Breaking News: Harris Publications Closing Down

Harris-Publications-closes

News just hit today that Harris Publications is closing down. You might recognize the magazines they publish:

  • Combat Handguns,
  • Guns & Weapons for Law Enforcement,
  • Pocket Pistols,
  • Survivor’s Edge,
  • Tactical Weapons, and
  • Special Weapons for Military & Police.

According to Harris Publications they are closing due to the competition of online media.

As you know, the magazine publishing industry has been through turmoil in the face of the rapid ascendance of digital media, changing consumer content preferences, magazine wholesaler struggles and consolidation in the supply chain. We have tried mightily to persevere against these forces, but have been unable to overcome these challenges.

While magazines are becoming obsolete I am more concerned about the vacuum of quality content that will be left behind when they close tomorrow. We may only be cognizant of Harris Publication’s gun related magazines but they also produce and publish a wide variety of magazines on almost any activity and subject matter.
For more information you can read Harris-Pub contributor Richard Johnson’s article here. As well as an article on Folio


Nicholas C

Co-Founder of KRISSTALK forums, an owner’s support group and all things KRISS Vector related. Nick found his passion through competitive shooting while living in NY. He participates in USPSA and 3Gun. He loves all things that shoots and flashlights. Really really bright flashlights.

Any questions please email him at nicholas.c@staff.thefirearmblog.com


Advertisement

  • TangledThorns

    They failed at trying to be RECOIL magazine. Some of the articles looks like they were written by amateurs or an intern.

    • I’ve been watching print publications in general losing readers over recent years. Some print publications have tried to establish an online presence. It remains to be seen if they can make that transition.

      • TangledThorns

        Yeah, print is dead but if you write crap then don’t expect new subscribers. That is what some of these magazines are. I do notice that RECOIL’s website kinda sucks when compared to its awesome magazine though.

        • Ian has done well with some slick content and high quality photos etc. It must cost a ton to print on the type of heavy paper they use.

          • Kivaari

            Those glossy magazines suffer as well. Last year or so, they did a review of Barska optics. It was painful to read, knowing the writer wanted to trash the junk product. id a submission on a tactical vest some 30 years ago. I told the truth. The manufacturer called me and said everything I said was true. They didn’t want to get bad reactions form those agencies that had already bought them. The editor sent me a letter saying “We are going in a different direction”. When the company threatened to stop buying glossy ads, it spelled doom for the truth.

          • Yep it is certainly a fine line they walk—–

        • Sulaco

          Pretty much the same for Guns and Ammo.

      • It doesn’t help that retail newsstand shelf space is shrinking. With bookstores and newsstands closing, the only magazine racks left are at grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, and other retail outlets. These retailers would just as soon use the space for other goods.

        • That’s very true and would you believe some of the best selections of magazines are at the airports around the country?
          Seriously though why spend $7 or $8 bucks on print when you can get online for free.

          • SirOliverHumperdink

            My mother-in-law used to buy me greeting cards for bdays ect. I told her to buy me some nice gun magazines instead. I’ve always looked forward to them vs a dumb hallmark card.

          • Cannoneer No. 4

            Literacy at a high enough level to be comfortable reading anything for pleasure is not as common as it use to be. Most would rather watch television. Prisoners on planes have plenty of spare time to kill. An American Handgunner lasts from KDH to MUC with a long boring layover at DXB.

        • Kivaari

          It would help if magazines were not $9-10, and only have a small amount of information stuffed between more junk.

          • Very overpriced honestly.

          • Cattoo

            TFB is my favorite (forgotten weapons is another favorite though in a different category) firearm read and video link source and reading the interactions amongst other readers is good stuff. I do like the keeping it firearms related only and limiting the political banter to a dull murmur and would like to commend all for trying to keep it that way.

