SWAT Magazine Team-
I have been a long time reader of SWAT, and the magazine has really made some significant strides in the past three years. So much so, that I became a subscriber about 1.5 years ago. Your magazine has surpassed another well known magazine to become the best in it's particular niche by far. That said, I wanted to offer some feedback - please note, this is just (clearly) my personal opinion as one single reader, and I fully recognize and respect that other readers may have a completely different opinion;
The number of great articles per issue is astounding, as is the honest reviews. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate it when your writers give an honest critique of a course or product, and include the "areas for improvement". That is what caused me to subscribe in the first place, and what will keep me as a subscriber from here on out. Your three part series on ESI was a great example of this. I also enjoyed the High-Threat Vehicle Dismount (October '03) by Jamie Smith. I have to say, some of the best articles seem to come from people who are directly relating their recent personal experiences in the GWOT.
The "Area for Improvement"
My only suggestion for an area for improvement comes from some of the articles/subjects assigned to Leroy Thompson. While I may be speaking out of turn (and I know you will correct me if I am), Mr. Thompson's area of expertise seems to be from personal protection/body guarding. He also seems to have a lot of general hands on experience with a wide variety of cold war era weapons. There is no doubt in my mind that Mr. Thompson has a lot to offer, and some of his articles (when focused on his area of expertise), have been good. But, I have to say, as a reader, I often times find his articles uninteresting, lacking thoroughness, and mildly obvious. His article in the October '03 issue in which he reviewed the Cor-Bon's Tactical Rifle Ammunition is a great example. I was very excited to read about how the ammo performed. Basically all I could get from the article was that the ammo went "bang" everytime, and he managed to print some decent groups with it. Wow, really informative. How about a chronograph test at least, versus relying on the manufacturer's numbers? How about a gelatin test (he was testing Tactical Rifle Ammo after all)? How about shooting it out of several different barrel lengths/guns? At one point when testing the .308 ammo, he tells the reader that he is "...confident the Cor-Bon 168-grain HPBT will score one to two inch groups or better at 200 yards." So he does not do it in his Tactical Ammo review, but we are just supposed to believe it is possible? This whole article seems to go against the grain of how SWAT normally reviews a product.
My suggestion overall on ammo reviews is to set up a standard that all authors have to meet in order for the article to get published. Chronograph test, shoot out of several different rifles/barrel lengths, use more than one shooter, gelatin test, penetration test, etc (I am sure you can come up with more categories than this). Maybe all of this is out of the realm for a normal article, but at least set a standard so that when your readers see an ammo review, they know it will have hard data and testing.
Again, I love the magazine overall, and this is the only "area of improvement" that I can offer, but it seems to be a glaring one. Keep up the great work.