LEAST informative gunwriter


cleve land
May 6, 2004, 04:44 PM
I know gunwriters have numerous faults and are pretty much shills for advertising. Most give some good info some of the time. The one that drives me nuts is Dick Metalf. Whatever gun he writes about is the greatest thing since spit. How about the rest of you folks?

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May 6, 2004, 05:49 PM
Awh. The poor guys just like guns and are trying to make a living- or part of a living. The best thing to do is read them for enjoyment-until you just don't enjoy it anymore but never take anything you read as reliable until you check it out for yourself.

May 6, 2004, 06:48 PM
I agree that gunwriters are compelled to write positive things about the guns they review but unfortunately that is the way the world works. If I spend advertising dollars with you, you better say good things about my products or guess what, I'm going to place my ads somewhere else. This is why I don't put much stock in what they have to say, it's a direct conflict of interest. On the other hand, when I was new to shooting, about 20 years ago, I read every gun mag out there for the sheer enjoyment of discovering what was available and what new guns were being introduced. I look upon these articles as entertainment and try to discern what is useful information vs. what should be discarded as pure hype. BTW, the one gunwriter that really got on my nerves was Chuck Taylor and I rather enjoyed Jan Libourel in those early days.

May 6, 2004, 06:53 PM
JL had kind of this dry, intellectual Oxford wit. Nobody managed to match Dean Grennell for just plain fun though- unless you read between the lines on those gunwriters who got caught coming out of motel rooms with peak-hold piezo-electric tranducerized goats under their arms.

May 6, 2004, 06:57 PM
Hey mec,

Is Dean Grennell still alive? He used to write some great stuff, but I haven't seen any of his articles in a while. Garey Hindman told me he was in poor health.

Just my .02,

May 6, 2004, 07:23 PM
He retired several years ago but GunWorld had alot of his stuff and ran it for a couple of years until they ran out. I've heard that he's been in poor health and may be in a nursing home.

I always appreciated his wit and lack of pomposity.

May 8, 2004, 01:43 AM
I wouldn't even know where to start but i can tell you was one of the best to ever peck out an artical:SKEETER SKELTON.

May 8, 2004, 01:47 AM
Whoever wrote that fiction about shooting goats in France. Marshall is a close second in uselessness.

Abominable No-Man
May 8, 2004, 01:59 AM
I never thought too much of Chuck Taylor's writing, personally. "Guns & Ammo" had a piece from him in "The Complete Book of the 1911" a couple of months ago- called "100 Years of Combat". Thought it was kind of hammy.

OTOH, the same mag had an article by Patrick Sweeney about customizing your 1911 that I thought was pretty good.


May 8, 2004, 07:22 AM
Funny thing about those goats. Most of the people in the writing field don't believe it, others believe it and have seen pictures and Libourel has gone down in print as believing the goats were shot, doubting that the goats were shot and then believing the goats were shot again.

May 8, 2004, 08:53 AM
This is a tender subject with me. I write a little, and like everyone else I would love to-

1. Sit home & wait for the UPS truck,
2. go shoot a "free" gun and ammo,
3. write it up, and then
4. collect a paycheck for doing what I love to do anyhow.

I would hope if that opportunity ever presents itself, I would be able to take advantage of it without becoming an advertising "ho". I think you set your own ethical standards, and then you either sell articles or you don't. It's all politics of one sort or another, and I haven't seen any perfect politicans for awhile.

A few, however, have set standards of how I wouldn't do it.

Dick Metcalf- and his ever-widening "acceptable accuracy standards" for service pistols. I have a '98 article in which he writes that it is 4" @ 25 yards. Then later it goes to 4.5" at that distance. I guess when some manufacturer mistakenly sends him a .40 with a 45 barrel in it, the "acceptable accuracy standard" will go to "three and a half feet" at that same distance. If it jams every shot- I doubt we'll hear about it. It'll be a "new protoype with minor bugs to be ironed out, as with any new design"...:barf:

Mike Venturino is perhaps my second least favorite; too much subjective BS and not enough useful info. He actually accuracy-tested a lever-action rifle at 25 yards. Speaking of subjective, useless crap, the staff of "Gun Tests" gets a Weenie Award here. "We wouldn't recommend this gun because we accidentally hit our left thumb with a hammer the week before the tests, and when we fired it upside down in the 'vampire bat attack point shooting position', it kinda made that thumb hurt a little.":rolleyes:

Libourel does seem to get suckered in by various snake-oil salesmen with stopping-power rating systems. One of the best things he ever did was a running series on various defensive handgun types, which ran in Gun World a couple of years ago. I actually enjoyed reading it.

I really miss the old "Gun World"... it was a nice, light-hearted break from the Chuck Taylor/Massad Ayoob "kill 'em all & let God sort 'em out" stuff. But I think the funniest thing I ever read in a gun rag was the tale of a character with an overloaded '06, who had it in the house one day admiring it. He just couldn't resist the urge to dry fire, one time, at a little Taco Bell dog that appeared at the wrong moment. The dog got splattered, and the susbequent mayhem and wrath our rifleman suffered at the hands of female relatives, was enough to bring tears of laughter to your eyes. Seems like it ran in "Combat Handguns" during the late 90's.

Wouldn't know anything about that one, would you mcump?

Excellent articles are still being written by Mike Cumpston, John Taffin, Bart Skelton, Jeff Cooper, Charlie Petty and a host of others.

For me, there are three things that turn me off to a gun writer. The "Super Me" syndrome, advertising prostitution, and flat-out BS. I'll give a guy ONE of them, once in a while- but repeat offenders need to be ignored like 1972 election results.

