Book Reviews: The German Army Manual Translations of John Baum
By Jim Dickson

As the old Gothic script German Army manuals began to deteriorate with age and become increasingly rare, one man stepped in to translate them accurately into English so their knowledge would be readily available. John Baum does accurate and literal translations that preserve the sentence structure and flavor of the original German writings as much as possible. He has translated manuals on the Maxim machine gun, MG-15, MG-34, MG-42, MG-26(t) (ZB-26), MP-28/II, MP-38/40, MKb42, MP-44, StG58 (FAL), 98k Mauser, PP/ PPK, P-08, P-38, and is working on others such as the FG-42.

John has access to all the weapons he translates manuals for and carefully studies them before and during translation to insure the impeccable accuracy for which he has become famous. Illustrations are as clear as the originals and if the original doesn’t meet his standards for clarity he has been known to reshoot the picture himself. He does his own printing and most books are 5.5 inches wide by 8.5 inches high with heavy paper covers like the originals. All prices include first class postage.

The Machine Gun 08/15 and 08/18 With Shooting Stands from March 1, 1928 reprinted Berlin 1935 (the definitive manual on the gun), $27; Compilation of all Stoppages on the Machine Gun 08 (and 08/15) Berlin 1917 (every jam and how to clear it), $6; The Machine Gun Device (MG 08) With all Improvements Berlin 1934, $28 (this one has a beautiful color foldout); Figurative Representations of the MG08 and lMG 08, $9 - or a package deal for all four for $63.

Four manuals on the MG-42: The March 15, 1943 Merkblatt 41/18 manual (all text), $16; the Sept.1943 D166/1 manual (Basics, Parts List and Spring Sizes), $18; The 1960’s H.D.v.216/6 (which is the one to get if you only buy one), $27; The 1960- 70 era PDV 918 on the MG 1/MG 2 (a splendid manual on the post war 7.62 NATO guns), $27.

Three manuals on German assault rifles: The Maschinenkarabiner 42 (H), $7 (this was the open bolt predecessor of the MP43 and was made with Schmeisser’s constant recoil system that gave a constant 13 pound push for recoil instead of the jackhammer effect of a regular machine gun. This system was ruined when the MP43 went to closed bolt firing); The 3 inch by 4 inch STG44 manual for carrying in the buttstock, $2; The 1950 East German manual on the STG44, $16.

The MP38/40: Denkler Manual - The Machinenpistole 40, $16; D167/1 and D167/2 The Machine Pistol 40 combining 2 manuals into one. The Carbine 98k and its handling, $11; and The Pistole 08, a fine manual on the Luger, $10.

Getting the original manual for a gun is a basic step; but it should be noted that while some are short and sweet, many of the German manuals go into far greater detail than the manuals put out by other countries in keeping with the Teutonic love of complete technical data. We all owe John Baum our thanks for preserving this vital information by accurately translating it and putting it in the hands of the American enthusiast.

Available from the author:
John Baum
5678 State Rt.45
Lisbon, Ohio 44432

Living with the Big .50
The Shooter’s Guide to the World’s Most Powerful Rifle

By Robert H. Boatman
ISBN 1-58160-440-8
Paladin Press
Paladin Enterprises, Inc.
Gunbarrel Tech Center
7077 Winchester Circle
Boulder, CO 80301
(303) 443-7250
Review by Chuck Madurski

Not too long ago, a discussion regarding the most powerful rifles would probably have ended with the .600 or .700 Nitro Express guns designed by the British for use on large dangerous game in Africa. The .50 BMG cartridge, if considered at all, would have been little more than an aberration or, at best, an extreme custom affair. Those days are long gone and today the discussion might center on where to draw the line between “rifle” and single shot cannon. While many insist that the upper limit is the Soviet 14.5mm anti-tank round, all non-automatic arms in this chambering and bore size are legally Destructive Devices under US law. So, practically speaking, the .50 BMG due to incredible versatility, surprising popularity and its unique place right at the upper limit of bore size without being NFA is, as the subtitle suggests, the World’s Most Powerful Rifle.

In Living with the Big .50, author Boatman shows much enthusiasm for the round and the rifles that shoot it. At first glance the book seems to be written as a primer for the beginner who may not ever even shoot or own a fifty. But it is also written for the seasoned rifleman looking for a bigger “boom” or a true long range challenge. While some might regard the writing style as somewhat sensationalistic, what the reader is really seeing is Boatman’s excitement for the subject strongly coming through rather than any bombast.

Big .50 has twenty seven short chapters arranged in a logical manner as the author builds the reader’s interest. He does this by starting with the basics of .50 BMG gun design and accessories. Chapters on all important muzzle brakes, single shot rifles and various repeating designs are only the beginning. Also covered are machine guns in the .50 BMG round and the ammunition itself, to include history and some discussion of the designer of this legendary round, John M. Browning.

The middle chapters are short, to the point and specifically focused on a single aspect of using the .50 along with a noteworthy expert on that aspect. For example, Chapter 15 features Russ and Chick Menard on the subject of building your own .50, while the next chapter has Mark White on silencers (sound suppressors). A couple of subsequent chapters cover hunting with the .50 in Africa and North America, along with some information on long range coyote shooting.

A large format book like this allows for large detailed photographs, and Big .50 delivers here as well. At the end of each chapter is also a short list of resources for the subject matter covered in that chapter, a nice touch that is thoughtful and useful. While no index is provided, a comprehensive appendix of sixteen pages completes the book. This appendix might have been better termed as the final source listing as that is exactly what it is while being fairly exhaustive as well.

In the end, Living with the Big .50 is a worthwhile book for a wide range of truly high powered riflemen. A bit preachy, occasionally repetitive, almost always entertaining, Boatman does not try to hide his love of shooting or the .50 BMG round and his excitement is often contagious.

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V11N4 (January 2008)
and was posted online on October 12, 2012


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