Harris Publication closing up shop.

Harris Publications is a large publishing company that was founded in NYC in 1979. The publisher puts out some seventy five magazines with a dozen or so firearms related. I learned earlier today of their closing and have read a few stories on the various reasons. Harris Publications cited the rise of digital media as the primary reason but I have an opinion I would like to share. I have been doing gun reviews some eleven years now and worked with a publisher for a little while myself.

In my opinion many gun mags have become little more that a collection of advertisements and features with few actual honest reviews. Make no mistake, this is not always the case but I believe more times than not. Thinking back over the past, I have read very few if any negative reviews on featured firearms. Now I understand modern guns are usually plenty reliable but to be sure not every writer loves every feature. I have reviewed hundreds of guns over the years and while the vast majority were reliable and reasonably accurate, there were many times I found features I did not care for. There are very few guns I have worked with that I did not find something I would have liked to see different, though rarely are they deal breakers. I believe that many of the big gun magazines would cater to manufactures who bought ad space, and I lind of understand that. With that said though, is that fair to the reader. What leads me to believe such a thing is, I was once working with a smaller manufacture on a review when they were contacted by a large magazine inquiring about a test firearm. The manufacture, who was interested, was asking the necessary questions to make that happen when that publication informed them they had an opening for an ad space. With a six month commitment they guaranteed a solid review and a feature. The ad costs thousands of dollars, well beyond budget. When the manufacture informed the publication, they withdrew the offer to review the firearm. In my mind that is damn sorry. I have also read glowing reviews of firearms I knew had issues, such as the Remington R51,  only to find large ads within the same magazine. This is by far not the only example. When you read an excellent review of a firearm you know has issues, only to close the magazine and see the back page is a full color ad, it makes it tough to take that magazine seriously.

Digital media, though, is not much different. When reading an article it is up to the reader to determine if the author is being truthful. It is a fine line to walk to be completely honest to the reader while not being too hard on the manufacture so as to upset them and get black balled from getting any future test samples, which has happened to me on a single occasion. My SOP is to be honest about everything, if there is a problem present it, but don’t beat it to death unless it is serious such as safety, malfunctions, or accuracy problems. If it is of my opinion I touch on it so people can make up their own mind and be sure to end the article on a positive note. Of all the manufactures I have worked with, the vast majority are satisfied enough with this to keep sending me test guns and allows me to be honest with the reader.

In short, I am sorry Harris Publications is closing up shop but I believe there is more to the story than has been let on. That last part holds true to many facets of life, so it is up to you to sort the fly poop from the pepper. But you can trust me. 😀 

By Hunter Elliott

I spent much of my youth involved with firearms and felt the call early on to the United States Marine Corps, following in my father's and his brother's footsteps. Just after high school I enlisted and felt most at home on the rifle range, where I qualified expert with several firearms and spent some time as a rifle coach to my fellow Marines. After being honorably discharged I continued teaching firearm safety, rifle and pistol marksmanship, and began teaching metallic cartridge reloading. In the late 1990s I became a life member to the National Rifle Association and worked with the Friends of the NRA. Around that time my father and I became involved with IDPA and competed together up until he passed away. I began reviewing firearms for publications in the mid 2000s and have been fortunate to make many friends in the industry. Continuing to improve my firearms skills and knowledge is a never ending journey in which we should all be committed. I am also credited as weapons master on a few independent films.

3 thoughts on “Harris Publication closing up shop.”
  1. Agreed, I used to subscribe to select gun, 4×4 and muscle car magazines. Often there were references to “sister” publications and the ubiquitous excuses of not being able to complete the testing like they desired…..because of deadline schedules.

    It’s been decades since I’ve subscribed to magazine publications, in part, because I can a detailed review here on Range Hot from a person I trust. 🙂

    1. Thank you very much Bob,
      I truly appreciate the kind words and confidence. I will do my best not to let you down. I have similar experiences as you and have grown disappointed over the same old same old.

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