‘Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.’
At some point in the mid 90’s, I stopped reading gun magazines. Back then, there seemed to be dozens upon dozens of firearms-related magazines at the bookstores, the convenience stores and grocery markets…and after a while they all began to look the same. Couple the duplicity of magazines with suspiciously-favorable reviews of certain products from darling companies, and I turned away from print magazines to the fledgling internet. In the early 2000’s, I perused listservs and internet forums for more unadulterated and hopefully objective information.
Flash forward two decades and I find myself, ironically enough, writing for print and online gun publications. Now in my 40’s, I now experience a sense of nostalgia flipping through glossy pages of firearms publications at the bookstore. While doing so, I often wonder how long, with instant gratification provided by the internet, will print media still be a thing?
With my misgivings surrounding the survivability of the print media, I was surprised to be solicited to write an article for a brand-new magazine called “UN12” (premiere issue is currently in publication). Other firearms-related magazines have disappeared off the shelves in the past few years, so I was surprised to see a new contender emerge into a market that reeks of dubious survivability.
Regardless of where you stand on the print vs. media debate, it is quite possible that quality content overall may be the most salient driver of media survivability regardless of the medium. I had the chance to ask some questions of Howard Lim from UN12, and hopefully gain insight into his seemingly bold move.
Chris Tran (CT): Howard, you are highly experienced in the print media and firearms fields, would you describe to our readers what your background is, what are your professional experiences in print media, and what you bring to the table?
Howard Lim (HL): I began shooting when I was about 8 years old and fell I love with firearms then.
As for my work experience I started in 1997 at Petersen Publishing. Mr. Petersen was the founder of almost all the biggest car enthusiast brands including NHRA, Hot Rod, and Motor Trend, just to name a few. He also loved his guns and founded Guns & Ammo along with 15-20 other outdoor related magazines.
I was the youngest publisher of a brand-new youth car enthusiast magazine, Super Street Magazine. From there I grew the brand into licensed products, events, websites and several other magazine brands. The group grew through acquisition and new launches until all of the “tuner” magazines and websites were under my oversight (Import Tuner, Super Street Magazine, European Car and Low Rider were just a few). Since one of my passions was also firearms, I decided to launch a firearms magazine in 2012. I wanted to put out a magazine that I always dreamed about so I created Recoil with Jerry Tsai at the editorial helm. That lead into other off shoots including Off Grid Magazine and then Ballistic Magazine in partnership with then-Harris Publishing.
CT: Why a new magazine? With technology being what it is, and with several reputable and well-known magazines already dominating most of print media, why a new publication? What new angle does UN12 bring, and does it possess and edge over the competition?
Howard Lim (HL): I love print. Being able to sit back and read a good magazine is one of my favorite past times. Print is a “lean back” medium while digital media is a “lean forward” medium. What I mean by that is, when you want to look for certain information you lean into your computer and look up stuff, but when it time to relax and sit back to discover and be entertained, I look to magazines. Lean back and relax. Magazines present stories and information to you without you having to ask for it, whereas online, unless you look up something you get nothing. That’s the main reason I love magazines.
Why a new publication? Because it’s time again to step it up. Recoil was the new standard and it’s been 5 years, so it’s about time again to push the envelope and raise the bar to continue to evolve this industry. There is so much technology and innovation in the industry itself so why not in print as well?
UN12 brings superior paper, printing and photography over all the others out there. Plus, it comes with a morale patch with each issue! It’s just a huge bonus to get a new patch with each issue. We love patches at UN12.
CT: Is there a different segment of the reader market you are going after? If you could encapsulate your ambitions for UN12 into a mission statement, what would that be?
HL: When we launched Recoil, we thought that only the “younger’ firearms enthusiast would like it, but what we discovered that gun lovers of all ages loved it. That told us that the whole industry was ready for “better design and value.” So that said we aren’t really aiming for any specific demographic, we just want people that love guns and gear to enjoy the mag and hopefully be entertained and maybe even learn a thing or two!
CT: I’m glad you brought that up, especially the learning part of things. When I received my premiere copy of UN12, I was really impressed to see contributions from such esteemed trainers and subject matter experts such as Bill Blowers from Tap Rack Tactical, Chip Lasky from TNVC, and Frank Proctor from Frank Proctor Shooting to name just a few. I’ve met and/or trained under all three of those guys, and they are true SMEs in their respective fields, and true professionals. I’ve actually photocopied some of the shooting drills that Frank included in his article to put in my range bag to practice on my own time. UN12 is definitely more than just another pretty face, there’s some serious substance within. Is this level of contributor expertise a harbinger of things to come?
HL: Yes, we certainly are planning on it! This level of magazine demands many aspects to keep our readers informed and entertained. Credible contributors along with awesome photos makes for a good product.
CT: What does “UN12” stand for?
HL: Look up “UN0012” and you’ll see….or just look on any case of ammo you have sitting around and you’ll see it. It’s actually been right in front of you for years.
CT: UN12 is currently exclusively for sale via our mutual friends at Rainier Arms. How soon can we expect to see broader distribution?
HL: We are opening new retail outlets each week and are always looking for more. Gun shops around the nation are what we really want. Since you can’t get UN12 on the “traditional newsstand” we want to get gun guys into the retail shops to hopefully have a more regular visit to their local shop. That’s healthy for our industry and hopefully keeps the conversation going.
The Premiere Issue of UN12
The first thing to acknowledge about the debut issue of UN12 is that it is slick. Beautifully constructed with a rigid spine and 138 pages of content, this is a hefty first issue that would look good on any coffee table. The pages themselves are thick and substantial and won’t tear with rapid page flipping, and have a matte finish; not like the high-gloss paper on other magazines that bounce light up into the reader’s eyes.
Another tangible feature Howard mentioned earlier is that each issue comes with a limited-edition morale patch as well. The premiere issue includes a UN12 | Tactical Night Vision Company patch, two versions, actually: a tan version of TNVC’s infamous “LOMF” patch, and an even-more exclusive camo version. The patch is enclosed in plastic packaging reminiscent of a MRE wrapper – a cool and unique touch that adds value to the magazine’s price tag.
If the Cadillac of magazines is what you’re after, this is the one. All that being said, as aesthetically pleasing as the magazine is to look at and handle, the content within is what drives the magazine itself. This is not just a “lifestyle” magazine with slick photos and equipment most folks can’t buy or afford.
The content of the magazine will appeal to hobbyists, the firearms enthusiast, and shooting professionals alike. Readers will learn about specific cartridge loadings, like the 6.5 Creedmoor article by Michael Furrer, good overviews of boutique offerings such as the LA Stock from Fortis Manufacturing, superior photos from industry photographers such as TracerX, a column on Every Day Carry (EDC) items, and dream guns builds such as the article by Martin Anders on a custom Remington 700 SPS chambered in 300BLK or one of my personal favorites, Danger Close Armament.
UN12’s first issue deftly covers a wide range of engaging topics that are sure to appeal to a very broad audience within the firearms and shooting community. Be sure to pick up your issue, grab a collectible patch, and take some time to “lean back.”
UN12 is currently on sale directly from Rainier Arms, with broader distribution hopefully in the near future.