I, the Jury

I, the Jury

It is possible I've been wrong my whole career, but I wasn't brought up believing that I was supposed to be the judge, jury or executioner, deciding the fate of products. I always thought these were your jobs. Like most of us, I have strong likes and dislikes, but I don't think this has much to do with what I write about.

I have written about many firearms, cartridges and related products I don't particularly like and a few I actively detest. Sometimes this has been at the request of an editor or manufacturer, sometimes voluntarily. I've been around long enough that I have some right of refusal, and I often pass on assignments, but occasionally I agree to write about things that aren't my cup of tea--sometimes because of friendships, sometimes out of curiosity.

My tastes are my business, and I don't have to like something to write about it. There is, however, one incontrovertible rule: Whatever it is, the damn thing has to do what it's supposed to do. If it does, then I'll give it a fair shake, whether it suits my style or not.

You need to gather information and form your own opinions, so I'd just as soon not discuss specific products. But for a good example, let's look at the 7mm cartridges, bullet diameter .284, which I am on record as stating (and have answered much hate mail over) that I don't like as much as the .270s or .30s. I have never said the 7mms didn't do what they were supposed to do, only that I'm not a fan.


Recently we were at the tail end of the Kansas whitetail season, a tough season with post-rut conditions and full moon. I stayed with it, and eventually a nice old buck stepped out of the woods. I shot him with a beautiful 7x57 that Todd Ramirez built for me on the lines of a 1920s stalking rifle. The buck took the heart shot, ran 50 yards and fell over.


A month earlier, on opening day of the Oklahoma rifle season, a mature eight-pointer walked out of the fog and stood in front of my stand. I was carrying one of Mel Forbes' New Ultra Light Arms rifles in .280 Remington. The buck dropped to the shot.

Two weeks before that I shot a huge wild boar in Turkey, also with a borrowed rifle. My guide's Sauer in 7mm Remington Magnum had a bigger, brighter scope than my rifle, and it was a dark, cloudy evening, so I used his rifle, and the pig dropped in its tracks.

As I mentioned, I have much greater affinity for the .270 and .30 calibers--considering the .270 at least as good for deer-size game, and the .30 caliber somewhat better for larger game--but on these and many other occasions 7mms have worked perfectly well for me, as they will for you.

So you don't have to agree with me. You should draw your own conclusions. Nobody knows everything, and we all have our preferences, so whether we're talking cartridges or product, gun writers like me cannot serve as the final word. That isn't our job, but it also isn't our job to only write about personal pets. How limiting would that be?


Nearly a generation ago, when I was a new staff editor at Guns & Ammo, the late Dave Hetzler gave what still stands as a good reply to that knotty question of, "Why don't we ever write negative reports?" His answer was simple: "Pay attention to what we don't write about."

If a given widget doesn't do what it's supposed to do, then the protocol is to politely return it with suggestions for improvement. Sometimes we never see that widget again, and sometimes we see it again in improved form, and then you might read about it.

Most products do what they're supposed to do. Price point must be kept in mind, too. For instance, I don't expect a $150 scope to be as bright and clear, or to have as precise adjustments, as a scope selling for 10 times as much. If it works and seems appropriately priced, then it's probably worthy of reporting on.


Truthfully, too, our shooting impressions are often fleeting. There have been design flaws resulting in factory recalls that all gun writers have missed.

However, if we undertake the weighty tasks of serving as judge, jury and executioner, we gun writers must also understand the legal distinction that we are not Consumer Reports--nor are we a testing facility like H.P. White. All we can do is give you our impressions, which I try to do honestly, keeping out as much personal bias as possible.

It would be nice if we could read the firearms publications and accept their input at face value--honest impressions given with no axe to grind. Most of the time I think we can, but any gun writer's view is just that. Some of us are very experienced, others less so--and the depth of experience, and thus validity of impression--always depends on the specific subject.

You, the reader, must be the ultimate judge and jury, passing sentence on whether a product succeeds or fails in the marketplace. Sometimes things I really like make the grade, sometimes they don't--and many products I don't particularly care for are wildly popular.

