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Book Reviews: June 2000

By Dan Shea

 

The 2000 Standard Catalog of Firearms
The Collector’s Price and Reference Guide, 10th Edition
By Ned Schwing
From Krause Publications
8 1/2” x 11”, Softcover, 1311 pg $29.95
Review by Dan Shea

 

Price guides and catalog guides serve dual purposes. The first and most obvious is that they provide both the dealer and collector with a reference to gauge prices while they are doing business. A second purpose is to provide basic identification of firearms for a collector or dealer who runs into an “Odd duck” in the course of the scavenger hunts so common in our trade.

 

As a dealer and collector, I use several resources. One of them has been the Standard Catalog of Firearms- since its inception it has been at my desk. It is important to have a tool to help “Ballpark” values, so that trades and deals can be properly valued to the satisfaction of both dealer and collector.

 

In the Ninth Edition, Ned Schwing added SAR contributor Joe Moody to attempt a Class 3 section. He did an admirable job of cataloging an elusive subject. (I reviewed this in SAR Volume 2 Number 11). With the seemingly ever rising values of Class 3 firearms, it is extremely difficult to nail down realistic values for machine guns. It’s easier to sit back and throw stones at someone who tries than it is to get it done like Joe did. As the old saying goes “There’s talkers and doers, and the talkers talk about what the doers do”.

 

In the first try, some of the pics were mislabeled, and some of the prices were way out of whack. The first problem is common with unusual firearms, and the second is only because some machine guns skyrocketed in value faster than the printer got this book off the press! This speaks volumes about the wild ride that rare machine guns have taken in value.

 

In this new edition, all that has been corrected. The Class 3 section has been expanded to 29 pages, and Joe has dialed much of his valuations right onto target. As a dealer who sells thousands of machine guns, I would take exception to some of the pricing, “Heck, I sold an Andrewskanov for six thousand simoleons, not five thousand”, when in reality- the prices in a collectable market are always moving. Price is market related- can the buyer and seller find a common ground acceptable to both- which may be above or below a knowledgeable ballpark number. Joe Moody did a fine job of giving base reference numbers for many firearms, explains the history of the NFA, and why we have different categories of transfer status. The pricing is divided between transferable, dealer sample, and post dealer sample, and gives a good idea of how the business works.

 

Kudos to Joe Moody and Ned Schwing for a job well done, and we hope they continue with the planned expansions. - Dan

 

Heckler & Koch: The Official History
By Manfred Kersten and Walter Schmidt
ISBN 3-00-005091-4
Published by Verlag Udo Weispfennig,
Hurth, Germany
Buchhandlung Collectiana
Christine Wirtz
Im Kebergrund 2
D-56295 LONNIG b. Koblenz
Germany
Telephone: 49-261-802275,
Fax: 49-2625-7715
Reviewed by Sam Pikula

There is little doubt the firm of Heckler & Koch is one of, if not the leader in firearms design and innovation today. Located in the traditional German arms manufacturing town of Oberndorf, Hk weapons are often the standard by which other small arms are measured. Unfortunately for serious students of military small arms, and the legions of Hk fans, there has been no serious book detailing the history of the company and the development of their weapons, that is until now.

 

Two well respected and renowned German firearms experts, Manfred Kersten and Walter Schmidt, have written the definitive work on Hk’s 50 year history. Considering Hk’s legendary secrecy this is no mean feat. Sandwiched between the two hardcovers are 382 pages with hundreds of high quality photos and diagrams covering the founding of the company in 1949 by Edmund Heckler, Theodor Koch, and Alex Seidel. The book covers not only the gun which built Hk, the G-3, but also outlines the history of the remarkable G-11 caseless rifle, and such lessor known weapons as the P11 Underwater Pistol, Hk-36, and MP 2000 Machine Pistol. There are also excellent sections on the Advanced Combat Rifle, G-36 Assault Rifle, and the new Personal Defense Weapon. As this is a complete history of Heckler & Koch, Messrs. Kersten and Schmidt delve into the entire line of Hk handguns and target/hunting longarms. 

 

Quite simply this is a must book for for anyone who owns an Hk weapon or has any interest in military small arms. Is it a perfect book? No, but what book is? While the section on the G-3 contains more credible information than found anywhere else, it only whetted my appetite for more. In the reviewers humble opinion, a book still needs to be written on the complete history of this rifle. There is one more thing the reader should be aware of, the entire book is written in German. Yep, this is payback from the Germans who, with a German-English dictionary, have to plow through all the weapons books written in English such as those from Collector Grade Publications. Putting the language barrier aside however, the pictures alone make it well worth buying. Currently I know of no US importer. Don’t despair, one can obtain a copy and the Mark/Dollar exchange rate is in our favor. It can be purchased by mail order for 168 Deutsch Marks plus 22 Marks (about $95.00 US) for shipping.

 

The Bren Gun Saga
By Thomas B Dugelby
Revised and Expanded Edition, 1999
Produced and edited by R. Blake Stevens
ISBN 0-99935-249-6
406 pg, 442 Illustrations
$69.95 (USD)
Available from Collector Grade Publications
PO Box 1046
Cobourg, ONT K9A 4W5 Canada
Review by Dan Shea

 

Many consider the Bren Gun to be the finest Light Machine Gun ever made. You can count this author as one who would list it in the top few, at the very least. The influence the Bren, and its direct ancestor the ZB26, have had on small arms is difficult to overstate. Suffice it to say, this series of firearms was innovative, reliable, and extremely timely from the user’s perspective. The men who used these in combat considered the Bren one of the undeniable necessities of their kit.

 

In today’s US Market, the Bren is a rare and expensive gun to find. They command a premium due to the quality and heritage these interesting weapons have. Information, however, has been scant; basically confined to the first edition of “The Bren Gun Saga” that came from Collector Grade Publications in 1986. Quite frankly, there has been a bit of picking apart done by the RKI’s around the world on the first edition- there was some erroneous information in it. When one is trying to piece together stories of the creation of a firearm, it is an unusual factory that keeps meticulous records of all the minutiae involved- the job is to get the firearm built quickly, efficiently, and at a profit. Because of this, many times information is hard to gather. It is not hard to make a mistake by repeating a “Legend”, or incorrectly extrapolating an answer- your faithful correspondent will not cast the first stone. I applaud the first effort here, and was quite pleased with this new edition.
After the first edition of “The Bren Gun Saga”, much more information was gathered. I have both the first, and now the second edition. While the first edition was a remarkable effort, this new, updated one certainly surpasses it- with another decade and a half of research and gathering information.

 

“The Bren Gun Saga” covers the roots of the system, on up to the final variants- most of which are still in use in various parts of the world today. It is not my intention as a reviewer to go through the history of the Bren, nor to second guess the authors on any part. I would simply like to bring to the attention of SAR’s readers that the best source of information ever put together on the Bren, has been updated, corrected, and added to in an appropriate manner. It is a fascinating story, and one that is essential to understanding not only the mechanism of a firearm, but combined with the other books by Collector Grade Publications, it is one more section of the jigsaw puzzle of modern history- told by the politically incorrect “Gun Culture”. The photography alone is worth the cover price, and no reference collection that is related to firearms or modern history should be without this book- Dan

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