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  #1  
Old 04-11-2009, 04:52 AM
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Today’s gun-writers are no-talent plagiarists who attempt to capitalize on an audience they think are inexperienced and unknowledgeable when it comes to firearms. Additionally, Gun magazines are nothing more than advertisement brochures for firearms the gun industry produces. Through the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, they have progressively deteriorated from technical magazines to paid advertisements. Today, they don’t even bother being technically correct. Shooting Times Magazine, at one time my favorite gun-rag, is at the top of the heap for incompetence.

Unfortunately, there is little we can do about it, hence the reason for this post. Several years ago, P.O Ackley had a similar complaint. As a side-bar, I’d love to have some of the “junk” guns from his era though.

I grabbed the latest issue of Shooting Times from my local newsstand. It seems there is a list of words for the all knowing, been there done that, seen the elephant, mystical gun-writer of today to draw from that is supposed to stymie, stupefy, astonish and bewilder the reader. The intent of course is to sell guns to the dilettante, and NEVER identify a problem with the product.

A few words I routinely see in use are: opted, proprietary, deep concealment (how is this different from “concealment”?), utilize, utilizes, rendition, and of course, the biggie, experience. These words, used time and again, are designed to give the impression the writer actually knows something about his subject.

Nothing could be further from the truth. In Layne Pearce’s May 2009 article, Loading and Shooting the .357 is a Blast, he states the .38 Special and .357 Magnum are the same caliber. While this is technically correct, it would’ve been better to say they are the same bullet diameter. Moreover, all the loads listed appear watered down.

Pearce again sticks his foot in his mouth in the Shooting Times May 2009 article Make Mine a Custom, when he says “the model 58 M&P revolver was almost impossible to control with full power .41 Magnum loads”. This contradicts everything Skeeter Skelton says about recoil in his article Fear not the Kicking Mule reprinted from 1968 in the same issue. I’ve shot many max loads through the S&W model 58, both double and single action and never found recoil excessive.

In Dan McElrath’s article Short and Still Sweet (Shooting Times, FEB 2009) he incorrectly states that the .38 S&W can be fired from .38 Special or .357 Magnum revolvers. This is not true. Try putting a .38 S&W in a S&W Model 27-2 with a recessed chamber. It won’t fit. The .38 S&W is a tapered case, not straight walled like the .38 Special and .357 Magnum. While it’s correct there might be .38 Special and .357 Magnum revolvers out there you could FORCE a .38 S&W in, this is not something a sensible person would do, or encourage doing.

McElrath also makes the argument that since most loading manuals list .357 diameter bullets for reloading the .38 S&W, then shooting a .38 S&W out of the .357 Magnum must be OK. However, the reason the load books use .357 bullets in their data for the .38 S&W is because few bullet manufacturers make a .360 bullet anymore.

McElrath’s work is not the only technically erroneous article from Shooting Times of late. No, the title of most current and qualified blooper documenter goes to J. Guthrie in his May 2009 ST article titled The Model 27 Lives. In it, Guthrie barrows what he calls a 6 inch barreled 27-2 to compare against the new 6.5 inch barrel 27 Classic. On page 54 the 27-2 he used in the comparison is definitely a 5 inch barreled gun, not a 6 inch barrel.

One thing is certain, all of this gun-writing business has been done before, by the likes of Bill Jordan, Skeeter Skelton, COL Charles Askins, Elmer Keith, Julian Hatcher, E.H. Harrison and P.O Ackley, just to name a few. Gun-writers today ride on the coat-tails of those shooting greats, who shot for both sport and work. They had real trigger time facing both bad guys and dangerous game.

“The Sheriff” Jim Wilson habitually bootleg’s Skeeter Skelton’s work. Wilson’s article titled If I Could Only Have One Gun in the September 2006 issue of Shooting Times is remarkably similar to Skelton’s prose. Again, riding on the fumes of Skelton, “The Sheriff” expounds the merits of the .357 Magnum revolver. In the article he also goes onto say how the 1911A1 solved many of his LE and personal protection needs in his lengthy career. Read the reprinted 1982 article in the FEB 2009 issue of Shooting Times by Skeeter Skelton titled Best Handguns I Ever Had. You’ll find these two articles very similar.

Another favorite gun-writer ploy is to use the following statement “I had gunsmith X make me one of these”. As if they had gunsmith X on speed dial, or living in their basement, turning out the work in a day or two while the common shooter has to wait several years for custom big name service. Undoubtedly this special treatment is due to the lofty status the gun-writer holds in the industry today.

All in all, the problems I cite here are fixable. What Shooting Times needs to fix first is hiring someone to technically proof-read the articles for both readability and technical accuracy. After that, they need to transition back to being a technical journal, focusing on both the positive and negative qualities of the gun. Maybe I should apply for the job.
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Old 04-11-2009, 06:03 AM
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I, too have seen a 180 degree shift in quality and mission from the old technical emphasis to the total, complete, Madison Avenue ad-slick product turned out by almost all of the rags.

Even the NRA publication used to have a vast collection of technical articles in every issue. Now, it, too, merely begs the approval of the gun makers.

Guns are treated as mystical mechanical works of science only the Few can understand. "Voodoo" permeates the internal mechanical details and such voodoo can only be exorcised by the limited and Knowing Few, top name gunsmiths.

This is unfortunate, because it seems every new gun I buy has bugs and warts right out of the box, and as a result, I've had to learn a bit of the voodoo secrets myself just to get the things to go bang every time. If I hadn't, the price of every gun I'd buy might double as a result of sending them off to the Wizards.

Unfortunately I do not have a Gun Wizard living in my basement or available on 24/7 call...