          • Thanks Cattoo glad you enjoy our corner of the Internet:-)

        • Kivaari

          Our local Walmart has around a dozen gun magazine labels for sale.
          Walmart even discounts a little bit. When I owned a gun store I read about a dozen different magazines each month. It was one of the ways to keep up with what the customers were reading, and wanting. In the early ’80s I was disappointed in some articles. I wrote 3 or 4 letters to the editor, and had 3 of them published in one month. I told my wife that as bad as the magazines were that I could write more accurate articles. So I did. I wrote about a dozen that paid me. An another Israeli magazine used one, but didn’t pay. Yet, another publisher had 3 of my articles ready for use, when the roof collapsed and ruined the photos. They paid a whopping $70 per page and it just wasn’t worth reshooting.
          Then Omega hired me (cheaply) to do an internal review of a book done in a magazine format, which resulted in the author being fired with extreme prejudice. It seems that editors and publishers don’t know much about the subject. Of they did they would demand better product from the crew.
          SIG and Winchester were very helpful in getting me product to test.

      • Kivaari

        I prefer print over electronic most of the time. At least TFB has a great site and I love the back and forth the readers get involved in. TFB has a great variety and more off-shore sources that really add interesting angles we don’t see in most gun magazines. I found many magazines simply avoid the truth, being pressured by advertiser dollars.
        Then watching inferior writers getting into senior positions sours me.

        • I appreciate your feedback Kivaari. That would be something we always try to keep in mind and that is many of our readers are in other countries. Of course many times they have different views simply because of the attitudes towards guns in those countries.

      • Embe

        This is true of all genres of publications. Magazines no longer meet the need for instant gratification.

      • raz-0

        My guess is no. Magazines never had anything that I was interested in that my shooting peers didn’t have way more of. The only issue was that until the internet, finding said shooting peers was a crapshoot. Now it’s just about finding the ones with something interesting to say.

        Magazines always sucked, they just didn’t have competition.

  • Zachary marrs

    “While magazines are becoming obsolete I am more concerned about the vacuum of quality content that will be left behind when they close tomorrow.”

    Most magazines do not put out quality content. They put out dishonest “reviews” that are nothing more than advertisements.

    • Kelly Jackson

      #404 Source Not Found

      • Cal S.

        Well, I have a somewhat cheerier view of magazines, but there’s no doubting the debacle that was the Remington R51. Magazines gave it a glowing review only for it to be completely non-functional upon arrival.

        • Hell I gave the R51 an honest review and found it to be a pretty nice pistol. The problem was we were testing hand made prototypes and pre production models. Then the regular production guns came out and things went south in a hurry.

          • Cal S.

            Granted, but that’s the difference between a paid and unpaid review. Remington didn’t give every Tom, Richard, and Harry on YT a hand-built gun for their review.

          • Actually all of us were at Gunsite shooting the same 6 pistols so we all did shoot the hand built prototypes. We shot those things for 5 straight hours with one failure to feed.
            Of course that’s why Remington will no longer let writers shoot prototypes.
            Maybe some got production guns but I never saw one.

          • Steve_7

            I think the Colt All-American 2000 was an even more blatant example. It did get some rum reviews but there were many more superlative reviews and it was a POS. The design was perfectly okay but Colt’s just couldn’t manufacture it.

          • Kivaari

            The Colt 2000 was a mechanical mess. The method of making the trigger work without walking in the shoes of other patent holders was horrible. I had all the parts for one except that nose cap assembly. Those simply do not exist.

      • Zachary marrs

        Look at the R51 debacle.

        You’ll always find a “review” where fire maybe 100 rounds, and shoot a 3 round group at 50 yards, and they will give never ending praise to the gun

        You will then see a glossy, full page ad for the firearm.

        • Our test was a bit different. Like I mentioned five straight hours of shooting full power duty ammo from Remington and Barnes. We shot several cases of ammo (all they brought). At the end our hands were sore and totally black from all the powder residue. We were firing as fast as the mags could be loaded.

          • Zachary marrs

            Unless TFB has a print magazine i don’t know about, then i wasn’t reffering to you

            SI was the big offender, and their review (from what i remember) came out after people had already gotten the crappy production guns

      • DaveP.

