The Vault

Book Review: The 100 Greatest Combat Pistols

Today we’re taking a look at the third of Tim Mullin’s hands-on firearms evaluation and testing books: The 100 Greatest Combat Pistols (the other two being on the subjects of rifles and SMGs/shotguns/machine pistols). Normally this wouldn’t be the sort of book that would grab my attention, but Mullin did an excellent job in finding [...]

Book Review: Firearm Anatomy I – Thompson M1A1 Submachine Gun

One of the questions I have gotten quite a few times is what resource I would recommend for folks who are interested in the technical engineering aspects of firearms design. It’s always been a tough question, because apart from Chinn’s multi-volume work (which is crazy expensive to buy in print now, although it is available [...]

Book Review: Winston Churchill’s Toyshop

In July of 1939 Stuart Macrae was the editor of Armchair Science magazine, and he was approached by a Major Millis Jefferis from the British War Office looking for some information on magnets. The subsequent partnership between these two men would lead over the next 6 years to a hotbed of weapons and demolition production [...]

Book Review: Allied Rifle Contracts in America

One of the characteristics that often leads me to be particularly interested in a given gun is a long and convoluted history. I really enjoy finding firearms that have found their way across the world and back. One entire category of rifles that did just that were the hundreds of thousands of rifles made in [...]

Book Review: The World’s Fighting Shotguns

Shotguns are a subject I don’t cover much, and I’ll admit that’s because of a prejudice on my part. I just don’t find most of them to be particularly interesting…but then I had the chance to take a look at a collection that included a bunch of mechanically unusual and pretty fascinating shotguns. The owner [...]

Book Review: The Bear Went Over the Mountain

I’ve been aware of Lester Grau’s The Bear Went Over the Mountain: Soviet Combat Tactics in Afghanistan for a long time – I borrowed a copy many years ago – but only recently purchased a copy for myself. Not surprisingly, it was reprinted in 2010 and again in 2013, making it much more readily available [...]

Book Review: Forty Miles A Day on Beans and Hay

We wint to Arizona, for to fight the Injins there; We came near being made bald-headed, but they never got our hair.

We lay among the ditches, in the dirty yellow mud, And we never saw an onion, a turnip, or a spud.

Ah, the glamor of serving [...]

Book Review: Iver Johnson Arms & Cycle Works Firearms 1871-1993

The Iver Johnson company doesn’t get much respect or recognition these days, but they made a staggering number of generally very good, inexpensive handguns for many decades. The “cheap” image of the brand has largely prevented a significant collector appeal, and in turn a lack of good research or documentation. The exception to that trend [...]

Journal Review: AFTE Quarterly

Today’s review is a bit different than normal, as I’m not looking at a book but rather a quarterly trade association journal. The association is AFTE, the Association of Firearm and Tool Mark Examiners – these are the folks who do crime lab analysis of evidence from crime. Like CSI, but with real science! They [...]

Book Review: Testing the War Weapons

I was pretty excited to dig into Tim Mullin’s Testing The War Weapons when I first got a copy of it, having already read his book on SMGs, shotguns, and machine pistols cover to cover. I quite enjoyed that volume, and I figured that this one would be better still, being twice the length [...]