TTAG Reader Survey 2014: Results

The Truth About Guns is the most popular firearms blog on the planet. The reason for our popularity is simple: we publish no-holds-barred firearms-flavored news, reviews and editorials, and lots of ’em. And we listen to our readers. We constantly monitor your comments and read hundreds of emails per day to give you what you really, really want. To keep faith with the people who put food on our table and give advertisers insight into our clientele, every year we invite readers to fill-out a short online survey. [Click here for 2012 and here for 2013.] Ladies (both of you) and gentlemen, here are the results for 2014 . . .

First up, demographics.

1

As always, most of our readers are males between the ages of 18 and 40. What always surprises me is the fairly even distribution of readers over 40 years old compared to the young’uns — this is an online blog, and as such I expect to see a higher proportion of younger tech-savy readers compared to the older generation. We get that a little bit with the 50+ crowd (their numbers seem to taper off at the top end), but it looks like we have a solid contingent of readers below the age of retirement.

One unfortunate fact: only about 2% of our readers are female. That proportion hasn’t changed and shows no sign of changing anytime soon. There are definitely more women joining in on the shooting sports these days, but they don’t seem to be reading the blog.

2

Just like last time, our readers tend to be highly educated and employed. 57% of our readers have successfully completed a college degree of some sort, most having a bachelor’s degree or higher. There’s also a large percentage (29%) who are current college students working towards their degree. In fact, only 1% of our readers have not completed their high school education.

What was that Bloomberg said about gun owners being uneducated rednecks?

Another statistic that is identical from last time is the proportion of readers with jobs. Most people who read our site have full time jobs, slightly more with desk jobs than “real” jobs. It makes sense: people with desk jobs can read TTAG while at work, but if you’re in the middle of an oil field or running a milling machine, your ability to just hit F5 on the site all day long is fairly nonexistent.

So, our readers are extremely well educated and employed men of roughly working age. But what about their backgrounds?

3

Most readers started shooting when they were between six and ten years old. Less than half of our shooters started over the age of eleven, so starting kids out early with guns seems to be the norm. “OMG! Kids! With guns!” Being taught by their parents, it seems. Over 50% of respondents said their parents were the ones giving them their first taste of chemically-fueled ballistic rapture, and a surprisingly small number (9%) started the way I did — Boy Scouts.

4

That early start in shooting seems to have caught on and carried through in later life for our readers. 67% of them get to the range at least once a month, often more. The largest reason why the range trips aren’t more frequent seems to be a lack of free time, with ammunition supply coming in a close second. This is a little different compared to last year, where the results indicated that a lack of ammo was a larger concern. It seems like ammo supplies have generally returned to normal, and the limiting factor is once again free time.

5

Training seems to be something that our readers are skimping on. There is a large percentage who take training classes (35%), but well more than half don’t, above and beyond that required to get a CHL in their area. Again, the limiting factor here seems to be that people just don’t have enough free time to take a class, not necessarily that they don’t have the means. Perhaps this might be a good niche for some enterprising instructor to try to fill? Shorter, more focused classes that work around people’s schedules?

6

Our readers are split on open carry. The vast and overwhelming majority believe that open carry should be legal, but the question boils down to whether it should be encouraged. Most think that concealed carry should be encouraged over open carry, but that majority is pretty slim.

Speaking of slim, here are two questions where “anti-gun” opinions are statistically zero:

7

I’m surprised that we had that many responses in favor of those proposals. Oh well,  can’t please everyone. Moving on . . .

8

Almost all of our readers (97%) own at least one gun. We do have some readers who live outside the United States, so it makes sense that not everyone would own firearms. Of those who own a gun, almost everyone owns at least one handgun — and they prefer to shoot that handgun over anything else. Rifles and shotguns are next in line in ownership, and pretty close behind handguns. Shotguns are decidedly the least favorite thing for people to shoot. Only 14% of readers (not shown) say they prefer to shoot their shotgun over everything else.

9

Of the people who own a gun, 96% own an “arsenal” based on the New York Times’ definition (i.e., more than one). 67% own an arsenal based on the Chicago Tribune’s definition (more than 6). Only 15% own an arsenal based on Fox News’ definition (20+).

