Neophobia is the fear of new things. It is commonly associated with the fear of trying new foods but it exists in the world of firearms too. The logic behind the affliction is the same; you like pizza so see no reason to try a taco. Many gun owners seem to have a specific problem with new cartridges.

You see, folks are painfully sensitive about cartridges. When I penned the preface for the 13th Edition of Cartridges of the World I wrote, “They think there …must have been some magic in… this or that cartridge.” I hate to be the bearer of bad news but there is no real magic with regard to cartridges. However, in its absence we have passion and passion can, in a way, be like magic; good or bad.”

photo 2
The 243 Winchester works just fine – for just about anything.

I had an uncle – by marriage – who could best be described as the rear end of a mule named Jack. Every day we had to listen to him extol the virtues of his .30-06. For me, his personality imprinted itself on that cartridge to the point I disliked it as much as I did him. To this day I’ve yet to hunt with a .30-06 and see no reason to mend my ways. That’s bad magic.

On the other hand, when Dad bought his first deer rifle he selected Winchester model 100 in .243 Winchester. I watched him use that open sighted rifle through my youth to take groundhogs and deer. You can imagine the impression it made on me and it should come as no surprise that the .243 Winchester is one of my favorites. When I hunt with a .243 I feel as though a little bit of Dad is with me. That’s good magic.

The problem with all this passion is that it can cloud reality. When Remington introduced the .30 Remington AR there were lots of neophobia afflicted folks who said, “Why do we need a new cartridge for the AR?” Never mind the fact that the .30 Remington AR was the first true big game cartridge ever introduced in the AR 15 platform. Gun rights supporters had been looking for the best way to show the AR 15 as a hunting rifle and they ignored the answer.

In the end, neophobia won out.

What if the Glock had been a victim of neophobia? It almost was; most American shooters were skeptical of a plastic pistol. However, through an intense and very savvy marketing campaign directed at law enforcement – who was very skeptical of a plastic pistol – neophobia was defeated and now plastic pistols are commonplace.


We are seeing neophobia rear its ugly head again with regard to 257 Wildcat (2Fitty-Hillbilly) cartridge I put together. The comments on Facebook range from, “I’ll stick wth my 257 Roberts AI” or “Why not just use a 6.5 Creedmoor?” Well, you do what you want and that’s all well in good. But, like with every new cartridge, it offers and advantage somewhere. And even more, working with a wildcat cartridge is fun and teaches you a lot about reloading. Remember, a lot of this gun stuff is all about FUN!

Now I’ll admit sometimes new is just Fruit Loop stupid but still, overcoming neophobia can be life changing as the following story will show.

I played basketball in grade school but my best friend and cousin convinced me to go out for the wrestling team in junior high school. Riding home on the bus one day another friend was crying crocodile tears and I asked him why. He said he’d got cut from the basketball team. As far as he was concerned, his dreams were ruined.

I suggested he come out for wrestling and offered to help him by sharing what I had learned from by cousin. He was hesitant. He said, “But I’m a basketball player.” He made the team. Not only did he make the team, for the next three years we both wrestled varsity in different weight classes. Down the road a few years I had to give up wrestling due to bad knees. But Carlos went on to win State Campion.

Just because a gun or a cartridge is new does not mean you have to buy it, try it, or like it. But it should not mean you have to offer the common pessimistic clichés of:

  • “It answers a question no one was asking.” Hey, someone obviously asked.
  • “It won’t do anything one of our current cartridges/guns won’t do.” And your point is?
  • “It is just a way for companies to sell more guns.” Of course it is. What’s wrong with buying more guns?

Comments like those are a great way for you to show your ignorance and are a prime example of neophobia. And, I’m just guessing here, but I bet neophobia is a disease Obamacare will not cover.

Mossberg MVP Scout

If you are so afflicted and if your health care plan will not cover treatment, I can administer the cure. Just show up here with ear and eye protection and a pocket full of cash. We’ll step out to the range with a handful of 257 Wildcat cartridges, a 327 Federal revolver, a Mossberg MVP Scout, and maybe even Remington’s reintroduced R51. By the end of the day you’ll be well on your way to recovery.

Sorry, no .30-06s. My lack of affection for that cartridge has nothing to do with neophobia; I just don’t like the damn thing and that is totally acceptable with regard to food, guns, cartridges, and just about anything else in life.

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