Pretty good points, GRT.
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Old 04-11-2009, 06:32 AM
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I have almost stopped reading Guns & Ammo magazine all together due to the fact it is nothing more than one review after another. I do get Handloader magazine from time to time, but thats really about it. I myself have tried my hand at gunwriting, and have had a couple articles published, but not in the more well known "big" magazines. It is very tough to try and break in to that business, every querie I have ever written was met with the response (if on the rare occasion that I even get one) that "we have a guy for those types of articles". What would these magazines be if new blood was transfused into their writing pool. Maybe better. The problem is, there are no Skeeters or Elmers anymore, and whether you liked him or hated him, Jeff Cooper sold print. I would say John Taffin, Mike Venturino, and Bart Skelton are the best reads right now, with Gary James writing about classic guns. I think alot of the rest is just trying to sell guns and magazines. I was hoping myself to try and put out an article on the Smith 27 5inch barrel, and then to see the same thing in this month's Shooting Times, whih instead turned into a review of the new classic version of the M 27 and had very little to do with the original version. Again, trying to sell magazines.
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Old 04-11-2009, 06:43 AM
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Quote:
Again, trying to sell magazines.
They can't be blamed for this 100% of course, as that is what their job is.

However, I truly wonder if a good solid base of technical writing might add a dimension of true "mystique" that might encourage younger shooters to leave the video games and get actively involved in more technical development of loads, etc.

Realistically, this might happen in a down economy. I mean, remember when it was cheaper and easier to merely buy a case of pistol ammo than it was to handload for it?

Who knows, maybe a little challenge in the wallet willl prompt more tecnical curiousity among shooters... {??}

As for there being no more Skeltons, etc. I agree and disagree.

There are plenty of fellows with combat and high stress law enforcement experience out there who COULD in theory replace the old guys. But in today's world, I believe it won't be soon before we read of Askins-style antics...

Maybe that is a good thing...
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Old 04-11-2009, 06:59 AM
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I would agree with much of what has been said above. I have had the opportunity along with a couple of other forum members to spend a fair amount of time with a fairly large number of current writers in "shooting" sessions as well as a hell of alot of time in BSing sessions. Many of them are good writers that have had the opportunity to do it on a professional {writing that is} level. They would welcome the opportunity to write about anything. When we compare them to the writers of yesterday the main difference is the old writers were gunners first and writers second. The writers that most closely are that today would be John Taffin, Mike Venturino, Wiley Clapp, Craig Boddington{Marine Brig. General}and others of their ilk. Many of the "new" writers have a strong willingness to learn from those of us who have been shooting for a while and I most certainly applaud their effort. I might also add that for the most part they also are a good bunch of guys to spend time with. Forum member H Richard {a long time gunner and Medical business mgr. in real life} has spent far more time than I with writers and I hope he might "chime in" with his thoughts. Best Best Regards, Joe.
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Old 04-11-2009, 08:01 AM
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I was a heavy reader starting in the mid 50s. Now I admit I am old fashion and not much into the black plastic autos etc, and always skip over those articles. I have always liked the old classics, revolvers and rifles.
There just isnt anything new to write about in my old favorite fields that I havent read dozzens of times before. I dont buy 10 percent of the magazines I used to.
I cant blaim a writer that writes on the old stuff that I like, as its impossable to come up with thoughts that I havent read a number of times since I was a kid! So I guess they are preaching to the newbees.
I was brought up in chuch. My folks went twice on sunday and maybe three other type meetings durring the week. I havent went much in the later years for various reasons, yet I belive the same as I did in my young teens. The point is I belive it almost impossable for a preacher or sunday school teacher to come up with something NEW that I havent heard 55 years ago.
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Old 04-11-2009, 08:29 AM
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I gave up gun magazines during the 90s.

I couldn't afford the empty mental calories or the waste of time.
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Old 04-11-2009, 08:38 AM
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There are some magazines I read through in a matter of minutes, because there just isn't anything in it that has my interest. Maybe because of my age (68), I like older guns, preferably pre-war and early post war Smith revolvers. I shoot lots of different things, and do a lot of reloading, but I get a little tired of every writer rehashing the latest version of the 1911 and the AR's latest trick out.

About a year or two ago, the American Rifleman was reformatted and was really improved, with lots of good articles, but I see it slipping back into what it used to be also.

I can read only about half of an American Handgunner anymore, but their photography is the best, they have professional photographers that use great lighting on beautiful guns.

I think that many writers are really excellent, but the subject matters are directed by their Editors as in, "I need two articles on Tactical this or hunting that". So, the writers write what the Editors want. There are so many new products introduced every year that have to be written about, it leaves only a couple articles the writers may "want to" write.

I've met many of these writers as Joe Kent mentioned, and they are really nice guys, and knowledgeable, but we have to remember while they can write anything they want to, but if the Editor doesn't like it, it won't get into print, and they have to eat also.

Look for more New Product writings in the next few months as there is a writers Round Table the first week of May, where a lot of new products will be displayed for the writers see and fondle. I'll be there to help them fondle the new goodies.
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Old 04-11-2009, 09:14 AM
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I belong to the NRA so I get "The American Rifleman". That is the only gun magazine that I purchase anymore. I usually go to a place such as Barnes& Nobles or Books-A-Million and spend a litle time reading selected articles. It is rare that I find anything that makes me want to buy the magazine(s). I am in my mid 50's and started reading gun mags when I was a kid. Perhaps I have just become jaded. Then again, when I read some of the old ones I have kept, I find I enjoy certain writers that have passed on.

I also find the articles written about new guns that have rails and lasers and sirens and searchlights and hydration systems, etc. and are made out of exotic alloys and plastic but don't really do anything but spit bullets like every other gun, tedious. I always skip them. Since that seems to be the major feature in many of the current magazines, I pass on them.

