Question of the Day: Do You Trust Gun Reviews?

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Our friends at Benelli recently uploaded four videos onto their YouTube channel: the SuperNova, R1, Performance Shop SuperSport and M2. As you’d expect from a house “review,” Benelli’s YouTubery is more informational than critical. Fair enough. That’s our job. To that end, TTAG’s secured a Benelli Nova pump for writer Holly Heyser; she’ll be giving our Armed Intelligentsia the 411 on the shotgun in the next couple of weeks. Meanwhile, what’s your take on gun reviews that you read/view on the web and in the dead tree buff books? Is there anyone (other than us) that you trust to give you the straight dope?

comments

  1. avatar KnowWhatIamTalkingAbout says:

    The reviews on this website are probably the most trustworthy. The problem is when you are looking at getting a firearm that is NOT listed on the reviews section.

    The reviews in gun magazines are completely worthless. If they even report a malfunction with the gun they are using, they usually blame themselves and say it is their fault the gun malfunctioned and not the gun itself.

    Quality control with firearms manufacturers is so hit and miss these days that the chances are going up that you may get a defective weapon as opposed to one that lasts a lifetime. They are just not made with TLC anymore.

    I do get some entertainment value (not good reviewing) of some of the idiots that buy a gun and review it on YouTube. There is some good information out there if you know where to look; however, you do need to have a good filter.

    So in response to your query, the real answer is your mileage may vary.

    1. avatar Guy22 says:

      No I don’t trust any Maker’s reviews. They are just ads.
      I look at all the usuall places for reviews.
      Then have to make a decision based on use and price.
      Most times it is better to wait a while, before buying something new to market.
      JMHO
      Guy22

  2. avatar Phydeaux says:

    I tend to think of magazine and vendor produced content (I hasten to call them actual reviews) as informational eye candy. There is some value in good gun porn, pricing and a description of the features.

    For actual reviews, I find sites like this, blogs and YouTube to be more effective. Here you can get feature descriptions along with personal assessments of quality and effectiveness of both the product and sometimes, of service and sales.

    Of course the challenge is putting these personal assessments into some kind of meaningful context. Is the reviewer sufficiently experienced and articulate, or obtuse and moronic. Sometimes it’s hard to tell.

  3. avatar Mogg says:

    This site is pretty reliable.
    When reading reviews from other sites, or god forbid gun magazines,
    You have to read between the lines and look for clues that might
    point to less than stellar preformance.

  4. avatar Moonshine7102 says:

    I trust this site more than I trust Chuck Hawks’. I trust Chuck more than I trust the gun rags. I trust the gun rags more than I trust Diane Feinstein. Wait. While that last statement is technically true, it doesn’t really mean anything. As you were.

  5. avatar RIGHT! says:

    To quote the Mighty Regan: “Trust, but verify.”

    1. avatar anonymous says:

      I don’t think Brian Regan ever said that.

      1. avatar Sanchanim says:

        No but I am sure he would! then again how much would you trust someone who spells cat “KAT”!
        😉

      2. avatar Skyman77 says:

        He’s referring to Ronald Reagan… but I’m pretty sure you knew this already…

      3. avatar matt says:

        Who the hell is Brian Regan

  6. avatar VAgunguy says:

    now i dunno if youtube is as bad as you think. I know of at least a couple reputable reviewers that are actually fairly trustworthy in reviews. You just gotta know where to look to find good firearms reviews is all.

    1. avatar Guy22 says:

      Hickok45 seems to it tell true.
      Guy22

  7. avatar Tarrou (Joshua Grabow) says:

    Gun magazines have the same relationship with gun manufacturers that the regular press has with Barack Obama. It’s honestly kind of disgusting. One would think someone would have the idea to run an honest review business, it seems like there’s a market for it. But no, whole rows of nothing but artfully shot gun porn with slobbering reviews.

  8. avatar DrewN says:

    Nope. Nor do I trust automotive journos, motorcycle journos, stereo journos…etc. I don’t even trust Consumer Reports. Maybe (maybe) America’s Test Kitchen.