10

The one population I know we are under-serving as a news source is the hunting community. 65% of readers are either current hunters or want to hunt sometime in the future, and we definitely don’t have enough content focused on hunting. That’s something I will try to fix this coming year, poking Tyler with a sharp stick to produce more content and hopefully bringing some other hunters online as writers to support him.

11

82% of our readers own firearms that would give Dianne Feinstein nightmares (modern sporting rifles or “assault rifles”). The main reason for owning such long guns seems to be self defense, with a heaping helping of “because I can” following right behind. Competition shooting only raked in about 4% of the responses, with investment purchasing bringing up the rear. Ever since the bubble burst on modern sporting rifles last year the market has been exceedingly flat, so that makes sense.

12

A lot of people (79%) own what are referred to in the media as “high capacity” magazines. And they own a metric ton of them. Well over 50% say they own more than 11 magazines, with 20+ magazines being the norm.

Moving on, let’s switch to handguns.

13

The vast majority of people own handguns for self defense. No surprise there. 51% claim concealed carry as their reason for ownership, and a further 31% state that home defense was on their mind when they bought said shooting iron. Compared to those huge numbers, everything else seems pretty irrelevant.

This is definitely in line with what we’re seeing from the manufacturers. There’s a decided focus on self defense and home defense handguns this year, and it looks to be relatively spot-on with what people want out of their guns.

14

The graph I didn’t include here was a question about open carry — about 18% of TTAG readers practice it. The rest seem to prefer concealed carry, and 68% of readers have a concealed carry license. 91% of readers live in a state where concealed carry is an option, and the standard 1% of readers follow the advice of those delightful bards of the 1980’s, N.W.A. … “f*** the police.”

Enough about you, what about us?

15

Most of our readers (60%) have been with us for over a year. We had a massive traffic spike right around the time when the AWB push was going on last year, so that roughly matches up. There’s a large percentage of readers who have been with us less than a year though, and given our ever-increasing levels of traffic that’s definitely to be expected.

As always, about 30% of our readers are what we would call “addicts.” These are people who sit at their desk all day and constantly refresh the page, waiting for new stories to pop up. Something that’s up from last year is the percentage of people who visit once per day, probably during a daily scan of news websites. These are people who are probably missing articles due to the prodigious publishing rate we keep up, and finding ways of getting them all of our delicious content might be worth a look.

16

The thing that people keep coming back to see: gun reviews. Gun reviews are head and shoulders above every other category, the favorite of people who read the site, and the fewest people picked it as their least favorite feature. Political posts are the most controversial, with an almost equal number of people who love and hate them.

Surprising change from last year: breaking news is more popular. It could be that last year breaking news stories were all about impending doom, but this year the news seems to be mostly good.

17

83% of our readers believe that TTAG’s reviews provide enough information to make a decision on whether to purchase a firearm. Of those who responded in the negative, the general consensus seems to be that while they value our reviews over everyone else, they simply never trust one source for anything. It’s a good policy, and I can’t say that I fault them.

So, how does the competition stack up?

18

52% of our readers distrust reviews in printed magazines. 38% are indifferent, which is still nowhere near a vote of confidence. Only 10% of readers believe that what they read in print magazines is the truth. In short, print magazines are the least trusted source for reviews currently available to buyers.

19

Out on the internet, things look much better. New media reviews (Military Arms Channel, FateOfDestinee, et cetera) seem to engender much more trust than traditional media, yet there is still a large number of people who are hesitant to trust anyone else but us. As for reviews by random individuals on the internet, the responses roughly conform to a standard distribution. It’s a beautiful thing.

20

Apparently our readers really do trust our reviews. 16% of readers trust our reviews totally and completely, but the majority (63%) are just one step below total and complete trust. Again, like I said, our reviews are the most trusted among our readers.

As a side note, I appreciate the trust you put in us and will endeavor to maintain or raise our standards to meet your expectations.

21

We’re getting near the end of the results, but I wanted to leave you with this last item . . .

Last year around this time, we had about 5,000 likes on Facebook. We basically ignored the page, never posting anything interesting and auto-submitting content from the site. Thanks to MIA social media guru Shelby Richoux, we started paying more attention to the site right around the time of this year’s SHOT Show. Since then we passed 315,000 likes and are still climbing.

