"Grandaddy's Gun" was previously recorded by Rhett Akins on the 2010 album, Michael Waddell's Bone Collector: The Brotherhood Album and by Staind singer Aaron Lewis on his 2012 debut country album, The Road. Lewis's version was released as a single to country radio in 2013 and peaked at No. 46 on the BillboardCountry Airplay chart.
Based on a True Story… received mixed reviews from critics. At Metacritic, a website which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 from reviews by mainstream critics, it holds a rating of 64 based on 5 reviews. Joseph Hudak of Country Weekly thought that some of the songs "feel rushed, as if The Voice coach hurriedly picked songs to record in Nashville before he had to catch his flight back to L.A." He praised "I Still Got a Finger", "Ten Times Crazier", "Mine Would Be You", and "Granddaddy's Gun" as the strongest tracks on the album, saying of those songs that "Blake excels and the avowed smart aleck is found with his heart on his denim sleeve."AllMusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine found that "the very sense that more is more is essential to the appeal of Based on a True Story...: every song is bigger, brighter, bolder than the next, super-sized country for a super-sized time" and this is not good because "there's just a little bit too much of the schtick; individually the cuts work fine but they overwhelm not only the gentler moments...cancel[ing] each other out over the long run." Sarah Rodman of The Boston Globe gave a mixed review to the album, when she alluded that "Much of it is perfectly acceptable. All of it is executed competently", yet Rodman called the lone highlight the "dusty story song" of "Granddaddy's Gun". In addition, Rodman noted that the album "doesn't offer enough personal touches to distinguish it from a lot of other tales coming out of Nashville." At Entertainment Weekly, Melissa Maerz signaled that Shelton is "just not a gravitas kind of guy, and the outdated production only makes it harder to take his songs seriously, especially with the talk-box-style guitar effects and the ill-advised use of AutoTune."
Conversely, Jerry Shriver of USA Today affirmed that the album comes from a place where Shelton's comments about the industry, which he noted that the effort "puts that very legitimate argument into a fuller and highly entertaining context", and found that "the music will always be about blue-jeaned babes in the full moonlight, dirt roads, [and] small towns". Roughstock's Matt Bjorke praised the album as "a strong, current record with a couple of moments that demand repeated attention."Gary Graff of The Oakland Press evoked how Shelton "make[s] it clear that despite the mass-media notoriety Shelton still considers himself a proud country boy — declaring his beer-drinkin', tobacco-chewin' 'redneck' loyalties" on the album.Taste of Country's Billy Dukes alluded to how this "isn’t an album that impresses with a single listen" because it has "sizzle, and not in that ironic 'bow-chicka-wow-wow' sort of way that’s occasionally implied with this singer’s sense of humor", and Dukes noted that "The emotion is easy to overlook on a single pass, but second or third listens find a collection of songs that really stick to the soul." Got Country Online's Phyllis Hunter found that it was "obvious that [the songs] were carefully chosen to give a personal glimpse into what is a very public life", which she heaped praise on the album by stating "Kudos, Mr. Shelton, kudos…", and affirmed that Shelton has "done all of these songwriters quite proud." Mikael Wood of the Los Angeles Times told that "With its easy rhymes and hummable choruses, the album doesn't ask the listener to work any harder than Shelton himself is prepared to work", which Wood evoked that "if Shelton's investment in his material here seems about as minimal as possible, it's a testament to his considerable charm", and this allowed Wood to perceive that it "never feels like a con." Wood concluded with noting that with respect to Shelton's music "it's not the journey that matters, but the destination."
The album debuted at No.1 on the Top Country Albums chart and No. 3 on the Billboard 200, selling 199,000 copies for the week. The album became the ninth best-selling album of 2013 in the United States, with 1,109,000 copies sold for the year. As of March 2015, the album has sold a total of 1.46 million copies in the United States. In 2016, it was certified double-platinum with sales of 2,000,000 units.