Lots of magazinesconduct gun tests. The question is: Which ones do you trust? A recent pollindicated that upward of 70 percent of those who read hunting and shootingjournals are of the opinion that favorable editorial comment is swayed towardadvertisers. So if you’ve been suspicious, you’re not alone. We’re suspicious,too. That’s why, when we sat down nearly seven years ago to devise theprocedures for our annual gun test, we wanted to come up with a system that wasas unbiased as possible–one that would be totally uninfluenced by anyoneoutside of our test team. We can’t speak to how other publications come to someof the conclusions they do about firearms, but here’s how we come to ours.
PRETESTSHAKEDOWN: Every gun is first measured and weighed to verify factory specs.Triggers are tested five times with an electronic trigger-pull gauge, and thepull weights are averaged. An electronic scope is used to inspect (and grade)the quality of the interior of the bore on every gun.
TEST PANELS:Rather than rely on one opinion, we use a group of experts. some from ourstaff, some from outside the magazine–to test guns. Each tester scores everyrifle or shotgun independently. Scores for each firearm are then averaged, withmore weight given to performance.
MULTIPLE GROUPS:Shooters fire a series of five-shot groups with each rifle. A precisioninstrument accurate to thousandths of an inch is used to measure each group,and we determine an average group size for the entire panel. Shotguns aretested by team members for a minimum of one round of skeet or trap–easilyseveral hundred rounds per gun.
SCORING: Everyfirearm starts out with a perfect score of 100; points are deducted based onfit and finish, appearance, accuracy, operation and a number of othersubjective criteria. We also score each gun on what we call”price/value,” which is the degree to which a gun represents anoutstanding buy for the money.
Guns that fail toscore an average of at least 60 points overall are automaticallyeliminated.
TESTERS’COMMENTS: Please note that all comments about firearms are individual opinionsand are not necessarily shared by the entire panel. Many times our testersdisagree, which is why we average their scores.
TEST CHARTSEXPLAINED How the Rankings Work
FINAL SCORE:F-G-VG-E [Fair – Good – Very Good – Excellent]
THERMOMETERSCALE: This shows the product’s final score, which is the average of itsperformance, design and price/value scores. Extra weight is given to theperformance category.
Excellent:**** Very Good: *** Good: ** Fair: *
STAR SYSTEM: Thestars given for performance, design and price/value represent a range ofpossible scores. So a firearm earning four stars in performance scored anywherefrom 90 to 100 points.