We at F+W Media and Gun Digest are saddened to announce that our friend and colleague, Dan Shideler, a senior editor in the Firearms/Knives Group, passed away Sunday, April 3.
Dan joined the Company in 2004 as an editor in the books division in Iola, Wisconsin. He quickly gained respect throughout the company and the industry as an expert in firearms history, trends and pricing. Within a few years Dan took over as editor of Standard Catalog of Firearms. In 2010 he realized his childhood dream of becoming the editor of Gun Digest. It was the pinnacle of his career. In the introduction to the 64th edition, Dan wrote:
“I was raised on Gun Digest. Once a year, in the long-gone Indiana of the 1960s and 1970s, my father brought home the new edition, which my brother Dave and I eagerly devoured. I mean we read it literally from cover to cover, absorbing whatever wisdom and insight that could be found in its pages. I still have some of those 40-year-old volumes, nearly all of them showing pencil marks in their catalog sections where we, with boyish enthusiasm, checked guns that we would surely buy someday …
“And now, forty-some years later, I am the editor of that same book. Karma? The inscrutable workings of Fate? Call it what you will, I will say simply that it is an honor — for me, it’s the stuff that dreams are made of.”
Dan never called himself an expert, preferring to be known as “just an old-fashioned gun guy.” By the time he came to work at F+W, Dan had compiled a collection of every Gun Digest annual, starting with the inaugural 1944 edition. Wanting to share the legacy of “The World’s Greatest Gun Book,” in 2008 Dan hauled his entire collection from his home in Indiana to our office in Iola, Wisconsin, so it could be digitized and made available to everyone who shared his appreciation for firearms history.
Another, lesser-known aspect of Dan’s persona was his gift for music, both performing and composing. Dan was active in numerous community bands and composed several marches over the years. With that in mind, his family has established a memorial fund in his name:
Daniel Shideler Memorial Fund
John Philip Sousa Foundation Project
c/o Indiana Members Credit Union
7110 West 10th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46214
A Few Words from Dan’s Colleagues
Several of Dan’s colleagues have paid their respects below. You may do the same in the comments section of this page. Click here to jump to the comments section to pay your own respects.
Jim Schlender, Publisher, Gun Digest Books
I met Dan in 1997 while interviewing him for the position of “technical copywriter” at a previous company. It was certainly the most memorable interview I’ve ever been involved in. Five minutes into our discussion, his gift for communication was obvious. He was wildly overqualified to be a copywriter, but we hired him on the spot. To no one’s surprise, within months Dan was running an entire division of our marketing department.
We soon became fast friends, and Dan made it his mission to further my education on firearms of all types. I confess that Dan and I spent too much time discussing guns and hunting, both on the job and off, so it seemed only natural that years later we ended up right where we both wanted to be – working for Gun Digest. Partnering with Dan to produce some of the greatest titles in the industry has been an honor, and I’m better for having known him.
Kevin Michalowski, Senior Editor, Gun Digest the Magazine
Dan Shideler arrived at Gun Digest just about the time I was preparing to move out of the book division into the magazine division. We worked side-by-side for nearly a year here in the Iola office and Dan brought to work each day a great sense of wonder about firearms of all types and all ages. He was particularly fond of obscure pieces and I remember well the day he posed for a photo with that anti-garroting contraption. It was basically a cap-lock blackpowder barrel mounted to a metal plate. It was worn on your back and fired by means of pulling a string to drop the hammer. Apparently the idea was to blast anyone who would sneak up behind you intent on doing harm. You wouldn’t have gotten me to wear that thing on a bet, but Dan loaded it up, strapped it on and, on the photographer’s cue, yanked the cord. The flame and smoke was impressive and we came away with a good laugh and a pretty good photo. Dan’s vibrant mirth and sarcastic sense of humor will be missed. We will also miss being able to pick up the phone and ask him about guns we’ve never heard of … And get a history lesson from his nearly limitless knowledge of all things obscure and interesting.
