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By Kevin P.

Is that a gun review or are you just showing off? Have you ever found a review of a new firearm that you couldn’t wait to read? Maybe it’s a new offering from a favorite manufacturer or a comparison of two guns you have been thinking of adding to your collection. Finally, you think, this is going to settle it! This is going to answer all my questions and my decision will become oh so clear. But that rarely happens these days, does it? . . .

Gun reviewers, particularly bloggers, seem more interested these days demonstrating their creative writing skills. Gun reviews are so filled with colorful metaphors you don’t know whether you are reading a product review or the latest Stephenie Meyer novel. Not that I mind an opinion, but please don’t give me an opinion couched as objective review. Why not separate the two?

A good review should start with the basics. Outline the things that are important to that particular firearm. Is it a hunting rifle or personal defense handgun? Then tell me how this product stacks up with the tasks that it was designed to accomplish. Too many times I see a writer express is dislike of a handgun with an external safety. YOU may be an experienced shooter but if this gun is being marketed to first time gun owners then perhaps that safety isn’t a bad idea. Or am I wrong here?

If you want to include your opinion of an external safety versus a passive safety then do so in a separate section of the review. Lay out the facts first THEN give the opinion. Otherwise you are just muddying the water (OK, so resisting metaphors is not easy). Then sometimes you will see a writer contradicting his or her own opinion. I have read several authors offer their opinion about a gun with a supposed terrible trigger pull. And then a few paragraphs later will say something like, “but with practice I found it to be very accurate.”

You confuse the reader who desperately wants reliable and accurate information and anger others who wish you would save the flowery language for the next literary contest and just stick to honest product assessment.

 

49 Responses to P320 Entry: The Trouble With Gun Reviews (And Reviewers)

  1. People love to bash him because his reviews are longer than a lord of the rings movie but nutnfancy does good reviews and mac and I trust ttag too

    • When I was a broke college student trying to buy his first rifle, I liked nutnfancy because of the extreme detail he went into that gave me all the info i needed to make a decision.

      Nowadays, MAC and Hickok45 get me in the ball park along with forum and manufacturer research.

      Still, if i wanted to know just about everything about a particular firearm (and some stuff I didnt), I’ll watch nutnfancy.

      • If you or I don’t like the multi-part reviews (I don’t particularly), we don’t have to watch. That doesn’t change the fact that’s he’s a great reviewer. He has long reviews and much shorter ones.

        He’s not just dealing in reviews, he’s bringing you into his world. Hemingway was the same way; he invited you into a part of his world.

    • I cannot stand nutnfancy. Sure, he puts a lot of information out there, and if you want a really thorough look, he provides it. For me, he’s too long winded. I don’t need to know the history of the half serrated blade. If a knife takes 37 minutes to review, it’s too complicated for me.

      And not exactly about Nutnfancy… but I ABHOR Youtube reviewers who review guns they have not shot yet.. I don’t like spending 9 minutes watching somebody whose vocabulary seems to contain 47 versions of “Um” fingerbang a gun.

      And the ones who have a 2 minute intro song and CGI bullethole machine gun logo, followed by a 90 second sound bite…

  2. One of my pet peeves is meteorologists who tell me if the weather will be good or bad tomorrow. If rain is in the forecast, they get all down and tell me how much it will suck. Save it, and just tell me whether to expect sunshine or rain. I can decide for myself whether it’s good or bad, for me.

    Same goes for gun reviewers. Tell me if it has a manual safety, ambidextrous mag release, interchangeable back strap, whatever. I know what’s important to me.

  3. It is very frustrating to read a review, not just for firearms, where the author has a clear preference and lets that preference color their review.

    I don’t like striker fired/DAO handguns in general. That said, I’ve shot a few I like and there are quite a few I recommend to new shooters. My preference and experience should not be the factor that scares off a new gun owner from something that will probably work better for them.

    If you don’t like a particular feature (ex. external safeties) that’s fine and duly noted, but how does the safety function? Is it ergonomic? Does it engage or disengage easily? Would it be easy to accidentally bump it on or off? Does it work in the standard fashion? (ex #2 – Frame mounted safeties should be swept down to fire. a la 1911)

    You can include the subjective, just don’t forget to be clear on the what and why. An ergonomic handgun should be one that could fit anyone’s hand, not just yours. Your preference for .45’s does not mean all 9mm’s are junk. etc.

