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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.

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  1. To question your testing based upon an agreement with Liberty is to question your integrity. I’m just happy that you got some free ammo to do the testing.

    • Many types of bias can seep into an analysis which have nothing to do with the integrity of the reviewer. It’s unscientific, and a bit aggressive of you, to attempt to force the choice of either calling these men crooked bastards or else accepting all without question.

      Now, I first stumbled upon TTAG two years ago while searching the web for gun reviews, which are still an important feature of the site to me. I tend to buy quality with decades, even generations, of use in mind. So avoiding pitfalls, by way of reviews, is valuable to me.

      I’ve no justification for questioning this site’s integrity. However, neither am I about to abandon the healthy skepticism with which I view the world and which has served me well for many years. The Liberty arrangement is a new development which offerd some benefits to all, but which may carry some complicating factors, as well. I’m ok with watching and waiting to see how it turns out, without disparaging nor embracing the deal prematurely.

  2. I would just add that you should make sure Liberty gets no advanced warning if their ammo is a problem in a review. That way, no one can question your reviews either. Personally, I don’t care but I can see the conspirists.

    Now if you can just get sig to sponser my candidacy for governor of CT with a free 227, I would be happy

  3. After reading the baseless ranting and vitriol in the thread yesterday, I expected a post like this to come along and hopefully calm the howler monkeys.

    It probably won’t work, but what do you expect? It’s the Internet. Everyone on the Internet is a howler monkey looking for a reason to start screaming and throwing poop.

  4. I don’t see a problem using their ammo in any of your test, as long as there is a disclosure that they are sponsor. They may have the best ammo for that firearm and others would not know that if you don’t test it. Just being up front about it and a level playing field is a fair test for firearms/ammo or any product. Not using their ammo seems a bit unfair for their generosity. If there was a trend of their ammo always being the “best” in every firearm, then readers would have a valid concern, till that happens, I would suggest use it and see how it fairs, otherwise it seems like a flaw is being covered up.

  5. I did raise some concern about this yesterday, but I am confident that if anyone can be impartial in this situation, it is TTAG. Misgivings mostly allayed at this point.

  6. I, for one, am normally a huge anti when it comes to sponsorship when product reviews are in question. However, your proposed method of using a single brand for functional testing is a double win for consumers. Having a single ammo type for functional testing means every firearm gets graded on the same scale, a baseline if you will. Excluding them from accuracy testing during a grace period should quell the fears of nay-sayers, but also give needed time for us consumers to gauge whether or not the ammo in question has some level of quality to it.

    I’d recommend reaching out to see if some of the other ammo manufacturers would be willing to sponsor for the accuracy trials. The amount wouldn’t be as high but in the end it would seem less likely that you were picking favorites.

    Personally, if I came across a review regarding accuracy of a sponsored product I probably wouldn’t even read it. However, if you compare the product against 5 other brands who are also sponsors, then I would be less inclined to cry foul.

    My $.02.

    • Your ideas for accuracy sponsors would only work if you had 5 other sponsors, and they were the only ammo companies there were. And what if your gun shot bad with any of them? Or ALL of them? Accuracy sponsors aren’t a great idea, in my opinion. But that’s all it is, the opinion of an anonymous commenter, and should be treated as such.

  7. Will you link to the test if “Shooting the bull” does the test?

    Also, felt recoil and handling is NOT even close to the same with Liberty Ammunition as it is other standard ammo. This is based on my own testing.

    • Ya think? 2000 fps for 9mm? OMG!

      The question is, will StormLake be sponsoring TTAG now? God knows they will need some new barrels after a few hundred +P rounds…

  8. Sounds like a wise decision for both TTAG and Liberty.
    Enjoy the new-found relief from buying testing rounds!

    • I dunno, based on the number of autoplay, pop-up, and redirect ads, I’d have thought they could bankroll a small f*cking army at this point.

  9. Isn’t the ammo this company makes really weird? I looked at their website and all their handgun bullets are extremely low mass. The .223 round they make is more conventional but it looks strange, like it was painted or something. It is all lead free.

    I’m not sure this is the best choice of ammo to use for testing? I guess it probably won’t matter for function testing… or will it?

  10. Guess I missed all the indignation yesterday.

    The fact that you announced their sponsorship shows again, one of the reasons I like this site.

