It’s fitting that a spectacular new book from the NRA’s National Firearms Museum is entitled “The Illustrated History of Firearms” (rather than “An Illustrated History”) because of the way it so completely and skillfully spans all important firearm milestones within a single, practical volume. Authored by Director Jim Supica and Senior Curators Doug Wicklund and Philip Schreier, this new outreach echoes the Museum’s authoritative, but visitor-friendly, appeal in a deluxe hardcover edition owners will be proud to display.
Wisely, the authors allowed their subjects to speak for themselves. After a brief introduction, the vast majority of the 304 pages are devoted to displaying high-quality color photos of more than 1,500 firearms, identified by useful, concise captions. Strategically placed throughout are informative sidebars that are brief enough not to redirect the reader’s attention.
Organizing any work this broad is an obvious challenge, and the authors do so largelyby following a chronological order from a primitive hand cannon circa 1350 through to present-day examples. Many areas of particular interest are magnified, offering greater insight into subjects ranging from John M. Browning’s designs to Hollywood guns to engraving today. An especially extensive grouping across 53 pages traces the smokeless-powder military era beginning with Spanish-American War rifles like the Krag-Jorgensen and continuing to present-day warriors such as the Barrett M82A1.
Along with practically every well-known gun and model variant are numerous lesser-known creations, including an entire section of “Innovations & Oddities.” No matter where a reader’s interest lies or how numerous those interests are, everyone is bound to discover new guns and gain a greater understanding of their development and use.
Regardless of your interest, be it shooting, hunting or collecting, anyone even mildly curious about guns will be hard-pressed to put this volume down. Autographed copies are available from the NRA National Firearms Museum Store; phone (703) 267-1614 or e-mail store manager Benjamin Van Scoyoc, firstname.lastname@example.org.