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The Writers of Yesteryear

2316 Views 10 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  William Iorg
I was browsing through a 1927 copy of E. C. Crosman's book "Small Bore Rifle Shooting" a few hours ago and couldn't help but take note of his candor. Crossman is pretty blunt is stating his opinions and doesn't hesitate to name brands or specifics. Not every rifle is perfect. Indeed, all of them come in for criticism. The basic information in his book, even 83 years later, is still valid.

Other writers of the period were pretty much in the same vein: Hatcher, Wheelen, Major Askins (Charles' father) and so on right up to O'Connor. Even so, O'Connor's final volume "The Last Book" wasn't published until after his death by his direction. It's an interesting and revealing read containing a lot of information that for obvious reasons wasn't published previously.

I contrast these old men to the majority of writers today who are likely restrained from being completely open about the guns they test and review by economic reality. Even Keith and O'Connor weren't completely free of the influence of advertisers in the magazines they wrote for. It was probably judicious for them to simply not write about a gun they found wanting. I know that the American Rifleman has a policy of not reviewing a gun or gear that fails their standards.

Does anyone else enjoy reading the books of the writers of yesteryear? To me, they're refreshing.
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I enjoy reading the old books. I have been collecting them for what seems like all of my life. The Crossman Small Bore book is a good one as is Landis follow up book on small bore shooting. The nice thing about the Samworth book is the feel of the cover and the pages, good quality books by today’s standards.

Today one of the best bargains in reprinted old books is the Palladium Press/NRA series of books printed under the Firearms Classic Library series. Many books, which are rare and expensive, have been published in the series at what amounts to bargain prices. The FCL: now has a promotion where each book comes with a certificate and with six certificates, you get a free book. The FCL books are high quality and feature a new biographical introduction by Jim Casada.

Jim Foral occasionally posts on the Beartooth forum and he compiled a book titled Gunwriters of Yesteryear. This book while suffering a bit with miss-spelled and out of context words is a treasure of old and significant articles. It is well worth your time to look for this book.

If you enjoy books on small-bore shooting, the Landis books and Rimfire Rifleman by Edward Brown also contain a lot of straight talk about rifles and ammunition.
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I enjoy Henry Stebbins too. I have his pistols and rifles encyclopedias. The rifle book is the earliest mention of the 30-30AI I have ever been able to dig up.
How to Select Your big Game Rifle is a good one too which should please Savage Model 99 fans today.
Stebbins was the first writer I read who mentioned the admiration hunters felt for the 50-100-450 in the lightweight Model 1886 rifle. This caused me to begin a study of the cartridges and rifle.
Stebbins Small Game and varmint Rifles sits next to my copy of Small Game Hunting by Francis Sell.
Stebbins is an interesting person who was a contemporary of Ken Waters and Paul Matthews.

I enjoy Taylor too. While most people think of His African Rifles and cartridges book I believe his best book was Big Game and Big Game Rifles. Taylor’s description of the curiosity of the buffalo and the terror man eaters gave the native are very descriptive and could only be written by someone who had been right in the middle of it.
Ribbonstone, looks like we have similar mentors. Several Gunwriters were promoters of the 32 S&W Long and its use on varmints.

Douds43, turning a hobby into a business is a good way to ruin a hobby. I have traded and sold a few books but for the most part I am a collector, I collect what I am interested in and very seldom sell.

Davers, isn’t it interesting how one article, at the right time, can have such an influence on us. The right story at the right time has cost me a lot of money at times. I can blame my latest expenditures of Rocky Raab; he posted a picture of his Ruger 44 spl Bisley.
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