Book Reviews: February 1998

By Chuck Madurski

Special Warfare: Special Weapons, The Arms and Equipment of the UDT and SEALS, from 1943 to the present, by Kevin Dockery.
The Emperor’s Press
5744 West Irving Park Road
Chicago, Illinois 60634
(773) 777-7307
ISBN 1-883476-00-3
$29.95 suggested retail.
Review by Chuck Madurski

The U.S. Navy SEALS, and the UDT’s before them, captured the imagination of people because of the unconventional nature of their business and the success they have enjoyed. The guts and the glamour of these men have been well documented (and twisted) in myriad books and movies. However, the readers of this magazine are probably more interested in the wide variety of tools and weaponry employed by the SEALs and UDT’s while working and training. Up until now there has not been any decent reference material to cover this need. Special Warfare: Special Weapons (Specwar / Specweps to you Navspeak lovers) is an important and long needed reference book for those interested in the tools used, (and sometimes rejected) by the world’s most elite fighting men. The first of a planned series of four volumes, volume one covers the individual weapons used by the UDT and SEAL teams from their inception to the present.

This is the first modern subject book from The Emperor’s Press, a small publishing house previously known for its historical books, concentrating mostly on the Napoleonic era. They have certainly put their best foot forward with this edition. The premium features begin with the cover itself which is gold leaf imprinted. This is one book that looks good without it’s dust jacket- but don’t lose it either! While the over-leaves have loads of information on the author, the back features a rare COLOR photograph of early SEAL weapons on display. Notable in the photo is the Model 01 select-fire AR-15 with green furniture, fully curved 30 round magazine, first model 2-ring scope mount, and the rarely seen Colt AR-15 carbine (Model 05).

Far from being his first book, the author, Kevin Dockery initially established his connection with the Naval Special Warfare community with “SEALS in Action”. This was quickly followed by three more successful books: “Point Man” with Chief Watson, “Hunters and Shooters” which was mostly his effort and earlier this year, “Walking Point” again with Watson. In this time, Kevin has forged a unique relationship with the SPECWAR community built on respect, not only for the accomplishments of these warriors, but for researching and writing the truth, ignoring the RUMINT typical in this environment, and most importantly, knowing what lines not to cross. This has allowed him unprecedented access to records, interviews and institutions for research and photography. Research is what a book like this is all about.

Kevin has not let the reader down, either. Here you will find intimate details and minutiae not normally seen in books that cover as much ground as this one does. From the simply named “folding demolition knife” to the previously rumored but unknown H&K P-11 underwater pistol, he has done his homework well. And he has done all of this without compromising anyone, or any classified data.

Kevin’s eye for detail is also important behind the camera. He took most of the weapons photographs in the book himself, and being a long-time enthusiast, he knew the importance of good detail and proper views. Over 700 photographs were originally prepared for the book but time and costs narrowed the number down to the best 200+ you see here. Just as vital, the captions are a change from the usual “this is a gun” type too often seen. Instead you are treated to exquisite descriptions and detail. Case in point, the previously mentioned back cover photo is reprinted in black and white inside the book and has an over 200 word description itself. The captions and photos alone are worth the price of
the book.

The book is presented in chronological order and according to the weapon’s relative effective range or destructiveness, with knives as the first subject. From the everyday to the esoteric, little if anything has been missed. Information is even included on how many manufacturers (usually falsely) manage to advertise their products as “SEAL issue”. The book flows smoothly through handguns and smgs on through to finish with rifles and grenades. Suppressed arms are nicely covered in the sections dealing with the base weapons. Of special interest is the information on underwater capable weapons.

Much more than just a gaggle of facts and numbers, the information is presented in the narrative style so effectively used in “Walking Point”. Additionally, the text is liberally interspersed with anecdotal accounts and quotes from official sources, including Team history. This book is full of the kind of information you win bar bets with.

