Book Review: ‘A Pipe Hitters Guide to Small Arms & Weapons’ by Nicholas Orr

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Nicholas Orr A Pipe Hitters Guide to Small Arms & Weapons
Nicholas Orr with one of his favorite fighting rifles (courtesy Nicholas Orr)

Some say a “pipe hitter” is member of a US military special ops branch. Think CAG, SEALS, Green Berets, Rangers and the like. Others use the term to describe anyone who’s willing to go the extra mile to get a job done. Nicholas Orr, author of A Pipe Hitters Guide to Small Arms & Weapons leans toward the latter definition.

However you define the term, A Pipe Hitter’s Guide is the latest in Orr’s Pipe Hitters series that includes advice on how citizens can organize and protect their communities during disasters, emergencies and societal breakdown, along with advice on securing your home and community when the S hits the F.

If you’re not a prepper or you’re already well-fixed in terms of knowing how to handle a bad situation in your home, neighborhood or region, don’t worry. Orr’s Guide to Small Arms & Weapons is probably his most accessible book yet in the series.

Orr describes the book as “an end-user’s look at some of the most important arms used by man in the last hundred-plus years.” In short, it highlights a range of commonly used and frequently historically significant pistols, rifles, shotguns, and edged weapons that many TTAG readers will either already own or might want to in the future.

But you don’t have to be an operator or even a well-informed mall ninja to get something out of the Guide to Small Arms & Weapons. Orr has compiled a useful guide that wouldn’t be a bad place to start even for a beginner. This book is a carefully curated collection of guns any well-equipped individual should consider owning.

While his list of long guns is confined to “fighting rifles” and “fighting shotguns,” not everything Orr has chosen will be considered “tactical.” He start off the list of handguns with the venerable Colt Single Action Army wheelgun among other revolvers like the Smith & Wesson Model 10 and a Taurus Model 80.

The Guide to Small Arms & Weapons isn’t an encyclopedic compilation. Orr keeps his lists brief and selective, concentrating on commonly-owned — and perhaps as important — commonly available firearms that are proven and that a pipe hitter, or any citizen can rely on when things go south. For instance, as he writes . . .

For a rifle to be considered on this list we will set the bar at 5 million units produced and in worldwide circulation. We will focus on some of the most popular and successful fighting rifles that are still viable tools for the modern pipe hitter. 

As for shotguns and their worth as personal defense weapons, we writes . . .

While it is true that any shotgun, when pressed into service can be a defensive fighting shotgun, the models highlighted above have the advantage of having not only been tested in combat or on the streets by law enforcement and citizens as fighting tools. 

To the myth that “you cannot miss” with a shotgun or the misunderstanding that shotguns are somehow tools for amateurs, the best way to dispel both is to engage in deliberate training. In the hands of trained professionals, the fighting shotgun is a devastating close quarters combat tool. 

How selective is he? Orr includes only nine handguns, eight rifles, and four shotguns (not to mention ten edged weapons and a shovel). He provides brief, informative historical notes on each entry and gives useful profiles of the guns and their uses.He also briefly delves into worthy topics such as types of shotgun ammunition and ammo storage.

I won’t list what’s on Orr’s judicious list here….that’s half the fun of the book. A Pipe Hitters Guide to Small Arms & Weapons won’t take you days to get through. It’s only 117 pages, so you can easily cover it in an evening while sipping a glass or two of good brown liquor. It’s time well spent.


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  1. I always called a “pipe-hitter” as someone who hits the crack and/or meth pipe.

    Different age.

    • “I always called a “pipe-hitter” as someone who hits the crack and/or meth pipe.”

      That’s *exactly* what it is, it was a one-off comment in 1994’s ‘Pulp Fiction’ when Marsellus Wallace (Played by Ving Rhames) was describing what he was going to do (a pair of pliers and a blow-torch) to a rapist POS :

    • Because that’s what it means. Apparently some “special” seaman misunderstood what it meant, thought it sounded cool and started calling everyone in the teams Pipehitters, not knowing he was just calling them addicts.(To be fair some were probably also addicts.)

    • I guess I’m still learning something new every day. Never done any drugs, so I thought “pipe hitter” meant a hard-working blue collar worker, like a plumber or steelworker.

      It wasn’t until I was well into college that I even knew the true purpose of the ‘ol “roach clip”. Back in the ’80s, some of my fellow high schoolers work them as fashion on their ear lobes.

  2. What, no list? I get the Colt Single Action Army–I have a few. Love them. Super easy to reload, whether smokeless or black powder is used. With a few tools, lead, and tin you can cast lead bullets too.
    I’d like to know what edged weapons he’d recommend. I have a few of those too.

  3. I’ve also heard pipe hitters used to describe gay dudes. Now if you were a crack smoking gay navy seal. Then…. You would be a true pipe hitter.

  4. I’ve never really understood the Pipe Hitters Union thing.

    Their explanation of how the name originated (being willing to do anything to accomplish the mission, like a crackhead looking for that next hit off a pipe) makes some sense but seems sort of like a self-own in some regards.

    • “…but seems sort of like a self-own in some regards.”

      That kinda goes with the culture in the teams, being the ‘quiet ones’…

      • I wasn’t aware that “the quiet ones” started clothing lines in 2004 to capitalize on the GWoT being insanely popular at the time.

        That’s where this term comes from. Some retired SOF guys made a clothing line.

    • I always preferred Tactical Trunk Monkey since I didn’t carry any pipes with which to hit anyone. Potato… patah-toe.

  5. Back in the late stone age when I was USASF, we were called snake eaters or green grunts, amongst other things not so nice.
    Pipe hitter to my mind means someone hitting the dope pipe. Crack, meth, pot, etc. Not something to proudly proclaim.
    But then, back in that time you had to earn a Berret, not be issued one for enlisting. Black was Ranger, Red was Airbourne, and Green was SF.

  6. What’s in the shooters manifesto? Truth… And nothing scares liberal/progressive democrats more than…Truth.

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