Perhaps there might be a market for a gun magazine that caters to us geezers. It could have reprints of classic articles by the old masters previously mentioned and new articles about guns that are made out of exotic materials such as steel and wood. Maybe there could be some articles about guns written by people who have done more than sit gazing at a computer and having mental adventures. I guess that would be too much to hope for...
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Old 04-11-2009, 09:46 AM
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Wow. I feel like gun magazines have gotten a lot better in the last five years. And there are several active magazine gunwriters whose work I very much enjoy (Ayoob, Taffin, Cumpston, Prisbrey, just right off the top of my head - tho these gents are by no means the only writers whose work I enjoy). And I feel like I'm seeing interesting articles about things I didn't know (certainly not always the case) in almost every issue (for instance, Garry James' article in this month's G&A about Lefaucheaux pinfire revolvers and modern-day pinfire cartridge reloading - I really enjoyed that).

It seems like one of these threads pops up about three times a year. While I find minor errors in just about every issue I read (as someone who writes professionally, finding nought but perfection would astound me - and I'd note that "the greats" of gunwriting made their share of errors, too) and there are certainly a few writers whom I've come to disregard, I have to say that seeing this sort of thread always dispirits me a bit. I know writers who I can assure you are not "just trying to sell guns" and who truly enjoy the shooting sports and are trying to see that the reader does as well.

I know that these fellas have thick skin and are capable of taking valid criticism, but I can't help but feeling like the negativity has a little more amplitude than would be productive. (And I also suspect that the worst offenders among the writers don't give a rat's behind what anyone thinks - so the only folks who are getting the brunt of this criticism are those who merit it the least, the folks who actively participate on these boards and share their company and writing for free.)

All in all, I think that kvetching about gunwriting in general can get to be sort of like a fat guy in the stands griping about how this year's team sucks and couldn't compare to the glories of the past. Specific criticism (as some here have rendered - no doubt) can be productive if targeted to the right place, but general griping about how the glory days are gone seems bad for the morale of the sport as a whole.
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Old 04-11-2009, 09:57 AM
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The truth is the majority of what is written today is to promote the sales of advertised products. How often is anything criticized? I used to take writers to Africa we never asked them to print anything but the truth and that was their condition as well! In fact all we required was that they were guaranteed space in a major magazine. In those days a lot of writers were looking for free hunts and were not able to get articles published.

We worked with some of Peterson Hunting writers, in the mid to late 80's the publications policy changed while we were a long time advertiser in the Where To Go Section they now demanded major ads inserted along side the article. The ads ran with the articles cost around $7,000.00 for one issue which made it cost prohibitive. While I can picture him I cannot think of the name of the Peterson person that created this policy. I know he was not well respected among the staff.

I knew some writers that were very objective and one whom I remain very good friends with who is totally disgusted with what has become of their profession.

Yes there still are some talented writers out there who really love their sport be it hunting, shooting, collecting, etc but they are controlled by the publications and its advertisers!

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Old 04-11-2009, 10:00 AM
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Try Small Arms Review and the articles section of Shotgun News.

David Fortier (sp?) is a decent writer.
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Old 04-11-2009, 10:31 AM
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Couple of thoughts---

No one in the freelance writing racket is immune from plagarism, sometimes subtle, sometimes overt and blatant --- I regard it as backhanded flattery, and as long as I get paid first, it's only petty theft.

No one has as yet questioned whether the lack of technical accuracy and detail in contemporary gun writing results from the demand rather than supply side. Most writing in popular media, including newspapers, seems to be increasingly dumbed down and devoid of scientific info or accuracy (see any article involving scientific matters --- global warming, anything involving firearms, geography, etc.)Increasing illiteracy, ignorance of science, etc., may cause consumers to shy away from technical discussions that leave them baffled. Magazines are, after all, entertainment first, technical treatises second.

Many of us here are experienced, knowledgeable "gun nuts", but not a day passes without a query from a newbie that seems laughably obvious to many of us --- (always answered helpfully and politely, I'll add) --- these are the readers the "pop" gun mags are aimed toward. If you expect much more, expect to be disappointed.
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Old 04-11-2009, 11:06 AM
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I have given up on the "gun magazine" entirely. I now rely on the Internet for most of my information. I have a strong "BS" filter, which is constantly engaged.
Some discussion in gun shops, with knowledgeable proprietors, is useful. Most often in gun shops you need an extra "BS" filter.
I find this site to be most informative, and by far the best. Another site I have found useful (not for pricing; he wisely doesn't provide any) is 1896mauser.com. I wish there were more fora like that one.
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Old 04-11-2009, 11:14 AM
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With rare exception, I think the writers today are about the same as the writers of previous generations. 90% BS with 10% actual "experience". I used to think the old guys were tops too until I went back and read some of their old articles recently.

The main focus of the magazines are, and always have been, to support their advertisers. I doubt they even care if anyone even buys a copy as long as they get the advertising money.
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Old 04-11-2009, 11:57 AM
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OK, gents, back off a few feet and think about this and the rehashing of stuff so many of us know:

How many "newbies" and "not-so-newbies" ask the same questions over and over again on this forum,
the SASS Wire, Colt, Ruger, etc.?

I think a lot of us think the likes of Skeeter were better because we were learning back then.
I have a collection of his writings and a lot of it is pretty basic and similar to what is printed
today.

What's hurt magazines and writers to some extent is the vast amount of knowledge one can tap into
on such forums as this one. Here, you might learn
just one little fact about a S&W you didn't know as you read through many repetitive queries and answers. And learning that one fact makes it all worthwhile.

I don't read the magazines much, or at all, but occasionally I do look at one and sometimes I learn a fact I never knew before. As for coverage
on new and old guns, really how much has changed in firearms, basically changed, since Sam Colt's day? For instance, the concept of automatic weapons dates back to before the Civil War but early experiments failed because the black powder fouled everything so badly. Once the smokeless stuff was developed, autoloaders followed pretty quickly. Heck, John Moses Browning even turned a
Winchester '73 into an auto once he had the powder--albiet a strange looking auto.