Corrina Peterson, Gun Digest Books Editor
For the past few years I have had the privilege of working with Dan publishing books for Gun Digest. Watching him in action was awe-inspiring. Dan knew everything there was to know about firearms and their history. People call our office all the time with questions about guns they found in their father’s attic or behind the bathtub in the cabin they just bought. No matter how sketchy the description, Dan could always ask a few pointed questions and identify the gun. The real kicker is that the information was all in his head – he never had to look up anything.
Dan was one of a kind – a genius, a gentleman and a true friend. It has been a blessing and an honor to know him, and I will miss him terribly.
Patrick Sweeney, Gun Digest Author
I only knew Dan for a few years, but we quickly became co-conspirators. Together we schemed to find the best possible titles and content, for the benefit of ourselves, the publisher and the readers. He never complained about my complaining, and the only time he was upset was when I mis-remembered the details of a manuscript, and sent in twice as much text as needed. “I was crying as I was cutting stuff” he said.
He always had an idea, a plan, a funny line, and encouragement for the next project. Wise to the world, and the ways of publishing, he didn’t let that knowledge discourage him. He always had fun.
I’m going to miss him.
Massad Ayoob, Gun Digest Author
Dan Shideler was taken from us far too soon. He was a joy to work with, an advocate for the authors he brought into the fold, and likewise to those he inherited from his predecessors. His deep understanding of the book business would have earned him big bucks as an executive on Publisher’s Row in New York City, but he chose instead to apply his talents to his avocation. The result is the many enduring books he did so much to craft, by so many authors…books balanced not just with well-edited writing, but with masterful application of illustration. Dan understood the “art of the gun” — the form-follows-function sculpture of the things, and the way in which the sight of certain iconic firearms trip the pleasure centers in the enthusiast reader’s brain, the way a ’57 Chevy does for someone who grew up during the Eisenhower years, the way a distinctive Ansel Adams image does for a connoisseur of fine photography.
With his encyclopedic knowledge of firearms, Dan blended scholarship into art. Working with the author on one end and the art director on the other, he shaped books that will be on the shelves of gun collectors and shooters for many decades to come. His warm personality will be missed by all who knew him, and the world of the gun is diminished by his loss.
Corey Graff, Online Editor, GunDigest.com
I wasn’t quite sure what to think about Dan Shideler at first. Maybe it was the bright-pink sport jacket he liked to wear around the office! But over time, I grew to understand why he became the editor of Gun Digest. He had a knowledge of firearms that seemed almost super-human. He drew from that well when writing, but also had the ability to entertain. Like when he called the Remington 673 the “Batmobile of rifles,” he always had a different way of looking at things that left me smiling.
It was a personal and professional highlight for me to facilitate an interview between Dan and author Massad Ayoob about the release of Massad Ayoob’s Greatest Handguns of the World. I also will forever remember the video interview Dan and I did at SHOT Show 2011 with another hero of mine, Patrick Sweeney. I’d often e-mail Dan asking him to do this or that for the gundigest.com website and he’d always reply the same way: “No.” But then he’d come through with twice as much material as I needed. That, I came to understand, was classic Dan.
Phillip Peterson, Editor, Standard Catalog of Military Firearms
When Publisher Jim Schlender called me Monday afternoon to inform me of Dan Shideler’s passing, I was deeply saddened. Dan Shideler was a friend and mentor to me. He was the one who suggested I submit columns about collectible guns to Gun Digest the Magazine, back when it was called Gun List — when that publication expanded to include magazine content. And as his career with Krause expanded he was the one who suggested my name to the pub board to do the 4th edition of Standard Catalog of Military Firearms.
As I look at the images of Dan that appear on this Memorian page, I realized that I sold or traded from Dan every single firearm he is shown with. He certainly did have a wide area of knowledge about obscure firearms and related historical topics. I happen to still have one firearm that came from Dan: A Winchester M1911 self-loading shotgun known as the infamous “Widowmaker.” He gave it to me in February as part of a multi-gun swap. I had intended to sell it but I think I will now keep it. It was the subject of one of my favorite columns by Dan. I will always miss his sense of humor and funny way of describing things.