        Go back and look at the glowing reviews for the Colt All American.

    • hellofromillinois

      Agreed and to try and make ends meet they fill more and more pages with ads and less with content which further alienates readers.

    • Bill

      Sort of – they put out whatever sells, and reality is usually pretty dull.

    • A Fascist Corgi

      So does everybody else. Most blogs and YouTube channels are secretly sponsored by the content that they’re discussing, even though they all deny it and pretend to be unbiased.

      • I should start gun YouTube Channel one of these days

      • Zachary marrs

        But you don’t have to pay for youtube and online reviews

      • Ventura ammo is the only sponsor TFB has and that’s for TFBTV only. We all still buy our own ammo 99% of the time.

        • Zachary marrs

          He said secretly sponsored.

          Y’all are pretty clear about your sponsorships.

          While i can’t concretely speak for others, nobody here is calling TFB’s honesty into question.

    • priest2

      Too True. That is why I sub to Guntest magazine!

      • Steve_7

        I used to read that, I mean they’re honest in what they’re saying but the quality of testing always seemed poor to me. One thing I always notice in Visier and some other European magazines is they calculate the recoil energy for example, which is relatively simple to do and quite informative, never seen that done in an American publication. And the accuracy testing outside of American Rifleman is usually pretty abysmal.

    • Leigh Rich

      Keep in mind not everything on the internet is true.

      • Zachary marrs

        Not everything in magazines are true, either.

        And i don’t have to pay $10 for every 5 or 6 articles i read on the Internet

  • Don’t forget that Soldier of Fortune recently printed its final issue after 41 years.

    • Yep I know. I remember when they started up.

    • Kelly Jackson

      What is Jump If Not Zero going to do now?

      • unnecessary comment. he works in the industry and is not a keyboard warrior.

    • Fruitbat44

      🙁

    • Kivaari

      Although I had not read it for 10 or more years, it actually had some great writers all over the globe. They were responsible for getting the first AK74 rifles and ammo into the US for the DoD.

  • 1911a145acp

    WTF!! Say it ain’t so!!

  • Rasq’uire’laskar

    So, seeing as how Harris publications had to shut down because of online competition, can I expect to see a kill marker appear in TFB’s masthead?

    • We never saw them as competition.

      TFB is not going to be better off for it, and some of my writers also wrote for them, so I am saddened on their behalf.

    • No not at all. As I mentioned earlier most of us know people who worked over there and called them friends. So, it’s no time to rejoice.

  • Sulaco

    Wow too bad! I did some writing for them along time ago but they were great to work with! Sad loss for us in the gun world.

  • SirOliverHumperdink

    I just let my Car and Driver sub run out. I’ve been a reader/subscriber since 1985.

  • John

    The other issue killing gun magazines sale Youtube. You can watch review on Youtube for free on any type firearm faster than you can find in any print magazines. What killing gun magazine lack content go look at issue Gun and Ammo from 1980 see issue of today Guns and Ammo notices today version lacks a lot content that 1980 version has in same magazine do poor sales. Quality of content issue when buy firearms magazine round ten dollars most content advertise catalog firearms market with very little reviews publisher does same style magazine a lot people not gone buy them.

  • Ronaldo olive

    I was particularly sorry for that. Harris Publications was “home” for me since 1983, when they ran my first article in EAGLE magazine. Editor was Harry Kane. My last article came out in 2015 (yup, I’m a senior gun writer…).

    • Sorry to see them go Ronaldo—-

    • 1911a145acp

      Ronaldo- I turned 21 in 1983 and bought my first 1911. I guess I have been reading your articles and reviews on exotic South American weapons systems- sub guns, obscure Assault rifles and pistols from “down South” since then. I enjoyed every one of them. Thank you for all your good work. Sorry to see it end. The only constant is change friend, welcome to the digital age.

