The Column, No. 126:

Googling "Chuck Hawks"

By Chuck Hawks

Yesterday, I Googled my own name. I got the idea from an ad I saw for a website that claimed to have much more information than Google about individuals. Curious, I typed my name into the Google search engine to see what they had about me.

Of course, there are other men named "Chuck Hawks," including a driving instructor, a musician, an auto and performance shot in Tucson, AZ and others with an online presence to whom I am not related. However, I found plenty of results that pertained to yours truly. Many were articles I have written and some were from other folks' articles that referenced something I had written. (For example, I am referenced fairly often as a source at the end of Wikipedia articles.)

Many, at least on the first eight pages of results, which is all I had time to review, were comments and questions about me posted on various forums and bulletin boards. I have always advised readers to ignore such sources, as so much of the posts are simply irresponsible, incorrect and are not signed, so no one has any responsibility for what they post.

The results of my search for my own name merely reinforced this opinion. So much mis-information was posted about me on these forums that I felt compelled to respond in this piece. Many of the quotations and opinions attributed to me and posted on forums are, not surprisingly, taken completely out of context, or were not written by me in the first place!

For example, on The Firing Line and Defensive Carry forums, I am taken to task for an article, (presumably Ammunition for the Self-Defense Firearm), which I DID NOT WRITE! My online e-zine and reference work, Guns and Shooting Online, has contributions from a great many writers besides myself. I don't necessarily agree with every opinion expressed by contributors, but within reason I try to include articles and information from a variety of perspectives for the benefit of our readers. Incorrectly blaming me for articles written by others is a common theme in many posts on various forums.

Someone posting on the Guns and Ammo discussion forum stated that I have a brother named Mike, whom he alleged writes a monthly monologue on Ammoguide. The fact is, I am an only child and I have no brothers.

On the 24 Hour Campfire forum, one contributor suggested that "entire reamer rental businesses and half assed gunsmithing businesses" have been founded in my honor. If there is any truth to this, which I very seriously doubt, I know nothing about it and certainly have no connection of any kind to such businesses.

On the same forum I was taken to task for suggesting small game hunters stick to .22 Long Rifle cartridges (as opposed to .22 Shorts). One person posted that he had worked in the killing room of a meat packing plant and they killed all their cattle and hogs with a single shot .22 and Short cartridges with one shot between the eyes.

How, exactly, does this have anything to do with hunting small game? I have killed hundreds of squirrels and rabbits and I have never been able to walk up and shoot one between the eyes from inches away! In my experience, most small game animals (not varmints and not rats or mice in the local dump) are shot at distances between 25 and 75 yards. While a 29 grain .22 Short bullet will certainly kill a tree squirrel with a perfect heart/lung shot or brain shot, can anyone reasonably argue that a 36-40 grain Long Rifle bullet is not more capable, especially as the range increases beyond 25 yards?

On the 1911 Forum I have been called a Hack and blow-hard (actually, "THE blow-hard amongst a crowd of opinionated blow-hards). This is standard fare on forums dedicated to specific firearms (1911, Smith & Wesson, Tikka,, etc.). I am reviled, apparently because I have not drunk the Kool Aid and am willing to criticize the revered product. Well, so be it. If you want to read only praise for your favorite firearm, or whatever, is probably not the place for you. I try to report honestly, which automatically means praise where I feel it is due and criticism where it is due, and I encourage other Guns and Shooting Online contributors to do the same.

On The High Road forum, many posters reacted negatively to my article, A Critical Look at Modern Hunting Rifles and the Failure of the Outdoor Media. This particular article seems to have stirred up plenty of controversy on the forum, Tikka rifle forums and other forums.

The thing most critics seem to have missed (if they read the article at all) is that it is NOT a review and it is not about the Tikka T3 rifle. (We have reviewed the T3 and it got a positive review--see the Product Reviews index page.) The article in question is about the failure of most modern gun writers to honestly inform their readers about the production shortcuts incorporated in many modern rifles and their drawbacks. I believe it is the duty of writers, especially those who write product reviews, to fully inform their readers, not just highlight the positive aspects of a product. Sadly, this is very seldom done, which I why I wrote the article.

