Rifleman Report: Enlightenment Through Discovery

posted on April 4, 2023
spanish soldiers

Discovery is an inherently thrilling experience—after all, coming into contact with what you don’t already know is certain to stimulate the mind and excite the senses. Sure, learning about new things usually requires effort, but that’s what makes any endeavor rewarding. In this issue, we take a look at a wide variety of firearms, from the very old to the brand new, that demonstrate the unique place guns have occupied in our world for several centuries, and why so many inventors and explorers have striven to build and use them, respectively.

In “Savoir-Faire: Chapuis’ French Invasion” by Editorial Director Mark A. Keefe, IV, we are reacquainted with a fine European maker of rifles and shotguns—and, under the Manurhin label, handguns—with which many Americans may still not be familiar. From traditionally styled double rifles like the one shown on this month’s cover to modern, innovative straight-pulls to classic side-by-side and over-under shotguns, Chapuis-marked firearms exhibit artisan-level fit and finish and state-of-the-art manufacture.

Then, in coverage of an American brand with which most shooters are familiar but that seems to be continually re-defining the status quo, Field Editor Jeremiah Knupp wrings out the latest pistol bearing the KelTec name. In either metal- or polymer-frame versions, the new P15 in 9 mm Luger exhibits the signature styling and construction cues for which Swedish-born gun designer George Kellgren has become widely regarded. It is yet another example of a niche-filling product from a company that enjoys intense brand loyalty.

And, in what may prove to be one of the greatest discoveries in the world of firearms to date, co-authors William P. Mapoles and Deni J. Seymour, Ph.D., tell the fascinating tale of an archaeological dig that recently unearthed what is likely the earliest-known gun of any kind in what is today the continental United States. The 40-lb. hackbut “wall gun,” found in the Arizona desert, was certainly no sporting arm. Rather, it served in the essential role of self-protection for one of the earliest expeditions into what was then a strange New World.

In the Opening Shot, we check in with a talented young craftsman helping to preserve interest in 19th century arms by expertly repairing and restoring originals and reproductions to a level of authenticity not typically encountered. Also, don’t forget to check out the Projects and Q&A sections for greater insight into the classic “light rifle,” the M1 carbine, and how it served as a precedent in the development of the “personal-defense-weapon,” or PDW, concept.

Whether through history, hunting, competition, self-defense or military service, shooters of all kinds often develop lifelong interests in firearms and related equipment. As their proficiency and knowledge in shooting, collecting, reloading and gunsmithing grows, their experiences become even more rewarding—and infectious.

We hope you enjoy the discoveries covered—and uncovered as it were—in this issue and that you continue to explore the world of firearms through other means as well. Then, determine to pass that passion along to family members and friends. As we all learn more about what makes the world of guns so fascinating, we will build a stronger, larger community of enthusiasts who not only enjoy a cherished pastime, but who preserve an essential freedom.

We’re already at work writing about the discoveries we plan to share with you in the next issue.


Simeon North Flintlock Pair Commodore Isaac Hull
Simeon North Flintlock Pair Commodore Isaac Hull

Simeon North: First Official U.S. Pistol Maker

Arguably the first official U.S. pistol maker, Simeon North began contracting to the U.S. government with 500 horse pistols in 1798. After subsequent success, North went on to supply the Horse Pistol of Model 1799 -1800 by the thousands, manufactured Hall rifles and more.

Preview: Ammunition, Demystified

Billed as “Hatcher’s Notebook for the 21st century,” Ammunition, Demystified: The (Non) Bubba’s Guide To How Ammo Really Works is intended for both advanced shooters and reloaders, as well as industry professionals.

James Wallace Elected As 76th NRA Director

James L. Wallace has been elected by the members to a one-year term ending in 2025.

Rifleman Q&A: Marlin’s Mixed Markings

I have this old gun I want to shoot, but I’m not certain exactly what I have, and the gun appears to pre-date any description in the Blue Book Of Gun Values. The gun measures 43" overall, has a 26 9⁄16" barrel and its markings are as follows:

New For 2024: Diamondback Self-Defense Revolver (SDR)

Diamondback Firearms' handguns were previously of a polymer-frame, semi-automatic design, but with the release of its Self-Defense Revolver in 2024, the company is taking a new tack.

Preview: The Headrest Safe Co. Slide Bundle

For the armed citizen seeking to discreetly secure a defensive handgun in a vehicle, the Slide Bundle from The Headrest Safe Co. provides the ideal solution.


Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.