A Brief History of Guns, The Early Years…

Here’s an excerpt from our brand new book, The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition. It’s part of the Insanely Practical Guides series and is loaded with light-hearted education, lots of helpful photos and some comedic relief. Hope you enjoy!

Before there were guns...

Before there were guns…

Guns have been annoying politicians longer than you might think. Before we jump into modern day firearm knowledge, let’s take a look at the long and winding road of gun history…

1,100 BC

Legends of the earliest known uses of guns have been passed down through generations of Zoran women. Historians believe that many women folk of Zorah, then near Philistine, gushed and swooned at the sight of Samson’s guns. According to the folklore, Samson had two guns, of exceptionally large caliber. Also according to history, he used those guns on more than one occasion – smiting at least one lion and many Philistine warriors. Sadly, the Zoran Congress, led by Senator Delilah of Timna, Philistia, soon enacted an assault hair ban and Samson was stripped of his guns.


1250 AD

Most historians believe that the key ingredient required to make all those useless guns work was invented around this time. In fact, NRA National Firearms Museum Director Jim Supica claims that Franciscan monk Roger Bacon wrote of the mixture shortly before 1250 A.D. That was an awfully long time ago – just after the birth of Joan Rivers.

Anyway, according to Bacon’s ancient texts, the lute and dulcimer trio of Guns and Roses discovered gunpowder while searching for better ways to wow the crowd at outdoor concerts. The forward-thinking band found that a mixture of charcoal, sulphur and salt peter provided plenty of noise and flash for bitchin’ stage theatrics. Salt Peter, Saint Peter’s long-lost stepbrother, was not at all happy about this recipe and he immediately started work on development of smokeless powders that did not require any of his bodily parts. Progress was slow as smokeless powder was not invented until the late 19th century.



The earliest cannons appeared on the scene. After all, what good was the newly invented gunpowder without something to shoot it from? Early cannons were quite simple – nothing more than a tube open on one end and closed at the other. A small hole near the closed end allowed cannoneers to light a powder charge inside. Crudely constructed from iron, wood and sometimes Mighty Putty, these weapons applied the same basic principles used by guns today.



While loud and impressive, early cannons did little to meet self-defense requirements. Since gun holsters had not yet been invented, concealed carry was not feasible. Hunting with the newly invented firearms was also problematic as many animals were reluctant to stand in front of cannons long enough to be converted to SPAM. In response to complaints of supermarket butchers everywhere, the “hand-gonne” was invented. Simply a downsized cannon mounted on a pole, the hand-gonne struggled for popularity mainly because no one knew how to pronounce the word “gonne.”


1400 to 1639

Clearing up name confusion, people stopped making “hand-gonnes” and replaced them with matchlocks and wheellocks. Matchlock guns featured an exposed flash pan filled with fine – and easy to ignite – priming powder, which would light the main charge to fire the gun. A dangling, and lit, fuse was suspended over the flashpan. A mechanical linkage was used to lower the smoldering fuse into the highly combustible flash pan. Occasionally, the matchlocks would fire when the user wanted, but usually before, after or not at all.



The gun company Beretta is founded in the Foccacia region of Italy, in a town called Brescia. Having made guns prior to this date, company founder Ben Cartwright achieves his first commercial success with production of 185 Arquebus Matchlock barrels for the Arsenal of Venice. The British Secret Service, Double-0 branch, is issued the 186th Arquebus. England quietly canceled the Double-0 program when it was discovered that matchlock rifles concealed poorly under dinner jackets.



The first kinda, sorta reliable flintlock was built. Some astute marketers even guaranteed their flintlocks to be 31% reliable, 67% of the time. Offering major advancements in luxury and comfort, such as heated drivers-side seats, the flintlock allowed shooters to carry their guns pretty much anywhere, except schools and government buildings, of course. As the flintlock features a covered flash pan for priming powder, users could even take their guns into rainy conditions. No longer would major World Wars endure rain delays, thereby minimizing network television scheduling challenges.

As a side note, the phrase “keep your powder dry” came into vogue during the flintlock era. As guns of the time relied on ignition of two separate powder charges – one in the flash pan and one in the barrel – keeping powder dry and flammable was a requirement of guns going bang instead of fzzzlpphhtt.

Stay tuned for the the next phase in firearm history…

The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition is available on Amazon.com now!

The Rookie's Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition from Insanely Practical Guides

The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition from Insanely Practical Guides

What Has More Energy? A 3 ½” 12 Gauge Buckshot Load or a Throat Punch By Mike Tyson?

Find out with the Cartridge Comparison Guide, Second Edition

I now have all the answers.

Not because I’m some sort of genius, but because I met the guy who HAS found all the answers at this year’s Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA) Conference.

Cartridge Comparison Guide Second Edition

Cartridge Comparison Guide Second Edition

His name is Andrew and he created the Cartridge Comparison Guide, now in its second edition.

