As you know, Gun Tests is different from other firearms-aficionado magazines because we test and recommend products that sometimes don’t do so well. It is rare to see other gun magazines show stoppages, misplaced groups, faulty manufacturing, and other quality aspects that turn those writers off enough to say, “Don’t buy this one.”
But I believe real-life owners of guns — purchasers — usually tell more truth about product performance in the comments sections of various retailers. I assiduously read such comments, looking for online complaints that are worth checking out when I buy our guns and shoot them head to head. If we can’t duplicate an issue that has come up, we don’t report it — it’s just gossip if we can’t document it ourselves. But, occasionally, a nugget will drop out of the online compost, making the experience worthwhile.
It was in one of these deep dives that I realized an unmistakable trend had surfaced: A lot of folks were really happy with their purchases, and our own independent reporting was showing a lot of As. Guns are a lot better now than even 10 years ago, across the board.
Example: Ruger and Savage, to name but two companies, have created suspension systems in their rifle stocks that improve accuracy by insulating the barrels from pressures created by the stocks. In a bygone age, that required a gunsmith or handy shooter to free-float barrels and put in pillars.
Elsewhere, drop-in aftermarket triggers are becoming standard equipment. I have admitted in these pages that I am a trigger snob, a taste that has been formed over hundreds of thousands of smallbore rifle rounds and dry firing. Now, many rifles come with really good triggers as standard equipment, or as options you can order direct from the factory. I will not be surprised when handgun makers start using Apex or other triggers as standard equipment.
Further, technology in shotgun stocks now allow the user to adjust fit, a crucial part of being able to hit moving targets. Likewise, in handguns, replaceable backstraps make fitting a handgun to the shooter possible, even easy.
At Gun Tests, we actually enjoy guns, and it is getting ever easier to find rifles, shotguns, and handguns that many people will like and shoot well. Even low-cost products, such as the Iver Johnson PAS 12 gauge in this issue, or the Springfield Armory 40 S&W handgun reviewed on page 6, offer refinements that force other makers to adopt the upgrades to keep up. That moves the window, and shooters who love to buy and shoot firearms are the beneficiaries.