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“It’s hard to classify the Remington R51 as anything other than the best new compact 9 mm handgun on the market.” That’s the official word from Richard Mann, reviewing the R51 in Shooting Illustrated magazine’s June edition. The seven-page review (eight including the cover, which features a beauty shot of Big Green’s latest effort) has nothing but glowing reports of Remington’s new handgun — there nothing but unbridled enthusiasm for the firearm. Par for the course in terms of the established print magazines, but the vast disparity between the R51 as presented in the article and the Hindenberg re-enactment that it’s been shown to be has highlighted the continuing decline of journalistic integrity that reigns in the dead tree gun mag world . . .

There’s an inherent problem with gun magazines and that problem is advertising. The things are so expensive to produce, from paying full-time writers to printing and distributing the books, the only way they can survive is by selling expensive, glossy ad space to the gun companies. While this may have started out with the best of intentions, over time it has turned the “review” into just another ad.

According to every PR person I’ve managed to liquor up, the gun mags (and the NRA in particular) are strictly a “pay for play” proposition. Manufacturers pay a certain amount of money for ads over the course of a year, and the magazines give them a proportional level of coverage. Kick in some more money and you get a review. For a few dollars more the review is featured on the cover. It’s a straightforward symbiotic arrangement, one that is well known within the industry.

The problem for gun magazines arises when they are asked to review a gun that doesn’t live up to the hype. When I interviewed for an editor’s position with American Rifleman a while back, their approach was made crystal clear: if a gun is a POS, they won’t say a single word. It goes back to the manufacturer, the review is spiked and no one breathes a word of it ever again. It’s a clear, straightforward arrangement when a magazine’s existence depends on the continued support of the firearms manufacturers since pissing one of them off with a bad review might mean shutting the publication down and everyone losing their jobs. That’s a huge incentive to keep the happy talk flowing.

So when Shooting Illustrated announced that they were putting the R51 on the cover of their latest edition, the response from their Facebook fans was predictable. Moving at internet speed, hundreds of thousands of people had already read our R51 review and MAC’s similar experience, and figured out for themselves that at the very least this was a gun with some serious QC issues. Those issues have turned out to be so catastrophic and universal that Remington is rumored to be on the verge of a recall — just as soon as they figure out how to fix the damned things. Which they apparently haven’t.

The backlash from their own readership about the blatant sale of their front page was so intense that Shooting Illustrated felt the need to post an article defending their position.

Simply put, the R51 was a major introduction for 2014 worthy of coverage by any outlet. We provided an honest review from someone who knows what he’s writing about. If other individuals experienced difficulty with their R51s, that is certainly something they should report, but again, the reason they are reporting on it at all is because the gun is interesting and worthy of coverage.

In short, they’re passing the buck. Shooting Illustrated claims to be covering the R51 because it’s popular, and the content of the review is the honest opinion of their writer. But here we run into another issue.

Even if we take SI’s word that they are only putting the R51 on the cover because of the popularity of the gun (Freedom Group did indeed purchase advertisements within the issue as well, just none for Remington specifically this time), the writer still isn’t exactly insulated from the manufacturer’s influence.

Writers in the magazine world generally only get paid if their stories are printed. In an environment where “we don’t publish negative reviews” is clearly communicated from the very first interview, the writers know full well what’s expected of them. Negative reviews will not be published, so they only write positive reviews. And for a firearm with as much media hype as the R51, not publishing isn’t an option.

And there’s another influence bearing down on this writer. You can even see hints of it in his article. Grok this:

In December 2013, the Remington R51 made its debut at Gunsite. Several writers expressed high praise for the pistol and, thanks to my charming personality, I garnered the first independent field-test of the R51.

What the author doesn’t say is that the Gunsite event he mentions was a Remington-funded junket extended to writers they trusted to give them positive press. Big Green picked up the tab for everything including airfare and hotels. They provided the writers with samples that had been pre-selected and were certain to work. And they pampered them for days on end. It’s no wonder that the early reviews of the gun were so glowing.

In that kind of a situation, the rules of the game are crystal clear. Play ball and give us a good review, or your invitation to the next press event will get “lost in the mail.” For a writer who has to worry about deadlines often set months in advance of an issue’s publication, getting your hands on the product before it’s even released is critical to getting the story. No early gun, no story, no paycheck, no food on the table.

In almost any other line of business, I wouldn’t be so concerned about this arrangement. It’s the same game that’s played with golf clubs, cigars, boats…anything else people pick up a magazine to read about. The difference here — and the reason why this is so unacceptable — is that people’s lives are on the line. If a writer pens a puff piece about the latest Ford Focus, the worst that’s likely to happen (short of a Pinto-like fireball) is it spends a lot of time in the shop and you trade it in. Quickly. With guns it’s a different story, especially with a firearm designed for the concealed carry market.

The R51 is a firearm that people are going to trust with their lives. One they’ll depend on to protect them when their life is on the line. Despite the massively negative reviews that the gun is getting online and the hundreds of personal accounts from R51 owners having to send their guns back, there isn’t a single mention about the possible issues with the firearm in the dead tree press. How could there be? The slightest whiff of a negative comment could mean losing Freedom Group’s truckloads of ad revenue and getting black-listed down the road. So SI’s review — as it would be with Gun & Ammo, Handguns and American Rifleman — was pre-determined.

Bottom line, there’s no longer any room for journalistic integrity in the print world. Blogs like TTAG, along with YouTube channels and independent Facebook pages, are eating their lunch. “New media” are pulling readers away from the traditional rags, giving readers the content they want for free. With an ever-declining readership, the mags no longer have a monopoly on gun owners’ eyeballs. The same manufacturers can get more eyeballs on their ads online for less money than the magazines can offer, so monthlies have to fight to keep every last ad dollar. They need to cater to the manufacturers’ every whim to keep the doors open.

In that kind of environment then, it’s no wonder that Shooting Illustrated published their rose-tinted R51 review. That’s their business model. There’s no other alternative for them if they want to keep the magazine up and running — and issuing paychecks. Their response was also predictable, doing their best Baghdad Bob impression.