    • Cattoo

      That’s roughly the time I started reading a lot of the various gun magazines that I have continued to read and buy periodically until well, now I’m guessing.

  • Dan Atwater

    That’s too bad. I always liked Combat Handguns, thought it was actually pretty decent. I remember getting a copy whenever I had barracks duty to help pass the time.

  • Edeco

    I let my subscriptions to Mall Ninja Monthly, American Recalcitrant and Modern Gun Nut run out years ago. Things were just piling up on the coffee table, can’t compete with clicking a link whenever convenient.

  • Kivaari

    I hate to see print media leaving. But, I stopped reading those magazines years ago as they had some writers I found to be less than honest. When the articles were simply rehashed old material and weak on information it became, “Why waste time and money, when the product was of lower quality?”. Once in awhile I’d pick up an old copy left at a gun shop. That usually convinced me that the quality did not improve. Chuck Taylor and Leroy Thompson lost me years ago.

    • Bill

      Amen to that. I stopped reading print after the 200th article or so about semi-autos vs. revolvers (or was it 9mm vs. 45)?

  • Kivaari

    With dozens of competing magazines, it gets too expensive to buy them to read just one article having an interesting article.

  • Big Daddy

    I guess I’m going to have to leave a laptop in my bathroom.

    • Kivaari

      My wife gets upset because I take my laptop with me. I told her it is just an electronic magazine.

      • iksnilol

        How slow bowels do you guys have?

        • Kivaari

          Well, I am old, and it is quiet while the grand kids are watching the Disney Channel.

        • BigFED

          As was said in “Zorro, The Gay Blade”, “I have a problem with my bowels!”

  • El Duderino

    Are these the dudes who publish $14 mags with about 4 good defensive articles and then 150 pages of “gun catalog” that usually lists more Lorcins than Glocks?

  • Anonymoose

    Let’s be honest- these kinds of magazines were never really marketed towards real LEOs or servicemembers.

    • Very very true. More often than not they are geared towards those who just like the equipment or would like to be in those professions.

      • Kivaari

        I buy similar magazines or subscribe to several. Even though I retired over a decade ago I still enjoy the new gear. Thanks to magazine articles, at TFB and elsewhere, and a nice gun shop in Coere d’Alene (ID) I started buying more combat style guns again. The new stuff has stimulated my old mind, even if I can’t stomp around the forests anymore, I sure have nice gear.
        TFB has shown me stuff that I “needed”. Damn, I keep seeing more … and it is expensive.

    • Kivaari

      BUT, they would get letters from readers that said the combat gizmos were silly and they should write about what ordinary people use. Why, they originally bought a Combat Handgun or Guns for LE etc, they shouldn’t have been surprised that it didn’t have Weatherby Mk V reviews.

    • Bill

      As I’ve told LE trainees, you don’t find quality training materials in an aisle in the drug store next to the condoms and tampons.

  • Glenn

    I’ve always wondered about the conflict of reviews versus ad dollars. Can’t recall a review that flat said the gun sucked. I went with Gun-tests. They’re the Consumer Reports of firearms and don’t accept advertising. They have A thru F rating and a lot of them got an F, don’t buy report.

    • Kivaari

      Gun Test a very long time ago lost me. They were off mark so many times, on gear I had tested myself. Some reviews were simply silly. Like one, where a manufacturer sent them a shotgun shell butt stock ammo carrier. When the tester didn’t understand that he wrote that it fit sloppy on his belt and did not have enough ammo for trap shooting. He was serious. He didn’t even understand what a butt stock shell carrier was about. Things like that over a year or so made me laugh and never order a subscription. In concept it was great. No ads and the truth. Too bad the writers were not well rounded shooters.
      Another writer was so off target that I wrote several letters to his boss. After a short time he left G&A and went to Law and Order magazine as the new boss. I stopped taking that magazine even though they had paid me for writing a few articles. Too many writers simply can’t approach a new gun product with an open mind.
      Today, everyone with a computer is a “journalist”. It doesn’t matter what the subject is, they simply string words together and get published.

