Like many of us, I was trying to figure out what to do with my life after high school. It was the fall of 1998 and I was looking at my options of joining the Marine Corps, going to college, or going to work. Admittedly, I was an idiot and went straight to work. I wanted money to waste on my “drag car” and play video games. Lem’me tell ya, my parents were THRILLED with my choice. Dad was hoping his son would go on to be a badass devil dog while Mom dreamed of her son becoming a culinary god.
It is a bit ironic I wasn’t into firearms at the time. My father was an NRA member, had a pretty cool collection of vintage rifles, and loved shooting black powder pistols. He taught me firearm safety, but I genuinely had no interest in guns. Before graduating high school, while talking to the Marine recruiter, he invited me to a JROTC and recruitment range day. It's fun to say the first gun I ever fired was an M16A2. I shot 1st in my group and 2nd overall. I was shocked, my Dad proud, and the Marines wanted me to sign papers right there.
Yet, cars and video games were still all I cared about. What finally got me into blasters? In September of 98, a little game called Metal Gear Solid came out. I had been waiting for months for this game and it had finally arrived! While playing, I saw what would finally get me to love firearms. The H&K Mk23. With the Knights Armament suppressor and LAM attached, it was like a switch had been flipped. I was lusting after this thing harder than any of the girls I was talking to. I wanted it, and I wanted it now.
I showed my Dad and he giggled. “Yeah, you can buy a handgun like that. When you turn 21. And good luck getting a suppressor.” I was pretty naïve to all gun laws and quickly hit with the hammer of reality. Obtaining this gun was not going to happen anytime soon. I let the whole idea go. At least for a little while.
Fast forward to 2002 and I was ready to purchase my first handgun. I was talked into a new Springfield XD 9mm. It was fine. It shot every time I pulled the trigger. It was also boring. I traded up to a Sig P226. Loved it. Smooth as silk and insanely accurate. But my heart still wanted the MK23. I walked into a local gun shop looking for one and heard the same familiar giggle my Dad gave me. The guy behind the counter told me there were none to be had and if he could find one, it would cost more than the Nissan I pulled up in. Once again, the hammer of reality had made firm contact with my reproductive region.
He saw I was disappointed. “Tell you what, I got something that that may scratch that itch and a lot more affordable. It’s also used. Interested?” I shook my head yes like a sad child. He brings out an H&K USP .45 full-size bi-tone. I picked it up and I knew it was going home with me. We made a straight trade for my P226, finished the paperwork, and I finally had my H&K. No, it wasn’t the MK23 but it was close enough. I even got the overpriced Insight light to imitate the look of the LAM. It’s still one of my favorite guns.
When I put it in perspective, I’ve had some great times with guns, managed a gun store for a while, and made some of the best friendships I could ask ever ask for. All because of Metal Gear Solid. Thanks, Solid Snake. I owe you one.