Consumers aren’t the target for the gun mags, it’s the manufacturers that are their true customers. Gun buyers become collateral damage as the rags suck up the last remaining advertising dollars they can as they wither and die a slow and painful death.

There is another business model, though. Magazines like Recoil are the exception to the rule, and it looks like the others are beginning to following suit. Instead of relying reviews and objective journalism, Recoil is to guns what Top Gear is to cars. Pretty pictures, some articles most people will probably gloss over, and loads of pretty gun porn. That appears to be the future of print gun media and Iain Harrison has it pretty well figured out. The problem is that magazines like Shooting Illustrated are still trying to style themselves as journalists instead of what they really are: compilations of advertorials separated by page after page of glossy ads.

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135 Responses to Shooting Illustrated, The Remington R51, and the Erosion of Journalistic Integrity

  1. I’d be willing to bet that it’s been 5 or even 6 years since I wasted a penny on a print gun magazine. The only print anything that I buy anymore is Model Railroader.

    • And even that is getting crushed by Model Railroad Hobbyist which is online only.

      When’s the last time MR published a review that you felt was honest in it’s summary?

      God, two guys at the model trains and guns intersection on the same blog (though our train club has numerous shooters in it and we do get to together for shooting on a regular basis).

        • Make that a want to be 4. Need some room to start a layout, and some old HO that I run around occasionally.

        • Old O gauger…but it’s been years since the trains were unpacked. Can’t really call myself into trains these days.

        • 6 of us, though I had to pack it up and dismantle a few years ago due to a relocation. 16’x16′ H shape board in N-gauge.

        • NERDS! Although I suppose being a computer fanatic doesn’t help my case much.

        • HOLY CRAP! What was that, *8* model RR freaks in a row? I never would have guessed it. FTR, I like the real thing. Big, noisy, dirty.

          I think they only gun mag I’ve bought in the last ten years or more has been SHOTGUN NEWS. None of the others are worth doodley squat.

    • I actually have been buying Recoil; first print mag of *any* type I’ve bought in over 5 years. I’m actually considering subscribing (gasp!)

    • I still buy Fine Scale Modeler, by the same publisher.
      Though I think I’ll spring for their compiled 25 year edition so I can recycle all the backissue clutter.

  2. Gun mags, car mags, tech mags, whatever mags are basically glossy manufacturer brochures that you pay for.

    I actually pay for Shotgun News because I find the historical and gunsmiths articles interesting but the reviews tend to be all positive as well. i find the ads worthwhile for staying on top of whats happening in the marketplace so I’ll actually pay for the aggregation of those ads. but then, these are multi-page, very detailed, old school sorts of ads where people list things they are selling and not single page glossy “image” ads. I find value in that.

    The rest of the glossy media has no appeal to me personally.

  3. “The Erosion of Journalism”? Come on, journalism is rarely straight and honest. How many wars has the press started? At least one, the Spanish-American War. Maybe the American Revolution too; the press spread news of what was happening in Boston and inflamed the 13 Colonies.

    In the gun world, it’s been an open secret that American Rifleman gives reviews based on NRA donations. But it’s still a good read.

    And now you guys have sponsors. Lighten up a little.

    • if it was not for the press, Obama would have no clue about the NSA, IRS or what is happening with the VA. Obama needs the press to tell him what is administration is doing because he is too busy otherwise.

      • I wish I could laugh at this.

        What’s really pathetic is that an American President actually thinks that claiming he knew nothing about what was happening in his administration until he heard about it in the press is a good defense to having terrible, illegal and deadly things happen on his watch.

        What’s more pathetic than that is he keeps getting away with it.

        • It’s almost as if this has always been the case, and that this goes way further than the current figurehead!

        • To Yeah: The religious worship of Obama, and the belittling of all criticism of him, is novel. The general leftist bias of the press is not new, but never have the press been so devoted to advancing a president’s agenda and, above all, protecting him against any possible political threat.

  4. Magazines are just ad vehicles.

    Cover to cover, it’s all designed to sell product. To read Car and Driver, BMW is the best car ever and GM makes dog poop. Yet my old man’s BMW has been a piece of total , unreliable crap ever since it passed 50k miles, and I’ve been taking him to work in my 200,000+ mile Chevy.

    • Yep, which is why I canceled every gun magazine subscription except for Gun Tests (the very best publication) and Handgunner.

      Every single review in Guns & Ammo and any other magazine was enthusiastic. I was tired of the lack of candor.

      • Well, my GM (Chevy actually) was made more than 10 years ago and it’s running great. ’95 S-10 pickup (V6 model), I’m approaching 240K miles on it as the only owner.

        I don’t buy print mags any more, haven’t in years. This article is spot-on, the print world is ad-driven and nothing but glowing praise for anything they look at.

  5. The internet is one of the most revolutionary inventions and systems for humanity. If not for the internet, most would be reading the magazines and thinking the gun was amazing.

    • The phrase you are looking for is “Oh! The Humanity!” when referring to the hindenburg re-enactment that is the R51, just FYI.

    • As a gun, yes. But as an illustration of what happens when accountants run a previously successful company into the ground its quite a good example.

      • How sad that a gun could be produced in 1918 and work, but in the modern hi-tech Era it cannot be produced and work. I’m betting no one will be fired at Remington. Pathetic. They need to fire a large chuck of their work force, starting in the boardroom and working down to the shop floor.

        • Yes, I know this is a reply to a very old comment. However, the problem today with guns is the same with many other things: computers. These “egg-head” designers use computers to cook up everything. Heck, who knows how many of them have never even held a gun, much less shot one. Back in the “old days”, the guys designing guns were “gun guys”. I’m an aircraft mechanic. I know for a fact that there are aerospace engineers who’ve never been on an aircraft except to fly on a commercial flight. They make modifications to structure or systems, and never go to the floor in a hangar to see how it actually looks or works. Hey, the computer simulation looked good, that’s all that counts. Computers are great tools for communicating and storing information, but they are making people DUMB!

  6. Money will steer the opinion of blog and YouTube gun reviewers just like it has with print. Just because paper is no longer involved means nothing.

    • Exactly. As the dead-tree rags dry up and blow away, all that advertising money has to go someplace. It’ll corrupt the internet reviewers soon enough.

