The 10 Best Gun Books

Updated September 27, 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

10 Best Gun Books
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 35 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. Whether you are a collector, an historian, a repairer or simply looking for some instruction, our selection of fascinating gun books includes something that will definitely pique your interest. With editions covering the safe handling and use of handguns to comprehensive catalogs detailing current price trends for thousands of models, you're sure to find the information you need right here. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best gun book on Amazon.

10. Treasures of the NRA Museum

Treasures of the NRA Museum will delight both gun collectors and enthusiasts alike. It features nearly 300 of the most important and valuable guns from the museum that date as far back as the 1600s, including guns used by King James II and Napoleon Bonaparte.
  • very well-researched history
  • even includes some gatling guns
  • the binding isn't very durable
Publisher Supica, Jim
Model n/a
Weight 3.2 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

9. Book of Combat Handgunnery

In addition to the history and evolution of guns, practicality in the real world is also important. The Book of Combat Handgunnery helps prepare you for life-threatening situations with expert guidance, so you're ready when you need to act quickly.
  • teaches valuable skills
  • covers legal aspects of self-defense
  • not much info on small caliber guns
Publisher Gun Digest
Model n/a
Weight 1.3 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

8. The Illustrated History of Firearms

Compiled by staff members from the NRA National Firearms Museum with hands-on gun experience and skills, The Illustrated History of Firearms focuses on the evolution of portable weaponry, from the earliest muskets to the most modern machine guns.
  • a total of 304 pages
  • discusses sighting devices
  • contains a lot of typos
Publisher Supica, Jim
Model n/a
Weight 3.7 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

7. Book of Centerfire Rifles

For the true rifle aficionado, the gun digest Book of Centerfire Rifles provides the definitive guide for the DIY disassembly, repair, and reassembly of some of the world's most popular centerfire rifles. It includes step-by-step instructions for up to 68 models.
  • instructions are easy to understand
  • perfect for gunsmiths
  • doesn't have a lot of color images
Publisher Gun Digest Books
Model n/a
Weight 3.4 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

6. American Gun

American Gun was written by famed sniper Chris Kelly, who served four tours in Iraq and also wrote American Sniper, so he definitely knows what he is talking about. It covers 10 of the most iconic guns in American history and the heroes who carried them.
  • bonus chapter on more guns
  • teaches a lot of interesting history
  • very engaging read
Publisher imusti
Model n/a
Weight 5.6 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

5. The Illustrated World Encyclopedia of Guns

The Illustrated World Encyclopedia of Guns covers everything from basic handguns to complex submachine guns with high quality images of almost every one discussed. There are also brief descriptions of each that make it an easy read.
  • appeals to enthusiasts of all levels
  • good reference book
  • doesn't include any shotguns
Publisher imusti
Model n/a
Weight 1.6 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

4. Firearms: An Illustrated History

Published in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institute, Firearms: An Illustrated History offers detailed information on 300 guns spanning a 700-year period of gun making, from the origin of the pistol and rifle to the most modern machine guns and revolvers.
  • extensive virtual tours
  • photos are crisp and attractive
  • contains 2 removable prints
Publisher DK ADULT
Model n/a
Weight 4.4 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

3. Standard Catalog of Military Firearms

The Standard Catalog of Military Firearms details thousands of guns that have been produced from 1870 up until the present day. It also has over 1,500 high-quality photos of weapons and a unique section on war trophy documents.
  • includes updated handgun prices
  • ideal for collectors and historians
  • author is a master gunsmith
Publisher Peterson, Phillip
Model n/a
Weight 2.2 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

2. Shooter's Bible, 108th Edition

The Shooter's Bible, 108th Edition contains guns from nearly every major manufacturer and has been published annually for over 75 years, so you know it is a reputable guide. It has well-detailed charts of the various types of available bullets and hand-loading projectiles.
  • manufacturer suggested retail prices
  • contains a lot of gun terminology
  • great gift for active gun buyers
Publisher Skyhorse Publishing
Model n/a
Weight 2.3 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

1. Blue Book of Gun Values

With roughly 30,000 model descriptions and almost 200,000 prices, the Blue Book of Gun Values is one of the most comprehensive guides available. This recent 38th edition includes updated market trends and values for the most common firearms.
  • covers over a thousand manufacturers
  • written by a recognized authority
  • details many specialty guns
Publisher Blue Book Publications,
Model n/a
Weight 3.7 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

A Gun In Every Hand And A Turkey In Every Pot

If you live in the US, you’re well familiar with the exalted place that guns hold in our culture. Collectors and hunters abound in the interior states, as well as along the coasts, albeit in smaller numbers. Even the people that advocate for restrictions on the sales and possession of firearms, by nature of their advocacy, often have guns on the brain.

