Back in 1997, I worked on a documentary called Story of the 9mm in U.S. History. This was a video documentary published by a small video publisher in Kennesaw, GA called Four Gun Productions.
It was not a huge international success, though it was picked up and distributed across America by Calibre Press. I was the main star (sort of), did most of the research and writing, and lost my only copy of the video in some move or another.
I wanted to share the history of how it all came together.
Four Gun Productions
Four Gun Productions (or 4G as we called it back then) was the brainchild of Andrew T. Collier – or Andy as I would get to know him. Collier was involved with a local collectors group for some years when he discovered shooting. Once bitten by the gun bug, he was “all in.”
I met him when I was shooting at a range in Smyrna (just south of Kennesaw.) We got to talking and he was intrigued by my Glock 17 and my wife’s SIG P226. (Yes – that was a West German P226!)
We left together and had lunch at a nearby BBQ place. I can’t recall the name of it, but it was off Windy Hill Road for those that know the area.
Anyway, he had in his mind the oddness of how the metric cartridge – as he liked to call it – displaced the .45 as the top handgun cartridge. He discounted the .40 as a flash in the pan and thought the real battle was between the 9mm and .45.
After a long lunch, he took the idea back home and started working on it. Soon thereafter, he invited me to dinner and introduced me to two of his friends: Dennis Anderson and Mike Harrison.
Anderson and Harrison were in the film production business and had known Collier from some prior work on a law enforcement training film. I forgot the specifics.
Collier apparently talked them into producing a documentary about the 9mm cartridge in the U.S. As it turns out, they wanted my help with research, writing and narration.
Alcohol lubricated our plans and we hammered out a deal that night. Within the week, we were already working on the script.
I’d done quite a bit of historical research in my college years. In fact, I even trained in legal research. So combining my research experience with my love of gun history was a pretty cool thing.
The problem, of course, is that the web was still a young thing and was of limited use for research. Usenet groups were actually more helpful in many cases. But a lot of time was spent thumbing through old books and card catalogs.
As I collected information, I began writing the script. As it turns out I was responsible for about 80% of the writing while Collier picked up the remaining 20%. I covered the factual research while he provided the interpretation and opinion. It was a fair deal in my estimation since the project was his baby anyway.
Collier worked the cameras and handled the editing. I did the voice narration. Anderson and Harrison provided the cash for making everything work.
Frankly, it was a fair deal.
I think the total gross on the deal was about $57,000 if I recall correctly. Not including the worth of my time, I had less than $100 invested. Anderson and Harrison covered almost every cost.
The downside was I pocketed only $1k on the deal. My profit share didn’t kick in unless the gross sales hit $100k – and we fell well short of that.
Nevertheless, I did not consider it a failure. Quite the contrary as I learned about video production and editing. I even got my hands dirty with narration and acting.
At the time, I worked for a police department and we carried Glock 17 pistols. The chief let me appear in uniform in the video, which made my parents happy. And that made it worth every minute I put into it.
I don’t know if this documentary ever made it onto DVD or if it was just a VHS release. I’ve searched YouTube and every corner of the internet, but alas, there is no sign of this old video.
If copies still exist, they are likely to turn up at a garage sale or some other random spot. If you find a copy, would you do me a favor and let me know? I’d be happy to pay any costs associated with making a digital copy of it.
Four Gun Productions went on to make several more documentaries. However, my law enforcement career was taking off, and I did not want to compromise that working on another time-consuming side project. The company made a documentary on the SKS (many of which were being imported at the time) and the Makarov pistol. I have no idea of those are still around.
Four Gun was purchased by another production company (maybe Calibre Press?) and had, the last I heard, been acquired by yet another entity. I have no idea where any of those guys are today. If you’re reading this and you are one of those guys – reach out! I’d love to catch up.