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READING THE CLASSICS — 21 Comments

    • Charlie Skelton was indeed one of the great ones. Unfortunately I don’t think he wrote for Gun Digest, and therefore is not represented in Gun Digest’s collection of past writings in their books.

      • I will have to check my copies of the annuals when we come back from Norway to make sure my mind isnt slipping it will in all likelihood be for naught.

  1. I love this post! It’s amazing seeing you write about and reflect back on the great gun writers you read growing up. I had not thought about the great gun writers I read while growing up in the 80’s-90’s (ex. Massad Ayoob) reading and learning from those writers before them. I hope the next generation that takes up the role of gun writer (whether it be on the Internet, in books, or some other media) will take the time to read the classics and learn from those that came before. Thanks for the reminder and I look forward to having the time to kick back and dive into some of the classics!

  2. Mas, I remember all those old names. You and I share the same age bracket and I remember the day when you could only read about guns by getting the latest issue of a gun magazine. Only one issue a month or quarter. Now I can sit down any time I want and surf the web for unlimited information about anything gun related.

    You are also destined to be remembered as a classic gun writer and self defense trainer. Along with the classics, I also remember reading your articles in the magazines, as well as your books. Thanks for the memories. Live long and prosper.

    • TW,

      You mention how we now have unlimited gun knowledge at our fingertips (as long as the power stays on). I want to add that growing up, I NEVER saw a gun related TV commercial. Several years ago I saw a Henry Repeating Arms commercial during a superbowl. That was a great moment in the history of TV.

      • TW,

        I was born in 1963 and never saw any of those ads. Those ads were jaw-dropping. They would give today’s moms heart attacks. Wouldn’t you love to show them in a California public school?

        Those ads show what society was like when there was freedom tempered by good morals. That is what “liberty under law” looks like.

  3. I still have a worn copy of “Sixguns” by Keith and re-read it from time to time. Because of his work on the .44 and the writings of Skeeter Skelton, I had a Model 28 S&W converted to .44 spl. and carried it on duty for many years. (This was when it was OK to carry handloads on duty.) Favorite load: 240 gr. “Keith” SWC over 7.5 grains of Unique. Still have it too. Thanks for the memories.

  4. I always enjoyed reading Bill Jordan. I have two autographed books in my modest collection.

    • Me too, Will. Bill was an awesome guy, a friend and a mentor to me. He was kind enough to write the foreword for my first book, “Fundamentals of Police Impact Weapons,” in 1978. Thank you for bringing back good memories.

      • Got to meet him in late 70’s at the end of match banquet after a week long pistol match. Seems to me the Headline speaker was Bufford Pusser, but I might be getting mixed up as they all sort of run together now. But remember one thing about Jordan, damn he was big!

    • I remember the witty barbs and repartee between Bill Jordan and Skeeter Skelton in print. Bill loved his model 19 and Skeeter his model 27. Bill’s book, “No Second Place Winner”, about his days on the US Border Patrol brought back memories of growing up on that US/Mexico border. It’s not the same place now.

  5. Anyone who enjoys those gun writers will enjoy Stephen Hunter’s “Pale Horse Coming.”

    • I read that book years ago and recognized all the gun writer references in “the posse”.

  6. Wish I could find my copy of “Hell, I was there!” Keith really influenced my love of guns. Was in UT (35 yrs ago) with a friend in the House Range Mountains after striking out in the Deep Creek Mountains. Drove up to a picnic ground at the very top to do some scouting. Stepped out into knee deep snow. Just looking around so I strapped on my Ruger Redhawk. Walked off the peak across a saddle along the ridge. Looking down side canyons and finally we sat down on a rise and looked back towards my buddy’s 4X4 Brat 500 yards away.

    To the left of the peak was a basin with, that time of year, a brush filled dry creek. As we sat, there rose up a massive mule deer, that we’d likely walked past as we came down out of the picnic area. We estimated at about 400 yds. I commented that If I were Elmer Kieth I’d take the shot. The deer finally lay back down completely out of sight. I though what did we have to lose in attempting a stalk. My buddy decided to give me a head-start along the ridge and he’d go down into the creek bed and walk the chest deep bushes up towards the deer’s bed. I got up to about a spot I thought I was abeam with where the deer was lying. No sign. I crawled to a point just above the guestimated spot. As I sat there all I could think about was what some say the 44 COULDN’T do. As my buddy got close enough for me to hear him, the deer stood up. . . no more than 50 ft away. He was quartered away from me with some of his right side visible and looking down the creek bed to where my buddy had made some noise.

    My Redhawk was topped with a Weaver 4X stainless scope and I was sitting with my arms resting on my knees. Perfect! Right? I was shaking with buck fever so badly that I could hardly keep the cross hairs on the animal. On top of that I was only about 2-3 feet higher than the top of his back and had no real angle for the lungs and certainly not the heart unless the shot traveled through the gut. I decided on an angle that would go between his shoulder-blades from above hoping to hit the spin in the back or neck.

    First shot he went down hard and while looking back over his right shoulder was fighting hard to get back up. I cocked the gun still concentrating on a upper back spine shot. With that shot he dropped completely out of sight and I stood up to trying to see him and yelling “I got him, I got him!” And also said I was afraid he was going to crawl away as I couldn’t see him. My buddy stepped up to right where the deer was and said “He’s dead!”

    Four points on each side, and field dressed we estimated he was at least 250 lbs. . .we could not drag him up the hill to the car in the snow. Getting him out is another story.

    My handloads were 23 gr of W296 behind the 265 gr jacketed softpoint bullet designed for the Marlin 444 cartridge. Both bullets were just under the skin in the left shoulder two inches apart. First bullet nicked the spine and shattered bone. Second shot fully shattered the spine cutting the cord. Appeared the bullet was the perfect one for the need shot.

  7. As far as reading some of the classic gun writers, both Guns magazine and American Handgunner have old versions of their magazines for free viewing on their respective websites. The ones for Guns, which include columns by Keith, can be found by searching for “Guns magazine classic editions”, and they go from 1955 to 1969. I enjoy not only the articles but also the ads for mail order guns, whose prices make me really pine for the old days!

  8. I still have the first printing of 3 of Jack O’Connor books with original dust jackets, given to me by my father. I’ve read them each several times before I was in my teens. 46 now, I still value them.

  9. Many of the books written by those late masters are worth a lot of money too, so look through your collections and see if you can find any treasures. I have autographed copies of Elmer Keith’s books, Keith An Autobiography and Safari in new condition and even have the box he shipped the books to me in back in the 1970’s with his scrawling handwriting, and I have turned down many bucks for them. I have another autographed copy of Safari and a plain copy of Keith an Autobiography, plus a VG condition copy of Sixguns by Keith for reading purposes, so my heirs will have those and two pristine autographed copies to sell on ebay when I croak.

    I have been reading Mas’ writings for a long time too and one of the earliest articles I recalled was about the then new Ruger Mini-14 in a 1970’s issue of Gun World(?)

  10. Read everything Skeeter Skelton wrote. Had the honor of meeting Skeeter, Bill Jordan and Roy Jinks at the ‘Smith & Wesson’ booth at the 1983 S.H.O.T. Show in Dallas. Met Rick Jamison at the ‘Shooting Times’ booth, as well.