      • It will, but there is a very important difference. When you read a review in a magazine that’s it, take it or leave it, when you see a review online you can Google the product and read as many other reviews as you can stand, including ones from regular people with no dog in the fight. Online outlets that take the money and spit out fallacious reviews will themselves be reviewed and marginalized while the honest outlets grow. What works in print will never really work online because content is just too cheap and easy to produce and so accessible that you can’t buy enough reviewers to drown out the truth.

  7. Kissing ass isn’t limited to the wonderful world of print. Do the phrases “it’s a dandy” and “a joy to shoot” strike a familiar note?

      • You’ll notice that we aren’t running any SIG ads at the moment. The reason is I told both SIG and our advertising people to stay away from each other.

        We’re going to focus over the next few months on reviewing just about everything SIG makes in order to get the reviews in our system. We’re purposely not taking their money in order to keep as little influence on our reviewers as possible. We had the same arrangement with FNH USA last year when I was on the team.

        The difference between us and the print magazines is that we go out of our way to avoid even the appearance of impropriety. For the magazines, that’s their business model.

        • So, you’re taking a break for a while, then going back to taking Sig’s money. Got it.

        • I take back my another comment; I don’t know enough about the situation to comment about it. I apologize.

  8. Spring 2013 I bought a new M&P Shield. Passing by Dick Metcalf on the way to the pistol range, I mentioned that I’d enjoyed his Guns & Ammo review of the piece. He simply replied, “Don’t believe everything you read.”

  9. Shooting Illustrated was hardly alone in singing the praises of the R51. Even RECOIL which I begrudgingly buy raved about it.

    • The latest “Combat Handguns” also had a butt kissing review of the R51.
      Not renewing. Only get it for Mas Ayoob’s and the “It Happened to Me” columns anyway. Half the time the articles are about hunting handguns or exotics. They don’t have articles on situational awareness RKBA like they used too, either.

  10. “It’s hard to classify the Remington R51 as anything other than the best new compact 9 mm handgun on the market.”

    This sentence is a brilliant piece of writing. It says what he had to say…and also what he couldn’t say. When you’ve been ordered to say this thing is wonderful and your job depends on it, well, yes — it is hard to classify it in any other way but that one, regardless of the truth.

    • Yes, Gun Tests is the best, although Handgunner is a solid runner-up. The letters are often thoughtful, and a number of articles are worth reading, including the singular Ayoob Files.

  11. Small Arms Review is the only gun rag I’ll actually pay for, aad I keep a subscription to it.

    It provides a ton of historical depth. And, as they’ve stated, they will not accept an individual sample or pre-production gun to review; they basically get one pulled out of a pallet of production pieces.

    Plus, where else can you find a complete breakdown and back history of a submachine gun made in WWI by a random peasant that only made 3 of them in a non-existant caliber he hadn’t actually made any rounds in which was never fired then buried in under a house in russia found and imported by LMO to study. Now THAT’S a gun review.

    • Never knew about this one. Thanks for the recommendation. Small Arms Review might be my next subscription.

  12. I used to subscribe to several gun magazines a month. Titles like American Handgunner, Shooting Times, Guns & Ammo, American Rifleman, come to mind. But that was mostly back in the 1980’s (pre-internet). I enjoyed reading them, also enjoyed the photos, and especially the historical articles. Then towards the end of the ’80’s a lot of the really good writers started to retire, or passed away. Hard to replace guys like Bill Jordan, Col. Askins, Skeeter Skelton….. but new guys were hired and I slowly eliminated most of my subscriptions to just the NRA magazine. Not that it is the best, but it comes with membership, so I read it. American Handgunner used to be hard nosed on reviews, warts and all, but they later got into showcasing more custom guns and specialty gunsmiths building stuff I could never afford. The last issue I bought at a news stand underwhelmed me. Sad what happened to print magazines, but I never really enjoyed reading about the SHOT show 5 months after it happened, same with the annual NRA meeting. Here, you guys at TTAG give us same day coverage, and in more depth. And the ability for us readers to interact in real time with you, the writers, allows us to ask you to ask “X” about a feature on their new product. Almost as good as being there.

    • On that point, I for one would be willing to pay a small amount per month or year to TTAG for additional access or functionality (see, e.g., the business model at Ricochet). This may not be of interest at TTAG, which is fine, but I thought I’d mention it.

    • My experience as well, Joe. There were good writers writing at one time. Guys like Skeeter Skelton, Bill Jordan, et.al., could have written well on any subject because of their writing abilities. We were lucky to have had them and unlucky in losing them all so soon.

      The only gun magazine I get now is American Rifleman and that’s because it’s part of the NRA membership. I seldom read any of it. I tire easily of Kimber ads and articles on this week’s 1911 Wundergun. The last time I looked at another gun magazine was at the supermarket. The cover price was outrageous considering the information to advertising ratio. It’s also painfully obvious how some of the online gun review sites have chosen the old media magazines as their models. Leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

      If I despise anything more than dishonesty, I can’t recall what it is.

  13. Although I purchase a number of gun mags every month I only religiously subscribe to ‘Gun Tests’ and have for over twenty years. I jealously guard each monthy edition and only loan them out to people who hold them in equally high regard. The other magazines I purchase only after a careful review of their content and usually only to read the columns or articles (of a non-review type) by selected authors, e.g. Ayoob and Connor come to mind. They’ve recently begun allowing electronic access to their content so I can easily search without having to refer to each years index! If you want a no-nonsense, no-advertising reading experience, I highly recommend ‘Gun Tests’.

    • I only have about 17 years of back issues, which my sons have been working their way through for the past couple of years. That same period of time, I’ve been 3rd to read the new issues that come in the mail, since I get home later than they do. Gun Tests is opinionated and somewhat capricious, but they call it like they see it. Indispensible. TTAG is getting that way, too.

  14. HOW GUN MAGAZINES WRITE ARTICLES

    Instruction From The Editor To The Journalist:

    Frangible Arms just bought a four page color ad in our next issue. They sent us their latest offering, the CQB MK-V Tactical Destroyer. I told Fred to take it out to the range to test. He’ll have the data for you tomorrow.

