NYTIMES Visits Ultimate Reloader: Here’s What They Said

Every once in a  while, something completely unexpected happens. This summer, I had an email inquiry from the New York Times- something I didn’t anticipate. At first, I ignored the email. I wasn’t sure I wanted to engage with a news outlet on a topic that’s so frequently mis-represented (reloading culture, gun culture in the USA). After about a week- I responded with some questions about what information the NYTIMES was interested in, and what they were working on. I was corresponding with Ian Urbina, someone I learned was a well-respected investigative journalist. So I decided- why not talk with them. I had hoped this would be an opportunity to shed some “positive light” on a group of people (us): to tell the “real story”. So we corresponded and talked on the phone a couple times, and the NYTIMES sent a photographer out to shadow me for half a day.

Here’s what the NYTIMES published this week: (a similar print story was included in the Sunday Edition of the New York Times, first section, page 14 (full page) on 10/07/2018)

Inside the World of D.I.Y. Ammunition

And here’s what I have to say about it:

I do think the article captured “some of” the reasons why people reloading their own ammunition. I also think the article captured aspects of the experience. Here’s the quote that was included from one of our interviews:

“It gives me time to think,” said Gavin Gear, who runs a popular blog and YouTube channel called Ultimate Reloader, which offers instructional videos and reviews of reloading equipment. He described the process as a relaxing ritual: “Not unlike a blacksmith making a knife or a samurai sword.”

But there’s also some things about this article that I don’t “ring true” for me, and seem a bit biased:

“Lethality”

Take this portion of the article:

“Enthusiasts cite this pursuit as a way to customize ammunition for heightened accuracy or lethality and as a practical skill should bullets be banned or one day be in short supply.”

While it may be true that lethality is a consideration when reloading ammunition, I would say that 99.999% of the time this would relate to ethical hunting of animals. The way this is worded in the article is ambiguous- with many readers potentially relating this to violent acts towards fellow human beings. In all my years of reloading ammunition, I haven’t run a across a single instance of that motivation.

Fringe Elements

The article mentions Cody Wilson, and makes reference to 3D printed guns. Again, I haven’t run into a single person in the gun community that has 3D printed a gun (or talked about doing so). And having worked on 3D printing technology at Microsoft, I can tell you that this technology is very much still in its infancy. So why did this become a focus of the article? I don’t consider Cody Wilson to be a part of the gun community- he’s an anarchist, and a part of the “fringe”. Not one of us, the majority: law-abiding US citizens with legal firearms, protecting our rights, our families, etc.

How about mass shootings? From the article:

“Douglas Haig, an aerospace engineer from Mesa, Ariz., ran one such business until he was charged with manufacturing the armor-piercing tracer ammunition that one of his customers, Stephen Paddock, used to gun down hundreds of people last year at a Las Vegas country music festival.”

Seriously? Focus on a 1:1,000,000 case where ammunition manufacturing was tangentially related to a tragedy? As if this is a threat somehow?

Summary

I can’t say this article was completely biased, because I do feel there were some good insights into “our culture”. But I do feel that “fringe elements” dominated this article more than they should have. I also would have liked to have seen more technical details about the ammunition reloading process, the equipment, and the technical reasons for reloading your own ammunition (load development, fire forming, etc). Example: A hunter reloads their own ammunition to ensure reliable functioning in their firearm, ethical/lethal ballistics, and accuracy (also a part of ethical hunting, especially at long ranges). During the visit from the NYTIMES (and on the phone) I covered many of these topics and technical details.

The article did correctly portray the ammunition reloading community as “engineering minded” and “serious about what they do” – those are important insights. But it’s also true that people that reload tend to be law-abiding and upstanding citizens (good people!). I think that was under-represented in the article. All you need to do is visit http://handloads.com – read through the threads- and anyone will see *exactly* what I’m talking about!

What do you think? Give the article a read, and leave a comment to let us all know how you feel!

Thanks,
Gavin

About the author

26 thoughts on “NYTIMES Visits Ultimate Reloader: Here’s What They Said”

  1. As a former police instructor, I would tell the recruits that there are 3 people they should never talk to.
    1. Defense attorneys
    2. News media
    3. Used car salesmen

    1. Nitro- the fact is- they are going to talk to people, and I wanted to put in my “two cents”. I felt it was the right thing to do- and to voice my opinion here on Ultimate Reloader, as well as on YouTube.

