Review: 'The Gunpowder People'

posted on October 2, 2018

Certain books should be in the library of any serious sportsman; immediate to mind are titles such as Weatherby: The Man. The Gun. The Legend. and John Nosler Going Ballistic: The Life And Adventures Of John Nosler. To these must be added The Gunpowder People by James W. Bequette.

Heavily referenced while writing "Hodgdon: The Inside Story,", Bequette thoroughly chronicles the story of Hodgdon Powder Co., decade by decade, from its founding through the current era, yet in an easy-to-read format. Each chapter begins with notable events of the decade to provide historical context, and then he delves into history specific to the company. To aid understanding of what’s being presented, interwoven through the pages are numerous illustrations and images, including images and reproductions of correspondences between B.E. Hodgdon and a who’s who of gun writers of the day. Such personalities include: Elmer Keith; Jack O’Connor; P.O. Ackley; and Col. Charles Askins. Not only do these writers provide insight into the importance of Hodgdon Powder Co. and its products, but of B.E. Hodgdon’s persona and ethics.

Also found within each chapter is a section entitled “In their own words,” in which former and current Hodgdon employees respond to a series of questions in an easy-to-follow dialogue. Outside of the main text body, which is rife with information, there are lesser-known “juicy” tidbits in these sub-sections. For example, when alone at home one night, young Bob Hodgdon became enthralled with slowly sprinkling propellant atop a lit trash burner in the basement. He continued increasing the amounts until ... well, you’ll have to read for yourself to find out. In the end, you’ll find the book to be a page-turner; in fact, unable to put the book down, I finished it in a couple hours’ time. The 199-pp., 11¼"x8¾" hardback book can be purchased at Hodgdon’s website ( for $44.95.


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