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Our friends at Ammoland are highlighting something (their story reprinted below) that people in the online world have known for, well, a decade now. The dead tree gun mags may not be dying (yet), but they’re not looking too good. The paleo types at ADWEEK are all aflutter over the one segment of the magazine biz that showed positive numbers this year – firearms. News flash: the NRA’s two freebie mags’ circulation increased by…14% and 8%! Woohoo! Given their membership increase of almost 25% after Newtown, shouldn’t that have been higher? What about the books people have to actually pay for? Well, InterMedia Outdoors properties Handguns (138K circ.) and the big boy, Guns & Ammo (416K circ.), leaped – leaped, I tell you! – 16% and 7% respectively. Yawn. To put that in perspective . . .

Like Ammoland, TTAG’s year-over-year increase in unique readers dwarfed those paltry numbers. Our uniques jumped from 3.8 million in the first half of 2012 to just under 6 million in the same period this year. That’s 56% for the numerically-challenged drones on Madison Avenue. So you’ll excuse us if we’re not particularly impressed by ADWEEK’s celebratory gunfire. We passed G&A’s monthly readership numbers back in the fall of 2011 – almost two years ago – and now get more eyeballs in six days than they do in a month. Just sayin’. Here’s Ammoland’s take:

Manasquan, NJ –-( Seems even stodgy old ADWEEK has a soft spot for gun magazines as their recent article “Gun Publications Are a Bright Spot for Print Magazine Circulation” suggests.

“It hasn’t been a particularly great year for print magazine circulation, but one category is shining as a beacon of hope for the American publishing industry: GUNS.” says writer Emma Bazilian

Print magazines in general have been hit hard by the transition to a life in a digital world, that compounded by a weak economy, has driven magazine sales in to the dumpster.

“The all-important fashion magazines and celebrity weeklies were especially hard hit. Glamour, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, Lucky, InStyle, Elle, Vogue, Bazaar and Teen Vogue all saw single-copy sales drop by double digits. Among celeb weeklies, Life & Style had the biggest decline (about 21 percent). Even Time Inc. powerhouse People fell by nearly 12 percent in single-copy sales.”

But firearms related magazines remain strong as Americans voted against gun control and the president with their wallets, buying up every gun they can and wiping the shelves bare of every last speck of ammo,  the enormous increase in new gun owners has propped up the print gun magazine business as folks look for more info on their new sidearm or long gun.

“American Rifleman and America’s 1st Freedom, both of which are benefits of NRA membership, [every new NRA member gets to choose a free copy of one of several NRA magazines, American Rifleman being the most popular] saw their circulations increase 14 percent to 1.9 million and 8 percent to 545,019, respectively, in the first half of the year versus the year-ago period.”

Once again we see the positive effect of having more NRA members by keeping the tradition of print media alive, but the highlights and big growth are still in the digital print world.

“On the digital side, circulation nearly doubled in the past year from 5.4 million to 10.2 million copies but still made up a tiny portion—just 3.3 percent—of overall circ. The top three biggest digital titles were Game Informer Magazine (about 2.97 million digital copies in circulation), Reader’s Digest (292,285 copies) and Cosmopolitan (246,815 copies).”

What ADWEEK is talking about here is Digital Magazines, the digital representations of flip page magazines and a narrow slice of the online publishing.

The real growth in publication is online news sites like AmmoLand Shooting Sports News which has seen a 96.20% increase in Unique Visits, 4,122,462 vs 2,101,141 in the first half of the year versus the year-ago period.

Gun Media Circulation Comparison January to June 2013

Gun Media Circulation Comparison January to June 2013: Data compares published circulation numbers to unique visits with in same data range.

The speed, agility and constant publishing of new content by specialty online newswires or newsletters , such as AmmoLand, make for loyal readership as well as the go-to media outlet for industry insiders looking for timely, up to date, news and information.

Once dismissed as fads, increased gun ownership & non traditional digital news publications, continue to confound the experts and reward knowledgeable advertisers while leaving the old guard of print media in the dust.


Ammoland’s story is reprinted here with permission.

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  1. I was going to pick up the new issue of Recoil, just to give it a second chance. I always liked the look of the magazine and it wasnt overly boring to read. Anyways it seems this latest issue they have taken to reveiwing alcoholic beverages. I put it back on the shelf, no thanks. I drink, sometimes, but never while armed. At least in the opening statement of the article it said “shoot then drink.”

    • no see if you like guns, you have to like booze and cigars. it’s part of the package. then you take pictures of your guns next to booze and cigars because that’s IRONIC or something – not sure. the only thing missing is a bowling shirt with flames on it.

    • RECOIL specifically states that it intends to be a lifestyle magazine centered around guns and gun owners, and not just a magazine that reviews guns. Lifestyle means the other things they think their readers might be interested in, besides the firearms themselves.

      I’m not a drinker either, so I tend to skip past that stuff. But it’s inclusion doesn’t offend me either. Gun owners are a diverse group.

      • “gun lifestyle” that’s funny. “i sleep in my gun house, i poop in my gun toilet, i drive around in my gun car, i drink my gun water”. I didn’t realize that people that own guns had their own secluded little $10 buck a visit club. I think that RECOIL is an insult, it seems to cater to cawadooty fanatics who will be 14 in 2 months.

        Anyway, my rant is over.

