Yesterday we announced our new partnership with Liberty Ammunition. They will be supplying ammo for our reviews, and in return they get to call themselves our official sponsors and we’ll give them a nod when we use their rounds. Some of you seemed to be a little concerned that we might be selling our credibility for the price of a little 5.56 NATO ammo. To clear the air, I’d like to add my two cents, being the Testing & Reviews Editor for TTAG and all . . .
A gun review takes a lot of ammo. Like, a ridiculous amount. For my review of the PWS Mk114 rifle I went through at least 250 rounds if not more on the first day alone, and that’s just one rifle I was testing that day. And it doesn’t include the ammo used for shooting groups. Every time I go to the range the ammo bill is counted in the hundreds of dollars, and while this website is doing OK financially, that’s a big expense.
About 90% of the rounds fired downrange in a firearm test (for me, at least) don’t even hit a target. Well, not a meaningful target anyway. They may hit a slab of steel or a clay pigeon, but most just get dumped straight into a dirt berm. What I’m looking for is how the firearm handles, how the recoil feels, how the trigger works, and whether any mechanical issues rear their ugly heads. We need live ammo for those tests, and while good ammo is always preferred, the quality of the ammo has almost no impact on that portion of the testing.
The part of the test where it matters is the accuracy testing. That’s where our writers shoot 5-round groups and present them to you in the write-up. That’s the only measure of accuracy that we care about, and obviously its also the most sensitive to the quaity of the ammunition being used. I can understand the concern that some people have about having an ammunition sponsor given that this important stage of testing might require a weight of projectile that Liberty Ammunition doesn’t offer, or that Liberty’s loads might not be exactly on the money for a particular barrel. So I’ve made a couple things clear to our writers.
– TTAG will not be directly reviewing Liberty Ammunition’s products until at least one year after our sponsorship agreement is over. Since we have an obvious conflict of interest, no matter the results, you could rightly be critical of our ability to remain impartial. So we’re not gonna do it.
– At no time will Liberty Ammunition be used for accuracy testing of any kind. For the same reasons as stated above, since we aren’t testing the ammo, there’s no way to know how well it stacks up against the other competitors. Therefore our writers have been instructed to use other brands for that purpose and, as always, we will use multiple brands and weights of projeciles to try to get the best group possible.
– While we won’t be using Liberty Ammunition for accuracy testing, we will be using it for function testing. As such, we will indeed report any issues guns may have with the ammo. And as we’ve always done, our writers will confirm whether the problem happens with other brands and bullet types as well.
Ammo is expensive, and its availability is one of the reasons that gun reviews are so few and far between. Thanks to the folks at Liberty Ammunition, they’ve solved that problem and will enable us to get more reviews out the door. We understand that you may have some concerns about whether an ammo sponsor will compromise our integrity, but hopefully the above guidelines that we have in place will help put some of those fears to rest.
If you have any other questions, concerns, or suggestions, please feel free to post a comment below.