If you think something is missing because the famed Stoner 63 system is not included, there is nothing to worry about. In order to give that subject the space it is due, it was decided to include that info in the machinegun chapter intended for the second book in the series. This will be the most extensive coverage of the Stoner 5.56’s yet (single subject books excluded). I can hear some now:”yeah, right, when?!”. Well, it is just about done, with the third and fourth books well into the planning stage. Some of the other interesting stuff to look out for will be the section on 40mm grenades and their delivery systems. This will be the most complete information on the subject in one place to date. Also, all subsequent volumes will feature addendums updating the information in the previous books as materials are declassified. Seems like there is plenty to look forward to.

Other than a couple of minor typographical errors, nothing keeps me from giving this book my highest recommendation. As a matter of fact, I paid retail for my already dog-eared copy. I believe Special Warfare: Special Weapons will become an indispensable part of any Special Warfare or weapons enthusiast’s library.

Trio of Gun Books Offer
Valuable Reading
Reviewed by Robert Hausman

Krause Publications (700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990) has recently released three gun book titles of interest to all firearms aficionados.

First off, the 1998 Edition of Gun Digest, the most widely read and best selling gun book in the world, contains a variety of new, informative articles as well as specifications and current retail prices for thousands of firearms. Now in its 52nd annual edition and running 544 pages, the first half consists of articles dealing with a broad range of historical, technical and informational firearms subjects. There are details on the famous Hornet rifles of the Springfield Armory, Mauser’s World War I anti- tank rifle, the shot that changed the course of the Revolutionary War, the mystique of killing power, and the evolution of the holster in the United States.

Gun Digest’s second half, consists of a catalog of all firearms, scope mounts, and ammunition currently manufactured in or imported to the US, complete with detailed specifications and up-to-date retail prices. Also featured is a comprehensive bibliography of current arms books, complete with brief descriptions and prices; a listing of periodical publications; and a directory of arms associations in America and abroad.

Topping off the Gun Digest package is a complete directory of manufacturers of firearms related products, listed alphabetically and providing addresses, phone and FAX numbers, all cross-referenced by product type or specialty.

ABC’s of Reloading

Firearms enthusiasts interested in obtaining information on the latest and safest techniques available for customizing ammunition need look no further than the new edition of The ABC’s of Reloading, 6th Edition. Spanning 288 pages, it offers step-by-step instructions for proper and accurate reloading in chapters including such topics as basic safety and common mistakes, necessary equipment and components, cartridge case types and dynamics, primers, powders, and bullets. Other chapters walk the reader through the basics for novices and advanced procedures for seasoned veteran handloaders. Hundreds of up-close, detailed photographs allow readers to see in detail the proper equipment,procedures, and results.

Handloader’s Digest

Over the past 30 years, the number of handloaders has risen from tens of thousands to over 6 million, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, as more and more shooters discover they can enjoy their hobby and save money to boot. And Handloader’s Digest has filled their needs through 17 editions.

This latest book has its front half filled with features such as “Wildcatting the 9.3,” “What’s New on the Loading Bench,” and “.308 Winchester-Still First Rate With Cast Bullets.” The back half of the 480-page book contains one of the most complete reloading catalogs ever produced with loading presses, dies, components, bullet molds, swaging tools, and accessories, all with current prices and intelligently organized.

There is a special section on new products and alphabetical listings by manufacturer of all currently available related handloading tools. Also included is a reference section covering powder burn rates, measured case powder densities, and SAAMI (Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturer’s Institute) industry cartridge specifications. Data for producing over 350 selected handloads is presented with detailed ballistics. As if all of the foregoing is not enough, The Handloader’s Marketplace section contains an exhaustive Directory of the Handloading Trade, and a handloader’s book directory, as well as listings of reloading organizations and periodicals.

All considered, the three volumes would make a worthy addition to any shooter’s bookshelf.

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V1N5 (February 1998)
and was posted online on September 8, 2017


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