    Feedback From Technician Fred:

    The pistol is a crude copy of the World War II Japanese Nambu type 14 pistol, except it’s made from unfinished zinc castings. The grips are pressed cardboard. The barrel is unrifled pipe. There are file marks all over the gun, inside and out.

    Only 10 rounds of 8mm ammunition were supplied. Based on previous experience with a genuine Nambu, I set up a target two feet down range. I managed to cram four rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber. I taped the magazine in place, bolted the pistol into a machine rest, got behind a barricade, and pulled the trigger with 20 feet of 550 cord. I was unable to measure the trigger pull because my fish scale tops out at 32 pounds. On the third try, the pistol fired. From outline of the holes, I think the barrel, frame, magazine, trigger and recoil spring blew through the target. The remaining parts scattered over the landscape.

    I sent the machine rest back to the factory to see if they can fix it, and we need to replace the shooting bench for the nice people who own the range. I’ll be off for the rest of the day. My ears are still ringing. I need a drink.

    Article Produced By The Journalist:

    The CQB MK-V Tactical Destroyer is arguably the deadliest pistol in the world. Based on a combat proven military design, but constructed almost entirely of space age alloy, it features a remarkable barrel design engineered to produce a cone of fire, a feature much valued by Special Forces world wide. The Destroyer shows clear evidence of extensive hand fitting. The weapon disassembles rapidly without tools. At a reasonable combat distance, I put five holes in the target faster than I would have thought possible. This is the pistol to have if you want to end a gunfight at all costs. The gun is a keeper, and I find myself unable to send it back.

  15. Glad a FEW sources will tell you what rocks, what sucks, what rockin’ things have suckish aspects, and what suckish things have aspects that rock. BTW, TTAG rocks.

  16. Interesting observation of a little data driven marketing evolution here.

    When the dust settles most magazines will probably not exist. Replaced by bloggers that interested parties trust and can participate with.

    With a little hope political issues will follow the same path and we can filter out the party and lobbiest agendas. That will take some time but kudzoo’s to TTAG.

  17. Of course, this is in your bailiwick, but on a macro level, what’s the difference between this and MSM.

    From CNN admitting that they gave “good reviews” to Saddam Hussein to guarantee access, to major “news” networks spiking stories about Benghazi and the IRS scandal and running advertorials for everything Obama, liberal, and Democrat, most “journalism” in America is too filthy even to use as toilet paper.

  18. This has been true for decades, The print magazines are lick boots for the firearms industry both firearms and accessories. Now you have some internet liars (Jeff Quinn) who has never written a scathing review of anything he has reviewed. He also gave the POS R51 a glowing review. When he was called out on his chicanery on YouTube he had the unmitigated gall to get mad.

    Hickok45 calls them as he sees them. I have seen numerous videos where he has pointed out flaws, problems and provided the manufacturer with hints as to what to correct.

    • Right on, Mike. Where we have the unfortunate situation of the purse strings cutting off the blood-flow of editorial integrity all across the gun-zine landscape, we often see the evidence of sickly paraphrasing the Will Rogers quote by demonstrating “I never met a gun I didn’t like”. That’s clearly what’s at play here. Plain old unrepentant boot-licking. Yes, it is sad. God bless the likes of Hickok45 for calling them out and revealing the truth. I find myself more at-ease reading the likes of Gun Tests these days. At least there is no perceptible paid advertising in that publication. Gotta like that, huh?

  19. Tired of the gun and hunting magazines, tired of the gun and hunting shows on T.V. I’ll read the magazines if the barber has them, but usually browse the cigar rags. Some of those people on the gun shows look like stiff cardboard cutouts with moveable lips, slowly reading the cue cards. And we’re suppose to get excited and believe their spiel about the weapon they’re pushing. Guess this is the reason I always refer TTAG, for now.

  20. I’ve been getting super awesome subscriptions deal offers from every gun mag publication in existence the last 6-12 months as I’m sure most others who are on a gun list are as well. I now understand why a normal 50-75 dollar 18-24 month subscription is being offered to me for 8-18 bucks. Desperation and knowing the end is near.

  21. I too like Jeff Quinn. I take EVERYTHING I read with a grain of salt. Including TTAG. I believe the last print I bought(Shooting Times?) had a .380 pocket pistol showdown. The best value with the least problems was the Taurus TCP. The least expensive. The KelTec .380’s ( all 3 ) ALL broke or malfunctioned badly. And KelTec advertised in that issue. The overall winner was the Sig-by far the most $. Lcp behind Taurus, followed by the Bodyguard.
    It is rare to see honesty in print media. YMMV

  22. I take issue with one point.

    Top Gear is not objective in the least, but they never hesitate to trash a car they hate, despite objections from manufacturers. Except that one time Jeremy put himself on the waitlist for the GTO and wouldn’t shut up about how much he loved Ford (which was plainly a joke), they tend to be very blunt about what they like and don’t like.

    Wait, what were we talking about again?

  23. I browse the gun magazines (clips?) at the grocery/book stores. I usually go for the self/home defense-themed ones; but even they have ridiculous gun reviews. Just read one upstairs (compacr handgunner?) and it had a positive review of the R51.

  24. Hey Nick think you think there bad go pick up issue August 2014 Combat Handguns where they write review Remington R51. The reviewer guy name Jorge Amells write two pages why R51 is great before even test fire one than state must worked well becuase at Gunsite all gun write used them there said so they would lie. Once gets gun try out can not get through frist 100 rounds with out same bad issue ever one else has but he does blame gun he blames on magazine not being fully seated than switch magazine work perfect after that. Here goes tell people for anyone who may be recoil sensitive but still desires a subcompat , full-power handgun for concealed carry or personal protection inside home, the R51 is ideal .

  25. Nick be very careful bad mouth Remington on youtube my account was supend after made few comments about R51 issues there.

  26. @Nick – Um… so that’s a copy of 2600 behind the copy of Recoil in that picture? Wow. Gun nerds are real. I thought I was the only one around here who’s ever dropped trunk idle on a #4 crossbar, called home with a NACTS tone from a 6.5536mhz crystal, or asked Information in NYC “what is nougat?” via [2600] [KP1] 011 [KP2] 2125551212 [ST] .