The impact’s been substantial; between 10% and 20% of our daily traffic is now a direct result of Facebook. In fact, 38% of people who responded to this survey found out about it on Facebook.

That’s all I have for you guys this year. If you have suggestions for editorial changes or comments about areas where we can improve, please post them below. Meanwhile, thank you for your patronage and trust. We will continue to do all we can to deserve it, with every single post.

[Methodology: This survey was distributed via Facebook and the TTAG website over one week. Readers were encouraged to respond to the survey voluntarily. We offered a prize for participation. The winner was selected at random (winner #1 never responded, winner #2 hasn’t yet, so we might have to go to #3). Assuming approximately 2.25 million unique readers per month, the desired sample size (99% confidence +/- 2 points) was 4,153. When the survey closed there were 4,189 responses, making the survey statistically significant.]

comments

  1. avatar John L. says:

    So who won the scope already?!

    And … The stats are great, any choice comments to share from the fill-in-the-blank sections?

    1. avatar Red Sox says:

      Yeah, what he said

    2. avatar BillC says:

      Maybe you should try reading the last paragraph, champ.

      1. avatar Red Sox says:

        I did and as of yet no one has been named …….. Champ!

        1. avatar Scope Winner says:

          I won! Excited to try it out and thanks!

  2. avatar former water walker says:

    I took the survey…where’s my night sight thingy? I see I don’t fit in any common category. Over 60, self employed, no handgun at the moment( just a shotgun). Keep up the good work guys.

  3. avatar Cameron B says:

    where/ how did you contact the winner?

  4. avatar bontai Joe says:

    Glad that the site is doing so well, keep up the good work guys!

  5. avatar Ing says:

    Shoot me an email, Nick. I’ll take that pesky optic off your hands.

  6. avatar Zachary marrs says:

    They haven’t contacted the winner yet because they haven’t sent me the email 😉

  7. avatar Dark says:

    I didn’t register for it because my family would have a heart attack if I DID win
    Y’know?

  8. avatar MarkPA says:

    Suggest you get a finer-granulation on age in the 18-30 category. Our fate is in the hands of the younger generation. We need to keep an eye on the figures of gun-users at ages 18, 19, 20, 21, 22 and then 23-30.

    1. avatar The Brotherhood of Steel says:

      Well, if its any help to you, I’m 26, and just about all my friends, relatives, and people I know that are in the 20-30 category are all proud gun owners. I think gun ownership really isn’t an issue in this generation, but motivating them to be politically active and supporting groups like the NRA is more the issue. However, as much as I hate facebook, the internet and social media has definitely shown to be a huge benefit to this age group. They may not be as politically active, but at least information wise they crush the anti gun crowd in every online debate, and share information like crazy.

  9. avatar james says:

    How about the write-in answers?

  10. avatar Jack says:

    What were the results for the question about the caliber that people most often carry?

  11. avatar Gun_Chris says:

    Might I suggest you don’t pay attention to the 21% who like the statistics posts least! I’ve found that information infinitely valuable in my debates with anti-gunners. Maybe they don’t like reading them, but they are very VERY powerful ammo.

    1. avatar S.CROCK says:

      I agree! I must just be very boring for my age category because I like both the politics and stats and thats rare for my age category.

  12. avatar Matt says:

    Good stuff! However, I did have one problem… You asked in the survey questions about why one wouldn’t go to the range more often and also why one wouldn’t attend non required firearm classes. I think you might have gotten better, more accurate results if you had included an answer “not enough money” or something along those lines. I’m sure many of your readers would love to go to the range and classes more often. However, a large part I’m sure cannot because of financial constraints. Not everyone can own 10+ guns, and afford ammo to go shooting weekly. I know I can’t. Just my thoughts.

    1. avatar Jaypee says:

      Beat me to it by 3 minutes haha

  13. avatar Jaypee says:

    The number one thing keeping me from doing more firearms training is money. The classes are damn expensive. If I could afford it, I’d do one a week.

  14. avatar rosignol says:

    The winner was selected at random (winner #1 never responded, winner #2 hasn’t yet, so we might have to go to #3).

    [checks spam-trap]

    Drat.

    Go to winner #3 already.

