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Book Reviews: August 1999

By Dan Shea

The New World of Russian Small Arms and Ammo
By Charlie Cutshaw
Illustrations by Lyn Haywood
From Paladin Press
8 1/2 x 11 Hardcover,
Illustrated 160 pp, $39.95

The Russian arms factories are still very active in these post cold war days, but the products are still somewhat clouded to the casual observer. Many of us are extremely interested in the developments there, but few journalists have made a dent in the information available. Charlie Cutshaw, one of SAR’s “Usual Suspects” (How our writers our commonly referred to), has done a serious piece of work on the subject. The New World of Russian Small Arms and Ammo is an illustrated book, featuring the work of arms illustrator Lyn Haywood. In many ways, this feature truly enhances the book. While I am a fan of good clear photos, many times these are not available on obscure subjects. Haywood’s illustrations provide good, definitive identifying features that answer far more questions for the student of small arms than blurred, fourth hand pictures that I have seen of some of these firearms.

Underwater guns, the silenced ammunition guns, Vikhr’s, Klins, Kedrs, Bizons and Baksans, it’s all here in this book.

Cutshaw covers the bases, from the handguns to the machine guns and grenade launchers, and the ammunition for them. This book is a must for anyone interested in small arms development. There is far more to Russian small arms than the Kalashnikov series of weapons that the West generally assumes is the Russian repertoire. Get this book.

The 1999 Standard Catalog of Firearms: The Collector’s Price and Reference Guide 9th Edition
By Ned Schwing
From Krause Publications,
8 1/2 x 11, Softcover, 1247 pp, $29.95

One of the industry standards on most dealer’s and collector’s bookshelves is the Standard Catalog of Firearms. Most of us buy the new edition whenever it comes out. The 9th Edition has a special treat in it. They have added an NFA section.

Joe Moody, one of SAR’s writer’s, took on the daunting task of trying to put order and valuations to this very fluid industry. He did a very good job of it. This 21 page section starts with a three page overview of the subject, and then goes through categories of machine guns; Submachine Guns, Automatic Rifles, and Machine Guns. Each category contains the basic arms that a US collector might commonly run into, and is further categorized by “Pre-68”, “Pre-1986 conversions”, “Pre-1986 Dealer samples”, and “Post-1986 Dealer samples”. He grades them according to Excellent, V.G., and Fair. Pricing is given with the caveat that this is a volatile collectable market, and the buyer should be so advised.

The only problem I found other than the difficulty of the subject was that the printer misplaced some of the photos, so several of the photos don’t match the description they are with. This happens to everyone in the business at some time, and they are correcting it in future editions. Overall, this was a real good shot at covering a tough subject, and will be a welcome edition to any Class 3 enthusiast or dealer’s reference shelf.

Weapons for Counter Insurgency
From Lancer Militaria,
8 1/2 x 11, softcover, 80 pp, $14.00

During the Vietnam Conflict (Sorry, had to revert to sixties speak), the anti-war protest movement utilized many tools in the process of spreading information, or disinformation about American forces. This book is a reprint of a book published in 1970 by the National Action Research on the Military Industrial Complex (NARMIC) which was part of the American Friends Service Committee (The Quakers). The introduction to this printing states that this book was intended to introduce the anti-war political activists in the mechanics of the weapons used in Vietnam, with the intention being that these people could then go to the local political level and apply pressure to the defense contractors.

What they also, somewhat unintentionally did, was to categorize and record for posterity a majority of the interesting weapons systems used by the United States in the Vietnam Conflict.

After some political analysis (Left wing of course) the book covers Chemical/Biological weapons, Anti-crop warfare, defoliants in Vietnam, Anti-personnel weapons, Napalm, Magnesium, Thermite, Thermate, White phosphorus, and many new incendiary weapons.

On an interesting historical note, the contractors who made the various pieces and assemblies are named with addresses, description of the contract, contract number, and the value of the contract. I found this to be very interesting indeed.

Analysis of most of the ground weapons, mines, etc of the US forces is short, but unusually accurate in many cases.

If you have an historical interest in the Vietnam War(!), then this would be a book you would want.


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