  27. Oh God, seriously? The R51 again?

    Please. Just stop it already. Not only do you get to beat your red headed step child that everybody is getting sick of hearing you bitch about, but you’re try to do it under the banner of journalistic integrity, while implying that somehow the print establishement have a monopoly on it. I might have been able to take you seriously if you hadn’t used your favorite dead horse.

    If you want journalistic malpractice, it’s right here.

  28. Here is my take on the R51 situation. Every one of the pistols that I fired worked very well. The ones that i saw others fire worked very well. Apparently, there were some guns shipped that had problems. I have not seen any of those personally. i can only base my report upon my own experience. I value the input from others who have actually fired the weapon. Speculation from those who have never fired the gun is just speculation. In my reviews, I report every malfunction. Always, no exceptions. I get to choose the guns that I review, and I do not review junk. I have only one R51 pistol here now, I have many guns from which to choose. My always gun at the moment is a lightweight 38 revolver, but when I carry a holster gun, many times, the R51 is on my hip. i really like it, and speculation from those who have not fired the weapon will not change my opinion of the R51. I also welcome any email from those who have hands-on experience with the weapon, especially if the experience differs from mine. I do not get mad, as one poster stated above. If a weapon design has a problem, we need to know about it. I do not visit this site, but was referred here by a friend, so email is best for me. Thank you. Jeff Quinn jeff@gunblast.com

  29. One more thing I would like to add, for those who speak things of which they have no knowledge. Remington does not nor never has advertised with us. The gun manufacturers that do advertise with us understand up front that if a gun messes up, we will report that. S&W stayed mad at me for a year after my review of the original 500 Magnum, but they did not stop advertising with us, because they knew that my report was accurate. Also, on the criticism of Richard Mann. I have known Richard for a few years, and I trust his reporting. Some writers, i do not, but Richard is an honest man. Again, I welcome email that disagrees with me, if it is based upon experience. if you are just sitting in your mama’s basement, wearing her panties, and just criticizing to feel important, don’t bother. The fellow above who called me a liar is the latter type. He does not know me, and cannot find one honest person on earth that can point out a lie from me. He is just trying hard to be relevant, and it ain’t working.
    Jeff Quinn jeff@gunblast.com

  30. Jeff, I like your reviews. I was called a lot worse for being critical of the Palm Pistol which to me is still a ghost gun since none have been delivered. I hope you keep up the honest reviews and I will keep reading them. I don’t have to always agree but I believe in keeping it civil.
    Remington has received much criticism most of which they rightly deserve for making decision’s based on maximum profit for minimum outlay. It’s simply big business… My commie made Remington bolt action rifle shoots and that is the best I can say about it. I carry as a backup rifle because it is cheap and if necessary serves as the purpose of backup. It did get glowing review from G & A which I had read just before I purchased the thing.

  31. Now Nick know if tell truth gone be called lier from mall ninjas from youtube who like R51. Who act like advertising agency for that gun company . So according Jeff if you have real issue with R51 not gone be gun fault gone be your fault reporting all short coming on R51. According to Jeff now if R51 does work your lier becuase his gun work your did not. Wow so much for honest integrity of youtube. If your R51 fails work you get killed try save your life with be gone cold comfort know Jeff buddys support R51 well be blame you for getting killed with defective R51. When Jeff does vidoe review handgun he field strips most handguns does vidoe of however he did field strip R51 of his vidoe review not only that told he people had no trouble field striping gun that ever one should take word for becuase he said so. Hey Jeff if R51 was so easy field strip why do it in your video review gun???? I guess all other people had trouble with there R51 on youtbe are liers to Jeff. Hey Mac over at military arms channel had 3 R51 even got one sent to him buy remington firearms guess what they are all defective Jeff. Two R51 where guns would been sold over counter to consumer. So long as gun work for youtube gun tester does work for you consumer Jeff state that ok because if you get killed have use defective gun save life he not gone lose any sleep over matter that lost life over.

  32. Here point some are missing this gun in not being sold as target gun shoot at steel plates at some gun comptenion or rang gun shoot at paper targets. It being marked as self defense handgun you can use reliably save you life if have to. Here issue if not reliable or safe use when shoot at rang how gone be when have use save your life when call upon do that. Alot people not gun writes they do not spend alot time learn or train with there R51 when fail how gone save there lives if stops be reliaby in time need most??? All bunch people who are ignoring issues R51 are the going go safe the cop who use R51 as back up when stop working for him he no other gun than that save life with are going save grandmother or grandfather who told R51 was perfect gun use protect themselves when have use it fail work for them they get killed over matter??? Does matter what made of does matter if gun works on some new old gun action does matter made in USA or not it self defense gun what matter is reliable ever time you need work. So far the R51 has prove that is reliable enough bet your life on it because if your use it than that what your doing.

  33. I just wanted to say, this piece is immaculate.
    I’m totally using this in my journalism college classes and damn the freedom group chumps and their cronies for endangering people’s lives with a faulty product.

  34. Hey Leghorn, did I miss something in your article ? While you bemoan “journalistic integrity”, nowhere did I read in your detailed bashing of Shooting Illustrated that the magazine is a publication of the National Rifle Association. While you bash SI’s review of the R51, and justifiably so, you ignore the fact that SI is nothing more than an extension of the bullshit offered gun owners and enthusiasts by the National Rifle Association. For unlike almost every other firearms magazine out there, Shooting Illustrated’s existence does NOT rest solely on advertising revenue. My reading of SI has shown me that the magazine has fewer advertisements, per published page, than other magazines.

    Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. Me thinks that you Mr. Leghorn, checked your journalistic integrity at the door to your office.

    • Nick – time to weigh in here. Or do we have to look for a new blog – The Truth About Leghorn’s Job Application”? I’d like to see you exercise some of that journalistic integrity you preach about and come clean about your rejected job application at SI and then trashing the magazine online.

  35. Hey Dan here issue in your argument if National Rifle Association get donations from Remington which very sure they are sent they owen run Shooting Illustrated it would be far stretch now. Say Remington paid for good press on R51 with large donation they gave National Rifle Association. There alot people out there know this if want good press with National Rifle Association a larg donation one way get from them. So any way you slice Dan Remington paid for good press guess what prove that can buy good review on bad gun.