Lone Star
May 8, 2004, 09:49 AM
I've never met Chuck Taylor. He may come across better in person. But he seems awfully much into chest beating, and some of his handloads look a little warm. I frankly don't believe the after-action reports he used to print about handguns used in battle. And his style is just too macho for words. I guess I'm just not the sort of reader he thinks he needs to appeal to.

Dr. Libourel can seem a little pompous, and I don't read most of the articles that he selects for publication in, "Gun World." I think, in particular, he relies too much on that other Ph.D. guy (name escapes me at the moment), who writes very basic stuff. I did enjoy reading about Jan's late father, a Dutch pilot killed by the Japs in the East Indies in WWII. Libourel pointed out that his service weapon was an American Colt .32 auto. I wish he'd verify Marshall and Sanow's results if he continues to rely on them.

However, a former FBI chief firearms instructor told an editor I know that the Strasbourg tests DID take place, and he was supposedly in a position to know. If the tests are fake, someone spent an AWFUL lot of time compiling the data.

I never found Duane Thomas too informative. And Jim Carmichel writes very little of interest in, "Outdoor Life" these days. Petzal at, "Field & Stream" seems to be courting mainly the advertisers. I couldn't believe he left the M94 off his list of classic deer rifles, then omitted the CZ M452 series of .22's in a story that included some of the guns it did, which are worse values. Of course, any list of the "greatest" guns is highly subjective.

Lone Star

May 8, 2004, 10:26 AM
It doesn't take all that long to compile data when one is making it up.

May 8, 2004, 01:22 PM
"wrong moment. The dog got splattered, and the susbequent mayhem and wrath our rifleman suffered at the hands of female relatives, was enough to bring tears of laughter to your eyes. Seems like it ran in "Combat Handguns" during the late 90's."

.." Pepe filled the kitchen. A colloidal mist of riboneucleic acid, half digested Gravy Train and Hair. What wasn't converted instantly into energy coelesced on the ceiling, walls and refrigerator in an irridescent brown an crimson fractile that even Picasso's mother couldn't love.."

Ummm, Hmmmmm..... No real gunwriter would ever write a thing like THAT.

May 8, 2004, 08:22 PM
that is one of my all-time favorites- but maybe I'm a little warped.

May 8, 2004, 08:26 PM
I guarantee it's sick. I should know because I'm the one who wrote it. Sick, Sick, Sick! HahHahHah(wheeze)Haaarrrr!

It was great because theTaco Bell chihuahua was just then making it big. If I were still at it, I would probably find some way to immolate that Geico Lizard.

John Ross
May 8, 2004, 08:40 PM
Back in '97 a guy named Justin Huang started a USENET thread called "The gun rag drinking game". I added to it.

Take a swig from your drink every time:

1. Jan Libourel gives a positive recommendation for a gun.

2. Jan takes a "middle of the road" position on something,
like the "point shooting vs. aimed fire" debate.

3. Duane Thomas slams anyone who shoots a 1911 style pistol.

4. Martin Topper calls himself "Dr. Topper" in a caption.

5. Leroy Thompson reviews a revolver.

6. Bradley Steiner insults people who like aimed fire.

7. Chuck Taylor refers to himself as a Four Weapons

8. Duane Thomas says that the 9mmP is more feed reliable
than any other auto handgun cartridge.

9. Kerby Smith writes an article entitled "How to
Get Started in Action Shooting."

10. Chuck Taylor writes a story in which a 1911 loaded
with .45 ACP hardball saves the day.

11. Finn Aagaard writes an article that makes absolutely
no sense at all.

12. Jan Libourel reviews a 1911 pistol that has been tricked
out with $3,000 worth of modifications and likes it.

13. Duane Thomas mentions that he's been certified as a
Handgun Master at FAS.

And in general:

14. The following words or phrases are used:

a. Ultimate
b. Best
c. Utter reliability
d. Trigger that "breaks like a glass rod"
e. Best buy

AND (John Ross' additions)

f. "one of the most versatile"
g. "not for the recoil-sensitive"
h. "when I did my part" (referring to a gun's accuracy)
i. "minute-of-jackrabbit" (-squirrel, -groundhog, etc.)

15. Dean Grennell does a reloading piece and uses the phrase "in the
usual manner of quoting" several times but doesn't put in a table of
loads anywhere in the article.

16. Jeff Cooper invokes the royal "we".

17. Peter Kokalis evaluates a handgun for accuracy by testing it at
seven yards.

18. Jack Lewis admits to behavior that, under current law, prohibits
him from owning any modern firearm.

19. Charlie Askins explains the effectiveness of the Government
Model as a combat sidearm by describing the various Mexicans and Arabs
he's killed with his.

20. Readers (of a gun magazine whose every issue discusses stopping
power, combat handguns, concealment holsters, etc.) write to express
horror and outrage at Askins discussing killing Mexicans and Arabs.

21. Massad Ayoob demonstrates his psychic powers by describing what
the participants of a gunfight were thinking at the time, even the
ones killed in the shooting.

22. Any gunwriter gives us a sophomoric simile involving the sex
appeal of a current TV or movie bimbo, i.e. "Saying that the Freedom
Arms 353 is a well-made gun is like saying that Pamela Anderson is
moderately attractive."

23. Any gunwriter gushes about a $2000+ limited-production bolt
action rifle that shoots 2 MOA.

24. Any gunwriter at any magazine "tests" a .50 BMG shoulder rifle
without giving any group size data whatsoever.

25. Any gunwriter extols the virtues of a particular cartridge as a
great "all-around" caliber to readers who already each own dozens of
different guns.

Give me a bit, I'll think of more...


Jim K
May 8, 2004, 08:49 PM
My vote goes to Boddington for trying to pose as an expert while spraying errors all over the place.