  • Jim_Macklin

    Back before 2005 Combat Handguns actually paid me for a monograph on use of force. Since the Internet I’ve just posted for free on-line.
    Publishers have a long list of expenses and postage and trucking costs are bankrupting.
    Sorry to see them go.

  • iksnilol

    They should move over to digital media, make blogs like TFB.

  • This sucks, I always loved reading “Special Weapons for Military and Police.” There were a lot of cool articles in it, including some very unusual tests (a .257 Wildcat rifle designed for defeating armored glass comes to mind.) Now I wish I had kept my old copies.

  • Gidge

    It’s sad but it had to happen. They’re competing against on-line publications such as yourselves who are every bit as good, if not better only you’re providing a constant stream of content and doing it for free? Why would I buy their magazines when I could just read your page every day?

    • Cattoo

      Don’t give them any ideas. If TFB charged us to read their awesome blog, I wouldn’t be able to read it any longer.

  • Jeff Edwards

    So, basically YOU guys killed them. Good job! If they aren’t around, you become even more relevant and timely. The magazine business is only as good as its content and the quality of its writers and editors. Great content = my dollars (still subscribe to American Handgunner). I don’t care about the cost – I just want to read what my favorite authors are writing, keep abreast of the 2nd Ammendment issues and look at lots of really great gun photos (which are substandard online in comparison to print). I’m not alienated by ads, either online or in print, but I will not waste time on them either.

    • Kivaari

      The writers they used sank them. Once in awhile a great article would appear. The other stuff was real weak. Like a certain cop writer at G&A Handguns, he is simply banging out articles with little meat. When he didn’t give credit to some of the old time writers, like Bill Jordan, some of us old timers objected. His new stuff remains weak.

  • spencer60

    Honestly, these weren’t very good magazines. They won’t be missed.

  • Tyler Norona

    The publications that actually review products truthfully will survive.
    The ones that give you the review that you paid for will always struggle in this day and age.

  • GeorgeWilliamHerbert

    I largely stopped buying when the Buyers Guides went so obviously to paid placement rather than honest surveys of what was out there.

    One entry for all Glocks and 4-5 each for Lorcins, Bryco, Jennings etc?

    • El Duderino

      Nice to see I wasn’t the only one who saw this. Or Olympic Arms having 5 models of 1911 in there. I’ve never seen an Oly Arms 1911 for sale, anywhere, ever, and I live less than 50 miles from the factory.

      • Kivaari

        I saw one at a gun store in Aberdeen, about 50 miles west of Oly Arms. It had a damn finger bump that didn’t fit anyone that tried it. They used to sell junk parts for building AR15 rifles. They were so poorly done, that many gun stores in the region simply stopped buying them. It was as if they picked out the worst rejects and resold them as kits to folks. Then when put together, if they would go together, the guns were junks.

  • Jwedel1231

    All I can say is this: There is a reason that Recoil is doing so well. They make their money off of the price they charge per copy sold, not review written. People like Recoil and are willing to pay the premium to get a premium product.

  • Colin

    Shame , print magazines have so much better high quality high definition pictures than any online publication. Tfb your pictures are naff , low resolution .I like that asit helps ME not being able to get hands on every thing.

    • We could actually post RAW format photos after we tweak them but it would take much longer for the pages to load. Those files are huge. Our limit is 16megs photo size.
      I use an Olympus OMD 5 with the Pro 12-40 lens most times.

  • Fruitbat44

    Dang! I have a great fondness for ‘Combat Handguns.’ (Amongst other Harris Publications.) Okay, it’s not perfect, I mean there are only so many things one can say about another 1911 clone, and back in the day I recall it giving positive reviews to things like the ‘Linda’ “Assault pistol.”

    But I also enjoyed columns by Massad Ayood, Leroy Thompson and Chuck Taylor. (Okay the last two haven’t been in there for a while, but still . . . ) OTOH ‘Combat Handguns’ has gone over to an all colour format and included new columns. Including one aimed especially at women.