Sometimes I make my twisted idiosyncrasies known, generally in harmless contexts like my feelings about the 7mm, or my abhorrence for thumbhole stocks. Other times, if I do my job right, you shouldn't be aware of whether I actually like the product I'm writing about or not. The important question is, "Does it do what it is supposed to do?" Then it's up to you to decide if you like it.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Black Hills Evolution of Rifle Cartridge: .308 Win. 175 Gr. Match

Black Hills Evolution of Rifle Cartridge: .308 Win. 175 Gr. Match

David Fortier talks with Jeff Hoffman of Black Hills Ammunition about the evolution of the .308 Win. 175 Gr. Match bullet.

Steyr Arms Announces Sniper Rifle in 6.5mm Creedmoor

Steyr Arms Announces Sniper Rifle in 6.5mm Creedmoor

Scott O'Brien from Steyr Arms sat down with Michael Bane at SHOT Show 2018 to take a look at Steyr's new tactical heavy barrel sniper rifle in 6.5mm Creedmoor.

Delta 5 - Daniel Defense

Delta 5 - Daniel Defense's New Precision Bolt Action Rifle

Those looking to explore precision rifle shooting without going broke will be well served by Daniel Defense's new Delta 5.

Tactical Solutions Introduces New X-Ring Takedown SBR Rifle

Tactical Solutions Introduces New X-Ring Takedown SBR Rifle

Keith Feeley of Tactical Solutions sat down with Michael Bane at SHOT Show 2018 to talk about the new X-Ring Takedown SBR .22LR rifle.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

The .30-30 Win. cartridge celebrates 125 years of service to big game hunters, and it's still getting the job done. Ammo

.30-30 Win. Cartridge Celebrates 125 Years

Craig Boddington - August 06, 2020

The .30-30 Win. cartridge celebrates 125 years of service to big game hunters, and it's still...

Craig Boddington takes a look five great military cartridges, all more than a century old, that continue to solider on. Ammo

5 Great Military Rifle Cartridges

Craig Boddington - August 07, 2020

Craig Boddington takes a look five great military cartridges, all more than a century old,...

With the new Hunter rifle, Ruger takes its popular Ruger American rifle line to the next level. Reviews

Ruger American Rifle Hunter Review

David M. Fortier - July 28, 2020

With the new Hunter rifle, Ruger takes its popular Ruger American rifle line to the next level.

Announced in 1958, the .264 and .338 Winchester magnums hit the market in 1959 amid one of the biggest media blitzes the industry had seen. Both were introduced in “new” versions of Winchester's beloved Model 70. Ammo

.264 and .338 Magnum - Winchester Twins

Craig Boddington - May 24, 2019

Announced in 1958, the .264 and .338 Winchester magnums hit the market in 1959 amid one of the...

See More Trending Articles

More How-To

How to break in a rifle barrel? What's the best procedure? Is the need to break in a barrel a myth? All of your questions are answered here. How-To

Best Way to Break in a Rifle Barrel

G&A Staff - September 27, 2013

How to break in a rifle barrel? What's the best procedure? Is the need to break in a barrel a...

A recent move put me a short drive from the family farm and the subsequent ability to create How-To

How to Build the Ultimate Shooting Range Bench

Keith Wood - September 24, 2014

A recent move put me a short drive from the family farm and the subsequent ability to create

During a shelter-in-place order scenario, you only want to leave your house when absolutely necessary. That's why “Hollywood Weapons” host and former Green Beret Terry Schappert has this lesson about the most valuable and nutritious foods to keep stocked in your pantry, so that you can weather the storm.

Shelter in Place – Quarantine Cuisine

Outdoor Channel Public Service Announcement - April 07, 2020

During a shelter-in-place order scenario, you only want to leave your house when absolutely...

When under shelter-in-place orders and not going anywhere, your vehicle should be fueled and ready to go in case things change. In this lesson, “Hollywood Weapons” host and former Green Beret Terry Schappert shares some tips on how to prepare your car or truck for the next time you might need it.

Shelter in Place - Prepare Your Vehicle

Outdoor Channel Public Service Announcement - April 10, 2020

When under shelter-in-place orders and not going anywhere, your vehicle should be fueled and...

See More How-To

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Rifle Shooter subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now