Wiley Clapp: Gun Digest 2018

by
posted on August 22, 2017
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Somehow or another, Jerry Lee and his predecessors in the editor's chair at Gun Digest perform what amounts to an annual miracle. Oh, I suppose it really isn't a miracle in the strict sense of the word, but it sure seems like it. Their latest is the 72nd Edition of what they call “The World's Greatest Gun Book.” 

It's the Gun Digest 2018 and a worthy successor to the 71 prior books, which date back to 1944. Essentially, this 565-page volume brings its readers up-to-date on everything that is happening product-wise in the world of guns and shooting. An extensive and illustrated catalog section is a big part of it, but there are also text sections on several classes of firearms—pistols, revolvers shotguns, etc. The section called “One Good Gun” is a little longer this year and provides admittedly subjective reviews of several old favorites. 

However, I've always felt the great strength of GD was the articles that really thicken the book and justify its thirty-seven-buck pricetag. This year there are about three dozen well-written and illustrated pieces on a variety of things gun. In the many gun magazines, space is always at a premium and editors are always struggling to keep articles short and to the point. That's fine as far as it goes, but a lot of subjects would prosper, given a little more room. GD18 does that.

Charley Petty offers a great survey of the old Remington slide action center-fires—models 14 and 14 ½. The six-gun man, John Taffin, comes off of his .44s and .45s long enough to look at the surprisingly large number of .32 sixguns and cartridges. One of the first articles I read in this year's book was Wayne van Zwoll's treatise on the venerable Savage 99. Another good chapter ran to seven full pages; a lengthy discussion of the ins and outs of a forgotten boomer—the .400 Whelan. My pick for the Amber prize this year is Stan Trzoniec's commentary on the many cartridges developed for and by Smith & Wesson. Viewing the company from this unusual angle puts this old-line gunmaker in a proper perspective. 

Good job, guys!     

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