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From: (John Bercovitz)
Subject: Re: Gun Magazines
Organization: Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory

In article <> 
(Joe St Sauver) writes:

#I may be a voice crying in the wilderness on this one,
#but frankly, I disagree 100% with those of you who 
#think that Gun Tests is just the greatest thing since
#sliced cheese. I just think it is a ... a little cheesy.

It looks like our group is going to split down the middle
on this one.  Half of us like the magazine and half don't.  
I subscribed to it for a year some time back and didn't 
renew.  It felt to me like the folks who wrote the 
magazine were mimicking controlled tests; it's like they've
seen good tests before and are trying to do good tests, 
but they don't know the reasoning behind a good test or 
exactly how it's done so they ape the form if not the 
substance.  To affirm their impartiality, they indulge 
in mildly abusive language if they don't like a product.
This last is their chief distinguishing characteristic.
Otherwise, their tests are, in value, on a par with your 
basic generic gunznammo-type magazine: meant more to
enthuse than to inform.  Not that there's anything at all
wrong with that if no pretense is made to the contrary.

I don't mean to paint gun magazines with a broad brush,
but there is really very little that is well done, in my
opinion.  American Rifleman's tests are always good but
they don't do many, and certainly they have to obey the 
11th commandment: thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow in 
the industry.  I've always felt that the American Rifleman
didn't _hide_ bad results, though.  They just state them
matter-of-factly.  (Just the facts, ma'am; and leave out
the personal comments.)  Handloader and Rifle articles are 
next best.  The folks writing them often don't have quite 
the technical expertise of the folks at the NRA, but they're 
really not bad.  As a matter of fact, since most writers 
sell articles to most of the magazines, what you really 
should do is go by who authored the article.  Wm C Davis is 
good; so's C.E. Harris, and for the back issues of A.R., no
one was better than E.H. Harrison.  There must be 10 more 
good authors but I can't think of their names right now.  
An author will of course alter his intellectual level 
according to which magazine (and audience) he is targeting.

I have a suspicion that really fine professional journals
are only available to folks who work at Aberdeen and places
like that; perhaps one of those folks could comment.  No
doubt the cost of one of these hypothesized journals would
make the cost Gun Tests look like pocket change.

Well, there you have it: one long, unsolicited opinion.  Hope
I'm not completely off base; I'm sure you'll let me know.
    (John Bercovitz)

From: (Geoff Kotzar)
Subject: Re: Gun Magazines
Organization: Case Western Reserve University

In article <> (Peter Cash) writes:
#In article <> wa3wbu! (John Gayman) writes:
##   Your in luck, such a magazine exists. It's called Gun Tests and it is
##the Consumer Reports of gun magazines. They accept no advertising and they
#I agree that Gun Tests is a good thing to read, but I wonder whether the
#price is worth it-- ~$35 for a year's subscription for a magazine that runs
#24 pages long. I suppose it's worth it if you buy a lot of guns, and if you
#buy new designs that haven't stood the test of time. Personally, I also
#sometimes wonder about their evaluation methods--they usually base their
#conclusion on a very small sample--like 1--of the guns being tested. Yes,
#it definitely does beat the gun rags.
#             |      Die Welt ist alles, was Zerfall ist.     |
#Peter Cash   |       (apologies to Ludwig Wittgenstein)      |

This past week I had the chance to purchase three recent issues of
GunTests and thought I would give you my impressions. I picked these
up from my local gun dealer since I was interested in subscribing
having seen them mentioned here several times. Fortunately I only
wasted three dollars not the full $24.00 discount subscription rate.

The back issues were February, March and April of this year. Two of
them contained what I consider fatal flaws, the third had only minor

February: Discount vs. Name-Brand Ammo. The ammo is chronographed and
          shot for accuracy. They state that five rounds were chronoed
          "followed by a series of five shot strings at 25 yards". The
          footnote in the accuracy table states "* Five Shots at 25
          yards from sandbag rest". How many five shot groups? We are
          not told. From how many different guns in each caliber? Again
          we are not told. Which guns? Match grade guns? Guns particular
          about what they are fed? The discrepancy between the text and
          the table statements may be more significant than first appears
          as you look through more articles. Read on.

