Book Reviews: May 2000

By Stephen Stuart

Proud Promise, French Autoloading Rifles 1898-1979
By Jean Huon
Published by Collector Grade Publications Incorporated
PO Box 1046
Cobourg, Ontario Canada K9A 4W5
Price $ 39.95 plus $4.50 s&h
Reviewed by Stephen Stuart

Hard information on French firearms has always been a little spotty in this country. In the past decade there have been a lot of surplus French firearms coming into the United States, including several different lots of semi-automatic firearms. Some of the semi-automatic firearms imported include the MAS 44 and most recently the MAS 49-56 (for more information on the MAS 49-56, see Frank Iannamico’s article in Vol. 1 No. 3 S.A.R.). In Jean Huon’s book, Proud Promise, the author takes a hard look at the development of French autoloading rifles. Perhaps not so surprisingly, the French were some of the leaders in the field of small arms during the early part of this century, not only did they produce smokeless gun powder (in 1886), but they also made some really big advances in semi-automatic rifle design. These advances include the rear locking, tilting bolt, which was originally thought to be created by the designer of the FN-49. Other advances included the first gas system to cycle a rifle’s action. The main part of the text lists these advances and the rifles themselves. Some of the rifles featured in the text include; the A1 (the first semi-automatic rifle developed), the Rossignol, the Chosse’, the Fusil Automatique Modele 1917 (the first semi-automatic rifle ever issued), MAS 1928, MAS 49, and of course the MAS 44 and MAS 49-56 mentioned above. Included with the production of these rifles, the author includes a detail analyses and the different equipment issued with the latter MAS rifles. This part includes ordnance tools, the different types of ammunition available, bayonets, and a section on rifle grenades, which I found to be most interesting. As with all of Collector’s Grade publications, the book is well organized, and thought out. The pictures and line drawings to great justice to the rifles featured. This is just not a book on French semi-automatic rifles, it is a reference book that should be included in every collectors and small arms enthusiast library.

By Major John L. Plaster
Paladin Press
P.O. Box 1307
Boulder, CO 80306
ISBN 0-87364-745-9
$14.95 Plus S&H
Aprox. 90 Minutes
Reviewed By David Fortier

Major John Plaster broke new ground in his book “Ultimate Sniper” which is a veritable treasure trove of information. Now you can see the lessons taught first hand in this video. Major Plaster takes the viewer from rifle and gear selection, to covering fieldcraft, marksmanship, and tactics for the military and police sniper. He is a natural teacher and knows his subject as second nature speaking with authority on everything that he teaches. No classroom here, he takes the viewer straight into the field. Most people think that sniping is being a great rifle shot, but that is only a part of it. While Major Plaster does go over shooting positions, trigger control, breathing, dry firing, sight picture, figuring range and windage, ammunition and rifle selection, that is only a part of this video. He also covers camouflage patterns and which ones work best, making a ghillie suit, applying face paint, stalking techniques, using terrain to your advantage, choosing a location for and making a sniper’s hide, basic offensive and defensive techniques and more. Also of great interest is the first appearance on film of famed sniper Carlos Hathcock, who recently passed away. Carlos recounts some of the tactics he used to achieve 93 confirmed kills in Vietnam. He tells of a 5 day engagement with an enemy company, his countersniping duel with an N.V.A. sniper sent specifically to kill him, and his longest recorded sniper shot of 2,500 yards. This is a very informative video, but it does have its down side. Nothing to do with the information, but the camera work and sound is not the best. At times it is very good, other times there is a lot of wind noise on the mike and the camera work is sometimes shaky. However even with these minor irritants the price on the video is a bargain. It complements the book “Ultimate Sniper” very nicely.

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V3N8 (May 2000)
and was posted online on May 15, 2015


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