Americans are arming up. In June, the FBI processed some 3.9 million firearm background checks, the highest number since they started keeping track in 1998. And with national tensions fueled by the pandemic, economic instability, and civil unrest, it’s first-time buyers who are fueling those numbers.
And for many, it’s hard to know where to start looking for a first gun. Reading gun reviews seems like a straightforward answer. However, with an abundance of fake, misleading, or otherwise unhelpful reviews, they’re not always a reliable source of information.
To help cut through the noise, we’re going to take a look at some tips on how to find and read reliable reviews, and how to cut out the fake ones. With the following tips in hand, you’ll be better positioned to make the right purchase.
1. If There Are Multiple, Identical Gun Reviews, Count on Them Being Fake
When looking at reviews to try and decide which model is right for you, the first thing that you need to do is vet your information. Which unfortunately can be easier said than done sometimes.
A common tactic by less-scrupulous marketers is to flood online resources like blogs and forums with fake reviews to try to generate positive buzz. Fortunately, many of them will simply copy and paste the same text, making it easy to cross-reference them.
Since the authors of these posts are often being paid by manufacturers or another entity who has an interest in selling as many of a certain gun as possible, you can’t count on them for their authenticity. That’s not to say that the product isn’t worth your time, but you should keep a skeptical view.
2. Overuse of Personal Pronouns Should Be a Red Flag
Even if a false reviewer does their due diligence by writing multiple distinct articles, there are still ways to see through their game.
One tell that should be a red flag is the overuse of personal pronouns. While it is stylistically acceptable to use them when writing product reviews, overusing can be an indicator that the reviewer isn’t being sincere.
A study by the University of Cornell found that liars tend to use personal pronouns to come across as more convincing. So for instance, an objective statement like “this gun is an excellent value for the money” is more likely to be sincere. But statements like “I personally have tried this weapon, and can promise that it’s a great investment” are more likely to be lies or at least half-truths.
3. Keep an Eye Out for Marketing Tricks
Marketers are trained to convince you that you need whatever they’re selling. However, there are hints that you can pick up on.
For instance, one trick is to hide a positive review for one product in a negative review for another. They might conclude that a given gun was prone to jamming or had had other issues, and then immediately pivot and point you in the direction of an alternative product.
While it’s possible that they’re trying to provide a solution, it’s just as likely that they’re wasting your time by trying to market something that you weren’t even looking at.
4. To Find the Right Reviews, Start by Narrowing Your Search
So avoiding misinformation or manipulative marketing is the first step. But then how do you find the right information?
Typing “gun reviews” or something to that effect in Google will turn up plenty of resources. Too many, in fact.
For our purposes, we’re looking at home defense weapons. So while there might be a handful of rifle reviews that could prove useful, we’re mostly talking about handguns and shotguns.
Most rifles are going to be either too powerful, too unwieldy, or both. Their long barrels will make navigating hallways and corners difficult, and the high-powered rounds many of them use are all-but-guaranteed to over-penetrate, going through walls and possibly into nearby homes.
This risk is far-less-present with handguns and shotguns. Handguns are less powerful and can be loaded with rounds that help minimize the risk of over-penetrating. And shotguns lose power with both range and the amount of material that they pass through, which is exactly what you want in this situation.
5. Look For Reviews That Balance Pros and Cons of the Product
Having narrowed down your choices, you want to look for reviews that are impartial. Rarely will you ever find an earnest review that gives a gun five-stars across the board. That’s because even the best-made firearms have trade-offs that might make them ideal for one person or scenario, but less optimal for others.
What you want to look for then are reviews that are upfront and honest about a product’s shortcomings, even if the review is overall positive.
Ultimately, Try to Test Any Gun Before You Buy It
Reading gun reviews can be a great starting point when looking for a new gun, provided that you can cut through the clutter. But before you buy, you should always seek to try out your new firearm.
Once you’ve narrowed down your possibilities to a handful of choices, look for a range in your area that offers rentals. Getting to actually feel how a gun fits in your hand and how it handles can be a deciding factor in whether or not you’ve found the right choice for you.
Firearms reviews have their place, but they’re just the beginning. For more buying guides and lifestyle news, be sure to always keep up with the latest from Kagamasumut.