          Optics Test II: Variable Power... There were serious inconsis-
          tencies here. In the text they talk about their ABUSE test. The
          claim was "we utilized a test fixture which simulates the recoil
          from a very light rifle in .350 Remington Magnum". In the two
          pictures at the start of the article they show two rifles each
          with four scopes above them. The partial caption for the first
          one reads "These were mounted on the 7mm Mauser Mountain Rifle
          seen here for the recoil tests.", while for the second it reads
          "These were mounted on an SMLE No.4T for the recoil tests.".
          The SMLE in chambered for .303 British and the Mountain Rifle
          is in 7x57 Mauser. I have only shot the .303 occasionally but
          I own a 98k in 7x57 and have shot enough high power rifle up
          through .375 H&H and .458 Win Mag to know that there is no way
          in hell the 7mm and the .303 could be made to imitate a .350
          Rem Mag in a HEAVY rifle let alone a light rifle. And as for
          those two rifles providing a meaningful test of recoil tolerance,
          the following data was in the May/June issue of Rifle Magazine.
          A Ruger #1 in .458 Lott (a stretched .458 Win Mag, 500gr bullet
          @ 2300 fps and 72 ft-lb free recoil) had a Burris 1.75x5X scope
          mounted on it for load development. The scope failed after 230
          rounds after having previously been used with 350 12-Ga slugs,
          150 rounds of .416 Taylor, 400 rounds of 35 Whelen-Improved,
          "sizable numbers" of .338 Win Mag and 120 rounds of .458 Win
          Mag. THIS was a test of recoil tolerance, not the flim-flam
          GunTests pulled. Those who like this magazine may be able to
          tell me why they misrepresented their work.

          Their abuse tests also included mounting "the scopes on a
          vibration table for one hour". They claim this "is the general
          equivalent of riding around in a truck for several years".
          What amplitude? What frequency? How did they determine the
          acceleration profile they were trying to model? Did they
          mount accelerometers on a truck and drive it around various
          types of terrain? Surely they have published the method by
          which they arrived at this protocol in a previous issue. Right?

          Their REPEATABILITY test was a joke. They claimed to have built
          a test fixture on which was mounted "a pair of V blocks". When
          I read that I thought of a pair of machinist's V-blocks with
          hold-down yokes. That way the scopes would not move as they
          adjusted the windage and elevation controls to move the point
          of impact around their test target. BTW, they were not actually
          doing any shooting in this test but rather compared the position
          of the scope crosshairs with the refernce transit scope cross-
          hairs. Their photo shows a piece of plywood on which are mounted
          two structural angles to form a U into which they had cut two
          V-shaped notches. The scopes just rested in these notches. They
          reported no "problems whatsoever"; not surprising given the quality
          of their testing technique.

April:    Rust Prevention II: What Works, What Dosen't... The test methods
          they used were very poor and poorly reported as well. Test
          strips were "vapor degreased and then polished bright". My first
          question was "Polished how?". If they used buffing wheels and
          standard compounds how did they clean off the wax carrier that
          is in many rouges. An old trick to rust proof your guns was to
          get them very warm and then apply a coat of Simoniz polish. It
          would liquify on the warm metal and bond beautifully. That is
          exactly what could happen in the polishing process. This could
          just be poor reporting; maybe they did degrease them after all
          the fabrication procedures. But the more fundamental question is
          why didn't they use one of the ASTM methods? Why use their own?
          How many test strips per material being tested? From what they
          wrote it sounded like only one test strip per coating plus one
          untreated reference strip for one of the tests. This is simply
          very poor technique. Correction, it is also cheap and easy and
          very un-professional.

I also have some less objective but equally troublesome questions about
their priorities. For a small example, in their testing of the compact
.45's, they state that the Colt Double Eagle OM was suitable for a back
up or home defense gun while the S&W 4516 was a worthy back-up or under-
cover pistol. Why? What characteristics are required for each use? The 
regular Colt OM which seemed to be the most accurate and possessed the
best trigger pull rated the following bottom line: "At almost $680 it
isn't cheap, especially considering that you can buy the Double Eagle
for only $16 more. Colt might want to think about that." Think about
what? And isn't the standard OM suitable for back-up, home defense or
undercover work? Guess not. What about velocity lost due to the shorter
barrels? Isn't that just as important for a defensive pistol as a pistol
with a rear sight that is only drift adjustable for windage shooting to
one side of center? The shooter is going to have to sight the pistol in
for the load used and his or her individual grip anyhow. The criteria
which they use to judge the performance of firearms appear unrealistic
and their application erratic. Assuming of course that you can deduce them.

