‘The Gun Experiment’ Is Where 2A Hypotheses Get Challenged

Image courtesy of The Gun Experiment

An experiment, according to our friends over at Webster, say is a “test” or a “trial.” We’ve all done experiments. Even if we’ve not delved into the strict execution of an “operation or procedure carried out under controlled conditions in order to discover an unknown effect or law.” One “experiment” that works by rolling out their process via their Socratic methods is “The Gun Experiment.” TGE is a podcast that started in 2020 and perhaps it embraces an obsolete definition of the word experiment – experience.


I got a chance to have separate and independent interviews with the forces behind the show. Neither one knew the questions I asked the other, and it’s astounding how on the same page the pair are – for the most part. They and their show truly are an experience!

TGE is an audio podcast that focuses on “gun stuff” and the Second Amendment. The finer points of their content actually revolve around “gun people,” who they are, what they do, and how they fit into the rubric of the gun industry and Second Amendment activism. The show proper is bi-weekly, but content is rolled out every week, with a special edition of the show called “Choppin’ it up,” on the other weeks.

I made an analogy in comparing the two shows when chatting with Mike, the brain trust, producer, and originator of the show. TGE is like the “Masterpiece Theater” and Chopping it Up is more akin to the headline news or an open ended talk show. Mike said that’s one way to look at it. Keith tends to enjoy the free-from that Choppin’ it Up offers, and embraces those episodes, taking a larger stake in ownership of them.

Some of the guests that have been featured on TGE include real heavy hitters. Both Mike and his co-host Big Keith listed Clint Smith as one of their top guests. I had to remind both of them that Clint must be after yours truly. The episode I recorded, while on the road at a resort in Williamsburg, Virginia, is out now. 

Both Keith and Mike chuckled at my suggestion. We’re all aware – readers included – that it might be fun to have a John Petrolino on the show from time to time, but he’ll never live up to the legendary statuses of the likes of some of TGE’s favorite top guests like Clint Smith, Massad Ayoob, Alan Gottlieb, Rob Pincus, Peter Tilem, Jackie Billings, et.al.

I prodded both of them on who their dream guests were. Mike said that Joe Rogan was a dream guest, and he’d also love to have John Lovell, Colion Noir, and Jack Carr on the show. Keith said he’d love to have a crack at the New York Attorney General, Letitia James, and interview her. Hickok45 was also on Keith’s short list of dream guests.


Mike explained to me during our chat that he was bowled over by podcasts when they first started to hit the mainstream. A gnawing thought was in the back of his mind for nearly a decade. The concept of being a creator of hyper-focused content for general consumption appealed to him. Mike told me about a guy he worked with who started a podcast and how he was introduced to the concept.

This is the early days of getting into the world of having something in your pocket that you’d listen to anything you want, anywhere you go. And he’s starting a podcast. And I’m like, “Man, that’s kind of a cool concept.” Just anybody can talk about any topic.

Mike’s 2020 foray into becoming a gun podcaster is shrouded in a romantic lore that he and co-host Big Keith talk about from time to time. The story they succinctly tell when discussing the inception of TGE is that Keith, who lives in the same upstate New York neighborhood as Mike, was unknowingly auditioning for the part of co-host. Mike talks openly in episodes about how the first recorded episode was a trial to get Keith to say “yes” to being his partner in the production. I prodded Mike, trying to peel away at the legend of their start and he told me some interesting details.

The immediacy was I just needed to get somebody to kick this thing off. But it was literally, he might remember more, but I’m pretty sure we got off recording, I hit stop, and I was like, “So what would you think about being my co-host?” I probably, in the back of my mind, had it [that] I’m going to ask him. It wasn’t an audition. No, I think it was more of just…I think it would be cool to have my buddy and I kicking it around. The best way to do that is to put him on and see if he enjoys it, right? If he enjoys it, and he had a good time, maybe he’ll do it.


Keith recalls the way it went down, “Mike reached out to me and said, ‘Hey, you know, with this extra time that I’ve got on my hands, I’ve had this dream of starting a podcast, and would you be my first guest?’ Is the way he presented it to me.” He corroborated Mike’s story, as well as played into the broad-strokes of the lore.

I thought about it for a little bit, and I had nothing else going on either. So I was like, “Okay, yeah, sure. I’ll do that.” And we’ve joked on the air that the first episode has never aired. I know he has a copy of it, but it has never aired. And right after that episode was done, he hit me with “Hey, you know…I really need a co-host.”

Mike explained to Keith that besides being kindred spirits in their love of the Second Amendment, there are things they disagree on. That difference in opinion makes for good conversations, and the duo has been civilly navigating through episodes since they started in 2020.

Keith maintained in the early months that he was onboard – “for now.” Mike would discuss this with his wife and say that Keith kept talking about how he’s just in it for the “time being.” Eventually, Mike stopped asking Keith about his commitment to the show. Keith did talk candidly with me about the dynamic.

Honestly, John, I was taken aback by that request. I had never considered podcasting. I’d never considered doing a radio show…I said to Mike, “Listen,” I said, “I’ll help you get this thing off the ground. You know I’m a positive guy. Anybody that’s a friend of mine, I want to support in any way I can. So I’ll [help] getting [it] going and see where it goes. No promises.” I said to him, “I don’t know if I could be doing this. I’ve got a career, I’ve got things I got to focus on. And I can not commit to this.”

