From David Crockett with “Old Betsy” to the mountain men and their Hawkens to the buffalo hunters and their Sharps and Winchester ’73s – these are the hunting rifles that fire the imagination of both hunters and historians.
Now, Gun Digest presents a unique compilation of articles celebrating these iconic guns, Classic Sporting Rifles, written by a “who’s who” of gun writers from the twentieth century.
According to editor Terry Wieland:
Since 1944, Gun Digest has recounted both the history of the rifle as it was in years past, and the hunting rifle as it was being developed in the years after World War Two. In many ways, the pages of Gun Digest are a living history of the rifle.
John T. Amber, the Digest’s legendary editor from 1951 to 1981, was first and foremost a rifleman. He loved all firearms, but rifles were his pets. He named his home in Illinois, Creedmoor Farm, after that most famous of 19th century American shooting ranges, and went out of his way to commission the most knowledgeable riflemen of the 20th century to record their thoughts and observations in the pages of Gun Digest.
Winnowing down the scores of hunting-rifle articles that appeared here to just the 32 best was difficult, and required a sometimes ruthless determination to stick to the subject and not be tempted, no matter how fascinating a particular article might be.
We approached the task of selecting the 32 finest pieces on hunting rifles with two thoughts in mind. One was to present material that is not readily found elsewhere; second, to present the thoughts of the most knowledgeable and respected writers of that era – often, to newer readers who might never have read their work.
The first section, “Choosing the Hunting Rifle,” includes a who’s who of rifle writers from the 20th century: Col. Townsend Whelen (a.k.a., Mr. Rifleman); Elmer Keith, Jack O’Connor, Warren Page, Jim Carmichel. In the early years, John Amber liked to have at least one overview piece in every issue, and alternated among the very best writers of the time. And so, we have O’Connor’s thoughts one year, those of Elmer Keith the next.
Although O’Connor and Keith had the most publicized personal rivalry of two writers – one espousing small caliber, high velocity rifles, the other large bores and heavy bullets – in fact they did not disagree on much. But their views on ballistics aside, they were two unique personalities and it shows in their writing.
Given the range of writers we have included, their lives, their interests, and their adventures, we hope there is something in this volume for the hunter, the historian, the gun collector, and for those who just love to sit by a fire when it’s raining outside, and read about guns.
Gun Digest was the most influential firearms publication of the 20th century. It not only recorded history, it shaped the tastes and interests of several generations of hunters and shooters. Here are the writers who did that.
Click here to order your copy from the Gun Digest Store. Inside, you'll find the following classic articles from decades of Gun Digest annual books:
Choosing the Hunting Rifle
1952, Notes on the Hunting Rifle by Col. Townsend Whelen
1945, The Proper Big Game Rifle by Elmer Keith
1951, Choosing the Big Game Rifle by Jack O’Connor
1958, The Sheep Rifle by Jack O’Connor
1982, Carmichel on Rifles by Jim Carmichel
1989, Small Game Centerfires by Holt Bodinson
1962, Kentucky Rifle by Robert Held
1954, Mountain Men and Rifles, Pt. 1 by John Barsotti
1955, Mountain Men Mountain Rifles, Pt. 2 by John Barsotti
1946, Shooting the Muzzle-Loading Cap Lock Rifle by Ned H. Roberts
2004, Evolution of the Modern High Performance Muzzleloader by Toby Bridges
1963, Buffalo! by Norman B. Wiltsey
1968, The Sharps Side-Hammer Rifle by Frank de Haas
1979, Alex Henry and his Falling Block Rifles by Wal Winfer
1963, John Farquharson’s Rifle and its Competitors by L.E. Harthan
1953, My Single-Shot Rifles by Col. Townsend Whelen
1967, Ruger’s Reactionary Rifle by Roger Barlow
1992, The Gentleman’s Companion Rifle by Ron MacDonald
1956, The Double Rifle by Peyton Autry
1958, English Elephant Guns by Leslie H. Daiken
1967, The Deadly Dependable Double by Elmer Keith
1979, The Double Rifle – Its Care and Feeding by Jack Lott
1985, Make Mine a Sidehammer Rifle by Jack Lott
1965, Lever Action Rifles by Helbig & Cain
1988, The Lever and Why It Lasted by Robert K. Sherwood
1980, The Winchester Model 94 by H.V. Stent
2003, Selling the American .303 by Jim Foral
1960, Days of the Krag by Col. Townsend Whelen
1965, Model 70 Winchesters by Bob Hagel
1996, The Big Little Mannlicher Schoenauer by Don L. Henry
. . . and more!