    Open honesty and truthfulness.

  11. “…a little concerned that we might be selling our credibility for the price of a little 5.56 NATO ammo…”

    Now, you start talking about .22LR on the other hand, all bets are off. My credibility cannot be cheaply bought, but .22LR by the case is a good start.

    (Liberty is not, to my knowledge, supplying .22LR.)

  12. I wasn’t objecting to this arrangement based on issues of TTAG integrity, though. You didn’t address my point, which is that Liberty Ammunition refuses to sell their product in so-called battleground states, even when it’s clear that there are no laws prohibiting the sale.

    That is, their refusal to sell to AK, CA, CT, DC, HI, IL, MA, NJ and NY leaves out almost 30% of the US population. Commenters have indicated that there are no legal restrictions barring sale in AK, CA or MA, yet they continue to (perhaps unwittingly) perpetuate this misconception that ammo shipments are restricted to these states.

    Whether it’s ignorance or avoiding inconvenience (why AK?), I’m not sure TTAG should be supporting a company that has such little respect for our rights. Whether they choose to sell is their decision – I’m not arguing that – but how many of us have stopped doing business with CTD and Dick’s because of similar policies?

    Would TTAG accept a sponsorship from CTD or Dick’s for free equipment?

    Finally, I’d encourage you to eliminate felt-recoil tests from any firearm review that incorporates this ammunition. Its characteristics will not mirror traditional ammunition and any observation regarding recoil will be inaccurate as a result.

    • Commenters have indicated that there are no legal restrictions barring sale in AK, CA or MA

      IDK about AK or CA, but there certainly is a “prohibition” against internet sales of ammo in MA. Just don’t look for it in the statutes, because it’s not there.

      Several years ago, based on complaints from a local FFL, the MA AG ruled (without statutory authority, but that’s another story) that only MA licensed sellers could sell ammo into MA. The AG then sent cease and desists to many online retailers and threatened the sh1t out of them. Fines were assessed and paid. No buyers were bothered, just dealers.

      After that little contretemps, most online ammo dealers refused to ship into MA. Most still do. Some defy the AG. We in MA know who they are and we keep quiet about their identities because you never know who’s paying attention. I will tell you this: some companies whose web sites declare “no MA sales” actually do ship to MA.

      A Republican state legislator introduced a bill to permit online ammo sales, but it went nowhere in Democrat-dominated MA. As far as the AG’s statutory authority is concerned, the AG has acted without it before, and always gets away with it as long as guns are involved.

      • Can you clarify how a State regulates Interstate commerce. If a ammo retailer in the State of ______ sells ammunition (or magazines that hold ____ rounds) what is the retailers obligation to give a damn about any law or regulation of Ma? Or to pay a fine/tax to Ma? Obligation is to conform to fed laws yes.

      • Ralph the place that shall not be named that I have ordered from just asked for a scanned copy of my MA LTC A for their records. They told me they had been contacted in the past about selling to MA residents (dont know who contacted them ie AG, state police etc) and they just stated we only sell to those who prove they are licensed individuals per MA state law and they werent bothered about it again. This all still sucks in my opinion because I shouldnt have to PROVE to anyone that I CAN buy ammo….. but you know how it is in the People’s Republic of Taxachusetts….

  13. I don’t know how the agreement was reached between TTAG and Liberty, but did you consider one of the commercial reloading outfits? Like Freedom munitions or Georgia arms?

    • Ah, I posted these before I saw that both meetings restricted carry due to the venues in which they were held.

    • Yes, there is a great deal of hypocrisy teeming throughout both of those organizations.

      But, it’s rather off current topic. So, what’s your point? Just going for a leisurely, Sunday afternoon troll?

      • I don’t need your permission to post something, there wasn’t currently a thread in which it would be deemed 100% apropos, so I posted it here.

        Also, friend, if I were a troll I wouldn’t have replied to my own post admitting that I posted before seeing more of the facts, and admitting that in both cases the restrictions were due to the rules of the venues.

        Have a nice day.

        • I made my comment before your recant posted to my page.

          But, if you’re interested in bring up a topic, might I suggest writing something up and sending into TTAG. They’re good about posting write ups from readers.