  36. Here point Dan missing NRA runs on donations public ones and from gun company’s. The gun company’s that give biggest donation NRA well give them best press in there gun magazines. So very simple if want NRA give you good press release in there gun magazines all have do give big donation. Remington one gun mfg give biggest donation to NRA. So Dan NRA does need Remington advertise money when Remington pay NRA off with large donation money. Hey Dan forget NRA put out American Rifleman magazine which Remington spend money advertise in. Last time I look in American Rifleman magazine there alot R51 advertise in it from Remington.

  37. As a former employee of Harris Publications I can honestly say I witnessed this lack of integrity first hand.

    They produce Combat Handguns, Guns & Weapons for Law Enforcement, Tactical Knives and a few other rags. They send every feature review article to the respective company for “fact checking” – which really means for approval. If Glock or Remington doesn’t like a sentence, the editors will change it. It happens so often that I think the writers don’t even bother to include mild criticisms because they know it’ll be cut.

    What’s worse is the publisher of Harris’ gun magazines sell the advertisements AND read copy before it goes to print to make sure everyone is happy. Conflict, much?

    Also, Harris won’t review certain firearms if the company doesn’t advertise or an advertiser pissed off the publisher. Sometimes they’ll tell a small firearms maker…”listen, we’ll review your company if you take out a small ad…”

    The writers (Richard Mann included, met him, very nice guy) are very knowledgable to say the least but their real opinions never make it to print.

    • Just about two years later, Harris Publications has closed their doors. Even the shenanigans aren’t working anymore.

  38. So you apply for a job with the NRA and Shooting Illustrated and don’t get said job and then decide to write a hit piece on a man you have never met and say he lacks “integrity”.

    I find it comical that you write this article from a standpoint about how guns make the cover of magazines and get reviewed…..AS IF YOU were the one who figured it out.

    I’m confused are you Bob Woodward or Carl Bernstein?

    • Nothing said there refutes the overwhelming evidence that the R51 has some SERIOUS issues that could get someone killed should they rely on it as a PDW.
      Nor does it change the fact that the gun actually reviewed was supplied by Remington, rather than bought at random from a gun shop. Nobody can tell me that firearms Remington sends out for review aren’t thoroughly tested, tuned & detailed before the writer ever gets his hands on them.

      • From experience I can tell you sometimes these firearms are rushed from working prototype to whatever the next phase would be, just to get them in a journalist’s hands to meet a magazine cover deadline or get the jump on another manufacturer who has a similar product and launch time. You’d be surprised, just because they’re a major manufacturer doesn’t mean they put their best foot forward, so to speak.

        Sometimes they’re just beat to hell (used and abused at SHOT and other media demonstrations).

  39. A distinct possibility in difference of outcome of reviews is if the manufacturer knows it’s going to a writer it may get better QA. The writer may be 100% truthful but the outcome was influenced by the fact the sample was hand picked.

    Getting a sample and buying one off the shelf retail to compare the two might be an interesting review model; but it is unlikely to be cost effective for the reviewer.

  40. I get 4 or 5 glossy mags, couldn’t really think of the names, so the customers in my BBQ joint have something to read. It’s either that or they have to talk to me or each other about guns & 2A issues. Of course People of the Gun seem to find one another in strange places.

  41. Hey Asshole, you do realize that with your comments you basically shot yourself in the foot! The chance of you EVER getting a job as a journalist in the gun market is EXACTLY ZERO. SMOOTH MOVE EXLAX! Plus your knocking of a respected writer and a very good publication, while in the same paragraph whining like a little bitch because a magazine wouldn’t hire you shows me just how professional you really are and how much of a joke this blog is. Great job of screwing the pooch while attempting to be objective. We are all stupider for reading it…..nice job Foghorn!

    • He’s not screwing the pooch. Foghorn’s not a good enough writer to make it to a print magazine anyway.

      He also thinks 150fps variance in his reloaded ammunition is acceptable, and that spending money on equipment instead of practicing makes you a better shooter.

  42. Why does it seem like the gun industry has such a problem with being able to write honest interviews, yet the car magazines do it all the time? I’ve seen multi-page GM product advertisements mere pages away from excoriating reviews of GM product (not a knock against GM, I just recall them taking out huge adverts in one of the main magazines, yet the same magazine had no trouble telling it like it was).

  43. I 100% agree. If you want something to read with glossy pictures as you sit on the can, get a print magazine, but you’d be a damned fool to trust a gun review from one.

  44. The only halfway decent gun mag I know (Small Arms Review looks neat, but I don’t often subscribe to stuff and I can’t find it to buy locally) is Rifle, mostly because as fuddy as some of their stuff is, it’s sure as hell more interesting than yet another AR or pocket pistol. I gave up on trusting…G&A, I think, when they published a review of the Chiappa 1911-22 in which they noted that the extractor literally flew off during the course of testing, but proceeded to call it reliable. Can’t stand Shooting Illustrated either, but that’s mostly because I’m Canadian and SI is the mouthpiece of the NRA.

  45. I have noticed rave reviews accompanied by product ads on the following page, many times. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out how this all works.

    What burns my steak is when I see writers summarize a particular fluff piece with, “So the firearm had several failures to fire, and a part broke, and the accuracy was sometimes off the target, but I would be comfortable carrying this firearm to defend my life and so can you.”

    Say what?!

  46. It is *shocking* that gun rags continue to report favorably on this while:

    – Numerous guns, across a swath of serial numbers are showing the same serious issues

    – some of this issues (OOB discharge, non-spec chambers) are potential safety issues

    – reports that Remington CS reps have stated that the locking block is being redesigned and all guns will need update

    – reports of the entire line be shut down

    – rumors retailers have ceased receiving new stock

    – Some RMA guns are now being reported at Remington for 11 weeks or more

    Also shocking is the fact that Remington continues to peddle the gun (NRA convention) but seemingly will not update the owners or public as to what is going on.

  47. These are my responses (below) on the Sherriff Wilson blog… However, nothing holds a candle to this response from there (from user Amsdorf)…

    “Jim, I’ve got bad news, pal. The day of print are dead and you have just grabbed a tiger by the tail by going after a chief writer for the most frequently visited gun blog site on the Internet.