    1. avatar Gunr says:

      I’m winner #5, so if winners 3, and 4 don’t respond, Ive got it!

  15. avatar Jus Bill says:

    I wonder how many others there are like me who read TTAG via RSS feed. I didn’t see that as an alternative – too outdated or not hip enough?

    1. avatar danthemann5 says:

      I read via RSS as well. While I’m not outdated, I’m certainly not hip. Kids these days with their Spacebooks and Tweeters and their tiny pants…

  16. avatar Kevin L says:

    Yeah, I would definitely appreciate more hunting content.

  17. avatar Wayne B says:

    Hunh, “Sex no response = 16”.
    I’m I the only one that finds that just a little strange?

  18. avatar Wayne B says:

    And stop sending me those confirming emails
    My name isn’t “Howdy”!

  19. avatar Don says:

    What where some of the things people felt needed to change immediately? I said “congress”.

    -D

  20. avatar 80 D says:

    I’d like to see some sort of metrics regarding the much vaunted Comments section of TTAG. Number of commenters, unique commenters, # of comments per commenter, etc.

    It is the comments below gun reviews that help solidify my thinking of a purchase. Plus they’re informative and often hilarious. They are a large part of my being a loyal reader.

  21. avatar Daniel Sebastian says:

    I’m one of the chums who first held a gun after 30 years of age. Yeah 3% !

  22. avatar DrewR55 says:

    Well, here’s hoping I’m number 3

  23. avatar S.CROCK says:

    Im shocked to see that 25% of peoples least favorite feature is the politics section, and I’m in one of the age categories that would be stereotyped as not caring about politics.

  24. avatar RightYouAreKen says:

    Boo! I’m sad “Ask Foghorn” finished at the bottom of the popularity pack. Hopefully that’s just because there haven’t been many recently.

    Vive le Ask Foghorn!

  25. avatar RightYouAreKen says:

    There should have been a “I introduced myself to firearms” choice. I’m sure quite a few people have just taken an interest and gone to a range or class to learn. Me, for one.

    1. avatar Danny S says:

      That’s me – I’d have checked that one were it an option…

  26. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    Good stuff.
    Keep up the great work guys.

  27. avatar Scrubula says:

    Statistics on scary black rifles can be used to fight assault weapon bans. If weapons in common use can’t be banned, and most people (here at least) own modern rifles for self defense, I don’t think there is an argument at all.
    Oh yeah, statistics on people with some high school education. 1% of readers are below 18 y.o. and 1% of readers (minus about 15 people) also stated that they had less than high school education, so I think the real percentage of people who actually could have greater than high school education but don’t is insanely low (10/4189 = 0.24%).

  28. avatar Wendy says:

    Yeah, we female readers are few and far between. Perhaps more female authorship of articles would help? :::hint, hint:::

    1. avatar Anonymous says:

      OMG a girl! On TTAG! Hey everyone – come look at this.

      1. avatar Great Scot says:

        We could rope in Kirsten Joy Weiss for reviews, could we not? People seem to like her, she’s a decent shot, she likes guns, why not?

        1. avatar SteveInCO says:

          She’s a decent shot like .454 Cassull is a caliber with some power to it.

  29. avatar Nick D says:

    1% are below the age of 18, and 1% haven’t graduated from high school. What a coincidence. Also, I’m proud to be part of the minority that loves shotguns best. Boomsticks FTW!

  30. avatar Danny Griffin says:

    You commented on the dearth of women readers. This trend is evident in online gun forums and firearms fb groups as well. What is surprising to me, though, is even though women don’t participate in online gun forums very much, they consistently show up en-masse for firearms marches and rallies, at least here in Michigan. And I don’t just mean women with their husbands and boyfriends, I mean single women by themselves or in groups, and carrying significant firepower and holding signs. I can’t fully explain the discrepancy, but it warms my heart. They always get good pictures and press by the local media, too! Kind of like man bites dog, I guess, the MSM doesn’t expect it. (Even though it is a recurring event).

  31. avatar former water walker says:

    Oh well I guess I didn’t win. I DID get to delete 281 e-mails on the computer LOL

  32. avatar david says:

    Something that you may consider including next year is a costs too much response for the questions about why you don’t get to the range or train as much as you’d like questions.