  9. avatar Kirk says:

    You guys are da best, no doubt about it. GuardAmerican.com is coming on line to do similar things, a work in progress. On Benellis, I actually own the semiauto shotgun, and lurv it.

    The downside is no pump-action sound to dissuade bad guys without firing a shot. And the upside: you won’t fail-to-feed by under-racking the gun. So, from an operational perspective, the right answer for me.

  10. avatar Milsurp Collector says:

    I check out Iraqveteran8888 and Hickok45’s Youtube channels every few days more for enjoyment. I never buy a gun sight unseen so I take all online reviews with a grain of salt. One thing I will say helps a ton are the comprehensive field stripping videos. Thanks to them I’ve never lost a small part to the all devouring monster that is the carpeted living room floor.

    Nothing beats hands on experience, which is why I always rent guns at a local range when I have time on vacations. I’ll look at what others have to say online, but ultimately it’s my hands on experience with the gun that’ll convince me to buy it.

  11. avatar DrewR55 says:

    I take most reviews with a grain of salt. For example; I’ve been known to read GunBlast.com from time to time and he never seems to have a complaint about any of the myriad of firearms he reviews.

    I prefer The Trust because I know I’ll get the good and the bad. I’m reminded of your article on the ArmaLite M-15 and the feed ramp issues. Because of that I learned to look for yet another little detail when it came time to select my next rifle.

    The only thing I’d like to see more of is an explination of the differences between two examples of a firearm. What is the real difference between a Rock Island 1911 and a Smith & Wesson? What’s the difference between a 4140 Chrome Moly berral and a 4150 or CMV or CHF?

    All and all, I do appreciate that The Truth tells the good and the bad. Your recommendation carries more weight then most.

    1. avatar C. Walther says:

      I too read Gunblast, but for only two reasons: pretty pictures and ammo velocity tests. Mostly the velocity tests. Everything else on that site is pretty much just promotions.

  12. avatar Nobody says:

    Frankly, most gun reviews seem to be little more than advertisements/promotions. As far as the general information, they can be informative – but that’s where it stops. At one time, I nearly purchased a Taurus .22 revolver. Formal reviews/promotions were good, but individual comments led me to S&W 617. Other than the internal lock, it’s a great gun.

    I sure would like to see an unbiased review (which this site does) of the Ruger Single-Nine when they’re available. If they are anything like the Single-Ten, I’m there.

  13. avatar Swarf says:

    From here? Pretty much yes. From Gunblast? No.

  14. avatar Chris says:

    nutnfancy and hickok45 on youtube are pretty good. Gunblast as well. I don’t always agree with their opinions, but at least they are thorough enough in their reviews that I can spot things I may not like.

    1. avatar ae4797e3ab0b says:

      +1. I watch as many Youtube reviews on a gun as I can. Some are more helpful than others but if something severely wrong with the gun then xXBuCkHuNtA420Xx won’t hesitate to tell the whole world.

  15. avatar Scott says:

    I once was a subscriber of “Gun Tests”. It was okay, but I got tired of them testing 1911 after 1911. They also seemed to think the XD was better than it really is. Other than that, I think Nutnfancy is pretty honest with his reviews. I even bought Techsights for my Arsenal based on his recommendation and have been very happy with them. I don’t waste my time with Chuck Hawks or any of the news stand rags.

  16. avatar EJ says:

    As I see it, the reviews I “trust” the most are those coming from someone whose best interest aligns with mine. The gun rag writer doesn’t know me, doesn’t do business with me; all he needs is for someone to buy the mag or click on his employer’s site and he’s gotten his revenue. But even then, he works for a company with enough readership and revenue that, strictly speaking, it doesn’t damage his livelihood if he doesn’t produce the best reviews he can. If his position is guaranteed, then he can (literally) afford to be more interested in guaranteeing that he gets all the latest stuff to review. Perhaps that’s why the writers at the gun rags always find what they’re reviewing to be the best gun/scope/ammo/accessory ever!!1!!!eleven!!1!