          The site gets a lot of, let’s call them, colorful people, that don’t not share in TTAG’s views on gun ownership.

          Fly by posting can be left up the interruption of the reader if not clearly defined. If it looks trolling, don’t be surprised when its construed that way.

        • “if I were a troll”

          You obviously have not read your own posts over the last 72 or so hours.

          Whether you realize it or not, you most certainly, absolutely DO come across as a drive-by troll.

          If that is not your intent, if you are a gun owner and gun rights advocate, I kindly suggest you take a look at some of your recent posts through they eyes of the rest of us and ask yourself…”Am I helping the cause or hurting it? Am I showing myself in good light or not?”

          Quite frankly, I think I read 10-20 of your recent posts thinking you were trolling hard before I happened to see one where you actually mentioned owning guns.

        • If youre gonna be a troll at least be a good one. And google “white flight” a term coined to describe the aftermath of black Democrat/Black Panther/communist takeover of Detroit city govt.

          You really are pretty uninformed and ignorant to be calling others uninformed and ignorant.

  14. At no time will Liberty Ammunition be used for accuracy testing of any kind

    Well, “best quality ammo” is very firearm specific when it comes to accuracy. In fact, for the same gun seeing the variation across rounds can be interesting too (is the price tag worth it?).

    Also, keep in mind that not showing results from Liberty ammo, in terms of accuracy, can be just as damning – people will say you are not showing it because it performs poorly, or that you adopted this policy because you knew it would perform poorly. You cannot really eliminate complaints, only decide which ones you want to deal with.

    I would personally not really have a problem showing Liberty (in terms of accuracy) side-by-side with some other common or even “best quality” ammo. Where I would have a problem is if you did a test, or sighted it in with Liberty, and only showed the best results.

    • I wondered about this too. While I understand the intention of avoiding the appearance of favoritism in re your sponsor, so long as multiple brands are used for accuracy testing and the results published without bias I cannot think why you would NOT include Liberty in that test unless Liberty is concerned that they will not perform well, which seems more of a conflict than not using it at all.

      IMO, so long as the Liberty ammo is equivalent in most other regards, go ahead and use it for accuracy tests along with all the others it’s competing against. If it doesn’t stack up Liberty will know, at a minimum, that they need to work on the issue, for which they should thank you.

      • Because I haven’t seen any evidence that the staff has any real expertise on the subject. They import some good articles, such as Shooting the Bull, but I haven’t seen anything to lead me to believe that the actual staff, although prolific and entertaining, have any substantial knowledge of firearms beyond being enthusiastic.

    • Because this is THE TRUTH ABOUT GUNS. Robert bases the whole status of this site on being truthful and unbiased in regards to the guns and the politics, which I believe includes the ammo the guns need.

      One of the main reasons for this particular post, in connection with the ammo sponsorship, is to ensure that all readers who come here for truth know that the testing will not be influenced by the Liberty sponsorship. RF cannot and I am sure will not, risk the reputation he has worked so hard to establish just for the sake of making a sponsor happy.

      I would be more surprised to see a post along the lines of “Liberty ammo is perfect for almost every hunting, target and self defense use!” than I would “Liberty ammo pulls TTAG sponsorship deal after poor performance reported in several common firearms platforms.”

  15. Good to hear. I was concerned about the accuracy testing part. But it looks like you guys have covered all your bases.

  16. This is what wrote yesterday
    Sounds like Nick used a full length explanation of the same basic issues.

    They will be using the ammo to review GUNS.
    They are not reviewing the ammo.
    What is the big deal here you fkng neg heads.
    Seems to me that they will be able to afford to review more GUNS, something wrong with that?
    If they use the same brand ammo for all of the reviews, it will eliminate a potential variable that could give one gun an advantage because the reviewer had to use what ever he could find. Would it be fair to use white box for one test, Tula for another and hornady in another. There is always somebody that doesn’t like something and just has to bitch about it. Me too and my bitch is these people.

  17. I will not question anyone’s integrity. But if you’re dealing with a recoil operated or gas pressure operated gun, and you expect a 50 gr, 2000 fps round to “function” the same as a 115 gr, 1150 fps round, well, someone needs to go back to physics class.