      1. I’m glad you agreed to the interview. If you didn’t, the writer would’ve found someone else that might not have been as well spoken. Who knows what he would have written after talking to someone possibly less articulate. He did his best to plant words and phrases throughout the article to make us look like a dark fringe element with evil intentions. But, it could’ve been worse.
        The government gained zero insight from the article as some think. Big brother knows far more than the little bit of information that was given.

    2. I’m with Nitro. Just the fact that they wanted an interview would have made me very uneasy. I would have never agreed to it. I personally don’t think any good can come of it.

  2. Next will be an interview with car enthusiasts. Most of the article will be about street racing and rolling coal.

    I’m glad you tried to be the voice of reason in there. you are a great representative of the hobby.

  3. Notice how every time they refered to firearms they used “weapon” instead? Gee, that doesn’t further reinforce the anti-gun agenda. Real objective NY Times…

  4. Hi Gavin,

    I know that you meant well, but as others have echoed, I wouldn’t do it. No matter what fairness we would hope to obtain, disappointment with the anti-gun press is simply going to continue. They will be after the primers and powder next. We shouldn’t give them any ideas….

    1. George- as I said it wasn’t easy to decide, but I stand by the philosophy that it’s better for outlets like the NYTIMES to talk to the “Good guys” than to not. My words were not misrepresented, but I do wish they included more of what I said about WHY we do what we do…

  5. First off, I couldn’t think of anyone more qualified to present reloaders views than you. Your words are always well articulated and succinct. Thank you.

    The article was definitely skewed. There was a mish-mash of points. Starting and ending the article with 3D guns.

    Having been a process analyst, it’s the little things that really bug me – wheel weights that are INSIDE used tires fall off at a rate of a million pounds a year? I find that totally hard to believe.

    The accurate and useful facts in the article get somewhat watered down with the other points of view.

    Again, thank you for representing our community of law-abiding reloaders.

  6. I feel you handled the situation really well. In first hearing this, it was scary. The media! The NY Times!
    Wouldn’t touch that with a ten foot poll. NY CITY,the Bloomberg state, I’m glad it worked out, just one comment. Always be careful with the press !

  7. Gavin, I think that *anything* you say to the media is going to be sensationalised because they have to sell their stories to make a living and that is just how it is. This article at least didn’t go the full “sky is falling” rubbish that some do.

  8. Gavin. Feeling a little naive yet? The NYT has a very liberal agenda and isn’t afraid to sidestep the truth to fulfill a story-line. Expanded gun control and its many derivatives, is in their DNA. They were out to demonstrate how an innocent hobby enjoyed by thousands, closely tied to the 2nd Amendment, could be used for “evil” purposes. Chalk this episode up to “experience”.

    1. Nope- not feeling naive at all.

      My response to comments on YouTube:

      “I don’t regret doing the interviews. My goal was to provide insights into the ammunition reloading (and shooting) community in the USA. I feel I did that, and the NYTIMES didn’t specificaly mis-represent what I said. I spent over an hour talking with the NYTIMES (outside of the on-site visit), and was able to provide insights into “who we are” and “why we do what we do”. I told Ian that to me guns are “every day tool”s that I use on “the ranch” – and that we have all manner of animals on the property including bear, cougar, and other predators. Most people in the city don’t think about these realities- they live in their bubble (just like country people can be ignorant of “the city”).”

  9. All media peopler after a story and that story will be tainted by their personal belief system. I’d see if they wanted to do a followup story to add to their understanding. That will show pretty clearly where they are at, as well as how open their mind is.

  10. In the future, and in fact I would INSIST on being allowed to write a rebuttal article to the editor, I would take to task the original writer and tell them how disingenuous and wrong their article was on the topic points you mentioned.
    It seems they were more interested in the sensationalism the macabre parts of your treatise provided them and how it provided ammunition (no pun intended) to paint reloaders in general and shooters in particular, as bloodthirsty creatures out to maim and not hunt ethically and humanely.
    You owe it to yourself to insist on a retraction for parts of their story and to write an addendum to it for the rest of us as well.

  11. I read the article and was put off by the inclusion of Cody Wilson and Doug Haig. It spoiled what could have been an otherwise reasonable piece.

    But now you Gavin, can have the last word. And hopefully other POTG who get approached by the media will also learn from this incident. Agree to speak, but warn them if they twist words there will be a response.

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