The History Channel has launched a new five-part reality show “Brothers in Arms,” which features Army veterans Vincent “Rocco” Vargas and Eli Cuevas, and their new Ogden, Utah-based gun shop, Banditos Armory.
Vargas is a former Ranger and Border Patrol agent, and Cuevas is a decorated 11B. Both have multiple combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The duo are well known in the veterans community. They’re affiliated with Mat Best and the hilarious hooligans at Black Rifle Coffee, in addition to Leadslingers Whiskey and the greatest movie ever made — Range 15.
The History Channel deserves some kudos for producing a reality show in this political environment that’s centered in a gun shop, as nowadays they seem to be cursed. The principals from two previous reality shows, “Sons of Guns” and “American Guns” are both, deservedly, behind bars.
As a veteran and a gun owner, I really wanted to like the new show. However, it’s got some problems.
The formula is cut-and-paste “Sons of Guns.”
There are crazy projects — a cut down 10-gauge shotgun turned into a blunderbuss, and a suppressed black-powder cannon — but it’s the overly scripted in-the-shop drama that provided the most uncomfortable “Sons-of-Guns” flashbacks.
Episode 2 features a segment in which Vargas counsels his 14-year-old daughter in an ice cream parlor about the perils of wearing too much makeup. And there are other cringe-worthy moments.
Simply show us the guns.
To be clear, there are interesting builds, such as a complete renovation of a OT-90 — the Czechoslovakian version of the Soviet BMP-1 Infantry Fighting Vehicle. In another episode, the staff fixes a semi-auto 1919 machine gun by replacing a broken firing pin.
I think the show could be salvageable if the two veterans exert a little more creative control, but that’s not easy to do in the Hollyweird environment, because the producers call all the shots.
If they stop the manufactured drama and focus on realistic builds — not Will Hayden style zaniness — they could keep me coming back each week, because gun owners are a discerning bunch.
We’d flock to a show that focuses on the weapons, not over-the-top builds and targets full of Tannerite.
Show us the guns — real guns — because we want more than just scripted drama, ‘splosions and high-fives.