May 8, 2004, 08:51 PM
That was a real trip down memory lane. The Grennell "usual manner of quoting went like " 3000 fps/1500fpe. " The times no tables appeared in his articles might have been an editorial deletion. One time I laid down a really nice deal about .22 magnums in revolvers and the centerpiece was a a comprehensive performance table. they left that out and the article made about as much sense as Jesse Jackson trying to pronounce " Amitai Etzioni"- Or Amitai Etzioni trying to pronounce anything at all.

Lone Star
May 9, 2004, 09:45 AM

I also find Boddington trying. He seems to almost smirk at times, and his prose (particularly in books) often seemingly tries to encompass almost every product that a reader or advertiser might like. Don't know that I've caught him in many errors, but I seldom read his material. Many of the writers at one of his former publishers tended to be prima donnas.

Remember back when Askins could still refer to Mexicans as, "coffee-colored sons of..."? I met him a few times, and I'll tell you, he talked like he wrote! What he typed was full of vitamins, though, and the man had been over the hill and seen the elephant! (Shot it, too, along with all those Germans, Mexicans, Vietnamese, and Arabs...)

You know, we should have a thread about underrated gun writers...the practical, knowledgeable guys who never fanned their peacock tail feathers as noisily as others do... Don Zutz, Clair Rees, and B.R. Hughes come to mind. (Hughes has mainly written about knives, though, for years.)
I had breakfast with Rees once at the SHOT show and he seemed like a pretty nice guy.

Lone Star

May 9, 2004, 10:51 AM
The guys with the NRA publications are pretty much unknown- probably because they don't irritate enough people to gain any sort of name recognition. Lately, they've taken on a couple of high profile types who are either controversial or ought to be but most are un-noticed because they stick to the subject.

I remember the old pulp magazines like GunSport, Guns and Game,etc. Russel Tinsley was a favorite as were Kent Bellah, Gene West and a guy named Russell Anabel who used to write tall tails about exotic, mythological animals. ( one was called the Onca or Onza and was a supercharged, puddy tat that looked like a mountain lion with a mohawk.- good thing none of the readers were up on their linnaeus or they would have grown suspicious about felix onca).

For sure, the magazines themselves are a lot slicker now. - Photographs you can actually see and higher production values all around. I found a stack of first and second year GUNs magazines a while back. Charles Heckman wrote a piece about bullet swaging and reloading and made frequent mention of CH presses and dies. Ed McGivern was there debunking Orvo Ojala and other Hollywood gun handlers not hesitating to call them great big fibbers. Back then, the magazine was more like a pamphlet and big news was that Melvin Kowznovski had won a shooting contest at some local California rifle range.

In the early 60's, well before the hippie era, Guns and Ammo floated a huge deal about Project Round-Up. This was a government plan to section off the country and take up all the guns. It scare the heck out off all of us 13 year old readers. We knew that it had to be true if somebody put it in a magazine.

Times do change. Back then we got mad at the gun magazines for not writing about our .22s and filling their pages with articles on "The .44 Maggie!" ( Thank the Creator of Heaven and Earth that they stopped using the word " Maggie").

May 9, 2004, 11:03 AM
Ken Waters is the best on vintage guns and handloading, period. Ross Seyfried is a hoot.

I don't recall the guy's name, but about 20 years ago I read one article that still sticks in my mind as the absolute worst piece ever in any rag. The guy had one of the then-new Dan Wesson .44 mags, at the time(and maybe still) the most accurate DA revo ever made - a big heavy gun for hunting and target shooting.

What does Elmer-wannabe do? He orders it with the four inch barrel, and spends half the article writing about the special grips he designed and made for it, to facillitate rapid fire shooting. The grips in the photos looked like they were carved by a drunk lumberjack with a chainsaw.:barf:

May 9, 2004, 11:54 AM
was another good writer who penned a few handgun articles for Guns & Ammo 10-15 years ago, and seems to have dropped off the face of the earth. I heard he was still around, but just quit qriting- at least for gun rags.

MEC, your early-teen aggravation at the various magazines, for not writing up the cheap old .22's that we were all stuck with at that age, is not something you suffered alone. The lack of decent reviews on these low-budget beaters was about half the reason I wrote that 'Hunnerd-Dollar Gun" (http://thesixgunjournal.com/hunnerd_dollar_gun.htm) article. I had a lot of fun doing it, which is I think 'half the battle'. I also had quite a bit of fun imagining what Dick Metcalf's 'accuracy standards' for pinned-together, 2 1/2 inch .22 revolvers with fixed sights might be...

This has been an informative thread. You guys are a pretty tough crowd, but you should be. Gun rags cost around five bucks off the rack these days, and you ought to be getting something worth reading.

Thanks for the collective input.

May 9, 2004, 12:07 PM
Great Article! I almost bought one of these with K-Mart had them on sale for $34. The only one left in the store wouldn't stay on full cock so, I passed.

You are grouping about as well at 25 yards as I did with one of the 2+ inch barreled HS sentinels a while back- at 50 feet. The Sentinel did shoot pretty close to the sights.

My first was a colt buntline scout. 1959. Boy was I pissed when they introduced the .22 magnum the same year and then the BearCat and all the pulp magazine writes ignored my .22 long rifle. I killed a truck load of cottontails and Jack Rabbits with that thing though.

Lone Star
May 9, 2004, 12:29 PM

I don't recall what Russell Anabel called it, but that cat is now, "Panthera onca". Some species previously classified under, "Felis" are now grouped under the genus, "Panthera", the cats that can roar.

In Spanish, it's, "onca" or, "tigre". In Portugeuse (spoken in Brazil), it's sometimes, "onza", I think. One letter really looks like a "c" with a tail; this keyboard won't make it...

And I do recall a thrilling hunt for jaguar as described by Anabel. They brought the cat to bay with dogs and killed it with a Colt SAA .45.