Danski
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Old 04-11-2009, 02:25 PM
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Aside from Mas Ayoob and John Taffin, I do like some of what Jeff Quinn writes over on his site. Yes, I realize that he has to generate enough hits on his site to sell advertising, but he does a pretty good job on his writings.

Other than these few, I'm not to impressed. I'd put the writing prowess and knowledge of many right here in this forum up against many of todays gun writers.
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Old 04-11-2009, 04:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by David LaPell:
I have almost stopped reading Guns & Ammo magazine all together due to the fact it is nothing more than one review after another. I do get Handloader magazine from time to time, but thats really about it. I myself have tried my hand at gunwriting, and have had a couple articles published, but not in the more well known "big" magazines. It is very tough to try and break in to that business, every querie I have ever written was met with the response (if on the rare occasion that I even get one) that "we have a guy for those types of articles". What would these magazines be if new blood was transfused into their writing pool. Maybe better. The problem is, there are no Skeeters or Elmers anymore, and whether you liked him or hated him, Jeff Cooper sold print. I would say John Taffin, Mike Venturino, and Bart Skelton are the best reads right now, with Gary James writing about classic guns. I think alot of the rest is just trying to sell guns and magazines. I was hoping myself to try and put out an article on the Smith 27 5inch barrel, and then to see the same thing in this month's Shooting Times, whih instead turned into a review of the new classic version of the M 27 and had very little to do with the original version. Again, trying to sell magazines.

David-

If you want to be a gun writer, or a writer at all, you need to learn better spelling and proofreading skills. Misspelling Garry James's name is a pretty good way NOT to get into gun mags! "Altogether" should replace your "All Together", and you have other errors. Good Lord, you can't even spell, "query"! If you want to write professionally, even in an opinion editorial for the local newspaper, watch your language skills.

I've written for gun and knife mags, and the editors tell me that I am one of the few whose prose needs no corrections, so I suspect that some other "writers" have the same issues that you do. Elmer Keith had to be edited heavily!

Try taking Journalism 101 at a community college. It will probably greatly assist your writing skills. I sincerely mean this to be a helpful suggestion.

The way that many spell on this and other gun forums is pitiful. What must non-gun people think if they check out gun forums?

I know how tough it is to sell to the big gun rags, which are indeed primarily shills for the industry. The late Don Zutz, one of the most knowledgeable gun writers of all time, once told me that, "Shooting Times" returned one of his manuscripts with little comment, and he doubted that they had even read it!

I agree that Jim Wilson, who was once actually a Texas sheriff, probably wanted to inherit Skeeter's mantle as chief gunwriter with a Southwestern flavor. He is no Skeeter, but he seems to know what he writes about. But he probably has to write some articles that are assigned to him, even if he has no real interest in the products that he reviews.

Another writer told me that he once tested three examples of a new Star pistol, and that none of the three was reliable. But that magazine gave it favorable coverage, including a cover shot! Ad dollars at work...(That gun evolved into the M-30 and the M-31, which were much better.)

If you want to read good writing, read books. One scribe whom I admire is David Lindsey. www.davidlindsey.com Click on the right buttons and read sample chapters. If you can write as well as Lindsey, you would surely be an exception among gun writers! But you can pick up writing tips by reading his material, or that by such talents as Robert B. Parker, whose work is deceptively elegant, if terse at times.

However, the style of gun magazines doesn't lend itself overmuch to elegant language. One has always to keep in mind the market for a particular piece of writing.

Jack O'Connor was one of the very few gun writers who could practice other forms of writing sucessfully. Most simply lack the writing skills. Warren Page was another. Both were teachers before they became outdoor writers.

Some gun writers do still offer technical articles and know whereof they speak. Mike Venturino largely repeats his own articles and his books, but provides very valuable information not available elsewhere. He does need to gain more familarity with WW II weapons, his new enthusiasm, if he is to impart much that is new about them.

On the other hand, "Rifle" has one writer who makes at least one error in almost everything that he publishes. On the other hand, they have Brian Pearce and John Havilland. They are two of the few gun writers still worth reading.

John Barsness strikes me as a peacock, but he is knowledgeable. I don't know where he is now, or why he left, "Rifle." But they were dumb to let him get away.

I need to go do something useful. I hope that this actually interested someone.

David, study what I said. You may yet succeed as a writer, but learn to be your own worst critic, and improve your skills before offering material to an agent or an editor!

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Old 04-11-2009, 04:54 PM
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As far as I'm concerned they are all junk and I've discontinued all subscriptions with the exception of Precision Shooting and Handloader. I'm not paying good money for incompetence and infomercials. Don't even get me started on the "Sheriff".
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Old 04-11-2009, 05:05 PM
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Actually Texas, I hate keyboards because it doesn't give me time to work out my words, either how I spell them, or how I write them. I already have been published in several magazines, I will not list them all the various articles here for you, but they have been Fur-Fish-Game, Backwoodsman, and Adirondack Life, and when it matters, I take great pains to make sure my words are correct. I am not an English major, so if I mispell once in awhile, then I apologize. So far my words have been good enough for the editors of three different magazines, even if they are not good enough for you. I am also too busy working at my job and trying to build a house and a family to take college classes, some of us really don't have the time or the finances. I think for all of the work I have done over the last few years, not having a degree really has not mattered that much, and if an editor every asks me for one, I will tell him that I have met several college graduates who are working at the local Walmart because they spent so much money on college pursuing a career that is not available to them.
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Old 04-11-2009, 06:45 PM
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Quote:
The way that many spell on this and other gun forums is pitiful. What must non-gun people think if they check out gun forums? Roll Eyes
Apologies to Mark Twain, but I've never had respect for a man who can only spell a word one way.
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Old 04-11-2009, 06:53 PM
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Quote:
If you want to be a gun writer, or a writer at all, you need to learn better spelling and proofreading skills.
There's much to be said for this advice from Texas Star --- if grotesque grammatical and spelling errors appear in your query letters, they indicate carelessness and sloppiness in your work.

