The author’s GAP in 6mm Creedmoor (left) and STI Custom 9mm.

I met a guy at the range last weekend who came up to me while I was gathering some data on my new GA Precision I’m going to be shooting in competition later this month. He was full of questions about the rifle. What stock? What caliber? Barrel length? Optic? And, of course: How much?

He told me was trying to figure out his next purchase and wanted a “long-range rifle for competition.” That, of course, covers a lot of ground and I tried to figure out what kind of competition he wanted to do. He wasn’t quite sure, but the sniper competitions I talked about sparked his interest and he thought that would be the ticket.

We talked about calibers. My GAP is in the 6mm Creedmoor, which is a great little round for sniper comps, given that it is flat shooting, doesn’t have much recoil and is pretty easy to reload now that proper brass is available. The cartridge doesn’t go transonic until about 1,600 yards at my elevation, which means it can reach out there, though it doesn’t have quite the staying power that some of the 7mms do past 1,200 yards.

After discussing the merits of the 6mm and 6.5mm Creedmoor we talked about .308s, .300 Win. Mags, the .338 Lapua, and who knows what else.

His head was all over the place and I don’t know if I helped guide him to a better answer for what he was looking for. But he did get me thinking about the mental gymnastics we often do when purchasing a new gun.

My gun buying seems to fall into three different categories. There are the guns I tell myself I “need” because of some type of shooting I want to do. The GAP rifle I mentioned is a perfect example. It is an ideal platform for some of the sniper shoots I do, and I wanted it for those reasons. The same goes for the STI Custom 9mm I recently got. It is built for hard and fast shooting in 3-gun, and is a good upgrade to my kit.

Then there are the guns I just think are cool. My CZ 527 in .17 Hornet is a perfect example. No, I didn’t need that gun. I have more than enough varmint and predator rigs in my collection. But I loved the look of the rifle, the quality of the metalwork on the receiver, and I was interested in the new .17 Hornet cartridge. So I bought it.

The last category is the guns I think I “should” own, for whatever reason. Some expamples: I think I should have an M1 Garand in my collection, but right now I don’t. I think I should probably own a Browning Hi-Power. And I know I should get a Remington Model 8 in .35 Rem. All are historically important and lovely examples of innovative designs.

So now you know what to get me for Christmas. What’s on your list?