    1. avatar Jus Bill says:

      YES! Please.

    2. avatar Dennis says:

      Third the motion!

  33. avatar SteveO says:

    “. . . most having a bachelor’s degree or higher.” If by “most” you mean slightly less than 50%, you are correct. 😉

    Statistical analysis aside, I agree with the folks who want to see more hunting articles — I have discontinued all of my dead-tree hunting subscriptions, so I don’t get that stuff delivered to my door on a regular basis anymore . . .

  34. avatar MrNebrot says:

    Can I make a personal comment as to any increase hunting related content?

    While I respect and support people hunting and utilizing the animal, I have a hard time justifying hunting for entertainment. Killing for sport and trophy only.

    I despise hunting TV shows, even if they were to utilize the animal, i don’t know if they do. Regardless, they are killing animals and in return getting paid to make entertainment content, which sells ads and makes someone more money. To me that strays too far from living on the land and off the land.

    I gladly admit that 10/10 I will go ‘awww’ before ever thinking how good something will taste or about hunting it. Again, that is my personal choice and I don’t impose that on anyone else. You won’t find me writing the Outdoor Channel complaining about their content, I simply change the channel. I have no interest to try and dictate what others watch.
    I never have, nor ever will question someone who hunts, enjoys it and does it within in what most hunters consider ethical means. I will with genuine interest listen to everything you want to share with me about hunting, the last trip, your last kill, the gear you use, the stupid laws and legislation revolving around hunting, etc. I will probably come back to you, asking more questions even, as you would know more about it than I do.

    I don’t want to get into any discussion about why I personally draw the line there, or how permit funds are spent, or the benefits of keeping a pop in check, or if it would make a difference if it was an invasive animal being hunted, etc. (on the latter you could actually convince me otherwise but how much ad-space can you sell if all you show is pest hunting)

    I would just like to put it up for consideration that new hunting specific content stays focused on actual hunting, gear, politics, etc and does not stray into world of Reality TV hunting shows.

    1. avatar SteveO says:

      Thoughtful comments. I largely agree with this perspective. While in my opinion there’s more to hunting than just living off the land, the two main reasons I do so are to reconnect with nature and put food in my family’s freezer. If I happen to take a nice buck, I’m not opposed to putting it on the wall, but that’s more to remember the experience than because it’s a trophy to be displayed for others. That said, at some point I would like to hunt difficult/dangerous game, and admittedly one reason I want to do so is to push myself and challenge myself, not just to put food on the table. (You don’t climb to 14,000 feet for a shot at a mountain goat only because you like the way it tastes.) I won’t criticize folks who hunt primarily for the challenge or the trophy, but that’s not my main reason for doing so, and it’s not what I want to see in hunting articles either. There’s too much of that on TV, and I’m really getting tired of the parade of exotic safari articles in the dead tree press.

      1. avatar rlc2 says:

        Yup. Best hunt ever so far, was the one where I didn’t take the shot.

      2. avatar MrNebrot says:

        SteveO wrote:
        “While in my opinion there’s more to hunting than just living off the land, the two main reasons I do so are to reconnect with nature and put food in my family’s freezer. If I happen to take a nice buck, I’m not opposed to putting it on the wall, but that’s more to remember the experience than because it’s a trophy to be displayed for others. ”

        I think we are on the same page, I may not have properly put this into the right words to express that. (my apologies, English is not my first language. Even after all this time in the states, nuances of some colloquialism or how to interpret/use certain phrases, still manage to escape me at times :-).

        My statement of “living on the land and off the land” I thought would and meant to include your two main reasons.
        And I further agree that keeping a trophy of a hunt that respected the animal, is ethical and I don’t have any issue with. If people just kill for the trophy and let the rest go to waste, I can’t justify that.

        If you then climb across the terrain to recover that mountain goat you got with that once in lifetime shot, from the ridge a mile away, I would love to hear every detail about that adventure, and how you over came the challenge.

