Glossy Gun Mag Reviews: Reading Between the Lines

So this week, the November issue of Guns & Ammo arrived on my doorstep. The cover photo was of SIG’s Adaptive Carbine Platform (ACP). Given the fact that I reviewed it back in August, I was anxious to see G&A’s take on the gadget which, to be perfectly frank, I didn’t much like. The first clue as to how this was going to go down . . .

was the fact that G&A gave the ACP its coveted cover slot. Given that kind of play, it’s probably safe to assume they aren’t about to pan it. Then there’s the whole timing thing.

SIG’s new P224 and P938 guns are new and damned hard to find right now (I don’t think the P224 has even been released in any quantity yet). But G&A did reviews of both of them months ago. The ACP, on the other hand, has been out and pretty readily available for several months now. If you can’t find one locally, the SIG Pro shop in Epping will be only too happy to ship one to you. As would any number of vendors on eBay.

So given that this thing has been around so long, why is G&A just now getting around to a a review? Editorial calendar a little slow, maybe?

But back to the man question: what did G&A think of the ACP? Well, its kind of funny when you parse the review. First, there’s no mention as to how it shoots. Sure, G&A has a fair amount of prose that could have come straight out of SIG’s PR department that tells you why you really want an ACP on your gun. But the author makes no mention at all as to whether the ACP makes one whit of difference in terms of shootability.

The author also notes that the ACP will “accept any of a long list of handguns,” yet fails to say what heaters are on this mythical list. Or for that matter, where one can be found.  I sure couldn’t locate a listing of compatible guns. Fortunately for G&A, SIG had thoughtfully sent one of their P226s along with the ACP that, amazingly enough, worked perfectly together.

The reviewer had only one nit to pick with the ACP. Namely, he reckoned that with the gun’s barrel hidden deep inside the ACP, it might cause some folks to get a bit careless and forget that there’s actually a gun in there. Kind of a minor nit that doesn’t really address the main question: what do you actually get for your $400 investment?

Much ink and many megabytes have been spilled discussing the reliability and value of heavily ad-supported glossy gun mag reviews. I don’t necessarily think they’re useless – but you do have to know how to read between the lines.

If a glossy’s reviewer gushes all over whatever he’s writing about like a high school cheerleader talking about the dreamy quarterback, there’s a half decent chance the object in question may actually be okay. On the other hand, when you get a review like the job G&A did on the ACP that’s light on relevant details (the guns it fits, how the damned thing shoots), it might be reasonable to conclude that the reviewer thinks the item’s a steaming piece of crap. He just can’t come right out and say it lest he cost his mag some serious ad bucks.

comments

  1. avatar Joe Grine says:

    They should re-name “Guns and Ammo” to “Guns and BJs” to better encapsulate the relationship that the magazine has with the gun industry. They don’t really write guns reviews; they write gun advertisements.

  2. avatar Leon says:

    It would be great if any gun magazine were more than just advertisements for manufacturers . If someone knows of a mag that is truthful and candid please let me know. It would also help if they understood that most of us are not wealthy. It is nice to sometimes read about a gun worth thousands of dollars, but reviews of more reasonably priced models would be more worthwhile…….for me anyway.
    That is why I tell all my friends whenever TTAG does a review. Always helpful.
    Thanks!

    1. avatar Robert Farago says:

      Thanks for the shout-out.

  3. avatar DrewN says:

    This doesn’t just apply to gun mags. Motorcycle rags might even be worse, and car mags are awful as well. Limited number of manufacturers and the need for access, plus ad revenue pretty much kills any journalistic integrity. They are just long form ads with pretty picture to fantasize over.

    1. avatar 16V says:

      They always kinda have been, especially from the 60s on. It’s just gotten painfully blatant with print desperately trying to compete with the web. They really don’t have any choice.

      I grew up getting 25+ car/gun/motorcycle/news/business/science mags in the mail every month and I really do kinda miss them. But I’m never going back and neither is anybody else.

  4. avatar jwm says:

    Gun mags are truly gun porn. Don,t take them seriously, just enjoy the glossies. Since discovering the interwebz the only gun mag I get is the American Rifleman that comes with my NRA membership.

    And I agree with the statement about reviewing high end guns. Times are tough and a better way to go may be focusing on good value in guns. Working class guns for people that have a tight budget.

  5. avatar TTACer says:

    If you read carefully, American Rifleman will include criticism. One or two brief sentences out of the multi-page review, but it is there.

  6. avatar Ralph says:

    The glossy mags have a special system. If the gun to be reviewed blows or is unreliable, the publisher sends it back to the manufacturer without the embarrassment of a write-up. The policy is called “nondisclosure.”

    I recently gave a “zero” reliability rating to a Glock that I tested and, believe me, it gave me no joy to shoot the gun or to pan it. Running 500 rounds or more through a dog of a pistol isn’t why I signed up for this gig. TTAG’s writers, me included, have no vested interest in pumping sunshine up our readers’ a$$es or “nondisclosing” the truth to help out our advertisers. We shoot for fun and write the truth. I don’t like it when a gun or gear doesn’t work properly — where’s the joy in that — but I feel that it’s my responsibility to write it up without pulling punches. Every TTAG tester feels the same way.