    • That would be my main concern. The .223 ammunition they make is 55 grain so it should be fine, but the handgun ammunition just sounds crazy on paper. It is light even for copper.

  18. What happens if this ammo doesn’t work (reliably or at all) in a particular gun being reviewed?

    Will TTAG test the gun with a more standard load?

    How will you rate a gun that runs 100% with FMJ’s, Gold Dot’s, Critical Duty, etc., but less than 100% running Liberty’s oddball loads?

    Regardless, thanks TTAG for providing some transparency and for signing a deal to shoot up this boutique ammo for free rather than have it enter the wild and empty the pockets of hapless consumers!

  19. Never had a concern with TTAG’s credibility. I think they’ve earned at least that over the last few years. Was a little surprised at the immediate hostile reaction they received from some for taking on a sponsor.

    Liberty ammunition won’t get a dime out of me because a) I have a ton of ammo and am not in the market for any and b) I prefer brands and bullet designs that have been around for at least a few decades. But then I’m not their target audience, so no loss there.

  20. Using this stuff for function testing as long as accuracy is done with other stuff is what I recommended, so I’m good

  21. being in a research community in other aspects of life, it is all about consistancy. It really doesn’t matter what ammo you used, as long as all the testing you do every gun gets the same. That way everyone has an even fair shot

  22. I have NO problem with TTAG gun or ammo reviews. You’re not Gunblast or Hickock. I like both( especially Jeff Quinn) but as far as I can see he never had a negative review. Hickock is almost equally positive. TTAG reviews tell the warts & all truth. Understand I know the aforementioned sites don’t want to damage anyones business. I also don’t CARE if Liberty ships to Illinois. I buy ALL my ammo & guns in Indiana( a mile from the border). And I’ve seen plenty of Liberty ammo at Cabelas.

  23. This seems like an oddball arrangement, but I appreciate the upfront announcement.

    If they made, and supplied, bog-standard ammo, it would make more sense to me. There is a reason why they are just about the only ones making ammo at these specs. The concept of ultralight, ultra-fast ammo isn’t patented; it’s just rather selective in its appeal.

    All of my local sources have plenty of Liberty ammo. Other things come and go out of inventory, but Liberty is always there. I suspect LIberty has quite a bit to move. This arrangement gets them six months of face time, and 18 months of not being reviewed here. I can see how they would count that as a “win.”

    I don’t wish any ill will toward Liberty. They might be great guys, and I like to see American startups. I just wish they would branch out to something I’m interested in.

  24. Ya know, for me at least, it would not be problematic to use a sponsored ammo as a reference, assuming QC is adequate, as long as it was properly disclaimed. Typically, reviews contain multiple ammo types anyways, and as long as you don’t give special treatment to sponsoring brand(s) pics of targets are what they are.

  25. What a pathetically impotent round. I would rather carry a #2 pencil as a defensive weapon than this garbage.

  26. I personally think that TTAG should do the accuracy tests with the Liberty ammunition even if they do not publish it for the readers. Liberty should be able to get some data about how their ammo performs in the tests. I think TTAG can be trusted to tell the truth about the ammo as they have told the truth about guns.

  27. No translation needed Kurt. Nothing gun related bought off the internet. EVERY local Cook County,Illinois gun shop marks their guns and ammunition sky high. Most Indiana shops have better prices on nearly everything. Cabelas included. I have to jump through hoops to be a gun owner & have a CCL.

  28. Glad there was enough “rabble rabble” (two quote another user) in the last article that you felt you needed to post a follow-up. Bear in mind that you wouldn’t need to make this thread if your user base didn’t question the arrangement in the first place.

    This post does settle my nerves some, but it still smells terribly like a CYA situation and it only really resolves one potential conflict of interest.

  29. Nice try, Nick, but attempting to respond to critics on this point is rather hopeless.

    Apparently there are some muddle-headed denizens of the TTAG comment sections who can’t quite seem to squeeze the thought into their vacuous craniums that the ammo is being used to review GUNS not to review AMMO.

    To review GUNS you need ammo. To review GUNS well, you need lots of ammo.

    So this outfit comes along and says, we’ll sponsor you by supplying ammo for you to use when you REVIEW GUNS.

    I honest do not know how some of these people get through their lives is this kind of thing is so fuzzy to them and of such great consternation.

