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Memories of the great gun writers being lost to today's shooters

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by 357smallbore, Sep 13, 2020.

  1. ilbob

    ilbob Member

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    Gun writers come and go. Sadly most of the guys who were at one time at the top of the list degenerated into becoming shills for some manufacturer(s) at some point. Kind of the nature of that business.

    There were a number of guys that were good for their time but never really seemed to get how much better semi-autos were over revolvers.

    Colonel Cooper just never seemed to get away from his goofy idea of the bolt action scout rifle as the ultimate firearm when the AR15 could do everything it could do and more. At least he got the idea that the semiauto was generally a better defensive handgun over revolvers, although his insistence on sticking with the 1911 platform seems a little quaint these days.

    A lot of the writers were big on safaris or guided hunting trips and so few people can afford such an extravaganza that I never really cared much for them.

    Many of the writers advocated training methods that were moderately innovative for the time but seem hopelessly outdated today.

    Many of them would have been perfectly happy with an AWB and restricting carry of defensive firearms to police as they were mostly interested in hunting.
     
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  2. Old Dog

    Old Dog Member

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    Pretty harsh assessment, and I'll disagree on just about every count.

    First, you have to consider that those who wrote for periodicals of the time understood the reality that the advertisers were really the ones paying for their articles and stories.

    Second, if you've read all of Cooper's efforts, he didn't believe the scout rifle was the ultimate firearm; rather, it was his notion that it was the ultimate compromise firearm if one rifle were all one had to rely upon for defensive purposes or putting meat on the table.

    The safari accounts were quite popular with those who couldn't possibly afford such an extravaganza. Much like many folks who can't afford to travel the world read travel magazines or watch the National Geographic or Discovery channels. Especially during the Great Depression, the Second War and through the '60s, many people got their fix of adventure from periodicals and the old "pulp magazines."

    Training methods advocated in the past seem hopelessly outdated today? You don't say! And to think those troglodytes had the audacity to try to keep up with innovative training methods ...

    As far as this: Many of them would have been perfectly happy with an AWB and restricting carry of defensive firearms to police as they were mostly interested in hunting -- just how many of the old-time gun writers have you interviewed about their feelings on assault weapons bans and concealed carry of firearms? Some of us are old enough to remember when this wasn't actually a thing, you know.

    To conclude, son: when you're trying to describe history, it helps to try and use a little perspective. Not everything in the gun world can be viewed through the millenial prism.
     
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  3. Zeabed

    Zeabed Member

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    George Nonte left his last book unfinished when he died of a heart attack circa 1976. Someone else "finished" it for him. In it, Nonte added a line drawing of his dream gun, an automatic. From what I remember of it, some of the newer designs from the last 10-15 years resemble that fantasy handgun. Finally. In that sense at least, he was ahead of his time.
     
  4. Zeabed

    Zeabed Member

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    And let's never forget Myron Fass's magazines, like Guns and Shooting. :p
     
  5. Telum Pisces

    Telum Pisces Member

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    Gone are the days of good books and magazines. Youtube is where the new generation goes for information. Drives me crazy
     
  6. ilbob

    ilbob Member

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    At 62 I think it would be difficult to classify me as a millennial.

    Go back to the gun mags of days gone by. On the whole, I bet you would not find an article in ten or maybe even a hundred that had anything to do with the RTKBA or use of firearms as self defense. It was all about hunting.The tide did not turn on this until the 1990s.

    Even books about the defensive use of firearms were uncommon. They existed but we're not real common. Lots of stuff on duck hunting though.

    I remember buying Survival Guns in the early 80s. Was one of the few gun books available at the time that was not about hunting or collecting. I think much of the wisdom to be found in this book might even apply today almost fourty years later.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2020
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  7. Mike OTDP

    Mike OTDP Member

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    Hmm....There are digitized copies of a lot of the old (1950s through 1980s) gun magazines available on line. Usually for free. Not to mention books.

    And it pays to read the old books. There's Walter Winans...who was shooting and writing in the early 1900s. And he was seriously discussing defensive shooting. An interesting man, he won two Olympic medals - one for rifle shooting, one for sculpture (yes, sculpture). The punch line being that he was primarily a pistol shooter and painter.

