January 2006

Downrange: 01/06

What We Do, And Why
The overwhelming tone of reader mail we get is gratitude for telling it like it is. As you’ll see when you read about concealable, but pricey, .45 ACPs from Para Ordnance and Springfield Armory, hopped-up 1911 pistols and replacement barrels, and lever-action and autoloading carbines suitable for self-defense, hardnosed critiques are our exclusive franchise. You won’t read critical buy-this, don’t-buy-that comparisons of firearms products anywhere else.

We’re glad this approach is unique, but it’s always surprising to many shooters. If you go onto any shooting range anywhere in this country (or the world, I suppose), you’ll hear frank discussions of firearms performance. One shooter will say, “This gun is a sack of hooey,” or words to that effect. Another will add, “That gun shoots like a house afire.” These conversations with other shooters are how we often form opinions about what we’ll buy next.

But we’re able to go one better in this magazine. An advantage we enjoy at Gun Tests is our ability to compare firearms and other shooting equipment head to head. We think the best way to purchase firearms is to shoot them side by side and learn about the warts on a particular product, and then determine whether a competing product, shot at the same time with the same ammunition, is better or worse than its stablemate. But darned few of us can afford to do this individually, mainly because of a lack of money and time.

Who will win? Before we begin testing, we have no idea. But after firing several hundred rounds through each gun, we know which gun shoots the best. This kind of reporting can only be done with the products matched up side by side.

With the facts in hand, we’ll disclose what we judge to be the best choices in a test — fully disclosing our biases (mainly, we like guns that work) and reasons for making a particular call. We understand you may disagree with our conclusions. In fact, I expect that in some cases you will take issue with what we’ve said, and we report those disagreements in the “Firing Line” letters section nearly every month. All the better. Evaluating firearms is subjective, and the more opinions and data we have, the better our conclusions over the long haul.

Our goals at Gun Tests are the same as yours: To buy good guns and enjoy shooting them. We think your subscription to Gun Tests will save you money, point you toward the best guns, help you avoid the sorry ones, and increase your shooting enjoyment.

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One-Gun Recommendations
The editorials “Waiting on Rita” and “Waiting on Rita II” continue to generate good mail, and as promised, I’m devoting a lot of space to the question of what gun GT readers would pack if they could only take one. Check out this month's “Firing Line” to see what choices your fellow readers would make.


-Todd Woodard