Is It Time For A New Kind Of Gun Review?


Grant Cunningham has the courage to notice the elephant in the room: Most gun reviews aren’t all that useful

The reports (on the Remington R51) were almost universally positive: raves were given for the gun’s feel, its accuracy, and even its reliability. It looked, according to the people who were there, like Remington had hit one out of the park.

Come mid-January, at the all-important SHOT Show Media Day at the Range, and the R51 was conspicuous by its absence. It was just a scheduling mix-up, everyone was assured, and when they got to the show proper the next day there were plenty of display models on hand. 

As guns trickled out to the public, a different story about the R51 emerged: the triggers were awful, the slides felt like they were moving in a sandstorm, and worst of all: the guns just didn’t run. People wrote of not being able to shoot a full magazine successfully, and accounts of broken parts and incorrect factory assembly were being pasted all over the ‘net. It was turning out to be a disaster of a new product. 

Grant has three reasons why there was/is a disconnect between what was fondled at GunSite and what showed up on the shelves of your local gun store, and they’re all very good ones.

One of the things I’ve noticed about gun reviews is they tend to exist in a vacuum, as if the gun itself had no purpose for being other than itself. This is true for art, but not so true for guns, because tools where meant to be used, that’s why they’re tools and not sculptures. 


So the question then becomes, what task was this tool designed to assist, and does it succeed in doing so? What is the job that an Remington R51 is designed to help with, and does it succeed in assisting a person to accomplish that task? 

Start with knowing what makes a good hammer, then review hammers and judge a hammer by how well it drives nails. Same is true with guns: I really like NutNFancy’s “Purpose of Use” approach to his reviews, and I’d love to see that idea spread to the traditional media as well. 

The Carbine In Context


My AR-15′s and the SU-16C aren’t my “go-to” weapon. It’s not even my secondary weapon, (that’s the Mossberg I have in my safe room), the rifle is my third choice: It’s gun that I would use if I need something more than my CCW gun if I’m outside the house. I’ve taken a really good defensive carbine training class, but I need some defensive shotgun training, as (God forbid), that would be my secondary weapon I’d go to not my AR-15.

Oh, and I need a good class in first aid/trauma. That too. 

Lower For Hire

Speaking of that Fealty Arms Lower, I know have an extra one hanging around, or at least I will when my 80% lower FINALLY ships. I’ll use the Fealty lower to build a lower for my long-range gun, and the CavArms lower is now dedicated to my CMMG .22 adapter and my 3 Gun AR is just about where I want it (I do need to swap out the handguard and gas block on it), so I actually don’t actually have a need for another AR-15 right now. 

I know, since when does need have anything to do with guns? 

I’m leaning towards making a 9mm “pistol” out of it via a Sig Arms brace, and a pistol 9mm upper, but what would you suggest? 

Pink Is The New Flat Dark Earth

jaci shooting a pink arMy Team co-blogger Jaci J. has some words of wisdom for her fellow female firearms enthusiasts: If you like your pink guns, you should keep your pink guns. 

Personally, I think a AR with the Black Watch tartan on it would be REALLY cool, but that’s just my inner Scotsman talkin’…

Go check out her story at Shooting

Can You Buy A Bad Gun?

bad-gunOn the Gun Show podcast this week, there was an interesting statement made about today’s guns to the effect that you can’t go into a gun store these days and buy a bad gun.

This got me thinking, can you?

I’m not talking about Lorcins or Jennings or HiPoints, I’m talking about Taurus, Glock, Kimbers or even Para-Ordance.

The fact is, as I’ve said before, we are in a golden age of handguns. The days when you bought a gun and then immediately sent it to a gunsmith to make it reliable are gone, even for the low-end brands.

Today Is Buy A Gun Day

And for once, I have something to contribute

First up is the Fealty Arms Lower I won at the Superstition Mountain Three Gun match. 


It’s a lower, so it counts, right? 

The second is something even cooler, a left-handed Savage Model 16 in .308. 


I haven’t bought this one (yet), it’s a T+E gun for an article I’m writing on left-handed long-range shooting. It has a Millett TRS-1 scope and a Harris Bipod and I’ve got new rings and a 20 MOA base  for it on the way. 

If you’re thinking it looks like a cool gun, you’re right, it is! 

So any cool BAG Day schwag to report?

Default Settings.

Once people figure out that you’re a “gun person”, the question will inevitably arise, “Hey, so I was thinking about getting a gun for self-protection: What do you recommend?”

When I got gear questions when I was a photographer, I knew what they were looking for was a quick fix to taking better pictures. The real fix was shooting a lot more film and analyzing their mistakes, but every once in a while I’d talk to someone who knew what they were doing and had reached the limits of what their camera could do. At this point I’d usually recommend a Nikon FM, a 35mm f2 and Tri-X. Because old school. 

So what do I recommend for a pistol? Shockingly, not a CZ. I really love my CZ75 and my P07, but the fact is a double-action trigger is a hard thing to master, and the time and bandwidth needed to reach a level of comfort with such a trigger is better-spent elsewhere for a beginning shooter. Don’t get me wrong, I think double-action triggers are just peachy, it’s just not a place I’d start with a beginning shooter. 

When people ask about a self-defense gun for beginners, unless they talk about a need for concealability or easy shooting, I usually end up recommend the Smith and Wesson M&P series for first-time shooters.


Shocker, I know. 

Ok, why? 

  • I’ve gained a new appreciation for the M&P after owning and shooting my Shield
  • It’s easy to find accessories for
  • It’s an easier transition to other pistols than the Glock
  • It’s striker-fired so there’s only one trigger pull to learn
  • It’s easy to shoot
  • 9mm is (theoretically) common to find

Ok, so was my thinking out of line? What would you recommend?

Hunting Show 2.0

So what would it take for me to add another hunting show to my DVR lineup?

  • Make it about something other than just hunting.
    Do hunters REALLY want me to believe that hunting is just about tramping through the woods and pulling the trigger? 
  • Embrace the localvore, organic lifestyle
    How many of the trendy restaurants these days are about locally-sourced, antibiotic-free, free-range meat? Isn’t fresh game the ultimate expression of that idea? Why is Steve Rinella the only one acknowledging that fact?
  • Assume nothing about your audience
    Don’t just go through the motions of the hunt, take the time to explain *why* you’re doing things.
  • Don’t ignore the beginner
    Let’s make a short list of all the hunting shows out there for the beginning hunter. Ready? Go. 
    There, that was fun, wasn’t it?
  • Make it accessible to city dwellers
    America is a primarily urban nation now, but you’d never know it by watching a hunting show.
  • Teach me something new with each show
    Don’t just show me what you’re doing, tell me *why* you’re doing it, and if you can’t do that, tease it and then move the instruction part on to YouTube.
  • Personalities drive television, but we’re not all hicks
    I love “Dual Survival“, and it’s the living, breathing embodiment of what I’m talking about (minus the hunting). Hunting shows could learn a lot from Cody Lundin, Bear Grylls and Les Stroud about bringing us city folk into the outdoors. 

 Ok, those are my suggestions. What are yours?