Within a few days members who take American Rifleman will receive a very special 125th Anniversary issue. Inside, Editor-in-Chief Mark Keefe and Senior Graphic Designer David Labrozzi have compiled a fabulous retrospective of the Rifleman and its predecessor titles going back to 1885. Along with an informative timeline, Keefe has sketched a brief history, and then allows the Rifleman’s proud evolution to speak for itself with a collection of excerpts ranging from a review of the Krag rifle (1894) to Townsend Whelen’s famed “Analysis of Game Bullets” (1924) to the launch of the popular “Armed Citizen” column (1958) and many more gems stretching 8+ pages. Take my word, this issue is destined to become a collector’s item.
Though this combined print and web anniversary package adds up to a very generous serving of the Rifleman’s greatest hits, take my word that it amounts to just a sliver of the archival iceberg. We are literally sitting on a mountain of fascinating content stretching back 125 years, reviews of practically every new gun that has come along in that time, along with expert analysis about how we use those guns and how we protect our rights to keep and bear them. Mark and I both have to be very careful about cracking open the old volumes because unfailingly we find ourselves practically hypnotized reading this piece or that until an entire afternoon has slipped away.
And you just never know what you’re going to find. A few months back when researching early use of the .30-06 in African hunting, I uncovered two articles that provide compelling evidence that President Theodore Roosevelt had in fact shot several game animals on his famous 1909 safari with the then-relatively new ’06, thus refuting the notion of many Roosevelt biographers that his .30-caliber rifle was either a .30-40 Krag or .30-03 Springfield.
For me this is like hitting the Lotto, and I am thrilled to be able to share what we can. Slowly but steadily we are creating an archival library here, and certainly would like to accelerate that project. Realistically though, we must focus our finite manpower to best serve our valued web visitors, who, we know, are keenly interested in new firearms technology and shooting trends, and so that will remain our priority. Nonetheless, I would love to know how important access to past American Rifleman material is to you (see poll).
Too, please comment below with your thoughts on the archive we are building. What kind of articles are you most inclined to read? What era most interests you (i.e., pre-1900, World War I or 2, more recent)? Would you like to see more from noted authors of past generations, such as E.C. Crossman (1890s-1920s), Elmer Keith (1930s-1950s), Col. Townsend Whelen (1920s-1950s), Gen. Julian Hatcher (1910s-1950s), Finn Aagaard (1970s to 1990s), Pete Dickey (1970s to 2000s), or feel free to suggest other favorites. The process may not be as fast as we’d like, but we’re going to build it, and we want your help.