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Great Rifle Controversy Hardcover – November 1, 1984


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Stackpole Books; 1St Edition edition (November 1, 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811707091
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811707091
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,556,632 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A. Shuler on February 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover
If you are/were in the military or have ever wondered why, this is THE bible on the modern American small arms procurement process. It reads like a novel of sorts detailing things that happened to lead up to our current M-16 rifle. Be prepared, if you're not interested in the back-story on firearms, this book is not for you. If you are, there were few writers as qualified to write this story.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Stephen M. St Onge on August 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Few weapons have been as controversial as the AR-15/M-16/M-4 rifle/carbine. Designed by Eugene Stoner in 1957, it became the U.S. Army's issue weapon in 1967, amid great controversy over its reliability as a rifle, and the effectiveness of it's .223 cartridge. In becoming the standard rifle of the Army, it displaced the M-14, whose design had begun near the end of WWII, and which had been adopted as standard in 1959.

What happened? How and why did the U.S. Army take 14 years to design a relatively small variant on the M-1 Garand, whose three great improvements were to be detachable box magazine, full automatic capability, and a slightly shorter cartridge? Why, having done so, did they give the whole thing up as a bad idea almost as soon as it was used in combat? And how did a private design by the then unknown Eugene Stoner become the basis for the rifle the U.S. military is still using a half-century later?

Edward Ezell details the whole pathetic story, showing how the M-14's design process accomodated every possible goal except battlefield performance in the hands of the average soldier, and respect for the law of conservation of momentum; how a group of dissidents in the Army's Operational Research Office came up with the idea of the small-caliber, high-velocity full-auto rifle; and how Eugene Stoner's AR-15 design was mangled by the U.S. Army. A group of painfully sincere men, all concentrating on narrow facets of a large and complicated problem, succeeded in creating a mess that got U.S. soldiers killed on the battlefield, and resulted in a decidedly less than optimum design for a rifle and cartridge.

If you're interested in the history of the M-16, U.S. arms procurement, or the way in which interest groups can interact to produce a disaster while trying to do their best, this book is for you. But if you find this boring, fuggedaboudit.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Silver Shammrock on March 25, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a well written "history" of small arms development in the USA in the 2nd half of the last century. If you own an M1, M1A and some civilian variant of the M16 you'll enjoy this. Its a quick read but touches on enough depth to make me go find some of the sources used. I wish there was a better bibliography but that's a very minor shortcoming. The timeline ends circa 1985 just after the adoption of the M16A2. I'd like to see a second edition that brings us up to date - especially with the subject being the news again - "what's going to replace the M4 carbine?" Pricey when you can find it but if you have a library of American small arms this book belongs in it - right next to those by Julian Hatcher.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John M. Lane on January 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is a review of THE GREAT RIFLE CONTROVERSY: [THE] SEARCH FOR THE ULTIMATE INFANTRY WEAPON FROM WORLD WAR II THROUGH VIETNAM AND BEYOND by Edward Clinton Ezell. Mine is the hardcover edition published in 1984 by Stackpole Books of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. It runs 344 pages including an informative "Foreword" by Eugene M. Stoner who designed the M-16, thorough end notes and a helpful index. The book lacks a bibliography, but the sources are well enough identified in the notes to allow interested readers to track them down. The book is well illustrated by black and white photographs, diagrams and technical drawings.

Ezell won't replace Shakespeare, but he writes well and demonstrates a mastery of the field. He should, he was the Curator of the Division of Armed Forces History at the National Museum of the American History of the Smithsonian. He's also a well-known author of articles and books on the development of modern firearms including one of the best books on Soviet small arms, THE AK 47 STORY: EVOLUTION OF THE KALASHNIKOV WEAPONS published in 1986, also by Stackpole. This was a major accomplishment becaase Ezell's research was done during the Cold War without access to Soviet archives and Russian cooperation.

I've never been a big fan of the M-16 or its many variants despite their light weight, accuracy and lack of significant recoil. Stoner selected a system developed by Ljungman in Sweden and MAS in France which uses gas to cycle the action directly without relying upon an operating rod, like Kalashnikov and others. This is elegant and produces an arm which is lighter weight and has fewer parts than other designs, but can cause serious problems for soldiers in dirty environments when fouling and battlefield filth clog the gas tube.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Curtis P. St. Martin on November 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The one and only book ever written on this subject and over the years I've read it 4 times. Definitely a must read for every Military Rifle enthusiast.
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