Some of Our Favorite Articles By Dan Shideler
Collecting Gun Digest: The Greatest Gun Annual
In terms of firearms annuals, Gun Digest is unique. It has consistently attracted the biggest names in the business, and it’s more fun to collect than guns. Read more
673 Guide Rifle: The Batmobile of Remington?
Remington’s big-bore guide rifle is one collectors will love. And you don’t even have to be a guide. Read more
Jeepers Creepers, Where’d You Get That Pieper? – Part 1
Never heard of the Pieper Volley Gun, have you? Neither had I until I stumbled across it in the LaPorte museum. If the LaPorte museum’s W. A. Jones Collection of Antique Firearms contains the damndest stuff you’ve ever seen, then their Pieper Volley Gun has got to be the double-damndest. Read more
Jeepers Creepers, Where’d You Get That Pieper? – Part 2
So what’s a volley gun? Believe it or not, it’s a gun that’s intentionally designed to fire multiple barrels at once. Read more
A Must Read: “Firearm Curiosa” by Lewis Winant
If you’ve ever read my columns, you’re aware that I’m fascinated by oddball firearms. Perhaps you are, too. If so, Winant’s Firearms Curiosa is a must-have. Read more
Updated Classics: The NEW Ithaca Model 37s
The Gun Digest staff took a trio of Ithaca shotguns to the range to put them through their paces and see what we liked and didn’t like. There wasn’t much of the latter to be found. Read more
Feeling Squishy for S&W 317 AirLite
When Dan Shideler first saw the Smith & Wesson Model 317 AirLite .22 Snubbie, his reaction was, “You gotta be kidding.” Read more
Video: Massad Ayoob Interview – Greatest Handguns Part I
Dan Shideler, editor for Gun Digest Books, interviews Massad Ayoob about the release of a new book, Massad Ayoob’s Greatest Handguns of the World. Watch Now
Video: Massad Ayoob Interview – Greatest Handguns Part II
Dan Shideler, editor for Gun Digest Books, interviews Massad Ayoob about the release of a new book, Massad Ayoob’s Greatest Handguns of the World. In this installment, Shideler and Ayoob discuss some of lesser known models found in Ayoob’s new book. Watch Now
Video: Massad Ayoob Interview – Greatest Handguns Part III
Dan Shideler, editor for Gun Digest Books, interviews Massad Ayoob about the release of a new book, Massad Ayoob’s Greatest Handguns of the World. In this installment, Shideler asks Ayoob whether the 1911 is the greatest handgun of all time. Watch Now
From Mexico, With Love
Obviously, there could be no practical use for a BB gun that used a .22 blank cartridge as a propellant; which meant, of course, Dan Shideler just had to have one. Read more
The Black Sheep of the Family? AR-15s as Collectibles
Is the AR-15 somehow beyond the pale of legitimate, serious gun collecting? I used to think so, but I’ve changed my mind. Let’s examine why some otherwise well-balanced gun collectors don’t pursue the AR-15. Read more
The S&W .38 Single Action
Smith & Wesson marketed a perfectly good line of self-defense revolvers as early as 1876 and produced nearly 160,000 of them before dropping the design in 1911. Read more
Guns to Love: Shideler Reveals His Top Picks
The able Contributing Editors of Gun Digest will perhaps forgive me if I take a moment and comment on just a few guns and gadgets that tripped my personal trigger during the past year. Some of these are doubtless discussed elsewhere in this volume, but what can I say? I was here first. Read more
Video Gun Review: Rossi Circuit Judge
Gun Digest editor Dan Shideler reviews the Rossi/Taurus Circuit Judge – a revolving carbine/shotgun that’s a hoot to shoot. Watch Now