Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Is Novelty a Necessity?

In a post about the Heritage Roscoe on social media, a reader asked what the new offering from Heritage would do that a double-action revolver hadn't already done, or if maybe it would do it in a different or better way.

That got me to thinking on how a segment of the market demands novelty as the justification for a new model.

In the case of the Roscoe, you only have to look at the name of the manufacturer, "Heritage", to realize that cutting edge novelty isn't exactly their milieu. After all, their bread and butter offerings are inexpensive plinkers that are functional and cosmetic clones of a 151-year-old revolver design.

Sometimes the retro is the point. Colt has done reissues of their WWI and WWII era M1911 and M1911A1. Springfield Armory sold bunches of their "Milspec" model, so much so that they brought the GI, or as we called it in the shop back then, the Even Milspeccer Milspec.

In the case of the Roscoe, what it does is bring the basic blued-steel 5-shot snub-nosed revolver back to market at a reasonable price. Smith & Wesson still offers the Model 36 Classic, but the MSRP on that thing is better than double that of the Roscoe. 

Of course, fifteen or twenty years ago there would have been no call for a gat like this because its main competition would have been the ocean of used Model 36's, but these days even J-frames aren't immune to price pressures from collectibles. A Chiefs Special that's priced like the Roscoe is gonna be a beater, and one that looks like all shiny and new is going to present the owner with that classic quandary: How much do you want to shoot a gun when a turn ring on the cylinder can knock a Benjamin off the value?

You could do like a lot of collectors: Put the pristine Chiefs Special in the safe and buy a beater 36 to shoot. Or you could buy a shiny Roscoe and shoot it.