Lone Star

May 9, 2004, 12:41 PM
He called it the Onza. Said it inhabited soutwest US and would bite your butt off. Described it as having a long dark streak down its back. People wrote in telling him he was fos or saying they had had many encounters with the feared beast.

There were several versions of a hunt by George Herter Sr! and his son Jacques. First one came out in a gun magazine and had Jacques clearly equipped with a Python and a Buntline Colt .45. They followed the dogs and killed a Jaguar and a Black Bear. Same story with pictures of the Colts showed up in the Herters Catalogue- only this time George Sr wrote the article and claimed that they were Herter .401 Powermags.

A couple of decades later, somebody wrote a exposee of canned hunts and said that the Herter had been fooled by an unscrupulous guide who had released the cat and the bear only moments before the dogs treed them.

May 9, 2004, 12:48 PM
My vote goes for Jeff Cooper. This guy has nothing informative to say.. EVER.

May 9, 2004, 02:19 PM
I really like the "Gun-Tests" rag. It gives a lot of good comparative specs. However, I don't take their recommendations too seriously. As an example; A couple of years ago, they tested one of the small Glock 40's against two other pistols and gave it not too shining a rating. Forward 2 years and they give the same gun a "our pick or best buy rating".

May 9, 2004, 04:00 PM
I'm glad you enjoyed it. Coming from you, that's a real compliment.

We've had a few Sentinels over the years, some that shot pretty darn good. A 6" one resided here for awhile that would do two inches at 25 yards with about any ammo, and once the sights were drifted "on" it was a dandy .22 revolver. Conversly, I had a HS "Camp Gun" back in the 70's that wouldn't stay on your hat at that distance. Thy weren't bad guns, but God help you if you ever had to go inside one, though.

A Colt Scout passed through my hands the summer I was 16... traded my high school counselor out of it, with a hard used and blue-worn old Single Six. He called my Dad and cleared it all with him first, and then I took the Ruger to school in my gym bag the following Monday, and we closed the door to his office and swapped guns, right there in the school. I saw him at a funeral a couple of years ago and we snuck off and laughed about that deal in a quiet corner- and cried about the fact that such conduct would probably generate a federal case today! Somehow I don't think we're any safer because of all these laws that they've passed.

My little Scout wasn't a bad gun, either. I get all melancholy when I see one on the auctions. Clair Rees or somebody wrote up the 7/8 scale "Peacemaker .22" Colts a few years later, and I believe he actually benched the adjustable-sighted one, with pretty good results.

Does anybody besides me love to haunt the flea markets and buy up hordes of old 70's gun magazines?

Art Eatman
May 9, 2004, 08:16 PM
Lemme play a bit of Devil's Advocate for some of the gun test writeups: I started having gun show tables some thirty years back. When I'd take something in trade, I'd usually try it out when I got home. I haven't a clue how many different brands and types/sizes of rifles, pistols and revolvers I've put a few rounds through.

Funny thing: Darned few were what I'd call junk. Most stuff shot pretty well. Accurate enough for self defense or deer hunting or whatever. Some of them were better suited for me than others; some had features which were more attractive. But, so what? I can make the same statement about guns which are by consensus admittedly top-grade.

Seems to me that there are very few junk guns being made, as a percentage of all guns. (I'm leaving out the Lorcin-style El Cheapos.) With that in mind, what's to bumrap when testing?

This doesn't mean the writing should be all flowery or that fraudulent superlatives should be used, of course; but that's a whole different flaw from what seems claimed to be pro-advertiser prostitution.

Just my $0.02...

Hey, kernal_panic, I've been shooting for over sixty years. While I'm not a 100% Cooper "sycophant", I've found relatively little to disagree with in his writings. He and I are 100% together on the business of ethics in life--and hunting. I grant that having grown up with the "editorial we", I'm less offput by it than some.

:), Art

May 9, 2004, 08:52 PM
I miss reading Bob Brister.
I miss the other older writers as well.
I miss my HS Sentinel.

I dunno, I kinda stopped buying magazines many many years ago. Once in awhile I read an older publication. Sometimes I hear something good to read from you guys or a friend - I read it. With Internet I read some stuff recommended as well.

Maybe I got older, I have too much required reading, miss the old stuff like Robert Ruark, Cory Ford. Last "hunting and fishing" magazine I read there was "discussion " ( heated) about what test line to use in clear water, and is there a difference in high and low brass shells.

I have some magazines from the year I was born - 1955. Sorry but even back then we knew the height of brass on shotguns shells didn't mean squat...and one always uses the lightest line ( like 4# test in clear ) in shallow water. I used 2# if and when it was that clear and shallow.

Those topic have been covered, just link to reference for new folks when a search is done...we can move along now. :D

I find I miss more and more of the old ways. Classic stuff in firearms, writing, stories and revues. I guess that is why I hesitate to buy newer publications.

I will give SWAT credit. By golly they call 'em as they see 'em. Makes no nevermind if they bought advertising or not.
The folks that contribute, and I know we have folks here and from TFL that are involved, just write. Some admit the writing is the hard part, I over look mistakes, I want the gyst of what is there to learn.

May 9, 2004, 11:08 PM
Art, I 've only been shooting for 40 years now. It seems to me that people my age or older have respect for Cooper. While those noticably younger have little or none for him.
I guess Jimmy Buffett was right, "You had to be there."

As for looking for stacks of 1970s magazines. I only wish I could find some.
Until 1996 I had every issus of Guns And Ammo from March 1964 until 1996.
Shooting times from 1967 to 1996. Guns from 1967 to 1996 and Gun World from 1968 to 1996. Every issus was in those little "binders" they used to sell with the name embossed in gold.
Don't ask where they went, it's a tragedy. :(

I'd love to replace them. Especially the ones from before 1980.