  4. Then sometimes you will see a writer contradicting his or her own opinion. I have read several authors offer their opinion about a gun with a supposed terrible trigger pull. And then a few paragraphs later will say something like, “but with practice I found it to be very accurate.”

    In a recent review I did on the VZ 58, I initially thought the trigger was not that great for accuracy – mainly because it was different that the bolt-action triggers I shoot so often. My first groups for record were in the 3-4 MOA range. However, when I really made a concerted effort to learn the Vz-58’s trigger and concentrate on my fundamentals, I ended up being able to shoot consistent 1 MOA groups with the rifle. I don’t think there is anything “inconsistent” in that reporting – it just indicates that the trigger was not intuitive to me, and required more effort to learn that some nice Timney trigger on a Remmy 700. I actually think it would have been sloppy reporting to just say the trigger sucks.

    • Yeah I don’t think this is a contradiction either. A gun can have an absolutely horrible trigger pull and still be very accurate, especially with either practice to get used to it or extremely solid fundamentals. Plenty of people can pull through a gritty, stagey trigger pull with an inconsistent, mushy break and still be extremely accurate, because they are smooth and they isolate their trigger finger from everything else and they stay steady during the pull.

  5. “Gun reviews are so filled with colorful metaphors you don’t know whether you are reading a product review or the latest Stephenie Meyer novel.”

    What a colorful metaphor.

  6. I like reviews that show opinion.. if I wanted a spec list I would just google that. If the trigger feels like dragging your finger through warm butter, I want to know that. If the slide feels like a cheese grater, I need to know that. I feel that the metaphors and idioms are just as helpful as seeing a quarter or bic lighter on a target.

  7. If I’m looking to buy a firearm, I never depend on one review. It’s much better for me to read at least three and distill out what I need and filter out the fluff and opinions. Nick thoughtfully always mentions that he has small hands and that certain firearms are big and clunky for him. I appreciate that, because I now have a comparison to go by. I don’t have hands, I have giant paws. And if I were to review a gun, I’d mention that. I also don’t have any strong dislikes towards any firearm. For me, striker, hammer, safety, plastic, steel, alloy, it’s all good. Different tools for different jobs.

    • I like watching the videos, and I read the reviews from time to time, but I agree. The day I realized that they never gave a bad review, is the day I found TTAG.

    • True, and the Quinn brothers made a deliberate decision to only review good stuff that normal gun folk might want.

      On the other hand, they are the absolute best still-image photographers in the field of gun reviews – print, online, doesn’t matter they are THE BEST BAR NONE.

      I think one of their best examples I can point to is their review of the Ruger New Vaquero in 2004:

      http://gunblast.com/Ruger-NewVaquero.htm

      They show in GREAT detail how the NewVaq compares with the older large-frame series. Each pic can be clicked on to embiggen. They even showed what size bullets (in 45LC) could fit in the new shorter cylinders. They compare frames. They compare grip panels with early Rugers and with Colts. They detail every single tiny feature.

      Their use of stills blows away everybody else’s use of video.

  8. +1 Anon. I still like Jeff Quinn but realize every gun is NOT a “dandy little pocket pistol”. Nutnfancy seems to try and set records for review length. I know everyone loves Hickock but I put him in the Jeff Quinn category. If your plastic SCCY jams & runs like crap say so. I generally like TTAG reviews. It’s when fanboy crap intrudes I generally get annoyed.

  9. I prefer accurate simple reviews of how the firearm works, what it does and how well it shoots within the threshold of its design function. G&A has become a magazine that appears to only love anything on the AR platform and if you don’t have a dozen of them you’re an idiot.
    I know as a reviewer it’s hard to eliminate bias but at least try: one of the biggest problems is for many the advets pay your salary so you have to find new creative way in describing either a bland or POS firearm you are reviewing. Remington’s new pistol appears to be a complete wanker but few reviews say much bad for example. The original Grendel was a complete POS but received glowing reviews from most magazines. The recent review of the new Ruger Uber AR using a piston versus gas impingement informs you it is so much better that all others are junk. The hype and verbs used are getting very blasé. Esp. when the next issue touts someone else’s latest and greatest AR platform.

