When considering a new purchase for a gun or piece of gear, what data points are you looking for in a review? What info makes a review valuable to you? Who are some of your "go to" reviewers?
Over time, I've noticed that there are reviews and then there are "reviews". I'm a skeptical person by nature, so a good review to me features data about the item that is backed up by the review, knowing if the item was bought or provided, photo or video evidence backing up claims made in the review, the reviewer being qualified to pass their opinion on to their intended audience, to name a few. I'm noticing these are harder and harder to find. Professional influencing/third party advertising/ paid reviews are a thriving part of the internet. The recent kerfuffle with IraqVeteran8888 on Youtube pulled back the curtain for a lot of folks. A lot of first shots and initial opinions are passed off as in depth reviews in the vein of "Got a loaner gun from the manufacturer, shot 200 rounds, no failures, 5 stars, buy it now". It got me thinking so I figured I'd throw it out there and see where other people are at.
To me, the #1 thing is integrity and honesty. That applies to the product itself as well as the background and intentions of the reviewer.
I always accept that there's going to be some inherent bias in reviews. On one hand, if the reviewer spent their own cash on something and posts a review of it, then I know there's a good chance they will speak positively of it just to avoid feeling bad about buying something they don't like. That's often the position I'm in, and I try to be mindful of it. On the other hand, if a reviewer received the product from a manufacturer, then there's pressure to say good things about it or risk damaging future relationships with that manufacturer and then receive no products to review at all (or revert back to the first position).
I'm ok spotting that bias so long as the author is upfront about where they got the product from.
To my second point, about the background of the reviewer and what they actually did with the item. Details matter. For example, if someone reviews a bolt action rifle and tells me only that it held .75 MOA, but provides no data on how many shots they fired or what kind of load, then it's not actually all that useful. On the other hand, saying that they fired three 10-shot groups using Ammunition X and averaged to .75 MOA- then it's a much more informed discussion.
Lastly, the more stuff I read and come across, the more I realize that a lot of products just aren't all that different from one another. For example, Klik Belts sent me a 1.75" duty belt with cobra buckle to work with for my upcoming article on duty belt configurations. It's honestly a nice belt, it really is, and I'd happily recommend it. But there's a lot of other nice belts from companies like HSGI, FirstSpear, and more that do the exact same thing. I mean...it's a reinforced nylon belt, how creative can you get with it? I'd much rather a review tell me that a piece of gear is good to go for this use or that use, but probably not ideal for some other use and then provide honest alternatives.
That tells me they thought about it, and it's not just another quasi-sponsored post.
Anyway, I'm ranting. The bottom line is that I think people should operate with integrity above everything else.
"Man is still the first weapon of war" - Field Marshal Montgomery
They've made me jaded. I have to lump them together under the label "snake oil salesmen." The good thing is they drag a product on to MY radar, I get some idea of quality, price, use or purpose. No faith that I get the truth, the whole truth , but some reviewers give you a glimpse of how many layers of varnish are on the "truth".
I look for feature sets, important details/dimensions, price, performance, faults being listed as features, and something completely negative.
I don't want to have to "read between the lines", I just want to read the lines and know the truth.
"Good judgement comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgement"
Thank you for coming by The Everyday Marksman. This site and its community are a labor of love. I hope you stick around for a while, and maybe even join us.
We can't Wait to Show You More