    We all know you and your colleagues in print gun media are whores for the gun industry. Just a fact.

    You see that flash of light in the corner of your eye? That’s your career dissipation light. It just went into high gear.”

    Here are mine (mine being predicated on Jim Wilson calling multiple others a “damn fools.”)

    Sheriff,

    I find your behavior, comments, threats (“Texas paybacks?”) and single minded effort to stick to your personal agenda (vs. acknowledging that Remington is causing a lot of blow-back on a number of members of the Gun Media – blow-back many consumers would agree is LONG overdue…) to indicate that you too are a Damn Fool.

    While Leghorn’s behavior (in your opinion) may have been rude or disrespectful to your friend; Mann (as do you) opens himself up to it by virtue of choosing to professionally write opinion articles, from a position of authority on a given subject, that all know are going to be PAID FOR by consumers, and which will directly influence peoples purchasing decisions on critical matters. Integrity, honestly, and honor are not things that that are situational or can be toggled on or off when necessary (i.e present in one’s personal life but not in professionally)– a person displays them all of time or he doesn’t have them at all – period. Your friendship with Mann and your observations on a personal level that he possesses these qualities doesn’t mean squat outside of your relationship with him. People who read Mann’s, yours, and a number of other professional gun writers reviews observe an alarmingly consistent dis-congruity between what gun-writers claim about their character and how much faith can be put into what they write. These inconsistencies cannot be ignored.

    You have now publically acknowledged that you “cherry pick” products to review (as have other writers in this thread) to not have to write poor reviews. Others have acknowledged that gun writers copy is often substantially changed before final printing – and I don’t believe for a minute that you writers don’t go back and read what is published. You are doubly a Damn Fool if you think people are reading your reviews for entertainment or to pass the time. People read reviews as part of a process of deciding to buy a product that could either save their lives, or allow those lives to be snuffed out should that product fail. Professional Gun Writer reviews (whether directly stated, or implicit) always make endorsements that can directly impact peoples health, safety and the wellbeing of themselves and families. Sitting back and hiding behind statements like “the gun I WAS GIVEN worked great – I can only report on what I see”, “I wrote the truth, someone else changed it”, “I can’t help it if they sent me a handpicked, tuned, atypically good example of what eventually turned out to be a steaming pile of crap”, or “I just write articles, I’m not the publisher” are all disingenuous. You know the deal as well as all of the rest of us and *plausible deniability* is not consistent with true character. If gun writers are not writing the truth ALL OF TIME (and therefore NOT sending back faulty review guns for ones that do work, only writing about the guns that performed well, continuing to write articles knowing that editors are changing what was written) than said gun writer has a very serious problem. The problem is, either find a new job where your integrity can be maintained, or get down off your horse and stop acting like you possess it. If you can’t take it into the office with you, and maintain it there in an unadulterated fashion, then you are a sellout.

    BTW, I can be and often am foolish myself. In this matter I think not. Gun writers have been playing both sides of the fence for years and it is eventually (if it hasn’t already) going to get someone hurt or worse. Open your eyes, you guys have become a joke and the previous comments about the new age of media are entirely accurate. Rude or not, the truth is the truth – and the truth people are seeking (about a product – they could really care less about the person writing about the product)) can by in large be found online readily; not so much in the “gun rags.” In an unprecedented manner, traditional articles are being debunked at the speed of light. There’s nothing new here, it just that technology is finally bringing all of this home to roost.

    -AND- (regarding Mann’s review):

    I have wondered this myself. My household owns TWO R51s and they are both crap! There are several reliability, manufacturing and (in my opinion) design issues that render the gun, in my opinion, completely unsafe. There are numerous (dozens) YouTube videos, blog posts and forum comments that all seem to speak to consistency of these issues, across a wide swath of serial numbers. These all (In my mind)suggesting that the issues are systemic – and not relegated to a handful of problem guns.

    Mann has not only had an article published in traditional print – but has posted YouTube videos and blog entries. While his experience may have been his experience, it is (in my opinion) irresponsible to continue to endorse a product with such a huge number of verifiable problems. Where does the gun journalist’s liability begin/end on something like this, should a person become injured or worse if they purchase the gun and it fail? It can be hard to retract an article, but web content can be updated in minutes. Could it be deemed irresponsible to not do so after new information is learned after the fact? Continuing to hide behind the position that “the one they sent me worked fine” when there is so much evidence to contrary is quite concerning to me. Further, these guys are supposed to be the experts – it is a stretch to me to play that card when writing an article and taking a position as an authority on the subject, then to turn around and claim “I can’t keep up with everything!” Aren’t experts expected to be expert about what they write about?

  48. New info in Bryce Towsley’s article titled “The Continuing Saga of the R-51” – which interesting enough mentions almost nothing about the “R51 saga” (as in the gun, or what owners with guns back at Remington for 3 months now might be feeling) but it does manage to: take on TTAG for op-ed piece on the Shooting Times review, defend his friend’s glowing R51 review (Richard Mann), defend the practice of MSM gun media being treated to the “honor” of private, closed shooting sessions catered by gun manufacturers, and ends with his PLUGGING the R51! (“I will say that this pistol has the potential to be a game changer. Clearly Remington blew it with the introduction, but there are reports coming in now that they may have the problems solved. It might be smart to watch this as it continues to develop and don’t write off the gun just yet. Once they get it running right, I think you are going to like it.”

    http://brycetowsley.com/tactical/continuing-saga-r-51

    • Colour me unsurprised that Towsley doesn’t seem to be concerned that people could have suffered serious harm or worse when their defensive firearm failed to function.
      Remington should be excoriated for releasing a firearm onto the market that clearly had NOT been thoroughly tested in its production version.

  49. BTW, Towsley moderates comments on his page (prior to their posting) and apparently doesn’t publish ones he doesn’t like.