May 10, 2004, 02:56 AM
I too like to pick up old gun mags. I found a little used book store in the Gold country of CA. I bought old AR mags from the immediate post WW ll era. They had taken a poll on deer rifle calibers. The poll was pretty honest about the NRA members who would answer such a poll and noted that NRA members might be using different guns than the average guy. I have also seen old Elmer Keith articles extolling HEAVY bullets of course. I found one from the seventies by a rank beginner named Massad Ayoob. Mas was discussing the the design of firearms for use in cold weather. In years past I found articles by the OKH crowd trying to develop .333 wildcats. I think Ahern is my least favorite writer. I did enjoy the work of old timers like Henry Stebbins and Frank DeHass ?sp.

Lone Star
May 10, 2004, 10:00 AM
Frank DeHaas. (I think.) His bolt action rifle book is wonderful. Very candid appraisals.

Cooper used to have excellent material. Now, he seems to be a pompous pontificator, wholly intolerant of anyone with different views. He really irked me some years ago when he used a medieval word (in German, I think!) and ridiculed a reader who asked what it might mean. Unlike Jeff, we commoners don't have all the answers!

On a lighter note, a gunsmith named John Lawson used to write a column in, "Gunsport" or some such title. A reader asked what he thought of a spacemin he had of some gun or other. Lawson replied that a "spacemin" was an Italian astronaut...

Lone Star

May 10, 2004, 10:17 AM
Askins, Jr., Skelton, and Keith were the three wise men as far as I'm concerned. Ain't read much useful in a gun magazine since those guys crossed over. :(

May 10, 2004, 01:03 PM
Talk about lack of information......I have seen several tests in gun mags recently (one in Guns & Ammo) where the writer did a halfway test because of poor weather and having to get the article to press they couldn't wait for better weather to do a complete test. I guess so they could say they were the first to test it. Oh please. The dog ate my homework.

May 10, 2004, 01:56 PM
Duane Thomas. The guy's history of articles has more flip flops than Kerry's voting record. Okay, maybe not that bad, but close.

C. H. Luke
May 12, 2004, 11:05 AM
"I've never met Chuck Taylor. He may come across better in person."

Lone Star, I know Chuck to be a warm, smart,personable and soft spoken person while still being a polished professional.
Make no mistake though that he can be very adamant and to the point.

One of the first things he breaches with a new group of Students is
NOT addressing him as "Mr." or "Sir", etc. He creates and builds a friendly atmosphere where all can enjoy what they're learning.
On the other hand am sure things are not so laid-back when he's working with some of the Macho Fed Alphabet organizations he's had contracts with for over 20 yrs.
Personally have found him to be a hell of a nice guy especially given what he's been thru in 'Nam & else ware plus a truly gifted teacher/Instructor.

May 12, 2004, 11:13 AM
The only time I ever saw him was at one of the SHOT shows. He was clever, personable friendly and even somewhat affectionate. He was not talking to me. He was very much engaged in a conversation with one of the female media/pr executives.

Don't know what he's like in real life, don't care, doesn't matter. The only time that sort of thing has mattered to me is when a very drunk famous gunwriter gave me a "screw you" look and seemed about to regurgitate on my shoes.

Anybody who wants a gunwriter (or anybody else) for a hero, should take special care not to ever meet him.

May 13, 2004, 03:42 PM

The best of the gunwriters were Skelton and Ross Seyfried.

The worst, and most useless is Jeffie Cooper. With Jack O'Connor, Bob Milek, Chuck Taylor and Wiley Clapp all tied for a distant second.

May 13, 2004, 04:07 PM
I know gunwriters have numerous faults and are pretty much shills for advertising. Most give some good info some of the time. The one that drives me nuts is Dick Metalf. Whatever gun he writes about is the greatest thing since spit. How about the rest of you folks?

just like any "hobby" mag, they are designed to sell you something. I read motorcycle magazines, and they love all the bikes they ride and review, and make a big deal over a 1 second difference on track times. The only exception is Motorcycle Consumer News, in black and white, no advertising at all. I just read gun and motorcycle magazines with a rather hefty grain of salt. and sometimes a beer or two.

May 15, 2004, 04:46 AM
Incredible thread, great reading!

Although at times I tired of reading articles by Duane Thomas, he would occasionally have one that was interesting and covered a topic that was usually not covered by others. I'm personally tired of reading the 9mm vs. .45acp (etc.) debates and other articles that deal specifically about hardware. I like reviews of shooting schools and trainers or particular methods, which Duane has written a few that I recall were decent. Usually, they were something he had probably just learned from a Farnam class or someone else he had just taken instruction from, but that's alright, it's interesting nonetheless. He has, as someone noted, gone all over the place regarding what he recommends as equipment. He also seems to have a bit of an ego as well.

Of my current favorites, I would say David Fortier has written some extremely informative articles. I've always like Ayoob's and Cooper's writing. Awerbuck is in there as well.

J Ross, your post had me laughing for minutes, especially # 10 & 18.


Duane Thomas
October 20, 2007, 10:06 AM
I like reviews of shooting schools and trainers or particular methods, which Duane has written a few that I recall were decent. Usually, they were something he had probably just learned from a Farnam class or someone else he had just taken instruction from, but that's alright, it's interesting nonetheless.
There was a time, in years past, where I went through a LOT of shooting schools. Like, about 20 classes in a few years. It was great, but then I got away from it. Maybe I should get back into it. Thunder Ranch is now in Oregon, I'm in Washington state. Hmmmmm. I always liked Ginny Lyford, Clint Smith's mother-in-law, when she lived in Washington. It would be worth it just to see her again. She's like, one of the most ultimately cool human beings I've ever met.

He has, as someone noted, gone all over the place regarding what he recommends as equipment.
True, I've carried a fair number of different guns over the years.

