"Ninety percent of science fiction is crap. But that's okay, because 90% of everything is crap."
-- Sturgeon's Law
Attributed to science fiction icon Theodore Sturgeon
I've never been a big fan of conspiracy theories, largely because I don't think most people could pull off a complicated conspiracy on a bet. It follows from that statement that I'm not a big fan of conspiracy theory movies, because I'm not able to suspend disbelief. Add to that the fact that most modern conspiracy theory movies are either wicked capitalist corporations or American veterans plotting this, that or the other Evil Wicked Deed. Which brings me around, in a roundabout way, to another pet peeve...the demonization of business in America. That's largely a function of the progressive Left a part of their core DNA: Government Good/Business Bad, sort of the Norma Jean School of Life.
So, you may ask, What the hell is he talking about?
Well, oddly enough I'm talking about the Remington R51 9mm pistol. Or rather the coverage of the R51 introduction.
The R51 production gun reviews have been disastrous...here, here, and here are samples. The production gun reviews are at odds with the pre-production/prototype reviews (including our own DRTV review by Gary Paul Johnson).
This discrepancy has led to some fairly serious churn on the Internet, from the thoughtful to the perhaps less-than-thoughtful.
Beeause we've run a review on the R51, I feel like I have a horse (well, a pony) in this race, and I wanted to make some points.
• The first is that it's darn fun to slag other people. I say this as a former music critic who once made his living criticizing people more talented than I. At some point through, it is corrosive to the soul of the slagger. All print gunwriters are NOT whores...that should be self-evident. The one writer called out, Richard Mann, for his print review in SHOOTING ILLUSTRATED, Is one of the best in the business. He is a person I go to when I have questions I can't answer. He is an honorable man. Gary Paul Johnson, our reviewer, retired from LAPD, is the co-author of the standard reference text on world assault rifles, has been featured on GUN STORIES for his depth of knowledge, and is one of my best friends. They are experts. Period.
• All bloggers are NOT the saviors of firearms journalism. There are some good ones whose opinions on firearms I value (Grant Cunningham, Hamilton Yam, Tim Lau and Caleb Giddings come to mind). There are a far greater number of people who do nothing more than increase the "noise" side of the signal-to-noise ratio...readers/viewers are free to disagree, but I have read more crap about guns on the Internet than I'd have believed possible. Hey, because you don't like something doesn't mean it's part and parcel of a massive conspiracy on the part of gun companies! Additionally, My cat Asta has a greater depth of knowledge of firearms design and manufacturing considerations than about 80% of what passes for "criticism" on the Internet.
• The Internet is a wonderful place to grind an axe, so to speak. And at any given point that are a LOT of axes being ground. I once told Washington correspondent Jake Tapper that he should reveal his background in antigun advocacy on any story he did on RKBA. He didn't agree with me. I still believe that we are obligated to reveal our biases, our preconceptions, our set of paradigms that might impinge on what we write or say. Without going into details, there is some of this preexisting axe-grinding going on here, and it is inappropriate (read BEARING ARMS Bob Owens -- another credible voice -- piece here).
• I have said this over and over and over again...we can only review the guns we get. I would say the vast majority of guns I get are production guns, because that's what I'd prefer to review. I have handled a lot of prototype and pre-production guns, and in general I can find something wrong with them. I tell the company involved in the hopes of fixing the problem before the gun goes out to the public.
• It is clear that there was a "slip between the cup and the lip" on the R51. The production guns are having problems that the preproduction protos shown to gunwriters at the GUNSITE Remington event did not exhibit. The idea, however, that Remington somehow conspired to fool "hand-picked gun writers." and foist off a gun that would fire out-of-battery is ludicrous. I'm not a huge fan of the Remington consolidation, but as I said in my comments on a previous post, only a complete idiot would assert that Remington doesn't know how to make guns. Gun companies are not massive conglomerates conspiring to pass crap off on stupid consumers...that is the fetid imagination of those who have seen one too many viewings of Erin Brockovich.
• I am not a fan of the "pay for play" model, e.g. only advertisers are mentioned in a publication or broadcast. None of my productions are "pay for play." Never have been; never will be. It gives my advertising department ulcers! I do, however, favor my advertisers...I would be a fool to do otherwise! All of us work for profit. To the smug morons who say they'll never believe anything in a magazine or broadcast supported by advertising I say, hey, so you have a trust fund, or do you work for a company that provides goods or services to the public? Someone PAYS for your company's goods or services, and that's why you get a weekly paycheck. Capitalism is good, and it works.
So what happened with the R51? If I was going to bet, I'd say the guns provided to writers at the GUNSITE event were indeed pre-production guns built by Remington factory engineers. The guns that came off the Para lines in North Carolina for production weren't up to those standards. A mistake? Hell yes. A conspiracy? Yeah, right...
Even on the Internet, maybe especially on the Internet, when you accuse respected professionals of unethical behavior, you DAMN WELL BETTER be prepared to cough up the evidence, or it's time for you to fold your hand and find another playpen.