There are people in the world who have an encyclopedic knowledge of firearms, ammunition and all things that go bang. They can tell you, down to the exact hour, when Maxim first figured out the mechanism behind his famous machine gun. As for me, I’m not quite that good — I still need to rely on Wikipedia from time to time. And even then, there are some obscure guns that even I can’t remember, much less know how they work and can’t find any schematics for. For those in need of a refresher, the Firearms Guide comes to the rescue — now available on DVD for PC and Mac . . .
The interactive repository of knowledge is split into five sections:
- Firearms guide
- FFL finder
- Caliber charts
- Printable targets
The printable targets are a nice touch (but you can find the same ones free on the internet) and the FFL locator is a duplicate of the one the ATF makes available, but it’s the thought that counts. The real value they’re selling is the firearms database and the schematics library.
The database is actually pretty comprehensive, covering just about every manufacturer and model they make. However, the list falls prey to the same issue that I have with forearms model numbers. Namely, every single tiny change in a gun means a brand new model. Change the roll pins to a different color? Model change. Gimme a break.
The database includes helpful features like a short description of the firearm, a history of its design and usage, and some details about weight and caliber. It’s pretty comprehensive, and more than sufficient to satisfy your curiosity about whatever gun you come across. However, it lacks the extreme detail that Wikipedia articles tend to get into with some of the more popular firearms.
The ammunition section is where this guide really starts to shine, as not only does it give you an overview of the projectile (including a nice big picture of the ammo in question) but it gives you an overview of the ballistic profile as well — muzzle energy, drop and velocity at different distances. THAT feature alone might be worth paying for. The search function also works pretty well, letting you find the projectile you’re looking for.
The crowning piece of the guide really is the schematics. There’s a nice, exploded diagram of most of the popular firearms out there that really helps when you’re trying to disassemble and reassemble your guns. It also gives you a nice insight into the design of guns that you’ve never seen before, and lets you see a full screen (and zoom-able) version of the diagrams. It’s an excellent feature, and might be worth the price just to have all of those schematics in one handy place.
Firearms Guide, 4th Edition
Available for Mac and PC
Available on Amazon.com
Ratings (out of five stars):
Overall: * * * *
It’s a great resource for gun nuts with lots of information and some good schematics. And at $40, it’s something you can keep on the shelf until you need to look something up and it won’t take up much space.