He also seems to have a bit of an ego as well.
Moi? Shirley you jest? Seriously, I try not to.

October 20, 2007, 10:14 AM
resurrecting a 3 year thread?

October 20, 2007, 10:17 AM
Moi? Shirley you jest? Seriously, I try not to.

Then why are you going around bumping ancient threads with your name in them?

Just Jim
October 20, 2007, 10:29 AM
Thank you for the resurection of this thread, it made me laugh alot. My how things have changed in just a few years.


Duane Thomas
October 20, 2007, 10:36 AM
Yer welcome.

Just Jim
October 20, 2007, 10:50 AM
Say are you the same Duane Thomas that used to write articles for some of the gun rags??


Odd Job
October 20, 2007, 11:05 AM
Yes, I am serious...and don't call me Shirley


October 20, 2007, 11:21 AM
I don't understand why everyone is down on Cooper.

As Massad Ayoob said, the man didn't just carry the torch, he lit it, when it came to the use of the fighting handgun.

October 20, 2007, 11:53 AM
"He looks at you like you owe him money."

Lone Star
October 20, 2007, 12:44 PM
I think Martin hit it on the nose with that sort of quote from Ruark about the countenance of the Cape buffalo. "He looks at you as if you owe him money."

Well, Cooper didn't look at people quite like that, but he could be pompous and dismissive, especially if one didn't wholly agree with him.

On the other hand, he was very articulate, had actually shot three men with handguns - something that few other writers have ever done- and he was highly learned.

Some who have been shills for advertisers, even writing special material for them, like Wiley Clapp, have compromised their integrity in my view. But his stuff is still always valid, what I've seen of it. So, the commercial angle taints, but doesn't necessarily ruin, his prose. You just have to be sharp enough to know that he's telling the truth. His trial of several Ruger GP-100's side-by-side was one of the best items that I've seen, and I don't think he fibbed about either the accuracy or the velocities. But when he writes promotional copy directly for certain manufacturers, it calls into question his objectivity.

Jack O'Connor once wrote a promotional booklet for Bausch & Lomb, when that firm was still in Rochester, NY. It was objective and frank. A very good early optics book. I still have my father's copy. Jack was also a real promoter of the .270 and of the Winchester M-70. BUT...he told the truth, as he was almost uniquely qualified to tell it, from wide experience. And he was a wordsmith. He seldom used really "big" words, but he never talked down to his readers, either. I enjoyed his wry humor.

I have in mind one writer who has praised Taurus and the work ethic that goes into building them. I like much of what he says, and his work has "flavor", if a bit too much drama, at times. I prefer not to name him.

But the overall feedback that I've seen on Taurus revolvers doesn't inspire me to concur with his statement. Those that I've examined didn't seem exceptional, but they weren't worse looking than comparable US guns. I've never fired one, but see so many horror stories on the Net that I probably wouldn't buy one. Other writers also got on the Taurus bandwagon. I have been a little leery of their writing since.

Far too much of the copy seen today is purely ad-driven. That is KILLING gun magazines. Shooting Times seems to be catching on a little, so they have Scarpata doing those vintage reviews. Probably too little, too late. But I am glad to see the effort.

Oh: I may know who the drunk writer is that Mec mentioned. He gets a little red in the face and a trifle belligerant when in his cups, if he's the guy I have in mind. And he tries to mention practically every rifle that applies to the purpose he's discussing. Woudn't do to leave out an advertiser, I guess.

Lone Star

October 20, 2007, 01:39 PM
I don't understand why everybody is down on Cooper.

The late Jeff Cooper, God rest him, wrote with a pretentious air that made him come off like a blowhard no matter if he was right or not. I liked him but could get tired of his blathering on about the obvious. He was a bit like some of the conservative talk radio hosts - I know their positions on everything so why do I want to listen even though we agree. HTH

Will Learn
October 20, 2007, 01:58 PM
I picked up a very informative mag the other day called Accuracy Secrets from shooting times. It had some good info on reloading, aftermarket barrels, and action blueprinting. I think its still on the shelves.

October 20, 2007, 10:38 PM
If we're griping about gun writers, Denis Prisbrey, you know who you are, you sure do take some goofy pictures! Fun storytelling though...

Aside from the big errors like calling a 7 shot gun an 8 shot, describing the groups in that gun as being 2 4-shot groups done rapid fire, and even showing a pic of the 7 shot cylinder and calling it an 8 shot, I'm pretty relaxed about it.

Otherwise a fluff piece is harmless, and I only buy stuff like Shotgun News where I'm getting my money's worth even without half the articles.

Congrats on the resurrection, this thread is from ye olden tymes... I hear that new .250 Savage goes 3,000+ fps!


October 20, 2007, 10:45 PM
There is a fellow on the internet, who'll remain nameless, but is very well known. He and others do reviews and collumns on his site. The reviews are excellent and all who write there are good at writting. Lot's of good info there.

However............. when you look back at all that was written over time, it suddenly hits you that you can't ever remember these writers ever giving a bad review to a firearm.

That's why I like Gun-Tests. I don't always agree with them, but they are brutally honest.

October 20, 2007, 10:58 PM
Aside from the big errors like calling a 7 shot gun an 8 shot, describing the groups in that gun as being 2 4-shot groups done rapid fire, and even showing a pic of

That sounds suspiciously like somebody monkeyed with his picture captions. That happens fairly frequently and makes the writer want to crawl in a hole.

October 21, 2007, 01:45 AM
Durn, where's the necro-patrol when you need them?

Duane, dude... the mods tend to frown on bumping three and four year old threads just because you found your name in them. Just letting ya know.