On the other hand, if clumsy typos and obviously unintentional errors appear in your manuscripts, copyeditors should notice and correct them. The problem is that most magazines have little or no competent copyediting or fact-checking, and some actually introduce errors --- some nitwit once changed ammunition to bullets making me look ignorant, in one of the last few pieces I wrote for that publication. (I can embarass myself easily enough, thank you, without help from some ignoramus...) The main thing is to be able to express an idea appealingly, interestingly, and authoritavely, in the always limited available space.
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Old 04-11-2009, 07:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by GatorFarmer:
Try Small Arms Review and the articles section of Shotgun News.

David Fortier (sp?) is a decent writer.
I agree & these are two magazines of the four that I subscribe to. The other two being American Handgunner & Guns.
I miss the old Machine Gun News. Nobody even remembers that one.
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Old 04-11-2009, 08:53 PM
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I was heartbroken when Wolfe Publishing decided to drop Ross Seyfried. Ross could be rather aloof in person, but that's the way he is. I envied his knowledge of the odd and eccentric. His articles were interesting to me more because of the subject matter than the prose. He is writing for the DGS, but I miss his handgun articles.

I was equally distressed when Ken Waters stopped writing for Handloader. Few display the depth of knowledge and attention to detail that Ken possesses. Pet Loads still holds an honored spot on my bookshelf.

Dang, all this recollecting leaves me feeling a little depressed.
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Old 04-11-2009, 09:02 PM
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Human interest pieces that one can either relate to, or that show a side of the world one wouldn't usually see, are another item lacking from today's magazines. Some of the finest writing of the past wasn't always really about the guns themselves, they were present mind you, but involved the personalities around the guns. Charlie Sherrill's stories as told here are probably one of the best examples of this human interest segue from firearms, or even the antics of Travis the Roofer, Realtor Bob and the assorted hood rats of Michigan.

Without the human angle, one is left with technical writing. The essence of technical writing is the large manuals that used to accompany computer software packages. The ones that no one would ever read and would eventually be burned for firewood.
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Old 04-11-2009, 09:12 PM
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One of the reasons Skeeter Skelton was so popular was because he could throw in all of those stories, not to mention the way he would lay things out. Elmer Keith was more plain and matter of fact.
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Old 04-12-2009, 04:53 AM
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I think many gun writers suffer from a lack of experience. Most of their "knowledge" has been gained in front of a computer or by reading what somebody else wrote. Seemingly most of them do very little shooting, and they frequently write something like, "I was finally able to get to the range and fire a three shot group from twenty-five yards, and this new gun is plenty accurate."

By contrast many of the old time writers were active or retired military officers, had been heavily involved in gun and cartridge development, had years of competitive shooting experience, and actually went to the range! Whelen, Hatcher, Askins, Keith, and Page shared many of those traits.
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Old 04-12-2009, 07:33 AM
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I grew up reading Jack O'Connor and some of the others. But during my college and young adult years I was greatly influenced by three great writers. Finn Aagaard, Bob Hagel and Bob Milek were very knowlegeable about guns and hunting, and were also good writers. I know Aagaard and Milek have passed on; not sure about Hagel. I really miss those guys.
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Old 04-12-2009, 07:46 AM
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Machine Gun News went out of business still owing me some issues.
Small Arms Review has been much more reliable.
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Old 04-12-2009, 09:25 AM
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I stopped reading "Guns and Ammo" some years ago. I could't stand Mr. Boddington's smiling face any longer while he's kneeling by the next killed animal around in the world. I respect here in Switzerland hunting as a keeping and caring work for the woods and the wildlife in it. But I don't understand how someone can fly to Africa or wherelse, just to kill an animal for a wallhanger-trophy. Sorry, but I got to much respect for life, than I can accept this any longer.
And the re-re-re-repeating of the 1911-semi-auto-reports looks to me like a mantra and were more than boring.

I like the Shooting-Times magazine very much and from time to time I buy some swiss- or german-made magazines like Visier, Caliber or DWM.

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Old 04-12-2009, 09:55 AM
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Sure, I miss Jeff Cooper and Skeeter.
(not too much, I just keep reading them again!)

Ayoob and Venturino are always good reads.

New guy Greg Rodriguez seems quite knowledgeable.

I believe anything Clint Smith says deserves my attention.

Sheriff Wilson is one of my least favorites.

Emory
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Old 04-12-2009, 04:10 PM
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In fairness to today's gun writers the ones that I (Age 59) "grew up" reading were from a different era with different experiences. Charles Askins and Bill Jordan served in the Border Patrol when the Southwestern Border was still a pretty rough place and is Askins is to be believed, many criminals had to be taught the hard way not to tangle with the Border Patrol. Askins and Jordan saw action in WWII, Elmer Keith came of age just as the transition from black to smokeless powder took place, and in the absence of the Internet or a large number of gun magazines the boundaries of gun knowledge were expande by individual experimenters like him-he was sort of the Thomas Edison of the Gun World. Skeeter Skelton grew up during the Depression. Townsend Whelen actually KNEW TR-who died in 1919, he's been gone quite a while.
Then the spread of knowledge-through the Internet, books, private research and experimentation-has created quite a few genuine if uncredentialed experts. The old definition of an "expert" was a windbag 100 miles from home, the new definition is someone with a few published articles and maybe books to his credit. I have the reputation of being something of an "expert" in the gun circles I travel in, I attribute this 40 plus years of shooting and even more importantly reading and I blessed with an extremely powerful memory, so I either remember what I have read or at least where I read it. Having a good selection of screwdrivers and small tools in my shooting box at the range confers "expert" status when I help other shooters with jams or similar problems-especially thos I have experienced. I do not hunt and pay little attention to the hunting articles,I am not a shotgunner, if a handgun is not steel and walnut-or at least all steel-I am not interested. Likewise no DAOs, "safe actions", whatever for me. Not a Glock fan.
I think the fairest thing to say about today's gunwriters is that Keith, Askins, Jordan, Skelton, Cooper et al.-they're a tough act to follow.
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Old 04-13-2009, 10:06 PM
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I really like reading Mossad Ayoob's articles. He seems to bring a lot of common sense to self-defense topics and reminds people to use their brains. I think the writers do the best they can to recycle the subject matter in an interesting way.

