Deciphering the Gun Magazines

So my blog post from two days ago started out discussing how I’ve been researching firearms for a few stories I’m working on, and then it progressively meandered into a history on the firearms company, Colt, because… 1911s are shiny!

The reason for this research is, I don’t want someone who knows something about guns picking up my story and reading:

They kept coming and I kept firing. Then click! Click! Click! My Glock was empty and the sound of the hammer striking an empty cylinder was loud in my ears. But not as loud as the demonic snarl of victory that came from my attackers.

I mean, that would be embarrassing, wouldn’t it? I mean, really. A Glock? Seriously? Ick.

So to avoid such errors, I’ve been researching weapons.

I’ve been reading gun magazines, books, visiting gun websites, watching YouTube channels, and lurking at gun forums. One thing I’ve noticed right off is: holy crap but gun sites are dominated by right wingers! Great information, but stay out of the political discussions. It’s almost like there aren’t any liberals who own guns. I think I’ll start a gun group called POW (Progressives Owning Weapons). I did find one oasis of progressive thought in this desert of conservatism. It’s The Liberal Gun Club.

But that’s going far afield of what I wanted to talk about, which is Gun magazines. There are a ton of them. Gun World. Guns. Guns and Ammo. American Handgunner. Handguns. Trigger. Recoil. Concealed Carry. Home Defender. Combat Handguns.

Dozens. The selection is overwhelming. I can’t think of any other topic that has this many periodicals devoted to it. So I’ve been reading a few, in addition to the one I was already reading, Guns of the Old West. That one I’ve been reading for a few years because I’ve always been a history buff and stories about famous characters from the old west and their firearms fascinate me.

One thing that caught my attention was, all these magazines give gun reviews that make each and every gun in the magazine seem like the second coming of the John Moses Browning’s 1911. Even the cheap guns. This is where the gun sites on the Internet come in to play. The Internet offers a balance to the overly enthusiastic opinions offered by the magazines. They are more honest opinions, if you like. If someone believes a Dinkleberry Vest Pocket 9mm is a piece of crap, they’ll come right out and say it’s a piece of crap, whereas a magazine reviewer will say “the Dinkleberry Vest Pocket 9mm is a solid performer that fits perfectly into its budget price point.”

The Internet however, is also full of haters. Therefore, you need to sort through the “All Dinkleberrys suck!” “The Vest Pockets jam so badly you should spread them on toast!” You run into that mostly in the forums where people feel they can say whatever they want without any need to back-up their opinion with fact. The poster might have handled one lemon of a handgun and thereafter condemns the entire company and won’t listen to any opinion that contradicts theirs. Of course, that isn’t to say there isn’t any fair and honest opinions there, because there are. You just have to learn which poster is knowledgeable and which one is full of shit.

But back to the gun magazines, I wondered, why are the newsstand periodicals all sunshine and roses in their reviews? Then I remembered, it’s because the magazines have two missions: to sell magazines and to not offend their advertisers. And unfortunately, their advertisers are the firearm, ammo, and accessory manufacturers that they’re trying to also review.

Back in late 1970s, I was a huge audiophile and I read all the audio equipment magazines of the day. Stereo Review. Audio. Stereophile. And several others that have long since gone out of business. They also were caught between a rock and hard place – reviewing the products of their advertisers.

The trick with those articles was simple. You’d count the column inches of the article then divide it by the number of superlatives the writer used. This gave you a real indication of the worth of the product. The bigger the sum of that formula, the better the stereo receiver, or the turntable, or the loudspeaker were.

Maybe that formula works with the gun magazines, too. I’ll have to try it and see, because just reading the articles as is, a person could go broke buying every supposedly good gun they reviewed.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to finish that article on the Dinkleberry Vest Pocket 9mm. It sounds like it would make a good beginner’s pistol.


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