I think stick welding gets a bad rap now days. As far a a nice looking " bead" TIG can not even come close to stick welding. I worked quite a few years in a welding shop & have always owned a variety of welders. Even the best TIG welds ALWAYS have " Ripples" Yes they are pretty & clean. But with some practice with a regular old ARC stick welder you can lay down a bead as smooth as glass with NO ripples & the slag rolls right up and falls off on it's own. Yes there is spatter. But with anti spatter spray or MIG nozzle dip you can reduce that quite a bit. I know we're talking guns here. But for all around welding the stick is king in my shop. I can't even imagine trying to TIG an overhead weld. MIG is nice, but try it outside on a windy day & it's useless. With stick welding you can do anything but aluminum. You can keep both hands on the rod holder to be extra steady. And YES you can weld thin steel like AK receivers. Maybe not beer cans. But when I was stock car racing I did all my body panel welding with a good ol Lincoln 225 welder. Another nice thing is you can bend the rods to any shape to fit into tight areas. Try that with a TIG, Or a clunky MIG gun.
So....to sum it up. I think everyone needs several welders. TIG and MIG are great, but I'm afraid new guys get the opinion that there is no place in the shop anymore for a stick welder & that just aint so! Just because you see pictures of other guys UGLY stick welds does not mean you can't do a better job.
I LOVE the smell of burning flux in the morning!