I take issue with how most popular youtube firearms channels conduct their gun reviews. It’s like the hollow, superficial gun magazine reviews have bled onto the internet in long form video. I get it. Guns are guns. They’re generally boring and you have to pretend there’s something fancy and new about this specific gun you’re reviewing to fill time and have something to post every week. However, I think it could be done better. Reviews in gun magazines when I was reading them in the early 2000’s went like this:
- “This pistol well balanced and feels good in the hand”
- “Ate all 100 rounds I tested flawlessly”
- “Here’s a shot grouping with XYZ defensive ammo”
- “Innovative features” that are minor variations of features on all other guns
- …more drivel…
- The End
The blatantly bought and sold gun reviews in print media became the laughing stock of the internet. Fast forward to the mid-2000s and we saw independent folks started having a voice with forums, blogs, and eventually YouTube. Once Youtube took off and people realized they could monetize views, we started to see these semi-professional independent gun reviewers gain popularity. Arguably, today these folks are the most recognized people in the industry at large.
Tips for Spotting Useless Information
Here’s some things to keep in mind if you’re relatively new to guns and are watching one of those YouTube gun celebrities review a gun on their home range with all the steel targets and soda bottles.
- “Feels good in the hand” is completely subjective and is totally dependent on the person holding the gun. It also doesn’t matter what it feels like at the gun shop, it matters how it feels while it’s being shot. Some guns that feel good, shoot poorly. For instance, a very comfortable framed gun can be like a bar of soap in recoil that has no index points when establishing grip in the holster. This results in inconsistent presentations on target. Some that “feel blocky” in the hand, actually allow a more repeatable hand index and presentation.
- “Follow up shots are really fast!” Show me a timer. Show me a grouping on paper. If they don’t have a timer and corresponding holes in a target, you can safely disregard that comment. Here’s a clip of Ernest Langdon talking about his ‘lie detector’ (Shot Timer):
- “The Trigger is great!” Another subjective comment. More useful information is the method of operation, trigger weight, length of pull, and a description of the feel of the trigger press throughout the shot cycle.
- “This gun is really accurate” For me, watching someone shoot a 10″ piece of steel at 10 yards isn’t proof of accuracy. Most guns are mechanically more accurate than the shooter. I’d like to see benched 25-yard groupings, which show mechanical accuracy, as well as off-hand 25 yard groups which factor in trigger, sights, and operator ability all together.
- “This gun is a hoot to shoot!” Maybe. All guns are. I personally am after reliability and performance. Does this pistol allow the reviewer to do something better, worse, or the same as he can do with any other pistol. What? Why? How? This is what I want to know.
Without quantifiable data, you’re just shooting bottles of soda. Look at it as entertainment, not an actual review. Subjective reviews have certain limited value, but numbers matter. Only Performance counts.
What Does The Perfect Gun Channel Look Like (to me)?
If I ran a youtube channel, one of the main features would be to start a performance board similar to how the BBC Show TOP GEAR would review cars around their home track, and rank them on a chart. Think of all the possibilities for quantifying a gun’s attributes! I would pick a few drills that I decided would best demonstrate all important attributes of a gun’s operation by removing outside variables as much as possible, put them on a timer, and rank them by the numbers. The shooter’s ability doesn’t have to be world class, it just needs to be the same shooter for all the tests (me in this case). The viewer would have a direct comparison between any guns I ran through that battery of tests. Scores, Times, Weight, Size, Caliber, reliability are all quantifiable. There would be some subjective input, but I’d keep it minimal. I realize that might be boring to the casual gun person. It’s probably a dumb idea. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go back to watching Hickok45 shoot steel rams and chuckle at the *GONGGGGG*.
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