Book review: Experiment and Trial by Mathieu Willemsen

Americans can order the book from Gun and Sword Collector, and Europeans should order from Verlag Militaria.

Experiment and Trial, by Mathieu Willemsen, is a catalogue of the 218 guns in the collection of the Dutch School of Musketry, which existed from 1855 until 1933. It includes a large number of very unusual prototypes, as the School was a testing ground for designs submitted by inventors hoping to receiver Dutch military contracts. In particular, these include a wide variety of magazine conversion of the Beaumont action – designs which I have not seen any reference to anywhere else. Not everything in the book is so exotic, though, as the collection includes plenty of entirely ordinary service arms from other nations as well as from the Netherlands.

This is a fairly expensive book (€99 plus shipping in Europe; $145.50 shipped in the US), and it is definitely for a narrow group of enthusiasts. But for those of us who are particularly interested in experimental arms from the transitional period between single shot and repeating rifles, it includes quite a lot of thoroughly unique information.



  1. The oldest weapon in the book is a wheellock from Saxony and the newest a Mauser Tankgewehr from 1918. Nearly all are rifles, some smoothbore, about 6 handguns, no machine guns. Each weapon is described on 2 or 3 (sometimes 4) pages with high quality color photographs.
    There is a 63 page introduction, which includes a very interesting history of the Normaal Schietschool. The book even has an index, which sadly cannot be taken for granted in European books any more.
    (The above refers to the Dutch edition of the book, which is identical to the English and German language editions, as far as I can tell.)

  2. There’s a coincidence. My copy arrived from Verlag last week, along with a 2018 catalogue. Oh dear. This is going to cost me. Not so much the books as the mortgage I’m going to need for the larger house to put them in. Thankfully I have a very understanding wife.

  3. My best friend has recommended this book to me for a long time. But she doesn’t seem interesting to me. I can’t get around to reading it. I prefer satire essays, you can check here for info. Since childhood, I like such stories, the fact is that their grandfather told me. Now I can not live without books of this genre. But I’m not complaining, it’s just that it was laid on me from childhood. Of course, I read other books, but with less interest.

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