Stolen Valor For Guns

Marky’s post about the legitimate wear on his little VP9 got me thinking about gun wear and what it means. To me, it’s like the gun’s soul. Worn bluing, flattened checkering and the little dings and scratches are all part a unique tale that many guns can not tell.

This El Tigre used to have wear that told a story until Scott wiped it out and killed the gun’s soul by having it refinished.

This El Tigre used to have wear that told a story until Scott wiped it out and killed the gun’s soul by having it refinished.

Years ago, I picked up an El Tigre at a gun show. This is a Spanish knock-off of the Winchester Model 92 and it’s a hell of a gun if you can find one. They were made for both civilian and police use, and saw emergency use during the Spanish Civil War. Mine had that gun-grey patina that screams, “been there, done that.” I wish it could talk. The finish on the forend was mostly worn off from being carried, and the entire gun looked as if it had seen many hard miles in a scabbard, perhaps on a horse. Did it see action? Did it take game? Did it kill anyone? I don’t know, but it had a story to tell and it looked like a heck of a story at that.

Then I wiped it all out and killed the gun’s soul by having it refinished.

Don’t get me wrong; it looks brand new again. But the problem is it looks brand new. That entire story is gone forever and it can never be retold.

There are new-production slides with the “distressed” look. Is it legitimate, or stolen valor?

There are new-production slides with the “distressed” look. Is it legitimate, or stolen valor?

Which brings me to a new product I recently saw. There are companies selling new gun parts with the “distressed” look. I get it. It’s a popular look. Heck, there are even cars covered in surface rust that people clear coat to keep that look. On the cars it’s genuine, but these new distressed look guns are nothing more than stolen valor in my opinion. It’s like when I was a firefighter and you’d see someone rubbing their helmet in ashes or soot to make it look like they had seen action, while the rest of us simply let them embers fall on us for real.

I like the distressed look, but I want to know it’s for real. What are your thoughts?

[Editors Note: My VP9 isn’t THAT little. 😉 –Marky ]


Scott Mayer

“Shooting Guns & Having Fun”


Scott Mayer

Scott Mayer

Writer at John1911
Mayer began his outdoor industry career in 1993 on the NRA Technical Staff where he became American Rifleman magazine first Shooting Editor. Mayer left NRA and entered the business end of publishing in 2003 as Advertising Account Executive for Safari Club International SAFARI Magazine and Safari Times newspaper. In 2006, Mayer was named Publisher of Shooting Times magazine where he was also tasked with launching and leading Personal Defense TV, the first television show of its kind.

In 2008, Mayer returned to the editorial side of publishing, this time in the digital field, as Editorial Director for Guns & Ammo, Shooting Times, Handguns and Rifleshooter online magazines. After a brief stint in 2011 as the Digital Media Director for an ABC TV affiliate, Mayer returned to the outdoors industry and Safari Club International where he is currently Assistant Publisher and Multi-Media Communications Editor.
Scott Mayer

Latest posts by Scott Mayer (see all)

  • Mikial

    I know what you mean about the history of a gun. I have an Israeli police trade in Jericho that is old enough the it was manufactured back when Israel Weapon Industries (IWI) was Israel Military Industries (IMI) and so has the IMI logo so it was built at the latest in 2004 since that’s when IWI was created, although since it has the older frame mounted safety and no decocker I would guess it’s older than that. It has clearly seen a lot of use, and although it is a certainty that Israeli police probably practice a lot more than American police, I can’t help but wonder the same things you did about your rifle. Was it carried by an Israeli cop who was also a reservist in one of the many conflicts there? Did a police officer use it to take down a terrorist who was attacking civilians? It still shoots flawlessly and is right up there for accuracy with my Commander Tactical and right up there with my Glocks for reliability. I also have a 1943 manufactured Garand that has not been refinished. You can still see the discoloration on the small of the stock behind the trigger where some grunt(s) held it for who knows how long. If it could only talk.

    As for the ‘Distressed’ look and stolen valor, I guess it’s a personal thing. Frankly, to me some guy showing off his new ‘old’ gun is just another reason to quietly chuckle and go back to what I was doing. It’s just like guys who brag about their exploits in places they either never were or where they spent their entire tour changing tires in the motor pool, the truth will out eventually and in the meantime deep in their hearts they know it’s all a lie. 😉

    • I have a high-end 1911 I used to carry for work. One night I got into a fight and I needed to have it serviced by the manufacturer. They did me a solid repairing and refinishing the gun free of charge. It was very kind of them to do.

      But on a personal level, when the gun came back looking like a shiny new penny, I was a little disappointed.

      No good deed as they say.