Man Magnum – March-April 2023
English | 70 pages | pdf | 34.89 MB
I OCCASIONALLY write this column as an emergency stopgap if Man Magnum Magazine Editor is incapacitated or unavailable. I approach the task with some trepidation, as opinion expressed in the editorial column carries somewhat more responsibility than that expressed in a by-lined feature article. All magazines carry a disclaimer stating that opinions expressed in articles are not necessarily those of the editor or publisher.
I have always found writing for public consumption slightly daunting. I mean, the mere assumption that you have something to say worth reading is, in itself, a form of arrogance, is it not? Yet we do it. I have long found it amusing that newspaper editors around the world write leader columns in which they tell governments how to run their countries. Yet that is partly what newspapers are for – to serve as watchdogs for the people when bureaucracy gets out of hand.
One of SA’s administrators recently called for stricter gun laws to curb violent crime. The SA Gunowners’ Association (SAGA) researched the statistics and reported in their newsletter that only 4.87 deaths per 100 000 people in SA result from gunshots, while 16.95 deaths per 100 000 result from stabbings. I Googled road accident fatalities; the figure is 25.9 deaths per 100 000 people (mostly due to DUI). Obviously, banning knives, vehicles or alcohol would never work, yet bureaucrats blithely call for a ban on private firearm ownership, failing to perceive the inanity of this. It is a function of publications like Man Magnum Magazine to alert SA gun owners to such issues, encouraging membership of bodies like SAGA and SA Hunters’ Association which are geared to oppose such proposals.
All journalism carries responsibility – something I learned quite early. From childhood I loved books and pdf magazines, especially those involving guns and hunting. At age twelve, I started writing a novel about the hunting life of a boy my age. At sixteen I had my first story published in Personality magazine (formerly Outspan) for which
I was paid the princely sum of £1 – I still have the clipping. It was a true story, but I knew enough by then not to use the characters’ real names. I imagine it was inevitable that I would become what Americans call a ‘gun writer’. I learned to be circumspect in expressing opinions. It came as a shock how vitriolic some readers can become if your opinion differs from theirs.
I also learned the ‘power of the printed page’. In 1986, I wrote an article for Magnum on bullets for hunting, commending the concept of Hornady’s Interlock bullet with its internal ‘belt’ to secure the lead core. I’d successfully used the 220-grainer at 2 400fps in my 8×57 for heart and lung shots and it had performed well. That same year I used this load to shoot a bushbuck; the bullet completely disintegrated on its spine. A bushbuck is not a large animal;
I felt that a reinforced 220-grainer at modest velocity should have held together, so I wrote another piece for Magnum opining that these bullets were not as strongly constructed as claimed. I had no idea the effect this would have. A local gun dealer told Magnum’s editor that he had just imported a large consignment of these bullets, and now he could not sell them – his customers were quoting Magnum. Subsequently, on becoming friends, we joked about it, though for a long time he called
me ‘the Hornady Hound’. But it taught me to think twice about anything I say in print.
On another occasion, it went the other way – again, quite unintentionally. At the time, air rifles in SA had to be licensed as firearms; consequently few shooters owned one – most considered it a ‘waste’ of a licence. Then Crosman brought out a small but powerful smoothbore airgun that our Government Gazette declared exempt from licence requirements. It fired proper hollow-based air rifle pellets and could print 4mm five-shot groups at 7m. My wife
bought me one as a surprise gift, and I had so much fun with it that I wrote an article about it. Shortly after, the local importer arrived in person to thank us – his entire stock had been bought out almost overnight and he had a long list of customers waiting for his next consignment. He said he’d been in the gun trade for decades, yet had never known anything like it.
The late Jeff Cooper, famous American gun writer and Father of Practical Pistol Competition would visit us at Magnum when in SA to hunt. I questioned him regarding a firearm about which he’d written positively, that I’d found somewhat less than commendable. He said no American magazine editor would publish criticism of any advertised product; if he did, the advertiser would phone the publisher and then the editor would find himself jobless. Part of my job at Magnum involved writing test reports on products sent to us by various dealers and manufacturers. I discussed advertiser sensitivity with (then) Editor Ron Anger, and we agreed we owed it to our readers to provide honest, objective reports, and not to whitewash negative aspects. We chose to adopt a policy
whereby we test the product, and if our impression is not at least 80% positive, we’d decline to publish a report. If we did publish, any criticisms must be included.
Occasionally readers ask why all products tested by Magnum receive largely positive reports; this is why – we don’t test items we don’t consider up to standard.
Media publication carries responsibility. And that includes Facebook and other social media. Consider consequences before you post.