    One thing I notice about many of the younger YouTube reviewers is that they are terribly limited in their perspective. Their shooting universe consists of 1911s, Glocks, ARs, and AKs. Take them outside that realm, and they are often lost.

    Now, WRT the firearms culture...you have to remember that Gun Culture 1.0 was hunting-centric. Gun Culture 2.0, which came along in the 1970s, was defense-centric. But there was a lot of inertia. Partly in publishing, even more in the industry - they were pushing bolt-action hunting rifles in "New Improved Cartridges" until the late 1990s. On the other hand, Gun Culture 2.0 can't shoot a pistol worth a damn...too many people think of 15 yards as long range, when a serious competitor in the precision disciplines would regard it as halitosis distance.
     
  8. swingmaster

    swingmaster Member

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    It went downhill after Nessmuk passed.
     
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  9. ilbob

    ilbob Member

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    What defensive rifles for the masses are there outside of ARs? It is just about as good as there is for an everyman defensive rifle.

    1911s and Glocks are the everyman choices for defensive handguns.

    These guns are cost efficient, reliable, readily customizable, accurate, and effective. What more does one need?

    As for shooting hundguns past 15 yards, it just is not that big of a deal for defensive handguns. For hunting or target shooting, but rarely for defensive uses.
     
  10. Hog huntin Harry

    Hog huntin Harry Member

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    Also, Bob Hagel was a very knowledgeable writer. I recently purchased "Game Loads and Practical Ballistics for the American Hunter". I greatly recommend it.
     
  11. huntsman

    huntsman Member

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    Still a great read
    image.jpg
     
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  12. Terry G

    Terry G Member

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    I always liked Jeff Cooper even though his ideas were pretty old fashioned. The M16/AR15 was a "poodle shooter", not powerful enough for a combat rifle and the DA/SA 9MM was "a solution in search of a problem." I don't recall his thoughts on Glock's but I can imagine. I can see him liking the CZ 97 a lot but condeming the "Tupperware"G21. .
     
  13. Terry G

    Terry G Member

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    I disagree with that. 25 yard shooting is practiced in every LEO training that I know of for a reason. Last week I shot the yearly LEOSA course. Only four rounds at 25 but you had to hit.
     
  14. Old Dog

    Old Dog Member

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    Well, I was simply classifying your thinking as millenial.

    Didn't read American Rifleman much back in the day, eh? Want to take a guess how long its "Armed Citizen" column has been around? RKBA? Seriously? You don't remember the backlash after the Gun Control Act of 1968? The activism in the early '60 when mail-order firearms were banned subsequent to the Kennedy assassination? And even back in the '60s, Gun and Ammo and Guns Magazine acknowledged the defensive use of firearms. Cooper, Bill Jordan, Charles Askins, et al wrote much about the use of firearms as self-defense.

    "Shall-issue" concealed carry licensing didn't really gain traction until the late '80s and '90s, if you can remember that far back -- the drug wars in such places as Miami, the crack wars, the '80s and '90s spawned a lot of collateral damage; car-jacking becoming commonplace, the attendant crime waves, all spawned an awareness of firearms lawfully used by honest citizens as self-defense, defense of home and family. No surprise that the periodicals prior these eras didn't focus on what is now a major focus of the gun-owning community. And truly, most people did own firearms only for hunting prior to that latter couple decades of the century.

    So why focus on what the "gun mags of days gone by" didn't feature and try to cast that in a negative light? Times have changed, partner.

    And none of this takes away from the quality of some of the older writings, the interesting stories, musings, reviews and accounts from those "early" days.
     
  15. SwampWolf

    SwampWolf Member

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    I have an old photo of me when I was stationed at the Wurtsmith Air Force Base near Oscoda, Michigan in the early sixties, while hunting woodcock and ruffed grouse (Michiganders called them "pats") in a cedar swamp tangle not far from the base. You can clearly see a bumper sticker on the bumper of my '56 Ford sedan that read "Support Your Right to Keep and Bear Arms". I got that RKBA sticker from the Guns and Ammo magazine publisher. Yeah, we were no strangers to the threats to our God-given liberties posed by the Dodds, Johnsons and Kennedys and their ilk "way back in the day" and take back seat to no one for being frontline soldiers fighting for the Second Amendment during those eventful days.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2020
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  16. MistWolf

    MistWolf Member

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    The Scout Rifle was not intended to be the ultimate firearm. It was intended to be used by scouts patrolling days at a time, the wilds of South Africa while gathering intel on and reporting terrorist incursions.
     