However, I'd love for some editors to be reading these forums and using them to improve their magazines. So, I'll provide my pet peeves:

The worst thing about the gun magazines is that they all review the same new guns at around the same time.

The 1.5th worst thing is that they minimize problems encountered in reviews. If a gun doesn't shoot to point of aim, then it is pretty much a total waste of money and a total pain in the butt for the purchaser. I'm not real gung-ho about shipping a gun back to the factory from my teeming hive of scum and villainy. I've had enough packages "disappear."

The second worst thing is that they seem to recycle articles into special compendium editions on specific topics.

The third worst thing is that they continually review high dollar and customized guns. For me, a high dollar custom gun would probably be a once in a lifetime purchase. Massive coverage of a high dollar gun makes the magazine pretty irrelevant to me.

The fourth worst thing is the near total emphasis on serious tactical stuff. If you aren't on a SWAT team or you aren't hiding under your bed just waiting for someone to kick in your door, the articles get tiresome. There is a lot of fun to be had with firearms.

The fifth worst thing is that they don't cover enough basic skills. Not room clearing. How about gun cleaning? How about restoring grandpa's old gun? How do you get into reloading?

The sixth worst thing is that they don't cover all aspects of the lifestyle. Where to go shoot? What kind of practice is realistic at a typical indoor range with no quick draw and no rapid fire?

The seventh worst thing is that they seem to ignore the sport aspects of shooting outside IDPA. What's it like to shoot smallbore in the Olympics? What kind of guns do they use?

I'd like to see them cover the whole market and classic guns that are still strong sellers. I'd also like them to cover all price points (from Jennings/Bryco to English double shotguns).

Typically, I'll read gun stuff for a few months and then switch subject matter to something else. Too much reading about perps and pistols is a prescription for paranoia.
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Old 04-14-2009, 03:25 AM
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Thanks for the many thoughtful response's. I'd never see the older guys make a mistake of calling a 5 inch gun a 6 inch, or claiming you could shove a .38 S&W round in a .38 Special.
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Old 04-14-2009, 03:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dude:
I really like reading Mossad Ayoob's articles. He seems to bring a lot of common sense to self-defense topics and reminds people to use their brains. I think the writers do the best they can to recycle the subject matter in an interesting way.

However, I'd love for some editors to be reading these forums and using them to improve their magazines. So, I'll provide my pet peeves:

The worst thing about the gun magazines is that they all review the same new guns at around the same time.

The 1.5th worst thing is that they minimize problems encountered in reviews. If a gun doesn't shoot to point of aim, then it is pretty much a total waste of money and a total pain in the butt for the purchaser. I'm not real gung-ho about shipping a gun back to the factory from my teeming hive of scum and villainy. I've had enough packages "disappear."

The second worst thing is that they seem to recycle articles into special compendium editions on specific topics.

The third worst thing is that they continually review high dollar and customized guns. For me, a high dollar custom gun would probably be a once in a lifetime purchase. Massive coverage of a high dollar gun makes the magazine pretty irrelevant to me.

The fourth worst thing is the near total emphasis on serious tactical stuff. If you aren't on a SWAT team or you aren't hiding under your bed just waiting for someone to kick in your door, the articles get tiresome. There is a lot of fun to be had with firearms.

The fifth worst thing is that they don't cover enough basic skills. Not room clearing. How about gun cleaning? How about restoring grandpa's old gun? How do you get into reloading?

The sixth worst thing is that they don't cover all aspects of the lifestyle. Where to go shoot? What kind of practice is realistic at a typical indoor range with no quick draw and no rapid fire?

The seventh worst thing is that they seem to ignore the sport aspects of shooting outside IDPA. What's it like to shoot smallbore in the Olympics? What kind of guns do they use?

I'd like to see them cover the whole market and classic guns that are still strong sellers. I'd also like them to cover all price points (from Jennings/Bryco to English double shotguns).

Typically, I'll read gun stuff for a few months and then switch subject matter to something else. Too much reading about perps and pistols is a prescription for paranoia.
Dude (no pun intended) you are spot on on all your points!

I also get tired of the flat black, sleek, SWAT, tactical, whatchagonna do when the boogieman comes flavor.
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Old 04-14-2009, 04:18 PM
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I had just about given up on gun mags in general 'cause I was tired of flipping through page after page of 4 wheeler reviews, Male Enhancement advertisements and plastic gun reviews in order to read half a page on reloading and 2 questions on identification and value of some offbeat gun. So, I let my subscriptions expire.
Then, Guns and Ammo came at me with a 'can't pass it up' deal, I think it's 2 years for $8.00 or some such, Shooting times did the same thing but I think they were $4.95 for 18 issues or some such. So, I renewed the subscriptins.
Dammit, the second G&A I read an article about .32 caliber carry pieces and just went ballistic. I won't repeat the total rant I posted over in another forum but basically I was upset about an article purporting to review the .32 caliber as a carry piece and the author (Doug Larson) wrote about a KelTek P32, A CZ Model 83, a Taurus 731 in .32 Mag and a Ruger SP101 in .32 Federal Mag.
The 6 oz KelTec (which I happen to have two of) was reported to have an 8.5 oz trigger pull, got 5.3" groups at 10 yards and was said to have "noticeable recoil". He raved over the 29 oz steel CZ because it got under 1" groups although it had stacking, a gritty feel and a 14 lb double action trigger.

