If you need an authoritative reference on firearms cartridges, stop right now and go buy Cartridges of the World. It is the best modern reference book that I have found on the history and development of all kinds of gun cartridges.
Listing more than 1,500 different kinds of cartridges from all over the world, this book is likely to have the answers you seek – even for obscure and obsolete cartridges. Sure, nearly anyone can tell you about the development of the .40 S&W, but what about the .425 Wrestly Richards Semi-Rimmed Magnum? Or the 6.5×53.5 Daudeteau? What about the 11 gauge, 15 gauge or 9mm rimfire shotshells?
The chapters are arranged to help the reader quickly locate a specific cartridge, and to allow an enthusiast to browse by category. Some of the chapters include:
- current American rifle cartridges,
- obsolete American rifle cartridges,
- wildcat cartridges,
- proprietary cartridges,
- military rifle cartridges,
- handgun cartridges,
- European sporting rifle cartridges, and
- many more.
There are also sections on identifying cartridges, nomenclature and the descriptions and identifications of US military ammo up to 20mm.
Cartridges of the World was written by Frank C. Barnes who died more than 20 years ago. The book continues to be updated on a regular basis, with the most recent version, the 13th Edition, edited by Richard A. Mann and released in October of 2012. There are a few articles in the current edition which address wildcatting, SAAMI and other topics that were contributed by third party writers.
The current edition is not perfect, however. Many new cartridges were added to the book in this edition, and to make room on the printed page, many of the obsolete cartridges were moved to a CD supplement included with the book. Personally, I would prefer to pay more to have all of the cartridges in the bound book. Also, the CD is an obsolete piece of technology and many computers no longer have optical drives. My father, for example, got rid of his traditional desktop and does all of his computing from an iPad now. What is he supposed to do with an optical disk?
I do not have the Kindle version of this book, but feedback on the Amazon store suggests the formatting of the Kindle book is sub-par. This is unfortunate, as there are many really great examples of properly formatted e-books on the market. Having Cartridges of the World on my iPhone and Kindle would make this a portable reference.
For a writer like me, solid reference books like this one are a “must have.” For the enthusiast, this book is a great read and a wealth of information. If you have any interest or need for reliable information on small arms cartridges, you need to buy this book.
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