Firearms Guide: A Reference Library In Your Pocket

Firearms Guide 14th Edition is a useful searchable firearms and ammunition reference database that’s available both online and on a handy flash drive.

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posted on December 20, 2023
1 14Th Firearms Guide
With 80,000 individual references, Firearms Guide 14th Edition is an excellent point source for information.
Art Merrill

Already a massive firearms reference library shrunk into a flash drive, Firearms Guide triples that content with a one-year access to its online repository of additional schematics, manuals and blueprints. A computer searchable database also of ammunition, firearms manufacturers and more, this 14th Edition of Firearms Guide is the most comprehensive point source reference available.

Somebody once said, “If you want to be happy with your life, make your avocation your vocation.” I don’t know who said it—maybe it was me. An inveterate information hound, I have accrued many shelves of firearms reference books because the subject is where I have melded avocation and vocation. That’s a lot of information spread over many feet of shelf space. The internet is a massive fingertip resource, of course, but much information is not credible and lengthy searches are sometimes fruitless.

Firearms Guide 14th Edition
A plethora of schematics—on the flash drive and online—covers a great many old firearms. (Photo by Art Merrill)

 

Firearms Guide 14th Edition is like two yards of bookshelf I can drop into my pocket. It holds 80,000 references to antique and modern guns and modern ammunition, including 8,000 firearms manuals, blueprints and schematics, 1,743 firearm manufacturers and two small bonuses, a library of 650 printable targets and a cross-reference of American and European cartridge designations. Access to the online library, granted for one year upon purchase of the Firearms Guide on a flash drive, increases the number of schematics, manuals and blueprints available to a whopping 24,200.

GIVE ME SCHEMATICS

While perhaps most shooters would frequent the section on firearms descriptions, my personal focus is schematics (“exploded views”), which I use routinely in my gun work. Second to schematics are parts layouts. These illustrate the many parts of a firearm laid out in profile, but they don’t show the relationship of how the parts fit together, as a schematic does. Lacking a schematic, parts layouts are still an aid in determining what parts may be missing from an old gun. Many pre-World War II firearms owner’s manuals included parts layouts, and Firearms Guide presents a great many of these. Owner’s manuals are also a resource for instructions on takedown or field stripping of unfamiliar firearms. If you think that’s no big deal, imagine trying to disassemble a Savage Model 1907 or Mauser C96 pistol for the first time without instructions.

Many schematics at Firearm Guide’s online website are overlaid with a prominent, bold watermark. Though distracting, I haven’t seen one yet that significantly interferes with the usefulness of the information displayed. Schematics I’ve perused on the flash drive don’t have the watermark. Both can be copied on a printer.

Schematics and gun parts layouts
Where schematics (left) aren’t available, parts layouts (right) are still quite useful. (Photo by Art Merrill)

 

As a matter of note, Firearms Guide does not separate schematics, blueprints and manuals into separate sections, all is condensed under “Schematics.” Once the user selects a firearm, the page that appears has all the Guide’s material related to that firearm in a vertical scroll-and-select format. Some materials are not in English, as they are scanned from originals that deal with foreign firearms. Can’t read Cyrillic, Spanish or German? You can still glean useful information from the illustrations.

DIAMONDS AND NUGGETS

Firearms Guide has buried a few diamonds for those interested in the historical aspect of firearms. One delightful inclusion is a reprint of the 1961 “User Handbook for the Rifle, 0.22 in., No. 8, Mk I,” an instruction manual for the Short Magazine Lee-Enfield No. 4 rifle that the British converted to shoot .22 Long Rifle cartridges (What? You didn’t know there was a No. 8 Enfield?). As an example of a more useful nugget of obscurity, I found among the Schematics section a reprinted owner’s manual for the J. C. Higgins Model 301.229, sold by Sears, Roebuck & Company, a rifle I recently acquired in need of repair. Firearms Guide does not have every schematic or parts layout I searched for, but among its 24,200 online (8,000 on the flash drive) schematics, blueprints and manuals, it is nonetheless a valuable single-point reference resource.

MORE INFO

Firearm Guide’s ammunition reference section is a listing of modern ammunition available from manufacturers, and many listings provide detailed information about a cartridge. If, for example, you’ve ever wondered what the .375 Swiss is about, you’ll find an interesting explanation in the Firearms Guide. Many ammunition descriptions are apparently copied verbatim from the manufacturer’s literature.

In the “Firearms, Ammo and Air Gun” section, the firearms are organized such that, while vintage machine guns are included under the “Military” heading along with modern military small arms, the user must select the “Rifles” heading to find vintage military rifles. Some listed values are in U.S. dollars, some in Euros and some aren’t included.

Clicking on the “Gun Values” selection on the flash drive’s homepage automatically takes the user to the Firearms Guide website, where logging-in is required in order to see estimated gun values; all that I viewed were in U.S. dollars.

Firearms Guide has some interesting speedbumps, to be expected in such an expansive undertaking. For example, the ammunition section lists a “.34 Special” cartridge when, of course, the .38 Special is meant (unless there really is a .34 Special cartridge out there somewhere) and which is listed where it belongs in ascending order of cartridges based on bullet diameter.

Some addicts of the Imperial measurement system may be annoyed by the use of metric measurements throughout. That said, there is a generous sprinkling of Imperial use, such as in some bullet velocities listed in f.p.s. rather than m/s, and bullet energies listed in foot-pounds rather than joules.

Firearms Guide flash drive
Content of the Firearms Guide 14th Edition would take up many feet of bookshelves. (Photo by Art Merrill)

 

A couple of technical criticisms here. I could not get the bottom edge of the flash drive pages to appear on my screen, even when minimized, though that didn’t prevent using the Firearms Guide. The flash drive works considerably slower than the online version, at least on my PC. The click-and-drag “sliders” at the sides of many dropdown tables don’t work smoothly and are not really useful. Navigation is not as intuitive as I would have expected, but after a bit of head-scratching I found video tutorials at the bottom left-hand side of the homepage under the “Useful Links” section and discovered I was trying to shortcut the system. Viewing the tutorials first will get you where you want to go considerably quicker. Definitely watch the tutorials first.

You can visit the Firearms Guide website and tour through the material for free as a guest, but only as a demonstration of the material and of how the Firearms Guide works. Large print overlaid on the pages block clear viewing to prevent “pirating” the materials—the publisher, after all, has put much work into the Firearms Guide and it is a business product.

Firearms Guide 14th Edition on the flash drive is $99.90 and includes a one-year subscription to the online content. Visit the Firearms Guide website for more information.

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