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Classic Handguns of the 20th Century: A Shooter's and Collector's Guide Paperback – 2004
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About the Author
David W. Arnold has been on staff with Handguns magazine for more than 15 years. With experience in the military, David found himself stationed in South Africa as tank crew commander. He also has previous experience in the security industry (in the United States and South Africa).
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His storytelling is top notch, explaining the motivations and difficulties behind managing these major handgun companies, as well as their constantly changing role in the marketplace.
While the images are worth your weight in minutes, this book is not 'gun porn'. Each of the 22 chapters explains the history and development of these fine firearms in a funny, clever, and informative way.
The photos are great too, I'd estimate over 250, on it's 137 pages, most full color. Gotta love the exploded diagrams and take-down instructions!
Did you know Swinger Sewing Machines made 1911 licensed pistols for WW1 and WW2? How about Browning P35's being used on both sides during WW2? Did you know Hitler shot himself with a Walther PPK 32.ACP?
Seriously, the quality of writing sets this book apart. I've read it 100 times, cover to cover, and am still gaining insight into the Colt Single Action Army, and the German Luger.
I figure the complaints will stress the fact that approx 8 of 20 of the handguns covered are 9mm. True. I would love to see a David Arnold review of a Desert Eagle 357, CZ75, Beretta 76, Taurus, or a Steyr weapon.
But that's only because I'd enjoy the storytelling, history, and military development, of each. You can't beat Arnold's depth of knowledge.
The book concludes with an informative chapter on the history of all common contemporary types of ammunition. Great photos! Did you ever hear the story that inspired the development of the 10mm cartridge?
This is the best of a series of great gun books I've bought. While I cannot afford to buy dozens of classic guns (yet), I can afford to read about them. And that's almost as good, while sitting around my kitchen table, or perhaps yours. Great Book! SNAG IT! Axel
The problems lie in what is missing and what is contained. The Mauser C-96 broom handle is not there, but the H&K P-9 squeeze cocking pistol is. The broom handle is right up there with the 1911 and the Luger. However, the P-9 was overpriced accident prone junk, not any more successful than the other piece of trash H&K invented, the clumsy VP-70. They have never invented anything of note. Their good products are all clones of other peoples inventions, specifically the roller locking system.
All the Colt double action revolvers could have been covered in one chapter. Ditto for the S&W's. Then the Radom, Tokarev TT30, and Webley revolver might have been included along with the Mauser broom handle.
He states that no new handgun designs have appeared since WW II. What about the Wonder Nines and Glock's polymer frame? He states that the Single Action Army was the first large caliber handgun produced in the U.S. The S&W 44 American preceded it by four years. He says there is very little interest in collecting S&W guns!!
Nevertheless, what is covered is covered well. A reasonable book for a beginner, in spite of the lacks. So I gave it three stars.
The reviews in this book are the type of reviews you would find in a high quality magazine article, not in a chapter of a true reference book hundreds of pages long. All the handguns mentioned within are handguns with which someone with an all-around interest in handguns should be familiar. Will this book make him or her an expert? Certainly not. Will it help him be able to do more than maybe recognize one when he sees it? Yes.
I would not necessarily recommend this book to someone who has been around handguns all his or her life--though he may enjoy it--but to someone starting out who has an enthusiasm for the topic and realizes there are some gaps in his or her knowledge. This book can happily fill those gaps. If you are perhaps a little beyond a beginner but enjoy reading about your favorite classics, you too might enjoy this book.
Don't expect a 150 page trade paperback to do the work of a reference book several times that length. Buy it if you feel you fit the criteria stated and enjoy it for what it is--a well-written, well-illustrated book that covers the best of the best when it comes to the handguns of the last century.