  30. I didn’t know about the ammo name, I’m looking forward in shooting it. Don’t get caught in any crosshairs!

  31. I’ve already voiced my concerns. The ammo I’ve seen from Liberty consists of +P loads of unusually low weight and high velocities. Its not what manufactures had in mind when designing semi auto pistols. The 55 grain Liberty ammo I saw seems to be pretty close to a standard .223 / 5.56 load, so no issues there (although I don’t recall the velocity claims). A 50 grain 9mm load at 2000 FPS, 60 grain .40 cal load at 2000 FPS, or 78 grain .45 load at 1900 FPS, does not reflect what’s currently on the market. It isn’t what police use, not what FBI uses, and not what Travis Haley or Jerry Miculek use.

    I understand and appreciate that high rounds counts also mean high dollar counts. I spent about $9,000 on guns, ammo, and range fees last year. (Apparently I’m the only one on TTAG who doesn’t shoot 1,000 rounds per week.) Kudos to you for getting an ammo sponsor. For what it’s worth, I think you should include Liberty in accuracy testing. If an off-spec load is the most accurate, so be it. As to reliability, I wouldn’t much care if a particular pistol didn’t like Liberty ammo. I’m not sure exactly how much a Liberty ammo malfunction would tell a potential “operator.”

    The 300 AAC has an incredibly broad operating range regarding bullet weight. I’m impressed that a supersonic 110 grain at about 2300 FPS and a 220 grain pill at 1000 FPS can cycle from the same action, gas system, and buffer, and buffer spring. So I broke down and finally bought a 300 AAC. Perhaps Liberty ammo has some insights into the operating range of standard .380 / 9mm / .40 / .45 that I’m not privy too. They do load to energy levels similar to a +P or what a SAAMI spec would be. At least, as far as I know.

    I’m also curious if any of the manufacturers will chime in into the matter. Perhaps you’ve already worked that part out. Otherwise, TTAG could get some static by not using +P in some guns (which some aren’t rated for anyways), while using Liberty +P in others. Further, I recall an article that Nick wrote advising against +P ammo for a host of reasons. That article made a lot of sense. The decision to use +P at this point seems to fly in the face of that juncture. Personally, I don’t avoid +P. I’m on the record as using it in the .40 Cal, .45-70, etc. via various Underwood Ammo and Buffalo Bore loadings. I’ve also used Hornady Light Magnum .30-06 back in the day to take deer, and took a deer with Hornady SuperPerformance GMX 165 grain .308 in November of 2013. However, those loadings were standard weights with just a bit more velocity.

    Hornady SuperPerformance has some cautionary tales about gas regulation in semi autos. I haven’t seen anything of the sort from Liberty. Regardless, gas regulation isn’t an issue in a semi auto pistol, but other issues could very well creep up.

    As I’ve said before, I wish you the best, and I hope that Liberty works out well for you. I don’t see why they couldn’t load standard spec ammo as well in those beautiful cases. It might be worthwhile to finesse that angle. Were I Liberty ammo, I would look into selling normals stuff, and maybe even some .22 LR at .15 / round or less. And if they only load their weird low weight / high velocity stuff, I hope it doesn’t bite you in the a$$. I appreciate your gun reviews, and would love to do some myself. I usually can’t take the time, and am glad that you can.

  32. I have no doubt there will be no bias in your reviews. That is certainly a death nell for any reviewer. I too shoot a lot and would love to see a price comparison though of different types of ammo. . especially 5.56 308 and 9MM….

  33. I believe you should post accuracy and other performance tests for every ammo possible, including that of any sponsors. I for one am very interested in how any and all ammo performs in any and all guns, so please include Liberty and any other sponsor’s products in your testing.

  34. More reviews the better, and this’ll drive down your cost of doing reviews significantly. Thanks for the disclosure, but we’re mostly happy that this will most likely lead to more reviews.

  35. Liberty’s handgun ammo isn’t normal ammo, and will give results that may not be indicative of standard ammo types. Lightweight (78 grain) hyper velocity (1900 FPS) .45 rounds, for example, won’t behave like 230 grain ammo. Will you be using only their .223 rifle ammo for rifle reviews, or their handgun ammo for handgun reviews???

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