This significant tome, with over 1500 photographs, covers the subject of portable firearms from muskets to machineguns; from dueling pistols to Glocks; from derringers to elephant guns. Compiled by the expert staff of the NRA National Firearms Museum, whose hands-on knowledge and skill comes over in text and captions, The Illustrated History of Firearms provides a visual reference book to grace any aficionado's library. It is easy to forget just how long humans have used firearms: early cannons were first used in Europe in the 13th century and by around 1350, "hand cannons" or "hand gonnes" had been developed. From then on, handguns and firearms have steadily developed: by the early 1400s, matchlocks were introduced; in the early 1500s, the wheellock; flintlocks came in the late 16th century, then rifling, the percussion cap, repeaters, smokeless powders, auto-loaders, automatic firearms.
Today, firearms development continues apace. Handguns, and revolvers in particular, have seen the development of more and more powerful ammunition. New materials other than traditional blue steel and wood have seen the development of "plastic guns" like the Glock making use of synthetic materials which are more lightweight and less affected by environmental extremes. Options for aiming firearms have also expanded dramatically over the past 50 years. Electronic red dot sights, glow in-the-dark night sights, ultra-compact laser aiming systems, and even night vision scopes--systems that were hitherto the preserve of the police or armed forces--have been incorporated on firearms available to the public.
The main use of firearms has also changed over the years. While hunting, self-defense and military use still predominate, the sporting and recreational use of firearms is a significant worldwide factor in firearms ownership--in particular in the United States where the National Rifle Association has ensured that "...the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."
Prior to taking on oversight of the National Firearms Museum and NRA Gun Collector Programs, Jim Supica was an antique gun dealer, peddling old iron through his mail order catalog, website and auction business. He holds Juris Doctorate and Bachelor degrees from the University of Kansas. Jim is author or co-author of six books on firearms. He's written numerous articles on gun collecting, including regular columns for American Rifleman and Shotgun News; is a contributing editor for the major firearms price guides; and appears on television, radio and webcasts. Supica served eight years on the NRA Board of Directors, including stints as chairman of the Publications Policy Committee and Vice Chairman of the Gun Collectors Committee. He is a past president of the Smith & Wesson Collectors Association and Missouri Valley Arms Collectors Association, a former board member of the Colt Collectors Association, and a member of American Society of Arms Collectors and other collecting and shooting clubs.
Doug Wicklund has been called the "Gun Whisperer" for his insightful examinations of antique arms across the nation and, after more than 24 years in NRA employ, this senior curator for the National Firearms Museum has watched the galleries grow out of the old NRA Headquarters in Washington, DC to the new facility in Fairfax, Virginia. Doug is an assistant technical editor for American Rifleman magazine who also serves as editor for the "NRA Firearms Fact Book" during this tenure.
Phil Schreier has been at the National Firearms Museum for more than 21 years. In his capacity as Senior Curator, he spends quite a bit of time on the road and on air, bringing the museum's programs and exhibits to a national audience - whether it be at local venues such as Cabela's or at national gun shows. Phil appears regularly on NRA News, American Rifleman television, the History Channel, A&E and a host of other cable shows with firearms related programming. He also has written dozens of articles on firearms and military related themes for American Rifleman, Guns & Ammo, Wild West, Shooters Bible and numerous other titles.