The 10 Best Gun Books
This wiki has been updated 26 times since it was first published in August of 2015. 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 help fund the Wiki. If you'd like to contribute your own research to the Wiki, please get started by reviewing this introductory video.
January 25, 2020:
Because the subject of firearms is so encompassing, with much to learn from a historical, legal, and personal standpoint, we've compiled a list with something for everybody.
For instance, if you're worried about the legality of traveling with your gun across state lines (rightly so, as these laws get complicated fast), then the newly-added Traveler's Guide to Firearm Laws will prove to be instructive. While much of the information in this book can indeed be found online for free, it's still worth having everything in one place, especially if you frequently travel to multiple destinations within the US, Mexico, and Canada. It also answers confusing, frequently asked questions with authority. If you own a publication that's out of date, you might want to consider getting the newest edition, because many gun laws are changed often.
For history buffs and collectors, there's The Illustrated World Encyclopedia of Guns, Treasures of the NRA Museum, and Firearms: An Illustrated History. Volumes like the Standard Catalog of Military Firearms, Shooter's Bible, 110th Edition, and Blue Book of Gun Values are ideal for those who need up to date information on new models, pricing, specs, manufacturers, and accessories.
For this update, we ensured that all publications were in the most recent edition, as well as added the aforementioned Traveler's Guide to Firearm Laws and the Long Range Shooting Handbook. This guide is ideal for inexperienced shooters with no prior knowledge. You'll learn from a highly-lauded military sniper instructor, who also shares his insights and techniques.
If you're purchasing one of these books as a gift for a friend or loved one, consider bundling it with a gun cleaning kit for even more brownie points.
A Gun In Every Hand And A Turkey In Every Pot
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.
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 complete 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.
They also may focus on the technical specs of specific guns, as well.
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.
These two innovations drastically increased the explosive power of the weapon, granting it greater range and more lethality.
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.