    Strictly speaking, that’s also true of places like gunblast, chuck hawks etc and yes, TTAG. The more traffic you get, the more ad revenue you get, yes? But the smaller sites and reviewers, especially bloggers, are more in touch with their audience, and more reliant upon delivering a good “product” (i.e. review) to keep the clicks and memberships and money flowing. And in the case of someone who isn’t getting enough revenue to offset the costs of his site, then he may just be in it because he enjoys it and still then is doing the best he can to be an honest broker of information.

    But if I really want a good “review” that I can “trust,” I go to a friend or relative or a salesman at the LGS and pick their brains about what I’m interested in. This is partly out of utility: an interactive conversation where one can ask as many questions as he likes definitely trumps non-interactive words on a screen. A friend or relative isn’t out to mess with me. The guy at the LGS wants me to be a happy, repeat customer, and the best way for him to do that is to be as honest as he can. The last time I walked into my favorite LGS I intended to get a certain handgun. The salesman talked me out of it and persuaded me to buy a less expensive gun, based on what he knew about the models I was looking at and what I wanted the gun for. Sure, his store made a little less than it could have, but I’m more likely to come back in the future, and while you could look at that a little cynically (he’s just out for greater, long-term money), it’s still a relationship that looks after my best interests too.

    But in the end, I’ve found that the best reviews come from those who don’t have a monetary stake in the matter, but rather that of the honor inherent in a friendship. Those are the people who want to help out of good character. While many of the gun salesmen at the local Cabela’s are, IMHO, idiots, there’s one particular gentleman who seems to really know his stuff and loves what he does. Several times I’ve found myself coming in late in the day when the crowd is gone and talking to him just for the sake of learning and getting opinions. He’ll let me handle anything I like. He knows that I’m not going to buy an overpriced gun from Cabela’s. He just likes what he does and wants to help and share what he’s learned.

  17. avatar Scott says:

    I once was a subscriber of “Gun Tests”. It was okay, but I got tired of them testing 1911 after 1911. They also seemed to think the XD was better than it really is. Other than that, I think Nutnfancy is pretty honest with his reviews. I even bought Techsights for my Arsenal based on his recommendation and have been very happy with them. I don’t waste my time with Chuck H. or any of the news stand magazines.

  18. avatar bill says:

    http://randywakeman.com
    He does a fair and honest review. He also does not butcher the language or fill his reviews with cute phrases. The gunblast guys used to be good but I hardly go there anymore except for shotshow time. Truth be told mostly I go to my local crack dealer (gunstore) and ask the owners opinion. I have been buying there almost 20 years and he has always been straight with me.

  19. avatar Sanchanim says:

    TTAG is among the best of the best for real world reviews. Hands down..
    The only reason I would even pick up a gun rag is to either look at pretty pictures, to bad they don’t have neked models holding guns! Or possibly if there is some sort of shooting drill etc, but that is it.
    I am sure there are other online folks out there, but none have the combined input that TTAG does.

    1. avatar OHgunner says:

      Yup, I love me some TTAG reviews. It’s where I go first, if it’s on their list. If not, YouTube, forums, ect… Research research research.

  20. avatar Southerner says:

    Which should I believe, the review or the adjacent full page ad ?

  21. avatar Steve says:

    I can tell you who I don’t trust:

    Reviewers who are too cozy with the gun industry.

    Including but not limited to Jeff Quinn at Gunblast and Michael Bane.

    Nor any magazine reviewer that reviews a gun while the publication is running full page ads for it.

  22. avatar "lee n. field" says:

    “Is there anyone (other than us) that you trust to give you the straight dope?”

    Most trusted: first person reports on Internet gunfora.

    Least trusted: magazines, including American Rifleman.

    Somewhere in between there are you guys, gun bloggers, youtube, Gunblast (good closeup pics, if nothing else), etc.