  2. ADWEEK can kiss my rusty red firewagon. I was an Advertising major in college. I turned my back on it as a career when it dawned on me what utter scumbags ad people are, not to mention their distasteful profession.

    I haven’t regretted it for a single second. Not one.

    But can anyone give me a definitive answer as to why SHOTGUN NEWS isn’t in their pie chart?

  3. Back in the late ’60’s my mom started housekeeping for a little extra scratch and one of the places she did had a rather impressive collection of various and sundry gun mags. Given my interest in things that go bang, even then, her employer said she could take them all home for me. I devoured about 5yrs worth of back issues of G&A, AR and several others that I can’t recall. Unfortunately even though I was a barely subteen at the time I noticed a depressing pattern of cycles, boltie or semi-auto, semi-auto or revolver, .45 v 9mm v .38 v…, wash, rinse, repeat… Best places to hunt frequently equaled localities with the biggest ad buys in the issue in question. On the rare occasions I’ve picked one of them up since, it so seemed a reprint of what I read 40+ years ago.

    • Well, if the antis are right about “fewer people owning more guns” then this is “fewer people buying multiple copies of G&A…….” Yeah, because that makes sense. 🙂

  4. The only reason I still have G & A is because it is available as item on one of the nieces or nephews annual school fund raising drive and I bet that is true for many of the subscriptions as well/ As well as Barber Shops, auto repair shops, doctors office and other places who have free magazines while you wait.

      • Money trumps all. It only becomes an issue if somebody complains but when money is involved they don’t care. Also, it depends on where you live. Fairfield County can pretty much be considered a suburb of NY. Hartford, Tolland and Windham Counties most people would barely blink.

        Intermedia which publishes G & A is in NYC

        • Good point. I remember doing thoes magazine drives as a kid. If you dont mind my asking, where in CT are you? I grew up in Westbrook.

        • @In Memphis

          My family came from Italy and initially settled in Bronx, NY near Yankee Stadium. As like other immigrants of the time, moved to parts of CT including Bridgeport when CT had a clue, a strong manufacturing base and no income tax and was considered the best place to live and work (those days have long past if you look at the recent Forbes article on the state). Once Mayor Mandanici decided to make Bridgeport the most corrupt city on the planet in the 80s, the FBI occupied Bridgeport, my family moved out and if you follow the history of that city and the state, it never ever recovered. Most of my family now live in Southbury and Simsbury area and the smart ones have moved out of the state altogether and now reside in VA. I live in Redding because it is close to the type of work I do and my parents who are elderly and need help. But, worked, lived and traveled all over the USA when I was younger. Would not have moved back to CT if it was not for my parents.

  5. I gave up on all of them some time ago. As jsallison said, there’s a lot of “. . .wash, rinse, repeat. . .” Plus they always seem to love everything they review, sort of like how the new CNET works in not criticizing sponsors.

  6. Well, I’m obviously more impressed than you are about gun magazines’ increase…since one must PAY to have access to them, it’s pretty amazing to me that they’ve had ANY increase due to the economy and online competition.

    Oh, and just so you know if you combine the increase in American Rifleman of 14% and America’s 1st Freedom of 8% (since you only get ONE of them free…yes, I’m aware some may be paying to get both) you get…wait for it…22%. Which is about the “almost 25%” membership growth the NRA experienced.

    Yes, fully aware that combining those two percentages without more info is erroneous. But it’s fun to bust some balls occasionally. 🙂

    • When you join the NRA, you are also given the option to receive no print magazine, and instead opt for a digital copy. So I’m guessing that the leftover 3% did that.

      • I recall complaints that new members weren’t receiving their mags for a few months, as printing and mailing lists caught up with the POTUS induced rush.

  7. Gun magazines, well actually any hobby magazine, just fuels consumption. I used to subscribe to several guitar mags and I was constantly planning my next purchase because of an “everyone should own a 12 string” article or some such crazy premise. Fortunately I started my gun hobby in the digital age so I’m not wasting money on buying magazines………. That leaves more cash for buying guns!

    OK, so maybe it’s not the magazine’s fault.

  8. I’d rather drop a print magazine (I love that I have to specify print on this site) into the head than drop my iPhone or iPad.

    There will always be a place for paper magazines in my home.

  9. A bunch of these mags are available digitally for free, including Guns & Ammo, American Handgunner, Handguns Magazine, and Guns Magazine. As that old (chauvinistic) saying goes, why buy the cow when you get the milk for free?

  10. I have subscriptions to all of them because 1) I like to read in the bathroom 2) some of the articles can be in depth and 3) I keep them as pieces of history.

    Besides that, they’re so dang cheap! You can get two years of 4 different mags for about $35.

  11. The world of guns is still dominated by old, fat white guys. They’re still used to paper magazines.

    I recently reinstated my lapsed NRA membership. I opted for no magazine, because I would probably waste too much time reading them.

  12. I still like reading gun magazines (mostly G&A, but also others that have cover stories that look interesting) because even if their reviews say everything is a “dream to shoot,” they’re still often useful for the hard numbers, like size comparisons and such. And nice pictures.

  13. Don’t forget NRA members can opt for on-line versions of the magazines.

    I still enjoy reading the actual paper versions of magazines, as well as newspapers. Sure I get most of my info from other sources, but there’s nothing wrong with actually leafing through the pages.


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