Letters to SAR: January 1998

By The Small Arms Review Editorial Staff

Dear SAR,

My mailman was getting tired of seeing me leaning against my mailbox crying my eyes out waiting for a magazine that never came. I made the pilgrimage to Knob Creek looking for answers; all of a sudden up ahead like a ray of light at the end of a tunnel I spotted a banner reading “Small Arms Review” with no less than the original R.K.I. himself Dan Shea standing under it. With shaking hands I bought your first issue. I dared to hope – could it be? Not only was it great it is better than that other un-named magazine. The shakes and mood swings are gone you have cured me!

The photo ID article on H&K lowers was great – more of this series please!

I checked out your new website – very addictive. Enclosed is my check for a subscription.

Blissfully contented in Kentucky.

Joe West

Thanks for the Kind words Joe. We will try to make SAR a better magazine each month.


Dear SAR,

In reading the new issue, so far so good! As a proud, card carrying member of the Libertarian Party, I feel duty bound to point out an error your repeated on page 8 of Volume 1 #1 SAR. In their article under “Association News”, Gun Owners of America Identifies Representative Ron Paul as “(I-TX)”. Mr. Paul is a Libertarian Party member and former presidential candidate on the Libertarian ticket! You should be aware that we libertarians believe in scrapping all of the 23,000+ gun laws now on the books in the U.S. and the BATF, and having only ONE gun law; the SECOND AMENDENT. This has been our policy since the founding of the Libertarian party in the early 1970’s (by disgruntled conservative Republicans, myself included). Anyway, the National Media fearing recognition of the Libertarians, always identifies our office holders as independents, i.e., Representative Ron Paul (I-TX).


It is our understanding that the Libertarian Party is a very strong supporter of the Second Amendment as well. Sorry for the mix-up


Dear SAR,

To start with, I really don’t care for the broad audience idea you are trying to capture by including articles on handguns and sniper rifles. These are better left up to the bigger mags. Let them deal with the rat-race of who can get the review of the newest HK pistol into their magazine first. They have much greater resources in that arena and frankly can do it a lot better. Same with the sniper rifles (though I haven’t seen any yet). I understand about expanding readership, but you have the single greatest asset of being the ONLY magazine that caters to the C3 world and this is where you should concentrate on expanding. A collector in Arizona still doesn’t subscribe? Why not? What’s missing? I can assure you it’s not a lack of general firearms subject matter. He could get that any number of other places for a fraction of the subscription costs of SAR. There is still a whole lot to write about in the C3 world alone, MGN only scratched the surface. I would love to see you wait until the C3 world has been exhaustively covered before you start on the Title I stuff. You know the saying, “Jack of all trades, master of none”. I don’t know the demographics, but I can guess that even MGN was only subscribed to by a small percentage of the C3 owners, dealers, manufacturers, etc., out there and this should be the basis of your long-term strategy right now for expanding SAR, not the gun world at large. You will fail miserably if you take on Guns and Ammo or American Handgunner right out of the gate.

Secondly, MGN had this problem too, but since you’re just starting (and I’m starting with you) I’ll mention it now. The photos. The photos that accompany each article are a story unto themselves. There is a structure, even a grammar, to a photo layout. A piece of writing should have an opening paragraph somehow introducing the piece and somehow giving an overview of the whole. Same with photos. I’ve noticed frequently that some of the articles (your’s included) are missing an “establishing shot”. What the hell does this thing look like on it’s own? The HK36 article was great, but if you’ll notice, there was no shot of what the HK36 or 36K looked like by itself. That should be the first photo on the layout, full-frame, no one getting in the way of what this thing is as a whole.

Anyway, those are my initial criticisms and mine alone, but I’m please beyond words that you’re starting over with a new mag, taking it on yourself as should have been the case from the beginning of MGN. Keep up the fantastic work!

Ted Cass, Los Angeles, CA

Dear Ted,

Thanks for the input… We won’t bore you with the trials and tribulations we have been through, suffice it to say that the initial layout system disappeared about 4 weeks before we needed to get to film, and we “Made do”.. it was more important to get this out and do it on time, than to have all the blemishes out of it.

We are working like crazy to get our layout up to the standards you pointed-out.

We have taken your critique under advisement, and handed it around for discussion, please continue to send your opinions. your concerns are very valid.

On the subject matter, we do not want to take on the regular gun mags, that would be stupid, on the other hand, we need to broaden the base JUST A LITTLE. SAR is running more articles on MG’s than MGN ever did, we have more pages, and more space, but we needed more advertisers to survive, and they are starting to come on board. Scope, mount, leather, etc is all needed to financially stabilize the magazine. We also needed the validity in getting in the door with manufacturers, it has already made a huge difference “The Small Arms Review” gets no funny look from the CEO’s. We can now get better stories.

We weigh each issue to make sure there is a balance between the interests of our different readers, you would be amazed at how many people are applauding the opening of our subject matter, but they all end up with “I trust you are not going to cross the line and become another gun rag” We won’t – trust us on this!

Best to you

Dear SAR,

Keep up the educational format. I learned new things in the first issue and passed on the information (ammo, legal).

I was proud to see that the NRA listed your publication with the address and Dan’s name. Perhaps they may give Class 3 some more coverage and defense. Thanks.

Thank you for your letter. We too hope to form a strong alliance with EVERY pro gun organization. Together we stand, you know the rest.


This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V1N4 (January 1998)
and was posted online on October 13, 2017


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