Making Changes Slowly


Because Gun Tests magazine is subscriber driven (no ads), we make changes in our reporting on a rolling basis when enough readers ask for certain things. Two changes I’ve made in how we present information have been in place for a couple of issues now.

Over the years, readers have mentioned how they had to turn back and forth between pages to compare data in the modules — which are the boxed items that contain the gun name, grade, recommendation, images, and specifications. So, a few months ago, I started putting all the modules on a spread, that is, two facing magazine pages. That works for up to four guns for most gun types. If there are more than five firearms in a test, which is rare, I put the modules on two consecutive spreads, so at most you have to turn only one page to compare the specs.

That change in how to present the data in the modules also allowed me to enact a second reader-driven request: to put similar detail images for all the guns together, so readers can inspect them side by side. You know, triggers with triggers, disassembly with disassembly, buttstocks with buttstocks, and so on. Now that I’ve looked at a couple of issues’ worth of those changes, I’ve begun to like them, in particular the “ganging” of detail images. Placing like images near each other does help show functional differences in the firearms, which I think helps you make a decision about buying a gun or not.

I was pretty sure those two changes would meet wide acceptance from our eagle-eyed readers, and the email I’ve received from readers who’ve noticed those changes has been completely positive. I say “completely positive” as a qualifier because when we went to four-color images many years ago, I heard some grumbling. Then, when we switched to coated paper rather than matte, there was grumbling then, too. Seems the coated paper was not as effective as an eliminatory aid, a use which really makes me proud professionally.

We’re considering making another change, and this one I want to announce and explain. We’ve had some readers say they prefer to know what to buy, and they don’t really care about detailed information on what not to buy. Generally, that means they want to know every detail about a gun that gets a grade of A- or above, and they don’t really care that much about any product that scores a B or below. By shortening the reporting on so-so guns, we create space to add more guns in each issue. And everybody would like to see more gun reviewed.

So in this issue, I began that process by reducing the total amount of words and pictures on a B product, the Browning 9mm load. There will be more occurrences of this going forward, so send me an email about whether you like the shorter treatments for the second-level guns, or not.


  1. What happened to the alphabetical listing of guns and manufactures? That was a lot easier to navigate than the present system.

  2. Todd,
    I hate to see the information on weapons graded “B” disappear. Sometimes the reason(s) your reviewers don’t like them are irrelevant to a particular reader, given that cost is always an issue.

  3. I think it’s important to get all information out. That “B” or “C” gun could have been just a lemon or the “A” gun could have been an aberration. Gun Tests is an amazing resource and I look forward to the issues every month. Like any resource, you have to “vet” the information and without all the info, that’s tough to do. I enjoy all the articles even though I may not be interested in buying a particular weapon. The ratings you assign are why folks trust your reviews.

  4. Todd,
    I take your articles and recommendations very seriously.

    In California, we cannot purchase many guns that are sold in other states. So some lower rated guns may be all that we can own. If you publish less information about these guns it will not be a welcome change for many of us who are held hostage in my state. Moving for old folks like me is not an option, so good choices is the better bet.

    I tell everyone that your publication with its comprehensive and unbiased reviews is the “Consumer Reports” of the Firearms Industry. Thank you for all of these years of excellent reporting.

  5. Interesting idea about B grade guns, but I could see buying one based on availability and cost. I want to hear what makes an A/B gun an A/B gun and what makes a D/F gun a D/F gun. I’m probably least interested in the C guns, those kinda-sorta-in between guns that might be good or might not.

  6. I’m an engineer who investigates product failures. Stuff that works is not all that interesting, but stuff that doesn’t is where i learn something, often something important. Don’t be too quick to eliminate the opportunity to learn.


  7. Thanks Todd! Got a chance to read the latest Gun Test and the new formatting really helps to compare the guns being tested. Keep up the good work!

  8. Thanks for asking Todd. Personally, I’ve always read the entire write up on any and all graded guns because I wanted to know the details as to why a particular handgun received the grade or comment that was published. We all have a bias or critique that may be unique to each individual and your reporting may or may not fit my personal criteria for a handgun choice that would fit my needs and wants. However, bias aside, if a handgun presented a manufacturing defect that would lead to a safety issue for your readers, then by all means and good journalism, that has to be reported to your subscribers. I have always found it interesting to note the flaws Gun-Tests points out and have learned how to apply those points to products you’ve not tested. I enjoy the publication as it is but at the same time, I’d also welcome more manufacturers being represented as they hit the market with new options. Thanks for enlightening us all.

  9. Todd-

    Thank you for all that you and all the good people at Gun-Tests do. When it arrives in the mail I drop what I am doing and read it from cover to cover. I have learned so much and share that knowledge. I do like the new format. I t is easier to read and compare the firearms, well done!

  10. Leave all grades in and related information in. All info has a purpose. Don’t make changes to delete information. I actually liked the old way of showing dimensions of frame, barrel etc with the call outs directly on the firearm diagram. That was a while back.


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