You may know that Cabela’s stores include gun libraries so you can buy guns, ammo and good reading matter. I like the idea. Robert Heinlein said, “An armed society is a polite society,” but he may also have agreed that an educated
society is more likely to be armed.
I’ve been collecting and shooting guns for a long time. And I’ve been reading about them even longer. I thrilled to the story of how Sam Colt invented and marketed his revolver; a story I didn’t think would be topped until Gaston Glock came
So, for what it’s worth, here is my list of the 10 best gun books. Please bear in mind that I am not a hunter or a soldier, so my list leans toward the technical or historical side of the genre. I’m also influenced by a book’s literary content as well as its informational content.
9. (tie) Brownell’s catalog and Numrich Gun Parts Corporation catalogs. New parts or used parts, these catalogs are rich in parts and pictures to help with any firearm repair project.
8. Glock: The Rise of America's Gun. By Paul M. Barrett. More about marketing than mechanics, this well-researched chronicles how Glock turned upside down common conceptions about how guns should look and work.
7. Blue Book of Gun Values. By S.P. Fjestad. Now in its 34th edition. Expanding on Chapel’s lead, until the Internet, this was the only way for gun buyers and sellers made sure each was getting a fair deal.
6. Dixie Gun Works Catalog. Before Val Forgett’s Navy Arms made replica black powder guns available to shoot, you had to make do with the originals, often restored to working order with parts from Dixie or firing round balls cast from Turner Kirkland’s innovative molds machined from hair straighteners. An essential, entertaining resource. Let’s see what we have here …
5. Small Arms of the World: A basic manual of military small arms. By W.H.B. Smith. An excellent history followed by a massive guide of how to load, fire and fieldstrip military small arms anywhere in the world. What’s not to like?
4. A History of the Colt Revolver. By Charles T. Havens and Frank A. Belden. The history of how a Yankee inventor’s dream – a gun that fired more than one shot before reloading -- became reality. Photos plus patents and advertising.
3. The Gun Collector’s Handbook of Values. Author Charles Edward Chapel said that every time you buy a gun, you should buy a book about it. I subscribed to that theory; thus I’m now sharing what I’ve learned. From 1940 through the mid-70s, this was THE book to consult on gun values.
2. Hatcher's Notebook: A Standard Reference Book for Shooters, Gunsmiths, Ballisticians, Historians, Hunters, and Collectors. By Julian S. Hatcher, retired U.S. Army major general, technical editor for The American Rifleman, and director of the National Rifle Association from 1922-1946.
1. Sixguns. By Elmer Keith. Ned Buntline and Zane Gray may have written about the Wild West, but, as Keith puts it in his autobiography, “Hell, I Was There!” Sixguns is not a textbook or armorer’s manual. It’s a social history of why we have a gun culture; good, bad or otherwise.
And a special #1 for Best Book Series about guns to Stephen Hunter. Former Marine sniper Bob Lee Swagger, introduced in Point of Impact and his daddy, Arkansas State Trooper Earl Swagger, star in novels in which the plot and action focus on tough men and their guns. What makes them best is that Hunter knows his guns and gets the details right.