  50. G & A review was even worse! Yes I still have a subscription to that rag cannot get a refund on that. Anyway they tout this as the best pistol this side of a Glock. No mention of any problems or FTF throughout the article. The only upside to the material was it was (finally) not another G & A review/praise of another AR Wondergun. I think they are reviewing one or maybe two firearms that are not AR based just to look like they really evaluate firearms.
    The original Remington was a very nice pistol but this one is a complete sham running the name/quality of a great pistol into the earth. Not something Remington has ever done before LOL

  51. As an ex-service member well versed in the process known as “damning by faint praise,” I understand the print rags’ process for reviewing guns that just plain don’t work. What I don’t understand is reviewing a gun already widely known to have issues without at least mentioning that fact.

  52. This is ridiculous! The September issue of Guns has a cover story on the R51! The guns seem to have quietly been pulled from the market (try to find one on gun broker), it has been more than 100 days since the first guns started going back and no fix or even update from Remington. At this point the issues with the R51 are well known. I find it completely irresponsible for gun mags to continue to provide positive reviews on “eval guns” when the production version has so many issues.

    http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2014/05/foghorn/shooting-illustrated-remingtons-r51-erosion-journalistic-integrity/

    • It has a full page advert in the most recent American Rifleman too, though this “could” be down to lead times.
      It doesn’t inspire confidence in Remington putting things right with alacrity.

  53. Richard Mann speaks out defending Remington…

    Here is the URL:

    http://ramworks.net/blog/the-tale-of-an … tons-r-51/

    Here is my response…

    I’m really shocked that as badly as Remington had setup the “reviewers” who wrote articles on this gun, that any are still defending the company – yet this piece seems to be intended to do exactly that. Contrary to Remington’s statement that “some” guns were impacted, You and Gun Blast seem to have the only R51s described to run reliability. I’d love to see an unaltered production model that runs too.

    The continued defense of Remington and the adherence to their carefully crafted marketing position (especially the keyword “some”) is all the proof I personally need to believe that the allegations made about dishonestly on the part of both the reviewers and publishers is true. As if it doesn’t also seem extraordinarily suspicious that the “reviewers” who, until the Remington “update” on the 25th were STILL singing the praises of the R51 four *months* (see September issue of Guns) after widespread reports of serious problems with the production guns began being reported. Some of these same reviewers seem to be the only people with R51s that work. Others were ones who were treated to a Remington funding shooting junket (er, I mean product launch) at Gunsite. You know, the shooting academy where most people PAY to go to shoot firearms and ammo THEY purchased THEMSELVES, not burn up tons of freebies provided by the same Company who’s product they would review later…

    Regarding this article, a “mistake”? Really, is the best you can come up with is that Remington made a mistake?” Remington sold a dangerous firearm to an unsuspecting public. I know, I have two – four thousand apart in serial number and NEITHER work reliably or without exhibiting concerning pressure symptoms. That is a little more than an “oopsy” that you suggest actually “happens all of the time.” The gun, if not dangerous as shown by the repetitive examples of pressure conditions and out of battery discharges, is certainly dangerous due to a severe lack of reliability in a defensive firearm. Remington waited *months* (as in at least 4) before providing any response at all. When they did, instead of owning up to the matter and offering something of substance to the people whose money they’ve taken, they continue with the over-driven marketing crap and a complete refusal to call the matter what most would consider it – a recall. In Remington’s language it is a free replacement to anyone who currently owns a first generation R51 – and, oh, they’ll going to throw in a plastic box (to replace the original cardboard one) and 2 mags for your 7-12 months trouble of not having a working firearm after having paid for one. I will also point out that the “update” does not state that they will replace the pistol of “anyone who has an R – 51 that does not work” – they state that “Anyone who purchased an R51 may return it and receive a new R51 pistol” – period. There’s a subtle, but significant difference from your assertion. One indicates that the majority of guns floating around out there are just fine. The other indicates what the rest of us believe, that there is a problem will most of them (if not ALL of them) and Remington simply doesn’t want to admit it in so many words – especially on the heels of the 700 trigger fiasco. One thing is absolutely for certain based on my call with Remington customer service several weeks ago – the locking block has been redesigned and is due to be replaced on ALL R51s. How then is the problem limited to “some” guns?

    In closing, I’m not sure if the author of this article was at the Gunsite “launch” or not – but based on information provided in Bryce Towsley’s blog – there were 12 guns present at Gunsite and 5000 rounds fired. That works out to be about 416 rounds through each gun. Apparently, “Gunsite is a dusty place and as the day wore on the guns got incredibly dirty. So, near the end, we did see a few jams.” (Jeff Quinn of Gun Blast reported Gunsite malfunctions as well) Personally, I don’t see 400 round being too much for a gun to handle, outside of a sandstorm, and wonder how Remington or their “experts” define “flawless” function. You know, flawless? The word Remington uses TWICE to describe the R51 in their short 171 word update? Towsley and Quinn both admit that malfunctions occurred at the launch. Where does flawless enter into the picture?

  54. I learned the truth about gun writers way back in the 1970s. I bought an Astra Constable in .380 ACP for protection. It rarely emptied a magazine without at least one jam. Even after having the feed ramp polished it still wasn’t reliable — but that’s not what the magazine gun reviews said. I later purchased a book that used consumer guide type approach to gun reviews, rating each handgun in several categories. And the Astra Constable was in there, malfunctioning just like I had experienced. It was then I began to suspect the writers were nothing more than extensions of the advertising departments. Sad to say, but I have seen much of the same thing in the American Rifleman. Taurus pored a huge amount of money into the NRA and got favorable reviews on their guns. But that hasn’t been my experience. After purchasing several of their revolvers and having problems with poor finishing of the chambers, forcing cone and bores, along with malfunctions clearly related to poor QC, I got frustrated and gave up on the brand. However, there Taurus was, getting glowing reviews and ads in the American Rifleman. I was so angry I let my membership in the NRA slip for a year. I had thought the NRA would be dedicated to provide honest reviews because cover ups of bad guns could lead to citizens dying while trying to defend themselves. I did rejoin the NRA for other reasons and I admit I have a Taurus revolver — a Model 445 UL in .44 Special. I bought it on a Saturday and mailed it back to the factory for repairs that Monday. I will give credit the people I dealt with at Taurus, they were friendly and helpful and got my revolver back in roughly two weeks. Still, the spotty QC at the Taurus factory and the problems consumers have don’t get reported in the gun magazines. I wouldn’t waste a penny on any of them.

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