most popular AR 15 platform chambering, is in high demand. The most popular pistol calibers are also being shipped as fast as they are loaded and retailers can’t keep them on the shelves. This year, instead of Trailer Park Barbie and The World Destroyer Video Game, some of the toys that are hard to get just happen to be what the cowboy characters in old movies called shootin’ irons.
The way to tell if a gun is popular is how difficult it is to find a new one and Mossberg’s new JM Pro shotgun is certainly difficult to locate and most distributors have a waiting list. While gun buyers don’t tend to line up in front of gun stores like techies, I know a half dozen folks who would drop everything if I told them I’d seen one on a store rack.
Designed as an affordable shotgun for the fast growing three gun shooting events, the JM Pro is an out-of-the-box ready to go competitive shotgun. It has a tang safety, an oversized operating handle and loading port, and comes sporting a long ten round magazine. The stock comes with a variety of spacers to allow the owner to fit the pitch, comb height, and cast to fit and it even has a cocking indicator in the trigger guard and a trigger stop to adjust the already crisp and light trigger. All these features also make it a great home defense gun as well as a competition winner.
I recently sent my test gun to Piedmont Handgunner’s Association for the monthly two gun match and it was the belle of the ball. Match Director, Ron Gearren, included it in a stage and, using target ammunition provided by Winchester. Every shooter in the match had a chance to run the Mossberg in a stage. By that evening, I had several phone calls from shooters who wanted to know where to get one. Selling in most venues for around $600.00 this gun is a bargain from a company known for real value, no nonsense firearms. Mossberg’s Linda Powell says the factory should catch up with orders at any time. If Santa can find you one, I can highly recommend it.  
My friend, Mike Byrd, shot my DPMS test and evaluation .22 rimfire conversion for the AR15 platform guns this fall and has been trying to find one since that time. In a recent test I did for GunMag of rimfire AR 15 rifles, the DPMS rimfire conversion upper was a clear winner. As reliable as a rock and as accurate as a Ruger 10/22, the DPMS installs on you AR in seconds and converts it into an economical practice/training/ squirrel rifle.
While .223 ammunition is hard to find and the price is rising, .22 rimfire is easier to find and comparatively cheap and this upper allows you to shoot for a fraction of the price of shooting centerfire. The best thing about this thing is that it is FUN. I’m not a plinker who just likes to shoot to hear the gun go off but I can play with a Caldwell Gallery and the DPMS upper for hours and burn through bricks of .22 rimfire ammo.
In the handgun world, the Smith and Wesson Shield in .40 caliber is almost impossible to lay your hands on. This small concealed carry sized gun is a powerhouse in .40 and the really good sights and M&P style trigger make it a go-to choice for many looking for a small, powerful striker fired pistol. Concealed Carry is the big thing these days and the people getting permits often are new to firearms ownership. The simple to operate, accurate, and reliable Shield appeals to these folks as well as dyed in the wool S&W buyers.
So, is it impossible to find these guns? Probably. If you don’t have one of them in your hands, you won’t be giving one for Christmas but eventually, production will catch up with demand. In the mean time for the Mossberg, DPMS, and Smith and Wesson, it’s a wonderful problem to have.

Dick Jones is an award winning freelance writer living in High Point. He’s a member of the board of directors of the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association. He writes about hunting, fishing, dogs, and shooting for several NC newspapers as well as national magazines. He’s an NRA Certified Instructor, a Distinguished Rifleman, former High Master, and teaches shotgun, rifle, and pistol as well as the North Carolina Concealed Carry Certification and Hunter Safety at Lewis Creek Shooting School.  He can be reached at or