Thanks to Andrew, I am now able to quickly research definitive answers to important questions like…


Question: Is the muzzle energy of the Winchester 12 gauge, 15 pellet, #00 buckshot, 3 ½” load more or less than getting punched in the throat by Mike Tyson?

Answer: It’s a trick question. While the muzzle energy of this load is 3,780 foot-pounds, you can’t really measure the impact of a Mike Tyson throat punch as he prefers 7 punch combo’s led by a jab.


Question: Which has a greater sectional density? The .577 Nitro Express Barnes Bullet or Rosie O’Donnell?

Answer: Aha! Tricked you again! You can’t accurately compare the .577’s sectional density of .313 with infinity!


Question: Which requires more energy? Stopping a .35 Whelen 200 grain projectile once it has traveled 300 yards or prying Lindsey Lohan from a one of Hollywood’s Hookah Lounge bar stools?

Answer: Well, according to the Cartridge Comparison Guide, a .35 Whelen 200 grain projectile will be moving at about 1,916 feet per second at 300 yards, which translates to, let’s see, carry the one, 1,630 foot-pounds of energy. As of last reports, officials still have not managed to pry the wayward actress from her bar stool, so we’ll have to get back to you on this one.


Question: What exerts more force? Martha Stewart hot-glueing doilies onto a festive holiday wreath or the recoil of a .221 Remington Fireball?

Answer: The .221 Remington Fireball with a 40 grain Hornady projectile exerts about 1.62 foot-pounds of recoil, while sticking doilies only requires .731 foot-pounds using general purpose hot glue.


Question: OK, last chance to improve your score. Which of the following is more likely to create a tear-drop or bell-shaped wound channel? The .17 Remington Fireball 20 grain bullet or Louie Anderson hitting the water from the 5 meter board in ABC’s new celebrity diving show, Splash?

Answer: Due to its 4,000 feet per second velocity and light bullet construction, the .17 Fireball is likely to fragment, thereby creating a tear-drop shaped wound channel. Louie Anderson, currently weighing in at 400 pounds, is likely to empty the pool, rendering wound-channel measurements impossible.


Of course, if you want to do more mundane things like find the best hunting cartridge that will minimize felt-recoil, while delivering a certain amount of energy at 300 yards, the Cartridge Comparison Guide will help you do that too. It’s chock full of tables that rank and sort data like bullet weight, muzzle velocity, down range energy, bullet momentum, sectional density and recoil energy.

So if you wanted to know which has more recoil energy, the .270 Winchester with a 150 grain bullet traveling at 2,950 feet per second or a 7×57 Mauser with a 170 grain bullet traveling at  2,545 feet per second, you would just flip to pages 46 and 47. You’ll find that, with an 8 pound rifle, you’ll experience 17.82 foot-pounds of recoil with the .270 load and 15.07 foot-pounds of recoil energy with the 7×57 Mauser. Or perhaps you want to settle the argument of which has more down range energy, the standard AR-15 or AK-47 load. Just look it up!

What the Cartridge Comparison Guide 2 is, and is not.

It is a comprehensive tool that “will help you gain the maximum benefit from a personalized cartridge selection.”

It is not a reloading guide. You will not find powder measure charges in this book.

It is comprehensive, covering cartridges from the .17 caliber to the .577 Nitro Express and everything in between.

It is not intended to interest Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

It is a directory of performance characteristics of factory available cartridges – even really rare and obscure ones.

It is not a guide for wildcat and proprietary cartridge performance.

It is a means of sucking up hours of your time. Productively!

It is not appropriate to bring for dinner table reading on romantic dates.

Winner of the Professional Outdoor Media Association Pinnacle Award for excellence, this book is a gold mine of information.

You can find the Cartridge Comparison Guide 2nd Edition here.

Also check out some of the posters produced by Chamberlain Development, like this American Standard Cartridge poster. It’s painstakingly produced to illustrate each cartridge in actual dimensions to within 4/1000 of an inch.

American Standard Cartridges - The Cartridge Comparison Guide

American Standard Cartridges Poster



Book Review: American Heroes in Special Operations by Oliver North

American Heroes in Special Operations by Oliver NorthAmerican Heroes in Special Operations by Oliver North is one of those ‘must reads’.

We were fortunate enough to meet Colonel North and get a signed copy of this book at the 2012 NRA Annual Meeting. Needless to say, we started in on this book immediately.

Over a dozen different trips overseas to cover the war on terror, Colonel North has interviewed Special Operations Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and their ‘civilian’ counterparts in the CIA and DEA to bring over two dozen accounts of Special Operations missions between 2001 and 2010. In between these riveting narratives, Colonel North has included segments outlining topics including Special Operations Weathermen, Ranger School, AH-6M Little Bird Fact Sheets, HALO School, and Special Operations K-9 Unit narratives – just to name a few.

