A few years back there was a TV-comedian who self-deprecatingly called himself the “slowest rising star” on television.
You can’t say that about Tim Harmsen, aka MAC, who over the last few years has become one of the most popular gun guys on the blogosphere. (See the Jan 14 ABC News story One of These YouTube Gun Stars Could Spawn the Next ‘Duck Dynasty’).
Should Mr. Harmsen start making phone calls to LA in search of an agent? Maybe not a bad idea.
In an even-keeled, Midwestern demeanor, he covers just about every facet of the “Shooting Life” ranging from politics to product reviews.
If Tim digs a product he’ll let you know. If he doesn’t, he’ll have no trouble telling you so.
It’s not just what he says but how he says it. He’s polite, courteous and humble. There’s no ranting, puffery or phony machismo.
He’s just trying to be as truthful as possible and, people intuitively understand that. I think that accounts for his success as a new media “personality”.
That said, he’s a serious guy who realizes a lot of people listen attentively to what he says. At the same time, I suspect he doesn’t take himself too seriously. As Psychologist Joseph Campbell would say, he’s “following his bliss”, which in this case happens to be firearms.
I decided to interview Tim Harmsen because, as a media guy and observer of the industry, I was curious to know what makes him tick. He was kind enough to offer our publication a free ranging interview. I think you’ll enjoy it.
This is the second of a two-part series.
Q: You’ve gained quite a following over the last few years. To what do you attribute your success in this space?
A: I really don’t know, nor have I given much thought to it. I do what I love and post new content when I can. I suspect my passion for firearms and my commitment to our community shines through in what I do, and perhaps people respect or admire that. Honestly, I don’t know. What I do know is that if I had 100 subscribers I would still be doing what I do because I enjoy it.
Q: Do you think that the current generation of gun owners is more apt to be influenced by bloggers and Youtube rather than the print media?
A: Yes, I often times tell people that if we had the internet in its current form back in the 1990’s, Clinton would have never gotten the original Assault Weapons Ban passed. Those that control the information control the masses. The beautiful thing about the internet is that the information is no longer controlled by elitists in board rooms in New York City, it’s now controlled by average Americans like myself and other bloggers – The People. That’s why various governments around the world clamp down on the internet, they are trying to keep people for organizing, spreading information and challenging the authority of their governments. We saw just how powerful the Internet was during the recent attempt to pass a new AWB post Sandy Hook. People quickly organized through Social Media and fought back.
Q: Are there any reoccurring questions, themes or concerns that you’re hearing from readers that you’d like to share?
A: I think a good number of folks that follow me are concerned about an out of control, overreaching government that shows little or no interest in preserving our rights and instead, works tirelessly to trample them.
Q: What have you learned most from the public?
A: That we have far more in common than many realize. I’ve learned that regardless of geographical location, race, religion, creed, profession or gender, we have one thing that unites us all – our love of country and liberty.
Q: Let’s talk a little about guns. You get to shoot a lot of different firearms. Are there any current favorites that you really like—anything—semi-autos, black rifles, revolvers—anything new that really impresses you?
A: My interest in firearms is cyclical. One year I’ll be wrapped up in semi-autos, then the next year I’ll be all about 19th century firearms. Anything that takes gunpowder and spits out a projectile with a thundery boom is of interest to me. That includes machine guns, semi-autos, muzzleloaders, or cap and ball revolvers. I can’t say I love any one class of firearms more than another. I was at Hickok 45’s house a while back and he asked each of us present to pick one firearm from his safe to shoot in video. I clamored for his 1873 Trapdoor rifle. So yeah, I’m a gun geek.
Q: You are clearly passionate about the AK platform. In fact, I can’t think of anyone in the blogosphere or print media that has covered as much about AKs as you have.
A: I do love the AK. It’s easily one of the best, if not THE best, fighting rifle on the market. It’s simple, reliable, robust and entirely too much fun to shoot. I think my interest came about during my time in the Marines because it was the weapon of our sworn enemy, the Soviet Union. At the time Russian made AK’s were made of ‘unobtainium’ and you simply couldn’t own one as a civilian – they weren’t imported. That all changed after the fall of the Soviet Union and the Ruskies got a taste of capitalism. They started exporting rifles and I started buying them, scratching that itch to own a real Russian AK. I don’t now how many I own these days, but what I do know is that I don’t own enough of them.
A: I primarily focus on Russian rifles like the Saiga or VEPR. The Bulgarians make a fine rifle too, but for me it’s about going to the original source. The Russians make some of the best cold hammer forged barrels out there and the quality, especially in the VEPR’s, is hard to beat. One of my favorite rifles is my Arsenal SGL 31-94, which is a civilian version of the current Russian standard issue rifle, the AK-74M.
Q: You’ve also covered the waterfront when it comes to third party parts for the AK. You’ve done some really good videos on any number of items. Are there any particular products, that really impress you—that you think represent the leading edge in areas such as collapsible stocks? Folding stocks?
A: There are a lot of good stocks, I think Bonesteel makes the best quality replacement stocks for AK’s. I prefer to have a real Russian side-folder, but if I need to replace a fixed stock, I’ll go with Bonesteel most every time.
As for rails, Krebs Custom makes the absolute best rail system I’ve seen to date. The UFM is a keymod system that is sleek, light weight and looks incredibly sharp on the rifle. Midwest Industries makes some solid drop-in railed hand guards too.
Q: Optics mounts?
A: The best optics mount I’ve found, without a doubt, is the RS Regulate side mounts. Simple, reliable, good looking, just like the AK itself.
Q: Handguards or rails?
A: I like rails because it allows you to use force multipliers like lights, lasers, and sights. But a plain Jane wood stocked AK is also a beauty, so I have a few of those too.
Q: What about red dot optics?
A: There are a lot of good choices for RDS’s these days. I’m a huge fan of the Aimpoint T-1 Micro, it’s the best optic out there IMHO, although it’s very expensive. On the other end of the spectrum I’ve found Primary Arms optics to represent a great value with optics that rival the features of the Aimpoint. But when it comes to rugged reliability, I’m an Aimpoint kind of guy.
Q: Is there a quality fixed focus tactical style scope you could recommend that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg?
A: Check out the new Primary Arms ACSS 4x Compact sight. At $259 I don’t think you’ll find a better affordable alternative to the ACOG.
Q: I know that the “cognoscenti” recommended Russian guns above all else. Both Chase Sisgold and Marc Krebs, guys that work on AKs all the time, were pretty adamant about this. Still, there’s a lot of less expensive gear from Serbia, Romania, Poland, Bulgaria, etc. Is there anything else of decent quality out there that you recommend for an entry level rifle?
A: For a good AK at an affordable price (from Century Arms) the WASR 10 is still hard to beat. It’s not pretty but they generally work, and work well. Another option I see out there that people are quite happy with are the new Century Arms C39’s.
The Poles build a great rifle and I hope to see more offerings from them in the near future.
Q: Thanks Tim!
Photos courtesy of Tim Harmsen.
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