C. H. Luke
October 21, 2007, 09:45 AM
"...had actually shot three men with handguns - something that few other writers have ever done-"

Name one! Name one that's taken more than one hit in actual ground combat! :scrutiny:

"Bausch & Lomb, when that firm was still in Rochester, NY."

Bausch & Lomb, NEVER left Rochester.....

October 21, 2007, 10:59 AM
Gary Sitton was one of the best. A real writer. I liked him. Enjoyed sharing a hunting camp with him.

After a troubled life, Gary died about a year ago.

Interesting (to me) story. My father got the okay to write a piece for Sports Afield magazine (he was the shooting editor of that magazine for about 27 years) on autoloading shotguns. He got a half-dozen from the manufacturers, took them to the range, got a huge supply of ammo, and invited people to come shoot them for free. Each gun was on a table, with a clipboard, where people would mark number of shots and number of failures.

It was instructive. This was probably close to 20 years ago. There was a clear winner. The Benelli just kept on going. None of the guns was cleaned.

He wrote it up and sent it in. The magazine edited it to REMOVE the results. That is, the story ran saying that they did the test, but didn't say which one won.

Of course, the sales guys at the magazine said the article would make Benelli happy, and make five other companies unhappy.

The readers went crazy! Dad was mortified, angry, and at that point, we knew that a corner had been turned.


October 21, 2007, 05:56 PM
Most of the good gun writers are dead or retired now, so just check the masthead of any gun mag and take your pick of poor writers and editors. These guys are human, though, and they do make mistakes, so I tend to take them with a grain of salt and pick magazines to read based on subject matter rather than writer. One thing I will not tolerate is a racist gun writer, though. I remember reading that piece of crap about shooting Mexicans at the border like it was a good thing. This conservative man of Mexican ancestory shoots back, so piss off old man.

Here's another gun writer peeve: even though I love .45 ACP and the 1911, I'm gonna puke on the centerfold if I have to wade through one more rehashed historical prelude of how the 1911 came to be before the author gets to the meat of his article.

On the flip side I enjoy reading pieces by Sheriff Jim Wilson and Duane Thomas. Wilson has a down home point of view and isn't afraid to write about having fun while shooting. Bart Skelton is another good writer and his genes show in his stories; I miss his dad's writing. Thomas got a little too serious at times, but he did steer me toward the virtues of SIGs (the P-226 and P-220 in particular) and often sought out new angles on old subjects. He was one of the first writers, that I know of, who wrote about female shooters as equals and valued their skills & opinions rather than showing them shooting some 'cute' pink gun in a lilliput caliber or calling them by some silly name.

I miss Dean Grennell and his writing style (his books taught me how to shoot and reload back in the 70s). I also greatly enjoyed the writing of George C. Nonte and I still peruse his Pistol and Revolver Guide (3rd. Ed.) purchased new in 1975.

While most gun writers are either the real deal or take on the personna of cowboy, cop or defender of the realm--it's getting way out of hand, today's gun writers come off as posers. I'd love to read an article that shows the writer putting the gun through it's paces while dressed in Dockers and a casual shirt rather than fitted out as a camoflaged desk warrior, spec-ops "operator," desperado, East European soldier or private eye. Playing "dress up" in a gun mag looks silly to my eye and makes me kinda embarassed for the writer as well. And, I don't care if you are a cop, try not to bring it up in every other sentence.

We need more new voices in the gun press. I just bought a copy of Gun World and the Handguns 2007 supplement. The Handguns piece has six articles, four of them written by Jan Libourel, and he also handles the editorial chores. Journalists just getting out of "J" school who also enjoy shooting (if there is such a critter...) might want to give him a hand. But I did get two mags packaged as a set for $3.99 and the articles look interesting.

I enjoy raggin' on the gun rags as much as anyone; but what would you do if one day you went to Barnes and Noble or the local sporting goods shop and there weren't any on the shelves? I'd have a cow...


October 21, 2007, 09:26 PM
Every time I read something by that Tom Gresham guy, I break out in hives...

JOKE JOKE JOKE! Really! I'm a semi-regular on Gun Talk...usually when Tom can't find anyone thoughtful and articulate, so he has to settle.

To a large extent, I don't ask for guns I know I'm going to dislike. Strangely enough, I spent a bunch of years as a rock critic for magazines like ROLLING STONE and ESQUIRE; after the first bazillion albums (remember albums?), I contracted a bad case of the "critic's disease." One of the symptoms is that, as a writer, it's fun to rip stuff. The second is that you become increasingly pissy in your likes and dislikes. You start out loving music and you end up only listening to rockabilly records recorded in Memphis in 1955 at the old Sun Studios between 3PM and midnight while loudly proclaiming that everything else sucks.

Same with guns. There are brands of guns that I actively dislike. Don't own 'em; don't like to shoot them. There's nothing wrong with them except that I don't like them. My friend Bruce Gray once bludgeoned me into instructing a day with one of those guns, and it went just fine. The gun was accurate, easy to shoot, the students liked it, blah blah, and, at the end of the day. I still hated 'em. So there you are.

Michael B, standing by for Gun Talk when Paris Hilton cancels...

October 22, 2007, 12:54 AM
It's not that I have anything against the guy or even what he actually says, but Clint Smith just isn't that great of a writer.

I don't particularly care for Dr. Martin Topper either, and I find the constant use of the phrase "Dr. Topper" off-putting for some reason. I also don't care for Craig Boddington, because he, more than anyone, seems to be a shill for the cartridge companies. If you listen to him, you will be convinced that a 30rifle battery of different calibers is necessary to hunt. Semper Fi to General Boddington, and I am willing to admit that many of the cartridges he writes about are pretty good and all that, but I just always feel like he is telling me that if I don't own them, I am missing the boat.

Finally, while I actually like John Taffin, I get a little tired with hearing about how great the 50's were.

