One of the changes I've seen in the firearms industry over the years is the timing of new-product introductions. Formerly, most companies rolled out their new lines at the end or the very beginning of the calendar year, in both cases to time with each year’s Shooting Hunting & Outdoor Trade Show, better known as SHOT Show, generally held in January. That always seemed odd to me because it guaranteed new-product coverage would get trampled by the volume of similar coverage.
The situation has changed quite a lot, especially in the last five years. Many new products are now introduced at what is effectively a consumer show — the NRA Annual Meetings, usually held in May — rather than the industry-only SHOT Show. Also, as more companies disperse their new product announcements via their own media — blogs, e-letters, and social media, as well as press releases to their retailers, who also have blogs and social media — the companies can roll out new products as the goods become available for shipment.
This is an important shift for consumers because it used to be SOP for a company to do a soft introduction of a product to a limited class of gun publications, then assess the market response generated by the publicity before committing to a full production run. That sometimes lead to product news being publicized two or three years in advance of product being available for sale, or the products never materialized, both of which customers didn’t like. Now, what you can see, you can generally get.
I want to thank Gun Tests readers for participating in a recent online survey in which we asked for guidance on what subscribers want to see.
We’re still looking over the data and making coverage plans, but I’ve been able to make some adjustments on the fly already, which you can see in this issue. You asked for more and larger pictures, so I’ve expanded the modules. Also, I’ve cut duplication in the text where we documented some of the test procedures in both the narrative and the sidebars. Overall, we’ll trend toward a tighter, better-illustrated package in the coming months.
In terms of coverage, there were some surprises. You want more legal reporting, such as features on legal self-defense use, which ranked as high in the survey as coverage of self-defense handguns. I have already begun assigning pieces on those issues. Ammunition testing also turned up as a prime area of interest. After all, guns can’t go bang if they’re empty.
I know that the survey was long. I took it myself on my iPhone. But for those thousands of readers who slogged through even part of it, please accept my thanks. It will help me craft a better product for you to read.