I played that card for I don’t know, probably about a year [and] he stopped asking, knowing that I wasn’t gonna go. And I wasn’t gonna leave. We’re either right around three years, or just going over three years. Yeah, I’m enjoying it. I’m having a good time. And he likes to make sure he reminds me of that.


When I asked Mike about Keith’s role, he voiced his frustrations about the early days when Keith was non-committal.

For a while it used to drive me crazy. Just stop acting like you’re gonna walk out on me next week, you know? And three years later, it’s like, yeah, every once in a while [I think and I] hope he’s not getting tired of this. But you know, I can see how, after a while, personal life, family life, work life can make it tough. But I think…I think he enjoys it soundly. He’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

I describe – appropriately – Mike and Keith as being professionals in the Second Amendment Media arena, they both maintain independent careers for their sustenance. Like many in this fight, they have to pay the bills somehow, but that does not take away from the level of professionalism they both put into the production, the quality of content, caliber of guests, and overall feel of the show. These are committed individuals to the cause and quickly rose in popularity.

That popularity is not made up either. While covering another story on Second Amendment podcasts, I did look into some analytics on The Gun Experiment. According to the data I received from Listen Notes, at the time TGE ranked in the top 5% of podcasts. That’s nothing to scoff at, that’s the top 5% of ALL podcasts, not just the “gun stuff.”

To put that into perspective, the top rated podcasts rank in .01%. The top gun-related podcasts are actually terrestrial radio shows syndicated into podcast form and rank in the top half percent. While the top 5% is not a half percent or a hundredth of a percent, that’s not too shabby. In their short stint of putting out content, Mike and Keith have climbed in ratings beyond what I think they could have imagined.

Those numbers did not get lost on Mike and Keith. The organic growth of the show did eventually click with Keith. He observed that people were actually listening to the show.


We started to see the numbers grow, as we were reviewing [them], and I was like, “Man, people are listening to this.” Then all of a sudden, next thing I know, we’ve got sponsors. [Then] we’re going to Arizona [to the Gun Rights Policy Conference]…There were just a couple moments where I was just like, “Wow. It’s not…it doesn’t feel like work.”

[It was great] seeing the numbers go up on our own, and starting to develop to a point where people wanted to sponsor the show…and we had multiple sponsors. And then next thing I know, like I said, the show is able to fund a trip to the Second Amendment Foundation’s Gun Rights Policy Conference in Arizona. So it was…it’s just been a great ride, right? It’s just been a lot of fun. Yeah,

One of the questions I asked the pair was where do they see TGE going in the future. Keith did not hesitate in saying, “Video.”

The clearest vision that I have right now is getting the show on video. We sort of protested that a lot in the early days, I’d say maybe even up to the first couple years, and it’s only been the last year or so that Mike and I have both sort of decided, okay, we’re not going to hide behind anonymity anymore.

Mike’s vision is to be as much of everything for his listeners as TGE could possibly be.

I really want to be all the places that people want us to be. And I know that that seems a little bit of maybe a weird answer. But I want it if people are on a train, and they’re going to work and they want to read about gun stuff…I would love to have blogs written about gun stuff. If they want to scroll Instagram, and listen to clips, short and short version clips of the show…I want them to be able to do that if they are in the mood to, you know, to listen to long form…I want the podcast to provide that. I really want to kind of be all things to everybody. And obviously that’s a very daunting task.


The growth of TGE has already taken the pair “places.” As mentioned, Keith and Mike had the opportunity to make it to the 2023 Second Amendment Foundation’s Gun Rights Policy Conference. It’s not just that they attended, Mike was invited to speak at the conference, which is a high honor.

When talking to Mike about his final message to anyone reading this, he spoke about one of his chief motivators. This is an individual that has a vision and has focus.

I don’t know that I ever can convey it enough. I don’t think people really…when I look at the number of people who listen to the show, I don’t think people realize how much it means to me. It is one of the absolute joys of my life – The fact that I am able to sit around with one of my good friends and talk about a topic I enjoy. And that people actually find value in that, the fact that as many people listen and find value and care to hear our thoughts and opinions is one of the most heartfelt joys that I have. That is very, very genuine.

I really want this show to be successful. I really want more people to listen. And a big factor, a big reason for that is that I genuinely really enjoy podcasting. Like I love it. I mean I could do this for the rest of my days, and be very, very content. It is the idea of spreading information and having a platform that people care to listen to is just incredible…

That’s just like something that you can’t put a price tag on. You can’t put a price tag on people finding value in the conversations that you’re having. I think we have a pretty good catalog of guests and I really really want to bring better guests and better guests and better guests.

Mike and Keith are genuine in their quest to spread knowledge about the Second Amendment and the people who make it tick. Getting a chance to watch their show grow has been a pleasure and getting an invitation to be a guest was also an honor.


If you’re looking for a gun-related podcast to take up a little over an hour each week, The Gun Experiment might be for you. It’s available on all major podcast services. At a minimum, you can tune into the show we recorded a few weeks ago by visiting HERE or listening below in the embed.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member