Much of what they write about in their evaluations seems very superficial
to me. I found very few nuggets of knowledge in the three issues I have;
certainly not enough to justify the price they ask. They are not even
close to being the gunner's equivalent of the Consummer Reports. Also,
conclusions, especially on quality control issues, based on samples of
one are bound to be unreliable.

One more question for the group: does anybody know just who these people
are and what their qualifications are? Aside from coming up with a great
scam to get all of us to buy them guns for their personal collections,
that is. What are their reputations in the shooting fraternity? Why should
anybody listen to them. To those who subscribe to this magazine, please
read them carefully and critically and let me know if I have been unfair.
Looks an awful lot like the old Aztec two-step to me.

Geoff Kotzar   

From: (Bart Bobbitt)
Newsgroups: rec.guns
Subject: Re: Handloader Magazine
Lines: 82

: Is there anything in print concerning firearms by anyone dead or alive that 
: you admire or find useful?

: Who, what, why? 

Very little of what I read in shooting magazine print is worthwhile for
me.  About one-third of what Precision Shooting has in print is good
information; this magazine probably has the highest percentage of 
correct and worthwhile information.  But it primarily deals with
benchrest competition.  The highpower discipline articles I've seen in
it are some distance from reality.  PS has recently had some articles
on smallbore match ammo that in my opinion are a tad beyond ridiculous.

The type of gun rag articles that I laugh the most at are the ones
telling about some new cartridge that someone has come up with for
hunting.  After much ballyhooing about its shape and handloads used,
the author says he's gonna see how it performs on game.  So, he takes
some carefully handloaded ammo into the field and shoots some animals.
High praises of the new cartridge's performance are splattered all over
the pages.  But wait.  He didn't kill the game with the cartridge.  The
game was killed with the bullet used.  As most readers aren't aware of
this while reading the article, they typically start believing this
new cartridge is really a great hunting cartridge.  During their new
enlightenments, they have completely forgot (as the author has, too)
that any cartridge capable of shooting the same bullet at about the same
muzzle velocity will perform the same on game at a given range.  And
similar articles on a new rifle being tested in the field on game; now
just how many game animals are killed with rifles?  But these types of
articles is what sells their magazines to folks wanting to read about
such stuff........... 
Very few gun rag article authors demonstrate any ability to conduct
a proper test of anything.  Nor are they aware of most of the laws of
physics that play such a large part in making firearms perform as they
do.  I am convinced that 99.9% of them have no idea whatsoever what the
four requirements for one-hole accuracy are, nor do they have any idea
of what physical elements effect each one of those four requirements.
But then 99.9% of all article reader's probably don't know what the four
requirements for one-hole accuracy are, either.

    Note:   Now there's gonna be words put on the net regarding these
            four requirements.  

A letter to Handloader magazine was printed in one of their issues some
time ago.  Seems this guy wrote about his magnum rifle's cases having a
dimple in each case head; one for each time the case was reloaded and
fired and he wanted to know why.  Handloaders `guru' responded in print
saying that dimple, which always appeared at the location of the ejector
hole in the bolt face, was caused by either the locking lugs not bearing
evenly or the bolt was crooked in the receiver.  The rifle should be sent
back to its maker to have it fixed.  I called Handloader and asked their
`guru' about this, suggesting the handloads used might be too hot which
caused the case head to extrude back into the ejector hole in the bolt
face.  To which he replied no way could that happen and went on to say
that this happens in many rifles and is caused by crooked bolts and poor
locking lug engagement.  I sent 'em a letter cancelling my subscription.
One of the best books is one that was written in about 1907 by Dr. F.
W. Mann.  It was recently reprinted from one belonging to Harry Pope's
son complete with Harry's hand-written notes in the margins.  

: Since I see nothing by you on 
: the stands or in the stalls, I (like many others, I am sure) must seek 
: printed matter by others that will instruct, enlighten and inspire me. 

I think folks choose to seek printed matter.  They sure don't have to, or
`must' seek it.  They could shoot in some competitive discipline and 
learn from real people and have a much larger data base.

: I can't recall you ever stating here a favorable opinion on anything in 
: print. 

Well, I can't control your memory.  But I've put on the net some favorable
things I've gleaned from printed matter.  Why, there's even one a few
paragraphs back in this response.


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