    I’m not suggesting that the glossies lie about the guns that they test — they don’t — but even they admit to “nondisclosure.” Nondisclosure isn’t the same as lying, but it’s as good a reason as any for me to trust the reviews here over the reviews there.

  7. avatar David says:

    If I read one more gunzine opus extolling the virtues and, so-called, ‘perfection’ of Glock pistols I think I’ll just puke! No powder-actuated mechanical device in recorded history has accidentally injured more people than Glock, GmbH’s so-called, ‘Safe Action’ pistols.

    Glock pistols, of which I own several, are cheap, piecemeal assembled, mechanical abortions which presently suffer from what is being called excessive, ‘cobbed and stacked tolerances’. Historically, Glock pistols are infamously dangerous and unreliable handguns that have a nasty way of proving unreliable or flat-out dangerous to the user. (What pistol manufacturer, anywhere in the world, has a larger history of quietly settled, product liability, lawsuits?) Plastic remains plastic; and cheap is cheap. Buying a sporadically performing Glock pistol, today is tantamount to shooting craps, rather than a handgun.

    To make matters worse, the Austrian parent corporation is right in the middle of an ongoing program of finding and using cheaper and cheaper ways to manufacture an already cheaply constructed and very basic plastic pistol – A pistol with a grossly simplified, ‘modified Browning lockup’ which has made the term, ‘limp wrist’ one of the best known parts of the American firearms lexicon!

    Personally, I don’t care how many times new, ‘Gen4 Glocks’ appear on the covers of gunzines like, ‘Combat Handguns’, ‘The American Rifleman’, or ‘Guns and Ammo’. I’ve now worked on my last Glock problem! I’m done with Glocks; I’m done with: ejection, feeding, and OOB problems, too. I’ve also listened to my last pack of lies from a bunch of cynical kids with their, ‘tongues in their cheeks’ in Smyrna. Kids who couldn’t hold a responsible technical job anywhere else in the American firearms industry; and – maybe, just maybe – this is a principal reason, ‘Why’ these guys were chosen for Glock’s customer service jobs. (40 + years of dealing with Smith & Wesson, Strum-Ruger, and Browning and nothing but that, ‘perfection’ Glock, GmbH/Inc. only pays ad media lip service to.)

    As far as this Glock owner is concerned Gaston has already made his money; Glock’s economic star is well past its zenith, and falling fast! Gaston’s new wife has now taken over the corporate reins, and her medical qualifications as a nurse aren’t going to provide Glock, GmbH with the same competent and knowing technical expertise she’s been able to give to the company’s founder. Glock, GmbH has lost its direction; and it’s product line is now failing. Nothing, ‘the Gunny’ can say, nothing the glitzy police-orientated gun advertisements can show, and no high-gloss magazine covers can dissuade me from staying away from Glock handguns. (Neither can all the ill-informed, juvenile, ‘Glockaholics’ over at the world’s most popular gun forum.) 😉

    Newer (cheaper, more expeditiously produced, and egregiously fitted) Glock pistols aren’t working; and, right now, nobody can say for sure if, or when, they ever will again. If you purchase a new Glock, today, you’ve got about a 50/50 chance that it will perform with 100% reliability. That’s not good enough for an automobile; and it’s, certainly, not good enough for what is widely touted as a, ‘self-defense combat pistol’.

    The time is long overdue. Sooner or later Glock’s mystical public image has to burn itself out; and the Glock myths have to come to an end. The price of a Glock pistol keeps on going up and up; and the quality of the internal components and various metal finishes keep going down and down. For me Glock’s, ‘day of reckoning’ is already here. Like I said, ‘I’m done with Glocks!’

  8. avatar Johnny says:

    I stopped buying these magazines back in June and I’m not looking back. All the reviews are just extended ads for the manufacturers. Maybe a little variety wouldn’t hurt but all I ever read about are AR-15s, 1911s and CCW pistols.

  9. avatar matt says:

    I always wondered who still bought those magazines. And now I know, Jim Barrett. Just wondering but is there any relation to the Barrett gun company?

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      Just wondering, matt, but is there any relation to that thing on the ground in front of my front door? 🙂

  10. avatar Mark N. says:

    Yup, some of these mags are down right obvious about their sycophantic slavering… which is why I only read them on line–and most importantly–for free. But is Gunblast any different?

    1. avatar Jay says:

      Jeff never met a gun he didn’t like.

  11. avatar g says:

    While I love the photography of a glossy magazine, I’m thankful for the internetz and sites like TTAG and YouTubers like nutnfancy, MAC, colonnoir, etc. Far better source of information, and the reviewers tend to be more honest about what their biases are.

  12. avatar Jay says:

    I like Gun Tests. They don’t accept any advertising and seem to be pretty unbiased. If they get a bad gun, they write about it.

  13. avatar Larry says:

    Never had a Glock, never wanted one and now I know for sure my impressions of it are true-not just me. The cops all(?) swear by them.

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