"Hey, Tam! Check out what I scored at the last Fun Show!"And you know, under a lot of circumstances, that's just me being bitchy.
"Hey! You got a new gun? Awesome! Oh... it's a... um, Mini-14/Henry Big Boy/Norinco 97*. Hey, that's great. I bet you're happy."
"You don't sound too enthusiastic?"
"I'm not faking it very well, am I?"
I mean you didn't come up to me and say "Hey! Look at my new Mini-14 I'm going to shoot High Power rifle matches with!" or "Hey, look at my new Henry Big Boy I'm going to take to a 1,500-round carbine class!" or "Hey! Lookit my new 3 Gun shotgun!" did you? No, you didn't, because that would be stupid and my friends are not stupid people.
You got it because you thought it looked cool, and it's perfectly up to the task of riding around in a pickup truck and whacking the occasional 'yote or going to the range to shoot tin cans and paper zombies every other month. Not every gun needs to be up to the rigors of shooting a zillion rounds a weekend because most guns don't.
Grandpappy's deer rifle could bag two Bambis a season, plus sight-in shots, for most of a century and not use a half-case of ammo, and these days, a surprising number of them seem engineered to do just that and nothing more. If that's all you're looking for the gun to do, it's really a pretty low bar: Be able to keep the bullets on a pie plate at a hundred yards and go BANG! a couple hundred times without breaking anything.
That said, I really do think that the average consumer vastly overestimates the ruggedness of a sporting arm vis a vis firearms designed to survive rough handling and high round counts with sketchy maintenance in a service-type environment. "I've got my (Mini-14/Henry Big Boy/Norinco Winchester 97 clone) in case of the zombie apocalypse!" My personal rough rule of thumb is that if a firearm can't be disassembled without tools, then it's an indication that it was meant to be cleaned and serviced someplace where there was a light and a workbench and a stool on which to sit.
Darryl "Nyeti" Bolke summed it up nicely when he wrote:
I am a big fan of "the ability" to use "sporting guns" in a defensive role, and find it to be critical for those who live in highly restrictive, gun averse, and heavily regulated areas of the country. On the other hand, they are, in fact, sporting guns and are not designed for heavy field use with little maintenance. We also find that they don't temporarily "go down" in class where a little wonder lube in the right place or a quick take down and clear out and you are back on the line. We have found when these things "go down" in class (or worse,in the field when being deployed) they need to go to a gunsmith or the factory.If you're just buying a gun for pride of ownership, as a bit of a dreaming aid, a range toy, the yearly hunt, then obviously the availability of spares or whether it starts stringing shots when the barrel heats up or the fact that it can't be fixed without the right Torx bit for your screwdriver doesn't matter. But if you think you might need more use out of it, it's something you want to think about.
*And don't get all wrapped around the axle over "Mini-14/Henry Big Boy/Norinco 97" being used as the example here; there are dozens of firearms you could plug into that blank and it would work just as well.