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Reader Brett Newman writes:

Even though this diatribe opinion has missed all the FNS-40 entry deadline, I still think there is a story to be told and congratulations in order for TTAG. I will start with the precursor that this evolving mindset has nothing to do with Dick Metcalf or any of the other happy-go-lucky writers standing in front of exotic animals in even more exotic locations. Instead, it is a product of my need for honest and sincere product reviews and editorials, and my increasing disdain for puff pieces and “always positive” reviews that have inundated the few publications that I used to read . . .

I liken this transition in my own life to the current phenomenon taking place within the media industry. Normal television programming consists of a collection of shows arranged in such a way that each target audience gets the most from their television experience. In less succinct terms…someone is controlling what we are watching, and more importantly, someone is “placing” items for us to watch. A more current trend however has been to “cut the cord” and subscribe to instant streaming services where a subscriber can receive what they want, when they want, and for commensurate price.

So which would you rather have? Printed material (translation… news that’s already one month old) with nice photographs and a glossy review, or, up-to-date information of current events, nice photographs, honest and brutal evaluations, and personal insights from the writers.

For me the realization has been a slow process covering approximately three to four years which has coincided with my emerging professional career. For the ten years I spent as a “professional student” I have earned an associate’s, bachelor’s and a master’s degree, all the while incurring enough student loan debt to surpass most people’s mortgage.  With an increasing financial burden and decreasing amount of leisure time, TTAG’s forthright and honest reviews and editorials have given me the information that I desire, in a platform that I desire, with a candor that I believe is unmatched by the print industry.

For years I have read reviews and articles in various publications and have often thought to myself, “When are they going to get to the heart of the matter?” or “When are they going to tell me if this thing actually works like it’s supposed to?”  Instead, I receive the same monotonous drone of writers lauding and marveling at products for fear of hurting someone’s feelings or losing sponsorship and advertising dollars. To me this is a detriment to our capitalist society and to the end user who has spent their hard earned money to buy that product.

Every purchaser of a product deserves to know that they are getting what they paid for…good or bad. And there’s a place for both. In addition, the various industry insights (Firearm Concierge I’m talking to you) are a priceless look into both the political and economic forces that drive this subculture.

For these reasons, I have let all of my print subscriptions lapse and I don’t foresee renewing them until a time when I get my money’s worth. Many thanks to TTAG for pulling out the stops when it comes to delivering the news that people actually want to hear (or in some cases, don’t want to hear).

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  1. I stopped my print subscibtions several years ago…simply for the fact that you stated so eloquently. I happened to this website by accident. From the first article I read, I was hooked with TTAG. I realized that there are no other publications, print or electronic, that does a real good service to their subscribers other than TTAG. For that, I make sure that I visit the site daily…even hourly at work.

  2. Very good email. We’re at the point where everyone has to like everything and everyone and know everything, and it has created a cloud of lies, lies of omission and half-truths that make it impossible to discern fact from falsehood. What happened to saying “I don’t know” when you really don’t? And why can’t we say “I don’t like you” or “I don’t like this idea/product”? Because of self-importance and hurt feelings. For the most part TTAG pulls no punches, and that’s why I keep coming back.

  3. nice compliments, well-deserved…this coming from a reader who goes to your site multiple times daily, and have since Newtown last year, keep up the good work

  4. I find it interesting that many times a “negative” review sells me on an item. Maybe the review finds it too heavy to carry, but if it’s cheap and functional, I don’t mind the extra weight. Or doesn’t like a type of holster because he stands all day and it’s only comfortable sitting. Well, I sit all day. The fact that you get the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, with some expert opinion, means I can make an educated decision.

    • In my opinion you are absolutely correct. What may be a negative for one person is a positive for another. The brilliance of TTAG is that they will tell you everything, even if they think it may not be important for them, it will be important to someone.

  5. I agree, for the most part. I put TTAG and Gun Tests together on the same pedestal. Thanks, TTAG, and thanks Gun Tests!

  6. TTAG is run for its readers, contributors and commenters. Dead tree publications are run for their advertisers and sponsors.

    So which medium is more trustworthy? Even when we’re wrong, we’re wrong for the right reasons.

  7. I rarely read reviews here because the reviews are typically for products I have no interest in. When I do, they’re usually good reviews, I’ll give you that.

    Mostly come to TTAG for the 2A-related news and politics.

    • OK, I had to write a little something (first comment on TTAG for me!), since I found myself in such agreement with both the article and the other reader’s comments (just even more in agreement with the above-mentioned “Jeff”).

      And Merry Christmas in advance from Soviet Quebekistan, Canada!

  8. I read the print magazines for the same reason I watch Hickok45’s videos … I want to be engrossed in something firearms-related.

    • I have to agree that Hickok45 is a fantastic resource also. Some people just want to hear it like it is.

