Hog Blog Gear Review – Firearms Guide Goes Online
March 2, 2016
It’s sort of become an unofficial, perennial tradition to review the latest version of the Firearms Guide, firearms reference (previous reviews are here, here, here, and here). This began with my first meeting of Editor-in-Chief, Chris Mijic and his wife, Ksenia, back in 2010, at SHOT. Every year since, I’ve come to look forward to seeing them in the Press Room at SHOT, and every year since, they’ve sent me the latest version of their excellent reference guide for review.
I’ve enjoyed watching the evolution from CD-ROM to DVD, as well as a constantly growing list of features and content. For 2016, they’re finally taking the big step to a full, online offering. The new Guide is subscription-based, and the new format will enable the team to update and make corrections constantly (the current plan is 26 updates per year… basically, an update every two weeks). The possibilities this brings are as wide-open as the challenges Mijic and his team faced to make this huge platform change.
At its heart, the Firearms Guide is a searchable database of firearms, and even in the initial iteration, it was amazingly comprehensive. I believe this, the sixth edition, includes something like 61,000 firearms. This, alone, made the Guide an excellent resource for writers and gun aficionados. In addition to listings and detailed descriptions of the guns, the list includes schematics and take-down instructions, which makes this a valuable reference guide for gunsmiths… both professional and amateur.
With each iteration, the Guide has added new features. Some, like printable targets, are just cool little add-ons. Some are useful functions, such as the guide for matching up U.S. calibers with European equivalents. Others are real value-adds, such as the ability to compare firearms, features, and MSRP which makes the Guide a one-stop shop for folks interested in buying a new gun.
New, this year, they have added gun values (based off of the 100% – 30% condition ratings) to each listing. This makes the Guide even handier for folks looking to buy, sell, and trade used guns. While resources have long been available where you could go get a gun value, most of them serve that single function. The Firearms Guide has the benefit of offering all of the other features, along with gun values. It’s something I think every gun shop and smith should have at their fingertips, and as I mentioned, it would be pretty useful for the amateur as well.
So, how’s it work? Chris sent me a temporary subscription so that I could go in and get a feel for the system. Honestly, it’s pretty good, but there is still room for some tweaks, particularly in the search functionality. However, if you just want to look up a Stevens 311, or a Barrett M98, that’s pretty simple. And once you find the gun (or guns) you’re looking for, getting the rest of the information is really easy. All of that being said, the very nature of an online resource makes it ideal for tweaking and adjusting based on user feedback.
What about the subscriptions?
To allow for varying levels of need and expertise, there are multiple subscription levels from All Access ($49.95/yr) to Handguns Only ($19.95/yr) or only AR/AK platforms ($14.95/yr). There’s even a monthly, recurring subscription of $5.99/mo. The subscription options are all clearly laid out on the website.
It’s probably not the kind of thing every hunter needs to have laying around, but it’s an excellent resource if you find you need (or want) a deeper view of guns and ammo. For the writer who writes about guns, either full-time or occasionally, it’s a really good research tool. For the gunsmith, it’s a good way to stay up to speed on the guns that are out there, as well as to find the schematics for assembly/disassembly. And for the gun shop owner, buying, selling, and trading guns… I think it would be as indispensable as the old “blue book”. If any of this sounds like you, I’d suggest checking it out.