    • You’ve hit the nail on the head as far as why I don’t read any of the print gun rags.

      All I have to say is, if you’re afraid to give a bad product an honest review because you might lose revenue, you need a new business model.

  10. 9 times out of 10 I read the gun reviews on here for novelty. No real interest in purchasing the gun, it’s mostly for novelty. I can find the facts on the gun’s website. What I want is someone’s view on the firearm other than my own who has actually shot off a few hundred rounds. The idea is that they show the good and the bad on TTAG. and yes, they might say the trigger pull is terrible, but they are also admitting that with some practice you can get comfortable with it (even if it is a bad trigger, it’s predictable to some extent). Give me a personable review, not a fact sheet.

  11. “Otherwise you are just muddying the water (OK, so resisting metaphors is not easy)”

    That’s not a metaphor, that’s an idiom.

  12. You know, I wanted to start implementing some of my hobbies into reviews, really, to give a better dynamic of things.

    Generally speaking, when I buy a rifle, it is for hunting and protection from wild things.. So why wouldn’t I mention something about how much a rifle weighs and how much it sucks to lug it around for 8 hours in the field vrs how much it doesnt suck to lug it around for 8 hours in a field, or how much it gets in the way vrs how much less it gets in the way.. What gets stuck on what.. Things like that. I would think people would be interested in knowing if a rifle has a piece on it that continuously gets stuck on some piece of equipment, especially if they carry it often as I carry mine

  13. Snarky pop culture references in articles get tedious. If someone were to read one of these articles even a month after it was published someone would wonder why the author referenced the things he did.

    External safeties and/or decockers are even worse for novice shooters. Hopefully my submission gets posted soon.

  14. Read the Sig 716 review earlier this year. What I liked: reviewer Nick acknowledged the DI vs piston debate, yet did not wade into it and take a side. I have my opinion, and it’s based on calibre/quality for the $ that directs my preference, not a reviewer’s bias.

    Bought a Patrol and it’s bigger brother “3 Gun”, the review was spot on…..:)

  15. Maybe Kevin P. could show us how it is done properly?

    Those who can, do, those who can’t … write posts complaining about those who do.

    I appreciate the reviews posted here and I don’t mind a guy trying to make it less boring than reading stereo instructions.

    Nick does a nice job, and I think we can forgive him the occasional rhetorical flight of fancy, if for no other reason than the guy does so many reviews he has do to something to keep from boring even himself to death.

    I think we can all agree that the absolutely worst “gun reviews” are found in the pages of any major gun magazine, where every firearm is wonderful, interesting, fascinating and … a “real game changer.”

  16. The OP raises some interesting points, but I disagree strongly with most of them.

    Above all, I want a review that’s entertaining. If it isn’t entertaining, I might fall asleep. If the review is so technical that reads like something from the pages of Analytical Chemistry magazine, I’m gone, pronto. If the reviewer claims that every gun is “a dandy” and “a joy to shoot,” I’m not just gone, I’m gone for good.

    There are people who favor bland, colorless writing, but those are mostly bland and colorless people.

  17. Holy crap, I’ve actually got some competition? Well, I’m beat.

    I second Ralph’s opinion. Reviews need to be entertaining to hold my interest. Which would explain why I’ve got so few readers. Ah, well.

  18. Hikok45 is the real deal. Gunblast never saw a gun they could not give excellent blather about even on weapons that EVERONE else had trouble with. Hickok45 is the best reviewer out there. Gunblast is the opposite end of the spectrum from Hickok45.

  19. “Not that I mind an opinion, but please don’t give me an opinion couched as objective review. ”

    …what? The description of a firearm can be ‘objective,’ in that it describes the objective by its parts, price, etc… but almost everything else is opinion (like this and everything else on the internet).

  20. What I hate about many reviews I’ve looked at, doesn’t matter for what, is the review that once you start looking at it you recognize it for what it really is: a regurgitation of the marketing department’s press release on said item. I do appreciate reviews that do not do that, with good, bad, or in between opinions.

  21. What I’d like to see in gun reviews are correct facts.

    It seems that every gun review I read of late, there are errors of basic fact in the review as to the type of action, how the action works, how the safeties work, the origin of the action or the cartridge it fires, etc, etc.

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