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Sometimes, for reasons not entirely clear, I get warm fuzzy thoughts that we hunters and anglers – by dint of our rugged individualism, our pragmatism and our vast reserves of good, old-fashioned common sense – are somehow immune to the ever-changing winds of faddishness and gimmickry.

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But then one simple little word brings me back to reality and makes me realize that we’re still people, and as such we’re just another demographic to be marketed to and manipulated by the merchants and hawkers of cool.

And that word is…TACTICAL. No other word in the outdoors marketing lexicon of recent years has been so bizarrely applied to so many products as this one has. I haven’t yet seen Kevlar-woven tactical undies that stop bullets and sharts with equal aplomb, but I’m sure there’s a factory somewhere in China that’s ramping up production as I type.

And that’s cool. If people want to dress up like SWAT team members and call hunting trips “missions,” far be from me to intrude on their fantasies. If people want their home defense firearms to have multiple rails for lasers, flashlights, grappling hooks, and barrel-mounted speakers that play famous movie tough-guy lines when you point your gun at intruders (You’ve got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well do ya, punk?) well, all right. It’s your castle. Defend it as you wish.

A rational person might say it’s just a fad and like all fads it too, shall pass. Thing is, though, it’s so not. Take this for example.

It’s a new gun from Stoeger called the Double Defense (above), and it’s (I’m not making this up) a tactical side-by-side shotgun for home defense. If you had told me last week that someone would actually conceive, design, manufacture and then offer for sale (with hopes of turning a profit) a side-by-side shotgun with ported barrels and not one but two picatinny rails for attaching tactical accessories, I’d still be waiting for the punchline to a joke, or the photoshopped picture.

But there it is in all its tactical glory, and I’m predicting right now that it’s only a matter of time before I run into some guy quail hunting with one. Probably over a brace of pointing rottweilers or some other new and improved tactical dog breed. I think it’s a silly idea that’s a symptom of a silly marketing phenomenon that – like a zombie – just won’t die. But maybe it won’t die for a reason. Maybe the majority of people these days love the look and feel of black nylon webbing, polymer resins and proprietary, super-secret coatings. The annual SHOT show is coming up next month and it will be interesting to see whether the “tactical” market has grown or shrunk. Here’s hoping for the latter…

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