  23. avatar LeftShooter says:

    I subscribe to Gun Tests and I think they try hard to be objective and do print and treat fairly any compaints from readers, which is about the best you can hope for. (I saw the above comment that said Gun Tests focused too much on 1911s, but I haven’t felt that way.)

    On TV I enjoy the (mostly) long gun reviews on Gun Nuts, the Field & Stream show. I trust those reviews because I trust those guys.

    Otherwise, I know about half a dozen shooters whose advice I can trust–and they usually let me shoot whatever gun they’re evaluating! -)

  24. avatar Accur81 says:

    Frankly, I’m the most irritated by Internet reviewers on Cabela’s, Cheaper Than Dirt, etc. One knuckle dragger bemoaned that he couldn’t get the mag out of a CA – legal AR-15 without destroying it. Or the ammo reviews where a load shoots 12 MOA at 100 yards. The BS about carrier tilt on piston ARs. TTAG is pretty damn good, and gun mags are clearly biased, but the “operator error” in some of the public reviews are the worst. I should be more specific: the reviews where the writer is clearly lacking in intellectual capacity to use a product, but can confirm that it is garbage. I’ve seen other casual reviews that closely mirror my own personal experiences.

    In the end, reviews are a very limited form of financial protection. If I want to make sure that my Ruger 556, Glock 27, Speer Gold Dot JHPs, or SOST MK 318 is good enough to bet my life on, I’ll take it to the range and test it myself. A blog or magazine article won’t mean much in SHTF, but experience protects its owner well.

  25. avatar Guy22 says:

    One thing all gun reviews over look is round count.
    I bought a S&W 15/22 about a year ago. After ~5000 rounds the exractor tip broke. Great customer service.
    I bought a Sig Mosquito. After ~ 2000 rounds the firing pin broke. Great customer service.
    I just bought a Ruger SR22. It came with two Mags. One worked the other didn’t. Tight lips. Great Customer service. Now put ~ 700 rounds throught it. Still going strong.
    My advise is to shoot the heck out anything new. Try to wear it out. Anything wrong send it back.
    If you only shoot ~100/200 rounds a year. It will take many years before you have any of these kind of problems.
    IMHO- You need to try to break in any new gun, the first year you own it!!!

    Guy22

  26. avatar Steven says:

    Most reviews I find are usually biased, which dilutes my decision. Still to this day can’t find a review which of course compares everything to a glock (nothing against glock of course). I love TTAG’s reviews honestly

  27. avatar irock359 says:

    For gun reviews I usually go to the Firing Line forums, Pennsylvania Firearms Ownership Forums, or one of my shooting buddies who works with buyers for a large southern sports and outdoors company. It depends though, if I am interested in a certain firearm I poke around the net for websites devoted to that firearm i.e. Kel-Tec Owners Group or Saiga Forums. It just depends on what I interested in that day I suppose. I have been around firearms long enough to have a nose for most guns.

  28. avatar Aharon says:

    I proceed independent of trust. I read as many professional online gun magazine reviews as practical without trusting any. I read the more reputable blogs. I go to the related forum sites to read what actual owners have to say about the specific gun. Yesterday, I exchanged a few emails with a respected Revolver Smith to get his thoughts about a revolver I am considering purchasing.

    I trust this site to be honest in giving their true opinion about a gun and to report the facts as known. However opinions can be wrong or not applicable to others. After all, Commander Robert made fun of the appearance of the magnificent looking Ruger SP101 with the 4″ barrel. 🙂

  29. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    No.

    The more I learn about firearms, the more I see that most reviewers don’t have the necessary knowledge or equipment to evaluate firearms and produce meaningful information for me.

    Most firearms reviews fall into the category of “we fed it ammo, pulled the trigger, it went ‘bang’.” If there’s a hitch or a problem, sometimes the reviewer(s) tell you of the problem. Sometimes they do a little exploration as to what caused the failure, but that’s almost never presented in a way as to be useful to me. Want a starting point? Here’s a tip: Examine the brass.

