Small Arms Design Literature

About a week ago, the guys over at Weaponsman were questioning the scarcity of published literature on conceptual small arms design. It seems to me that issue is more one of business competency than technical skill – are you designing something that is actually in demand? Will it do what the intended buyer needs? Will it meet budget? Will it fit the logistic system and doctrines that they have established? Not really questions you can answer with math. And heck, a lot of the guns we think are so interesting are the ones that had the wrong answers to those questions. Or whose designers never even thought about those questions. Hino Komuro, anyone?

What we can offer, on the other hand, is some literature on the technical aspects of firearms design. Whether you’re working on the next Gabbett-Fairfax or the next AK47, you definitely need to make sure it works. So with that in mind, we have a copy of the US Army Weapons Command’s 1968 “Technical Notes: Small Arms Weapons Design”:

Technical Notes on Small Arms Design (English,1968)
Technical Notes on Small Arms Design (English,1968)

If you are curious to learn about recoil forces, gas system pressures and timing, bolt lug stresses, headspacing, and other detailed technical aspects of firearms design and operation, check it out. Just be aware that it’s a big file (~56MB), and not suitable for someone frightened of calculations and formulae.


  1. You guys have outdone yourselves on this one! Can’t thank you enough. This will go alongside my Chinn books. The courses listed at the end also sound intriguing.

  2. Awesome post! Thanks for a great read and reference. I’ve never seen that one before and I repair and build firearms for Rock Island. Too funny.

  3. I visit your site about once a month. Each time it’s like a little Christmas!
    I’m extremely bored by the AR-15 contagion that is ongoing since a few years. Your website makes it more bearable and lets me hope that gun designers pick up some of the old designs and bring them to the 21st century.

    Thank you very much!

  4. thank you very much ,i cant wait to read this as im extremly bored with the so called gun web sites that mostly do nothing but gossip with each other,and do little to educate people about weapon design and function, thanks again you have a great site!

4 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Two cool links from commenters « WeaponsMan
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