October 22, 2007, 01:13 AM
Conner is so off topic sometimes it scares me. I love reading him though because he makes me laugh. People clear the room when I laugh while reading a gun magazine, which makes me laugh even more that they are scared of me laughing at a magazine article.

October 22, 2007, 01:33 AM

You guys think those other writers are bad? Boring to tears? Arrogant to a fault?


I spit in your general direction!

Just wait until *I* start writing for gun mags.

I'll give you something to whine about.

Buncha ungrateful punks!

I can combine bad writing AND inexperience!

Huh? What about that? Y'all are so smart.

I've got some 24 kt ignorance that will seriously make you twitch.

Mumble . . . mumble . . .

October 22, 2007, 12:09 PM
I view Gun Magazines about the same as I view Playboy or Penthouse. I don't read them for the articles. I've met and watched a few "gun writers" doing evaluations. I found them to be no different than anyone else. As others have pointed out, they always have something good to say about the gun they are shooting in that article. Other than stats and pictures they are worthless.

In one or more of the rags they have a "It happened to me" section. This is about as realistic as Penthouse forum.

October 22, 2007, 03:00 PM
In one or more of the rags they have a "It happened to me" section. This is about as realistic as Penthouse forum.

Snicker. I know what you mean. Those are real exercises in creative fiction. ;)

There is one current writer whose name I will not mention but his initials are CT; He wrote columns about gunfights and he would give the mental thoughts of the person doing the shooting. Kind of like the "voiceover" on an old film noir.

"There I was. It was comforting to feel the Commander with its lethal load of HydraShoks nestled under my armpit in the sweltering Arizona heat. ..."

How would he know? :neener:

October 22, 2007, 04:11 PM
How would he know?

Ok. You woke up a sickening repressed memory. I don't know who wrote this and am sure that he has written a lot of really good stuff and is really informative on his good days but one article a lot of years ago, had a guy conjecturing about how several famous gunwriter/gunfighter/gurus would look as they "Exercised Deadly Force!"
This made me want to dip a snuff and then regurgitate

Aguila Blanca
October 22, 2007, 09:37 PM
Funny thing about those goats. Most of the people in the writing field don't believe it, others believe it and have seen pictures and Libourel has gone down in print as believing the goats were shot, doubting that the goats were shot and then believing the goats were shot again.
Some of the poor goats were shot twice? :eek:

My gawd, where is PETA when you really need them? What calibre for goats?

October 22, 2007, 09:43 PM
Well, as a matter of fact, I seem to remember that the ones they allegedly shot with 158 round nose might have been dispatched by multiple rounds. maybe not. They did allegedly stop shooting them with that round because the goats either kept on eating or croaked lingeringly. One goat allegedly jumped out of the shooting area, ripped out his piezo-electric peak hold transducers and ran around going "OOOOOHHHHHHHHH CCCRRAAAAPPPPP!"

Old Dog
October 22, 2007, 09:44 PM
I didn't realize how much I missed our monthly gun magazine/gunwriter bashing thread, until someone resurrected this three-and-a-half year old thread ...

The Annoyed Man
October 22, 2007, 10:24 PM
I've pretty much stopped buying gun magazines. The only one I still get is American Rifleman. But I did used to get a kick out of Dean Grennell. Back when I got my first firearm - a 1911 I inherited from my dad - I bought a Grennell book about the 1911 to learn more about this particular one. I pictured a crusty old fart with a heart of gold. I don't know if that is accurate about him or not, but I did enjoy his writing.

I also have enjoyed Jim Wilson's stories. One in particular I remember which still makes me laugh today is the one where he had to crawl into a thicket armed with a .357 Blackhawk to dispatch a wounded sow. Apparently, after encountering said sow when he least expected to, he unleashed a barrage from that old Blackhawk and put the pig down. When he crawled back out of the thicket, scratched and bleeding, clothes torn and dirty, and scared half out of his mind, his friends were all laughing at him. When he peevishly asked what was so damned funny, one of them said that was the first time he had ever heard a single action revolver fire on full auto.

For what it's worth, I've stopped buying motorcycle magazines too. They were all just starting to clutter up the place, so I canceled my subscriptions.

October 22, 2007, 10:47 PM
Grennell was great. Pretty much the same in person as in print-though a bit more f-wordy. He wrote a great article on sensory -neural deafness. Years later, I ran into him at an NRA meeting. He was wearing two miracle ear and I asked him how they worked.
" Great! Just Great! I used to go to the grocery store and all I heard was f-wording gibbererish!. Now, I go to the grocery store and I hear LOUD f-wording gibberish."

and on Glocks, " Does Glock have a booth here???? Whereisit??? You know, I've never shot a Glock. Never wanted to but I bet if you dropped one in a creek, the ugli'ed wash two miles downstream."

October 23, 2007, 07:26 AM
23. Any gunwriter gushes about a $2000+ limited-production bolt
action rifle that shoots 2 MOA.

Boy, isnt that the truth!? For the money that some of these rifles are going for, I would want them to shoot "negative number" groups!!

October 23, 2007, 08:38 AM
The thing I hate is when I pick up a mag for a product review and it's written by some schmuck who is trying to one-up SOF mag. Seriously, writers from Consumer Reports don't claim to be race car drivers when testing the new Taurus. Dramatized (artificial) military tactical advise and the people who think it translates to normal, pedestrian life...

October 23, 2007, 04:59 PM
Their has only been one gun writer and survial expert and he was shut down. That my folks was GUNKID!!! :neener::D:neener:

4v50 Gary
October 23, 2007, 05:44 PM
Gunkid was certainly a name maker for himself. Thankfully he was shut down before Congress outlawed the wheelbarrow.

November 4, 2007, 01:50 AM
"Goofy pictures" ? :scrutiny:

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