        Exotic safari hunts….that’s another discussion for another time. I am not versed enough to make any educated statements. If there is any truth to the headlines that 60% of the kills, from every shrinking lion herd are killed by american trophy hunters(killing off the strongest part of the apex genepool) and who add only a tiny percentage to a countries tourism economy, compared to the rest of the non-hunting tourists, who are looking for the same lions….i dont know if that is a fact………. like I said, something for another time. 🙂

        1. avatar SteveO says:

          Regarding Africa, from all the reading I’ve done, habitat loss is by far the primary culprit there, followed by poaching (especially in those places where hunting is not permitted). African hunting encourages healthy populations by giving local populations an incentive to fight poaching and by providing much-needed funds for game wardens and conservation officials. In other words, it’s not necessarily the % of the tourism economy, but where the funds go and what incentives they create. My comment about the exotic hunts has more to do with the fact that their price puts them out of reach for all but the wealthiest folks. (For instance, if my retirement fund does really well, I may be able to afford one African safari in my lifetime.) Like most forms of hunting, some safaris appeal to me in that they are physically challenging and require that the hunter do more than just shoot an animal that their PH/guide picks out for them, but it’s just something that most folks never do. So while I enjoy reading occasional stories about such hunts, seeing at least two in every issue of Petersen’s Hunting was a part of why I discontinued my subscription.

          Getting back to the topic of this thread, it would be nice to see more TTAG articles that encourage conversations like this. Cheers!

  35. avatar Kelly in GA says:

    Firstly, I’m sorry I didn’t take the survey, so this may have been on it. We mention the Pink Pistols and have some openly gay commentators here, but since they are a group we need to reach, too, maybe add that next year and track demographic changes there, too?

  36. avatar rlc2 says:

    I agree on the hunting content- given there are at least a third of all readers who are “not yet” but interested in being hunters, I suggest you appeal to that how to get started; first experiences, what works, etc- on a basic level, how to’s for that whole generation that never had someone take them, but wants to get started.

    You could do a raffle off a good deer rifle thing, for people to tell their stories, like you did with the P320, and I am sure you’d get just same kind of response.

    I also know of and thank again the many many experienced hunters here who have always been very generous and patient with advice- something I notice is common to the hunting crowd in general, and similar to the good ideas shared here on HD and sporting shooting. Thats a shared camaraderie that is a different slice but very much a coming of age and POTG thing in general, that is rare elsewhere, sadly, these days. For men and women, all colors and flavors, so thats another way to agree on what we can agree on, and let the rest slide.

    You could go back to the old Outdoor Life and Field and Stream writers for ideas- lots of human interest and what hunting means to me, beyond just getting that Boone and Crockett type post. The guy who won the P320 story type of thing.

    PS: when are you going to get that NE gun guy out in the bushes- he’s been in TX long enough to get the big hat…

  37. avatar rlc2 says:

    PS: keep up the great work. Favorite specialty site on the innertubz, and most useful as a practical matter, for what I need on guns.

  38. avatar Great Scot says:

    Kinda sad that I was in the minority for 98% of all questions. *sigh*

  39. avatar Great Scot says:

    Kinda sad that I was in the minority for 98% of the questions. *sigh*

  40. avatar Robert says:

    Hmmm – Not sure where I fit in your readership. I first shot a gun at Boy Scout camp …. at age 46. Less than 2 years later I have a Indiana Pistol Permit, a 22 LR rifle and 9mm hand gun.

    I defiantly do not fit Bloomberg’s stereotype – I have an MBA from the University of Chicago and we have paved roads were I live.

  41. avatar Logan says:

    Thanks for sharing the results, super interesting to read.

    Also, happy to see that political posts are the most hated content according to the survey! Get it off the site! Otherwise, keep up the good work TTAG!

  42. avatar PeterZ in West Tennessee says:

    What always surprises me is the fairly even distribution of readers over 40 years old compared to the young’uns — this is an online blog, and as such I expect to see a higher proportion of younger tech-savy readers compared to the older generation.

    Who says we oldsters (I’m 61) aren’t tech savvy. I wrote my first computer program in 1969, which, I bet, is before most TTAG readers were born. Computers didn’t begin with the PC.

    1. avatar Matt in TX says:

      My first computer was a DEC Vax PDP11 mainframe with 16k of RAM.

  43. avatar Bungameng says:

    What is the percentage of out-of-US readers and how do they compare when it comes to gun ownership/carrying?

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