Okay, any KelTec P32 that I owned that had such a horrible trigger pull would go back to the factory under the lifetime warranty for repair. Both of mine run around 5 oz and, any gun I own that couldn't do better than a 5" group at 10 yards with premium ammuntion will be a gun that I no longer own after the range session. Yet, this doofus acts as if this is normal for these guns, perhaps caused by the "noticeable recoil". HUH?? From a .32ACP????? Oh, and the same doofus doesn't say a word about the much heavier trigger with grit and stacking in the CZ, just raves about the accuracy. But, I thought the article was about carry ??

Why a gun writer would title an article "A Quartet for Carry" and then compare a .32ACP mousegun weighing 6 oz with another .32ACP weighing 29 oz and with a Ruger SP101 in .32 Federal and weighing 29 ozs I have no idea.

If I wanted to carry an all steel gun that weighed over 28 ozs, I could darn sure find a better caliber than the .32ACP (the CZ) or even the .32 Federal (Ruger). As it happens, I find the KelTec P32 to work well as a back up gun and as a "carry anywhere, anytime" pocket gun that slips into a shorts pocket or sports shirt top pocket with ease. Oh, yeah, and I don't have any trouble grouping between 2 and 3 inches at longer ranges than 10 yards.

Dan R
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Old 04-14-2009, 05:14 PM
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There were lousy gun writers years ago too...

Take Ed McGivern for example!
His writing didn't compare to his shooting ability!
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Old 04-14-2009, 05:48 PM
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When you go to a gun show, check and see if anyone has old ('50s or '60s) copies of American Rifleman. They have truly amazing articles like How To Survive if Lost in the Woods, Home GunSmithing, Field Dressing Game, etc. Today's AR seems to be one long political rant/fund raiser. (I will admit it's better than it was a few years ago...)

Those '50s & '60s ARs didn't have ads for male enhancement, but plenty of rifles AND HANDGUNS that could be bought via mail order at very, very reasonable prices. It really makes you realize how much of our freedoms we have already lost.
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Old 04-14-2009, 06:24 PM
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Sat. while escorting the wife food shopping, i payed $4!!! for a "Rifle Shooter" magazine 'cause they had a headline about how to improve the 7.62x39 military round. as i'm currently "hot" on the round I was keen to improve my knowledge.I should have spent the $$ on ammo!!!. About all they said was pull the bullets dump(or dont)the powder.and seat a new bullet. WELL DUHHHH!!
That rag is as bad as the Guns &Ammo tv show. They do a segment on a particular firearm,then the following commercial tells you this same cal. in our model is better,so they get paid from both.
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Old 04-15-2009, 11:13 AM
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I have come to a conclusion (as my father used to say).

If you want a good gun writer...
This forum has quite a few, or you can step up and be one yourself- do an "online article" for us.

It's been a bit since we've had some good, "full length" articles on here "published" by members.

We had some really good ones, but they "rolled off" (for lack of a better term) the forum when some very necessary bandwidth-freeing had to be done.

I've always loved the many pictures and stories of grip makers, or interesting guns and history behind them. Articles in the forum get pretty good when you get out of the Lounge -I've always liked many of the poster's threads that seem as good as, if not better than any store-bought magazine you can find.

Here is one little experiment that you should do with your current issue of your favorite gun magazine:

Cut out each article and leave the advertisements. It's ok if there is an ad on the back of an article, because it's likely that there are plenty to go around.

How much thinner is your favorite magazine? Not much you say?!?! If 36% or more of the pages are articles and pictures attached to the articles, you have a pretty good publication for today.

Of course, I pulled this out of my hat, and the above is just a wild guess...I'm just interested in how far off I am.

The best suggestion is...
Just do an "article" for the forum and post it here.
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Old 04-15-2009, 04:15 PM
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Quote:
I had just about given up on gun mags in general 'cause I was tired of flipping through page after page of 4 wheeler reviews
+1 How the American Rifleman got into reviewing pickups and ATV's is beyond me! It is a mere shadow of what it used to be.
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Old 04-15-2009, 05:08 PM
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I remember reading "Handloader" and "Rifle" magazines way, way back in the very early '70's. They were crammed full of information and as I recall had very little advertising. I could be wrong, but I think all the advertising was gun related. A few years back I was browsing a Barnes & Noble when I stumbled on them once again.

I felt as though I had met up with a couple of old friends. That was until I opened them. Nothing but ads for who-knows-what and the articles were pure drivel.

But the thing that really set me off was an article about lever guns in 38/40. The impression I got was that someone had begun to offer them again. Nope! Just some half-assed gun writer babbling about his personal favorite rifles that were either made or tuned for him by that mythical "wizard in the basement." I couldn't put them back in the rack fast enough.

Damn shame that these mags ain't what they used to be!
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Old 04-15-2009, 07:23 PM
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I have to agree with a couple of the above writers who point out that it isn't just the magazines, but us that aren't what we used to be. In about 1977 became interested in firearms again after about a 10 year hiatus. I devoured the gun mags, loved Skeeter, thought Jeff Cooper was an oracle, and marveled at the great Ross Seyfelt. Well I grew older (if not up) and don't have the same naiveté to bring to the table. I still get and enjoy American Handgunner and Handloader, but rarely read too many other mags.

I really believe that it is me who have changed more than the quality of the writing or the writers themselves. My interests are more solidified, I just can't get excited about the next new super cartridge, not that they aren't exciting to some, just not me.

I am surprised to see that no one has mentioned Brian Pearce, who regularly writes for Handloader, I find him very knowledgeable about, single actions and hunting. Perhaps because he is a full time outdoorsman.

Currently my biggest complaint is that the magazines (not just gun magazines either) seem to have laid off their editors. I do not recall seeing so many typos and misspellings in the past. I know that the younger generation is all about writing fast, but I have a hard time taking a writer seriously who has numerous misspellings and what one hopes are typos.
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Old 04-16-2009, 04:34 AM
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Jack Flash has touched upon the solution.