  17. American Finn

    American Finn Member

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    I am really surprised that Garry James hasn't been mentioned; he has been writing in Guns & Ammo for years; I remember reading his articles in the late 80's as a teenager. I would look forward to his articles on military surplus, the history behind them, test firing, etc. As mentioned in the original post Bob Milek was wonderful as well; I remember his precision shooting articles, rock chuck hunting, etc. I also really liked Phil Spangenberger; I read an article of his back in the late 80s on the Winchester Model 94; that article is what I used to prompt my parents to give me a rifle for HS graduation rather than a party (although after handling both the Marlin 336CS and Model 94 I went with the Marlin). :)
     
  18. entropy

    entropy Member

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    For Gunsmithing: P.O. Ackley

    For technical writing on guns: Peter G. Kokalis

    For reloading: Milek, Taffin, and Venturino.

    For milsurp and gun history: Garry James. (Also Kokalis, as they overlap a bit.)

    Hunting: Finn Aagaard & Craig Boddington.

    Shotgun sports: Don Zutz, Frank Little

    Law Enforcement: Sherriff Jim Wilson

    and all-around; John T Amber.
     
  19. Arkansas Paul

    Arkansas Paul Member

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    Agreed. I love Bob Hagel's books. He and Elmer were good friends and hunted together some.

    Get "The Game Rifle" if you haven't already.
     
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  20. GEM

    GEM Moderator Staff Member

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    Had a conversation with a major magazine gun editor back in the 80's. He said he would rather publish technical articles on various firearms but his reader base was all about stopping power, big revolvers and semi autos. The ultimate manstopper cover would sell. A cover with some exotic 32 ACP target pistol - nope, in the trash.
     
  21. Legionnaire
    • Contributing Member

    Legionnaire Member

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    That's sad.
     
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  22. SweaterBones

    SweaterBones Member

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    What saddens me is what is happening to magazines in general now. The last time I checked nearly every magazine I used to love reading every month is now only 4 issues a year or gone completely. I’ll deal with the fact that they are more than 50 percent ads now, but I want a new issue every month. It makes it hard to care about their current writers’ opinions when you hear from them so rarely.
     
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  23. SwampWolf

    SwampWolf Member

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    Nothing against Elmer (who brought loads of experience to the table), but Hagel (also very experienced in hunting, shooting and reloading) was by far the better writer; arguably the best writer of his day.
     
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  24. Rock185

    Rock185 Member

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    I read and enjoyed most of the authors mentioned. Read a lot of Keith and Cooper stuff. Another I enjoyed was Dean Grennell. Grennell had a humorous style, but conveyed a lot of detail about handguns, reloading, etc.

    I do think JMB was the Mozart of firearms design. BTW, I heard Mozart didn't invent musical notes, but like JMB, he arranged what came before pretty well;)

    I have a few old magazines, including an old 1954 American Rifleman and 1964 Guns & Ammo. The '54 Rifleman was mostly hunting, target shooting, collecting, with an overall emphasis on rifles. There was an article on "The New Smith & Wesson Automatics" by Gen Hatcher. Other than Gen. Hatcher, I was not familiar with the authors of the period represented in that issue. A decade later, the '64 G&A featured writers and subjects more familiar to me, e.g., Elmer Keith, Jeff Cooper, P.O. Ackley, Robert Hutton, Elgin Gates. Articles included, "The New .41 Magnum is Here" by Keith, "Do We Need a New Pistol" by Cooper, along with articles about .348 Win. wildcat cartridges, Big game records, and gun bluing, etc. by other authors. A different emphasis than today, but already moving in that direction, as represented by Cooper's article, and perhaps Keith's article strongly supporting the .41 Mag. for police use...
     
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  25. entropy

    entropy Member

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    Forgot about Dean Grennell! I loved his humorous, understated style.

    Actually, he said it just came to him, just popped into his head. Divinely inspired. I'd say that fits Browning also. :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2020
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