    But things change, move on etc.

    Ah well.

  • car54

    I have a stack of old Combat Handgun mags from back when I was working the street. They were the social media of their day but they are obsolete in the digital age. Probably haven’t bought any kind of magazine in over 15 years.

  • lucusloc

    Good job TFB, way to kill the competition 😉

    Seriously though, good quality can easily be found online, and not all paper publishing is quality (tabloids anyone?), so nothing has really changed content wise. As always discretion is up to the consumer. What is fact is paper publishing is an obsolete business model. Adapt or die.

  • jay

    PUBLISH ONLINE! Although, I’ll miss the paper gunporn……

  • Ben Stone

    Mopar Action? Noooooooooo!

    This is a shame. I wish the more callow among us knew what they are losing.

  • mazkact

    Digital media is great but I still enjoy the printed word. I take my American Rifleman and American Handgunner and others in print form and will as long as they are available. NO, I do not own a “smart” phone………do not want one ;).

    • lbeacham

      I’ll never own a “smart phone”. My wife has one for the camera and texting ease of use. We have a blood pact that we will never use Facebook, et al. At over 60, the desktop computer is as far as we go with tech. We spend our valuable retirement time face to face with the few people we cherish, mostly each other, walking and boating. I just don’t get the social media thing. There’s nothing social about it. People seem more interested in others on-line life vs. enjoying or improving the real one you have.

      • Matt W.

        Don’t feel bad. I’m only 30, but have never owned a smartphone either, and like you, don’t have a desire for one. My wife keeps insisting that I at least get a cell phone, however I bring up that I’ve done just fine without one for 30 years so far, so why start now? In reality, I don’t want the extra bill, and would much rather spend it on ammo, gear, or my other hobbies; and texting isn’t one of them. Now, about Harris closing down.. it’s a bloody shame. I much prefer print to online, as I can read print just about anywhere without worrying about power, batteries, or temperature. One thing that print and digital share in common though? You can’t read either for very long in a rain storm.

  • AD

    Well, that’s unfortunate. I would usually buy Combat Handguns when I see it.

  • smartacus

    now there will be ZEEERO reason to go down the mag rack aisle at Walmart, Winn Dickme, and Pubelicks

  • Steven

    I don’t know any writer that really cares if his work is published in print or on line as long as he is paid for it. The problem is publishers haven’t found a good way to make money off the web. Harris did have web pages with many of their articles available for free there. And the push was for almost instant turn around on stories. If they had ran all of their magazines on line would you have paid for a subscription?

  • Leigh Rich

    Sadly like the Newspaper they are becoming obsolete due to the internet. I am old and things are better on a monitor I can Zoom in on to see better. I used to get a lot of printed magazines.

  • LiberalsH8Me

    Hmm I really enjoyed Combat Handguns. Sorry to see it end. Afraid we’re going to see a lot of this in the next few years.

  • BigFED

    I equate the end of gun magazines to the same future of car magazines! If there was ANY honesty about the real ratings, the police would NOT be driving Dodges! And I had a real laugh the other day when a city in the Dallas/Fort Worth area wanted to get solicitations from manufacturers than Ford, Chevy/GM and Dodge for police service! They expected that BMW, Mercedes. Audi, Volvo, etc to submit bids for police service? These cars may have Euro use, but that pales in comparison to US service use!

  • Dave Buck

    I am sad to see this. I am of the generation that really cannot ‘get’ a magazine when it’s on the screen. I really need to see it on paper – to hold it in my hand.

  • Kivaari

    Magazines are great when the grandkids are using the computer. I want both. Like catalogs from the different companies. It costs a lot to make. But, if I have a current catalog I use the computer as back up.

  • Big Al

    How about a government bailout? Banks got it. GM got it. Obamacare is 100% bailout. Maybe the first gun magazine bailout?

  • Jeremy W

    they had good sports mags too they made a really underrated college football magazine last year