Basically, what we've got is a perspective problem. Worse because those posting here have a fairly well focused set of interests. My own problem is I'm interested in S&W handguns. I've just arrived at the conclusion I'm not going to learn anything new about them from currently published magazines. If you want to know and learn about them, go to a gunshow (a big one) and handle a few hundred. Or post here and get a wealth of answers.

Yes, I fit the demographic of other S&W posters. I'm old, I've been doing this stuff for all of my adult life, and most of my youth. I have very well defined biases. I know what I like, what I don't like, and I won't waste my time on ****.

But I do have a basement junk room. And we have a ground floor library. Both are filled with old magazines. Dad got home from WWII with a subscription to AR. So did my FIL. I've got almost all of them, still. By the late 1950s I discovered I could con my father into buying an occasional Sports Afield or other magazine with a cool article. It cost an enormous amount at the time, probably 35 cents. He sprung for them, I guess because he could blame the waste on me and then read them himself.

I subscribed to a lot of magazines in the 1970s, 80s, etc. I still have most of them. Waste not want not. If I paid for it, I'm keeping it.

When I yearn for the old writers, I just go to my basement and find the articles. They're as good today as they were then. Yes, I pick out errors. But the basics are there. I have almost no interest in black rifles, or modern semi-auto handguns. Maybe I own one or two....

The simple fact is that if you want to read fiction, the old stuff is as good or better than anything written today. And its because the subject matter is about guns we know and love. Many of today's kids grew up with Glocks and think they're well made. They have the right to be misinformed.

If you want technically accurate information on S&Ws, you've come to the right place. I'd venture a guess that we have more knowledgeable people posting here than all of the gun writers in magazines combined. Sure, we're an isolated situation on an arcane subject. But if you've read what has been written here, its pretty good. And we're interactive and nearly instantaneous.

Yes, I still read Skeeter. I have the original magazine articles (the ones I waited each month for, knowing about when they would appear in the mailbox.) And I have his books. Even the ones his kin published after his early death. Too bad about that last.
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Old 04-16-2009, 06:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by n4zov:
Quote:
I had just about given up on gun mags in general 'cause I was tired of flipping through page after page of 4 wheeler reviews
+1 How the American Rifleman got into reviewing pickups and ATV's is beyond me! It is a mere shadow of what it used to be.
Had to laugh. This is exactly why running a gun mag business is a lose/lose proposition. I say that because I like to read an ocassional article about 1/2 or 3/4 ton trucks in my gun magazines. I drive a truck and I am interestred in new features, price, etc. Same with an occasional article about whats new in the ATV market. I have a Yamaha Grizzly and use it a lot here on the ranch, especially during hunting season. I like to see what's new in the ATV field as well.

These poor guys are trying to please the needs/wants of everybody. Pretty tough job. I gotta agree with Erich...I think they are doing a much better job now and they seem to be really trying to give the readers what they want.

I enjoyed reading the likes of Keith and Skelton and Jordan like the other old timers here, but, maybe we are asking a bit much when we demand that those who follow in their footsteps dazzle us with the same rhetoric, literary prose and technical acumen that they possessed.

I happen to like poetry. Especially Emily Dickinson. I'm not all bent out of shape that other poets don't have her talents or ability, (in my estimation) but...they have their own talents and make their own contributions. It's all good.

Ok, none of that made much sense.
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Old 04-16-2009, 06:27 AM
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On the contrary, that made a great deal of sense.

As does your signature line!
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Old 04-16-2009, 08:56 AM
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Thanks Erich. I read that after I posted it and it looked like I was just rambling on.

My signature line is kind of a tribute to my dad who died a few years back. Wanna hear the story? OK. Mom died back in 79 and dad remarried around 1986. She was the nastiest, onryiest woman I ever saw. We actually stopped going out to eat with them because she always caused such a scene about the food, service, you name it. Brought many a waitress to tears. They ended up divorcing a few years later and dad seemed pretty quiet about it all. The day after the divorce I asked him if he was OK, etc.

He just looked at me and said "son,...don't ever marry a woman who is mean to your waitress."

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Old 04-16-2009, 09:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Texas Star:
John Barsness strikes me as a peacock, but he is knowledgeable. I don't know where he is now, or why he left, "Rifle." But they were dumb to let him get away.
T-Star
John Barsness was asked to leave Rifle/Handloader after a disagreement with the publisher. He is now editing one of the higher end shotgun magazines AIRC. He lives about 70 miles away and I have run into him on several occasions and he is far from a peacock. He hangs out on 24 hr campfire as Mule Deer.
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Old 04-16-2009, 10:07 AM
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Originally posted by Bassamatic:
He just looked at me and said "son,...don't ever marry a woman who is mean to your waitress."
Actually, there's a lot to be said for that tidbit of wisdom.

We have a circle of friends, and for whatever reason, some feel a compulsion to find fault. Its almost to the point were certain individuals are predictable in what will happen at dinner. We don't bet on it, but only because its a sure thing. There is absolutely no reason for it, except to put the poor hard working girl down, or to excuse their cheapness in tipping. At least in their own minds, anyway.
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Old 04-16-2009, 11:36 AM
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Originally posted by rburg:
Quote:
Originally posted by Bassamatic:
He just looked at me and said "son,...don't ever marry a woman who is mean to your waitress."
Actually, there's a lot to be said for that tidbit of wisdom.

We have a circle of friends, and for whatever reason, some feel a compulsion to find fault. Its almost to the point were certain individuals are predictable in what will happen at dinner. We don't bet on it, but only because its a sure thing. There is absolutely no reason for it, except to put the poor hard working girl down, or to excuse their cheapness in tipping. At least in their own minds, anyway.
My dad always said "Don't marry a woman with large hands".
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