    Fit, finish, parts fit-up, quality of the lockwork or mechanism, etc are almost never mentioned, much less evaluated. This is a by-product of the era in which we are living, when most all guns are black plastic and phosphate finished, and most reviewers wouldn’t know how to appreciate, much less evaluate, a wood & blued steel firearm. Showing most modern-day reviewers a Parker shotgun from the heyday of fine US guns, or a Winchester 21 would probably get snark and bluster about how they enable one to shoot “only two rounds,” and aren’t suitable for “tactical” use.

    I feel a bout of dyspepsia coming on now, so I’m going to cut this short….

  30. avatar Mark N. says:

    No, I don’t believe the rags, but I do read them for the pictures and an idea of what the gun is all about. Some reviewers do real performance tsting, and those I buy. I read the blogs for an indication of reliability–yeah there are fools and whizzes both, but I am just looking for a sense of what I might expect. For example, the rear sights of the early production LC9s tended to come loose and fall off, which rendered the gun unuseable because the sear is held down by the sight. And on a lot of guns, I find both positive and negative reviews, such as (unsurprisingly) the Kimber Solo–some found it unreliable, others flawless, some a handfull, others not so much. And I read reviews here and elsewhere to learn about guns I know nothing about, like the ARs. I am not out there to “rely” on these reviews, just to learn something new.
    One thing to consider though,is that I live in California, and with the roster and AR bans, the only way I will experience a whole slew of guns is by reading a review. REliable or not, they are entertainment.

  31. avatar philthegardner says:

    I agree with a lot of folks here – TTAG can be relied upon IF they’ve tested the gun you are interested in. I also have a very high regard for Hickock45 in youtube. He speaks with honesty. I also appreciate nutnfancy because of their exhaustive reviews – when they test a gun, you know the round count will be VERY high.
    I just want to add that I also find sturmgewehre at the Military Arms Channel very informative. In fact, I’ve seen several of his videos referenced here in TTAG.

    1. avatar Tomahawk says:

      I’ll echo what others say: Nutnfancy, Hickock45, and Military Arms Channel do fairly exhaustive reviews with fairly high round counts. They also seem to be able to make the mature decision between “this product has flaws” and “I don’t prefer this product.”

      TTAG’s reviews are good, but the round counts are fairly low. I also sometimes think that TTAG’s reviewers assume that the readers are made of money.

  32. avatar 6gunner says:

    I was a researcher by profession so I learned to accept information from many sources and boil it down to a go-no go baseline when it comes to purchasing firearms. It really comes down to one question for me: does whomever is presenting the review have an interest in selling me that specific firearm (or attempting to sway me to one of its competitors). In general I wouldn’t trust one specific review but would consult multiple sources before laying down my increasingly hard to come by dollars.

  33. avatar Ben says:

    When I’m checking out a gun, I’ll look here and at Hickok45’s youtube channel for a review, but I mostly check on gun forums for personal experience from people who own, or have owned, the gun I’m looking at. A review of one gun is great, but a real life experience of that same gun in the hands of 50 people is a better indicator of how the gun functions. You just have to weed out all the opinions and go with the facts.

  34. avatar JeffD says:

    I’m in the market for a CCW pistol and have been researching for a few months now. As with anything online, one must use the ‘grain of salt’ principle.

    There are many online reviewers who profess to be the best, but I can usually see in between the lines. On one end of the spectrum we have TTAG, which lets it all out on the line, whether good or bad. Then we have reviewers like Gun Blast who consistently give good reviews no matter what they shoot.

    While it’s nice to receive free weapons for testing, I feel that makes many online reviewers jaded, especially the corporate and sponsored sites.

  35. avatar Wiregrass says:

    I actually found TTAG while looking for reviews of the S&W 642. The honesty is perceived in the review about the advantages and limitations of the gun kept me around to read what else is on the site.

    I also bought the Smith, and I am very happy with it, possibly because I knew what to expect when I actually got my hands on one.

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