  9. I read my few remaining dead tree mags only because they’re convenient while on the throne. I no longer save them though and renewing any subscriptions is doubtful. The printed news is always old news. I read about current events here as they happen. Who wants to read 30-day-old news? Reviews in printed mags are rarely truthful. When reading them you’d get the impression that a clumsy, unreliable, ugly or overpriced gun has never been made.

  10. The reviews and news from TTAG are great, and it keeps me coming back. I find myself wishing that the standards were a little higher, though. The recent “bondage” headline on KJW’s video and the “MILF” comments about Ms. Watts made me cringe. It just gives the antis more ammo…some more professionalism wouldn’t hurt.

  11. the only print media i read are mail order catalogs. Centerfiresystems, Cabelas, Cigars International, Midway, Famous Smoke Shop, etc.

    and books. Do they count?

    • Books count for more than magazines. My favorite uncle once said that they don’t put anything important in a magazine.

  12. One of the reasons I prefer reviews on TTAG versus the magazines is that none of them are edited down for space. While some people may see the longer reviews as tedious, I enjoy reading the small details about a product that may not be deemed important enough to take up space on the printed page.

    I also find the comments section extremely helpful when making up my mind about a product because of the alternate viewpoints(and humor) of the posters. The real people involved here make TTAG what it is just as much as the content does for me. You can’t get that in any printed magazine I’ve read.

    Keep up the good work guys.

  13. I used to write for the dead tree industry and I used to subscribe to Gun Tests-in the early 90s because they were the Consumer Reports of firearms
    Now I subscribe to YouTube
    Many of the ‘Reviews’ on TTAG are on a par with the old Hook and Bullets

  14. I will still buy a magazine if something on the front interests me, but I then will hit the net looking for actual user reviews. Living in the country, we didn’t have the net available for a very long time. Is print dead? No, but it is very sick and on deaths door. They still have us country folks but we are buying them less and less with internet availability increasing. Why is this? Because most mags will only give good to great reviews, period! I rarely read about problems in print, which makes the mags less trustworthy when you use them as a strict point for information. I’ll be blunt, go by only print magazines and you’ll get screwed. The most recent problem I read about was with the BCM/HSP Jack Carbine in Harris Outdoor Groups #140 Black Guns.

    It was performing poorly with Winchester 55 grain FMJ (I’m guessing it’s the WWB marked 5.56 which is loaded pretty hot) and after contact with BCM they were told to switch the H buffer to a Carbine buffer and return the Jack for a full auto cyclic rate test. It has made me decide to stay away from a mid length gas 14.5″ AR. I appreciate this, if you look on the net you would have a hard time finding anything but glowing reviews for the Jack. It’s the one of those times that the opposite from the usual happened. Normally it’s the net saying a product is broken or doesn’t work properly not the print mags. I’ve seen this a few times from Harris, hence they’re the only magazines I buy on a very limited basis. Kudos to Harris for telling the truth. Kudos to BCM, a great company who will stand behind they’re product.

    Guns and Ammo is crap. They are an advertiser, not a point of reference for information. They’ve not met a product for a long time that they don’t call the greatest ever. It’s sad, my dad was a lifetime subscriber. I would look forward every month to reading it cover to cover. Now it’s more like a pamphlet, little besides the specs on new products are useful.

    TTAG is usually very good about letting people know about problems when testing new products. Is there some fanboyism for certain manufacturers? Yes, everyone has certain companies that they trust and think highly of. Most that are fanboys for certain companies became that way because of a very good experience with them over and over again. I am a lover of Savage, BCM, PSA, and Ruger. I’ve never had a bad product from any of them. It’s just like Ford/Chevy/Dodge.

    Real reviews is all anyone wants and TTAG is a place I can get that. I will continue to look at Harris Outdoor mags. They have some integrity left and I love hard copies, you can still read them if your internet goes out. I will continue to get info from both sources, mags and net. Unfortunately, I find myself buying hard copy less and less.

  15. I do a lot of research online before I invest in a product if it is going to cost more than a few bucks and I need more info on my options. Most of the time all I see is a regurgitation of the press release given by marketing on the manufacturer’s website or brochures. Those kinds of reviews are worthless and lazy. (Easy money just to repeat the marketing spiel: you don’t have to write any personal opinion, test/use the product, etc.) We can blame parts of this on Political Correctness (be PC or be hated and punished) interfering with truth and opinion, we can blame it on manufacturers rewarding only good reviews, and we can blame it on lazy reviewers.

    Now, TTAG is one of the few places I find people calling crap, crap and quality, quality. Sometimes it boils down to personal opinion, sometimes hate, sometimes fanboy-ism or shills, and sometimes it boils down to a manufacturer only looking at their bottom line. When I get a good look at a few REAL reviews to the different angles and viewpoints, it makes it easier to determine what is what and weigh the opinions accordingly.

    KUDOS to everyone who accepts, seeks, and reports truth. KUDOS to those who voice opinions (in a healthy way) that don’t conform to everyone else’s unless it honestly and really does.

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