You really have to look no further than the American entertainment industry to see the influence of guns and gun violence at work. Hollywood sets the standard for global cinema, and brilliant international filmmakers like Jean-Luc Godard and Wong Kar-Wai have made careers, in part, by adopting the gun-slinging icons of American cinema into their own milieu. The former once said, "All you need to make a movie is a girl and a gun." Within the US, guns have always been at home in our entertainment. During the enforcement of the Hollywood motion picture production codes in the early years of the industry, filmmakers operated under the weight of a great many restrictions, but guns remained an integral part of storytelling.

Real life doesn't offer any respite. Enter any good museum, and you’re sure to find a section devoted to the materials of human warfare. Our ability to refine the means with which we fight for our freedoms — and occasionally to suppress the freedoms of others — seems to know no bounds. This can make guns seem like frightening, powerful things, which, in many ways, they are.

But guns can also be pieces of art or feats of engineering worthy of genuine respect in the slightest cases, and compete awe in the greatest. Some of the ornate designs either on the exterior of a firearm or more deeply woven into its design are incredible to behold. And the accuracy and power of the most efficient, well-made pieces throughout history could stop you in your tracks (in more ways than one if you’re on the wrong end of the barrel).

If any part of you hesitates to believe how deeply ingrained these tools have become in our culture, I have a challenge for you. Take a small stick that’s roughly shaped like the letter L. Hand it to a young boy around the age of eight and ask him to play with it. I’ll give you one guess as to what his imagination conjures up.

On Which Book To Pull The Trigger?

Given the large role that guns play in our culture, it’s only natural that we’d have a large number of books devoted to them. These tomes cover a wide range of perspectives, from simple market values to intricate, photographic histories. If you’re reading this, then you’re in the market for such a book, and it’s either for you or for someone you know who loves guns. Knowing a little more about their attitude toward guns, as well as their current library of gun books, will help guide you toward making the right choice from the options on our list.

If you're shopping for an avid collector, someone whose investment in guns is a combination of the emotional and the economical, then providing them with a handy, up-to-date reference would be a great idea. There are books out there that list guns by brand and type, and that provide current value estimates that owners can take with them when shopping for or selling firearms.

History buffs and collectors alike would appreciate a thick book on the evolution of guns over time, even if the former isn’t much of a gun person. The history of firearms is so rich, and so deeply tied with the history of nations, that learning about the subtle advancements of the technology can vastly increase a person’s knowledge of that gun’s moment in history.

For sport shooters and the more practically minded gun owners out there, technical books are the way to go. These will often lay out strategies for a variety of situations, including encounters with home invaders, criminals on the street, and more. They also may focus on the technical specs of specific guns, as well. These books will give owners an edge in caring for their firearms, increasing their reliability in the field, and also helping to maintain their resale value in the years to come.

Whatever type of book you end up getting, if the recipient cares about guns, they’re liable to like your gift. Of course, if you really want to make sure it goes over well, present it to them along with a trip to the range — your treat.

A Brief History Of The Firearm

Just in case the person you’re shopping for decides to engage you in a conversation about the long and storied history of guns, it’d be wise to brush up on the basics. The most basic material necessary to the creation of a gun — the gunpowder — came about in China in the 9th century C.E.

The first firearms weren’t shaped much like the guns we utilize today. In fact, they weren’t much more than spears with small chambers at the end filled with an early form of gunpowder and some shrapnel. These fire lances were used primarily as flamethrowers, but at the point of ignition, they could project small items that might strike nearby enemies.

Over time, craftsmen honed these projectiles to better fit the muzzles of their firing chambers. They also fine-tuned the mixture of elements in the gunpowder. These two innovations drastically increased the explosive power of the weapon, granting it greater range and more lethality.

In the 14th century, small, handheld cannons evolved into the flintlock rifle, a device that set in stone the shape of the modern firearm. Fine adjustments to this design would continue for centuries, reaching an apex with the M1, a rifle that saw extensive use in World War II, as well as the conflicts in Korea and Vietnam.



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Last updated on September 27, 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.


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