The riveting personal accounts of heroic deeds and ultimate sacrifice will keep you glued to your favorite reading chair.

Highly recommended.


Available Here American Heroes in Special Operations by Oliver North

Book Review: The Gun Digest Book of Combat Handgunnery by Massad Ayoob

Combat Handgunnery by Massad Ayoob

If you could buy just one book to introduce someone to guns and self defense, this might be it.

We’ve enjoyed reading Massad Ayoob’s articles in various publications like American Handgunner and Combat Handguns for years. It’s clear that he has amassed a wealth of knowledge of all things shooting and self-defense related during his law enforcement, training, and writing career.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about Ayoob’s work is the variety of topics that he covers with authority.

  • Equipment
  • Shooting techniques
  • Competition
  • Self defense tactics
  • Legal issues related to owning and using a firearm for self defense
  • Criminal behavior
  • Ammunition selection and performance
  • Accessories
  • And so on…

The sheer variety of information covered in The Gun Digest Book of Combat Handgunnery makes it worth the purchase price.

We read this book several years into our never-ending learning experience and found it to be useful at the advanced intermediate stage. The content and style of the book lends itself to a broader audience than gun enthusiasts however. We think it’s a great starting point for someone just thinking about buying a gun for self defense. It covers handgun styles, ammunition basics, realistic defensive strategies, legal issues, and more.

If you had to pick just one book to introduce a potential gun owner to shooting and self defense concepts, this one would be high on the list. Not only is it chock full of relevant information, it’s a fun and easy read – a credit to Ayoob’s communication style.

Pick up a copy for yourself and an extra for a friend who might be thinking about buying a gun. It’s well worth it.

AVAILABLE HERE: The Gun Digest Book of Combat Handgunnery by Massad Ayoob

Book Review: GunDigest Shooter’s Guide to the 1911 by Robert Campbell

Gun Digest Shooters Guide to the 1911 by Robert CampbellThe GunDigest Shooter’s Guide to the 1911 by Robert Campbell is a biased, one-sided,  total fanboi-ish, and ridiculously positive review of the 1911 pistol platform.

And that’s exactly what makes this book such a joy to read.

If I choose to read a book about the 1911, I sure hope it’s written by a true and unabashed fanatic – and Mr. Campbell is bursting at the ‘rails’ with passion and knowledge about 1911 pistols. I loved the enthusiasm evident in each of the 26 chapters. If I wanted a neutral overview of 1911 pistols compared to other designs, I would have purchased a book titled something like “The Milque Toast Review Of The 1911, But We Don’t Mean To Degrade Other Designs That Are Less Fortunate.”

The book covers history of not only the 1911 platform, but the .45 ACP cartridge which made it sing. Early combat actions are covered as are fears of ‘cocked and locked’ carry from some in law enforcement administration.

Campbell dedicates six entire chapters to examining different classes of 1911’s, such as GI, aluminum framed, top end, target grade, and Commanders, Officers Models and Defender models.

Other topics include ammunition types and coverage of dozens of specific makes including accuracy and combat drill performance.

Things I did not know about the 1911 before reading this book:

  1. In World War II, the pilot of an Allied Piper Cub observation plane downed a German Storch observation plane with a 1911 pistol.
  2. Colonel John T. Thompson (yes, THAT Thompson) was instrumental in adoption of the .45 ACP cartridge as it allowed an auto-loading pistol to approximate performance of the .45 Colt in a revolver.
  3. One 1911 frame in the MEU/SOC rebuild program was found to have over 500,000 rounds through it. Some might refer to that as reliability.

Things I already knew, but are always fun to read about again:

  1. The Army accepted the 1911 as its standard sidearm after a 6,000 round torture test with no failures. When the test gun got hot, it was dunked in a bucket of water.
  2. The automatic pistol submitted by Savage for the same trials looks surprisingly like Buck Rogers’ ray gun.
  3. In World War II, 2nd Lt. Owen Baggett, parachuting to safety after his plane was destroyed, shot down a Japanese Zero trying to strafe him by hitting its pilot with a 1911 shot.

The GunDigest Shooters Guide to the 1911 is a gun geek’s delight and I thoroughly enjoyed the read.

Available at Amazon.

Book Review: Shoot! Your Guide to Shooting and Competition by Julie Golob

shoot-julie-golobThree guesses as to who wrote this book. Here are a few hints:

  • She roasts her own coffee. We’re still waiting for her to send us some of her famous “Powder Burn in Major Power Factor” roast…
  • Rumor has it that she uses a fembot body double to help master her busy schedule
  • She has acquired all five Sankara stones as seen in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

You guessed it – none other than Smith & Wesson Team Captain Julie Golob. Learn a little more about Julie from our recent interview – and check out the book. It’s a great resource for both new and experienced shooters.

Available Here Shoot! Your Guide to Shooting and Competition by Julie Golob

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