If there’s one thing that we here at TTAG do well, its gun reviews. That’s the #1 people come to the site, and after meeting countless readers over the last few months it seems like we’re pretty much the gold standard these days for impartial and honest reviews. Which is awesome, since that was the whole idea. But I want to make the reviews even better, and one idea Chris and Joe had that I brought up to the boss was the idea of standardizing the reviews to ensure that we don’t let the quality slip as we bring on new writers. He rewarded my enthusiasm for the idea with a promotion to “Gun Test Editor” and a HUGE raise which tripled my salary (from $0 to $000), and told me to get on it. But before I finalize anything I wanted to see what you guys thought, and if you had any suggestions. So here’s the instructions I have in mind for our writers, and don’t hold back telling me how much it sucks…
Topics to Cover
A complete review should discuss the following topics in the text of the review:
- Overall appearance
- Fit and finish — how well everything works, and if there are any defects
- Ease of use
- Handling characteristics — weight, balance and ergonomics including how the trigger feels
- Applicability for a given situation (concealed carry for handguns, hunting for rifles, etc)
- Favorite feature
- Least favorite feature
- Available accessories
The following topics are recommended, but not required:
- History of the design of the firearm
- Technical details about the operating mechanism
- Interesting nerdy trivia
In order to encourage a standard accuracy test for firearms, all firearms should be tested using 20 rounds fired at this target when printed on a standard piece of copy paper. The following distances should be used:
- Handgun: 20 feet
- Rifle: 50 yards
- Shotgun: N/A
Writers are encouraged to compare the target shot with the test gun to another target shot using a firearm of the writer’s choosing. This will give the reader some indication of the general accuracy of the writer and allow them to draw their own conclusions about the firearm’s accuracy.
The absolute minimum number of rounds required to be fired through a gun to begin to discuss reliability is 200 rounds. Writers are encouraged to fire between 500 and 1,000 rounds, but given the expense this is not required. If you fire less than 100 rounds you may only make generalizations about the relative reliability of that class of firearm and not any claims about the exact firearm in question.
ANY AND ALL MALFUNCTIONS MUST BE REPORTED. No malfunction is too small to be reported in the review. Be sure to note what ammunition was in use at the time as well as the circumstances.
All ratings should be out of five stars. The way to determine how “good” a given firearm is to compare it to other similar firearms within +/- 25% of the retail value of the gun. The following general rating should then be applied, taking into consideration the other firearms:
- Meets the basic requirements in terms of features but has serious issues that impact reliability
- Has minor issues, but more than the other guns in the group
- Average given the available firearms
- Above average, but not the best. Alternatively, overpriced given the other firearms.
A rating of zero stars is acceptable for firearms that fail to function or otherwise fails to incorporate basic features into the firearm. Like a safety, for example.
Giving out a five star rating should be avoided UNLESS the gun is absolutely perfect. If there are any reservations whatsoever about the firearm a five star rating can not be applied.
All reviews must include pictures. The following is recommended for pictures for a review:
- Overview shot of the firearm, showing the complete firearm with none outside the frame. Should be taken against a contrasting background.
- Close-up shots of each component discussed in the review
- A picture of the firearm disassembled
- On the range
A gun review should be over 600 words. More is always better, though.