This article was originally written in 2006. As an example of a rifle that incorporated most of the then popular devices to lower production costs (often at the expense of quality, reliability and longevity), I chose the Tikka T3. Were I writing the article today, I would have chosen another rifle, such as the Ruger American, Savage Axis, or Remington 783, which have taken undesirable--from the rifleman's standpoint--production shortcuts well beyond those used by Tikka in 2006.

To the best of my knowledge, there are no factual errors in this article. Beretta Holding, which owns Tikka and several other firearms companies, wanted me to pull the article, as they felt it would hurt Tikka sales. Since my job is not to sell Beretta firearms (or anybody's firearms!), I declined. However, I offered to immediately correct any factual error in the article they could find. Bottom line: they could not find any.

However, the fact the article is factually correct has not prevented Tikka partizans and other users of inexpensive rifles from accusing me of what they apparently consider crimes against humanity, or at least their right to remain ignorant about the design and production compromises incorporated in their favorite cheap hunting rifles.

Someone on Survivor's SKS Boards stated (referring to me), "he doesn't like having his works posted on a public forum, don't quote him and don't refer to his website or articles." This, of course, is not true. What I do object to is other websites or magazines reproducing articles from in their entirety, without permission or compensation and often as their own work. All original articles are copyrighted, so such misuse is simply illegal theft of intellectual property.

I have also been accused of reviewing only products, especially firearms, specially selected and provided by the manufacturer for review. This seems plausible and, before I learned better, I also assumed that manufacturers would inspect product to ensure it was working properly before it was sent out for review. However, I have found this not to be the case. I have received a number of firearms (also scopes and other products) for review that had obvious flaws, right out of the box.

I now know that what happens when a writer requests a product for review is the media/marketing rep. for the company sends a memo to the shipping department (usually in a totally different location) to send a model such-and-such to the writer's address (FFL address in the case of a firearm). A clerk in the shipping department pulls one off the rack and out it goes. Nobody even opens the box before it is shipped.

I have also been accused of not shooting the firearms I review. (The truth is, I shoot every firearm I review, without exception, and anyone who has actually read my reviews has surely noticed the included shooting results.) One of my articles, in which I stated I had not had an opportunity to fire the rifle, was copied and pasted in its entirety in a forum to "prove" that I did bother to shoot test guns.

The title of the article in question, as reported in this forum post, was "The Winchester SXR Super-X Rifle." However, the actual title of the article is, First Look: The Winchester SXR Super-X Rifle. This was a new Winchester rifle I had examined at the 2006 SHOT Show. The article (which was NOT a review) related my first impressions of this rifle, based on what could be seen from, admittedly, a first look. My impressions of this particular rifle were not very favorable and perhaps I was correct, as it was soon discontinued.

Several forums have posts alleging that I am on the payroll of one gun, scope or outdoor products manufacturer or another, writing as a shill for their products. (Of course, they disagree about which one!). This is absolutely not true. First of all, were it true, I would be able to enjoy a higher standard of living than I do. Second, I have never been offered a fee for a positive review and I doubt many outdoor writers have.

It is generally understood by writers, especially those who write for the print magazines, that they must not offend the publication's major advertisers, who are the lifeblood of most magazines. They are required to avoid negative reviews and write only positive reviews to avoid offending these advertisers.

I am the owner and chief bottle washer of Guns and Shooting Online and our revenue stream is very different from most publications. The ads you see at the top and bottom of a page (never in the middle of an article) are placed by an outdoor advertising agency, Outside Hub. I have nothing to do with the process, nor do I choose the advertisers; I don't even know who the advertisers are, as the ads constantly change.

It is to our readers, and especially the Members who support Guns and Shooting Online, that I am responsible. The fact that I have been willing to incur the wrath of Beretta Holding (Beretta, Sako, Tikka, Benelli, Uberti, Franchi, Steiner and Burris), the biggest firearm conglomerate in the world, and Smith & Wesson (American Outdoor Brands and 17 other companies), the biggest producer of handguns in the US, should be ample evidence that I am not beholden to advertisers.

For those readers who want to know who I am (a question often asked, disparagingly, on various forums) and how I came to eventually found Guns and Shooting Online, I have a couple of suggestions. One is A Brief Editor's Biography. The other is Choosing an Expert. Since I wrote both pieces, I am in a position to vouch for their accuracy.

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Copyright 2018 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.