The Column, No. 65:
The Worst New Products of 2011
There are some competent new products out there, to be sure. There are also some new products, or at least new introductions so outrageously silly that they really stand out, and not in a good way. There are two that are deserving of special citation. First up, we have “Tactical Balls.”
Yes, just when you thought it was safe to go into the kitchen, we have a wondrous new offering dubbed “Tactical Balls RID-3.” The RID-3 part is an acronym for what you've always wanted: a Rolling Illuminating Distraction and Disorientation Device. This is really something, for they were "designed for use by police officers with no specialized training when you need a little something to get the bad guys attention to focus away from you.” There's more: “Small, lightweight, water resistant and shock resistant, they are concentric and weighted so they will wobble and spin all around when rolled or tossed into a room, then land light up to backlight the bad guy. The bad guy gets distracted and this buys you time to make your move.” This is really something, but what do you expect for sixty bucks? They come with their own “Tactical Deployment Pouch.” However, I can't argue with their directions for use, which is to throw them away. You'll likely find more effective and amusing distractants at your local Toys “R” Us for less tactical cash.
Smith & Wesson Governor
What is worse, a really dumb idea or another copy of someone else's really dumb idea? S&W struggles to provide that answer in a remarkable “worst of all worlds” product, the new Governor .410/.45 LC revolver. The .410/.45 LC combo abomination, offered over the years as the Thunder Five, got a lift from the well-bragged Taurus Judge. Following in the footsteps of the Judge comedy comes the S & W Governor, the latest in a string of really bad handgun platforms.
Excessively bulky, clumsy, overpriced and underpowered, the gimmick of being able to fire a .410 shotshell is a sadly pathetic one. A rifled barrel scatters pellets horribly, as noted by Oberfell and Thompson in 1957, the .410 platform itself a remarkably inefficient one, the inefficiency of which is further accentuated by a short barrel. The anemic 2.5 inch .410 is hampered by the 12,500 PSI MAP limit, a huge deficiency for a handgun. The .38 Special from 1902 has a 17,000 PSI limit, with +P loads at 18,500 PSI. The 9mm Luger, introduced in 1902, has a SAAMI MAP of 35,000 PSI, as does the .357 Magnum from 1935.
Whether .38 Special +P, 9mm, or .357 Mag, all are available in a wide variety of excellent handgun configurations offering better concealability, handling, accuracy, firepower and combinations of all these attributes. The Governor just a bad joke retold, as was the Taurus Judge. In terms of wounding ballistics, the Governor is a tragic failboat of a handgun. The notion of .410, .45 LC, or .45 ACP out of the same handgun may hold appeal for the decisionally challenged, but the comedy of the clumsy platform endures. The Governor is close to 30 ounces of bulk for $679 MSRP in its base version. The 13.5 oz. Ruger LCR never looked so good. The same is true of 17+1 capacity Ruger SR9 (9mm Luger) that weighs 26.5 oz. and has a retail price of $525.
The Pet Rock of today's handguns, it doesn't matter who decides to make them, or what government official for which the product is dubbed. It is a shame that the well-established fundamentals of firearms and wounding ballistics are so easily cast aside in favor of mythical bravado about deficient platforms. “Spread The Lead” is the meaningless moniker that introduces the New Governor. “Empty the Wallet” for a cornball gimmick is what you would hear if there was truth in advertising. Perhaps the extended use of Tactical Balls could disorient you sufficiently to be conned into a Judge, Governor, Senator or the Speaker of the House? While mildly amusing, the amusement hardly compensates for the poor capabilities intrinsic to this breed of gimmick gun. The ghost of P.T. Barnum might well be pleased.
Copyright 2011 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.