Firearms Guide 3rd Edition

By Dr. Jim Clary

Illustration courtesy of Impressum Media, Inc.

I would like to state, right up front, that I have always preferred hard copy references for personal use, rather than digital media. That stems from the fact that I was born in a time before digital media became efficient and widespread. My wife and I have accumulated a personal library of over 2,000 books. We have our college texts, reference books and miscellaneous specialty books collected over the past sixty years.

Given that information, you can imagine that I am somewhat skeptical of firearms reference "books" in digital format. Most of those that I have reviewed over the years were hard to navigate and incomplete in content. Not so with the Firearms Guide.

The Guide doesn't require any installation on your computer. Simply load the disc into your CD/DVD drive and the home page comes right up. There are five large icons displayed on the home page: Firearms, Airguns and Ammo Guide, Schematics Library, FFL Locator, USA-EU Caliber Chart and Printable Targets. Click on one and you are taken to the relevant files. It quickly became obvious that to reproduce this volume of information (almost 8 gigabytes) in hard copy would be cost prohibitive for the consumer and unwieldy to handle because of its weight. Does anyone remember the unabridged library version of the Webster's Dictionary? That is close to what would be required if the Firearms Guide was available in print form.

The Firearms, Airguns section has references to 55,000 guns (with specs) and ammunition types from 500 manufacturers worldwide. If you want to browse through them all, you'd better have a lot of coffee and time available; see you in a couple of months. New for this year is a section on fully automatic military rifles from heavy machine guns to modern assault rifles. While I don't collect or shoot military stuff, being a Vietnam veteran, I do like to follow the development of new weapons. As such, that section was interesting to browse through.

The advantages of a digital gun guide is that a search of all models can be done by using one or combining up to 14 specific firearms, air guns and ammo search criteria such as: barrel length, caliber, barrel type, slide finish, frame finish, frame material, stock type, stock material, etc. For example, if you search Firearms Guide by using this search criteria: pistol, 45 ACP, Made in USA, polymer frame, stainless slide finish, accessory rail, in price range of $500 - $1,000 your search result will be 12 pistols from various manufacturers. Try to do that in Google or with any book.

Now that you found those pistols you can research the stopping power or effective reach of any pistol (or revolver, rifle or shotgun) with just one click on the SHOW ME AMMO button. Each firearm model is connected with all the ammunition in that specific caliber. While checking one gun out, with just one click you'll see bullet styles, bullet weights, features, velocities, energies and trajectories of all ammo in that caliber. Guns are presented with up to 12 high-resolution pictures that you can zoom in to see the smallest details. Pictures of expensive engravings on custom made shotguns are so big that you'll be able to read the engravers name without a problem. Plus, you'll be able to see the same gun from different angles and see up to 12 pictures of details of the same gun.

The Schematics Library includes over 3,000 printable gun schematics with their parts list from 268 manufacturers. A very nice feature of the Guide is that both the schematics and firearms pictures can be zoomed-in for easier viewing. Very few other digital media programs provide that capability and, if you want a hard copy, you can print the schematic with a single click.

The ammunition section was of particular interest to me. For all of the commercial calibers listed, and there are a lot, you can find virtually every manufacturer in the world with the specifications of their products. This makes it possible to compare brands before buying.

The FFL Locator has listings for 62,000 dealers across the US, with their phone numbers to make it easy to find a dealer in your locale. The listing specifies which type license each dealer has. When you need to buy or sell a gun, you can now call all the gun dealers in your town to find out who has the best price. If you bought your gun online and you are looking for the most affordable transfer service, call all the gun dealers in your town to find out who can offer you the best price.

The Printable Target section has over 500 targets that you can browse, zoom in and print directly from your computer. The only targets not listed are NRA competition targets, but you need to purchase them, anyway. There are "classic targets," animal targets and animal targets with bulls eyes. If you can't find one to your liking, look again.

The Guide is available for both PC and MAC systems. The PC version, which I have, is compatible with Windows 7 & 8, XP and Vista. I did find a Windows 7 glitch. If you are an older chap, like me, and prefer display settings greater than default, the "home" and "video" navigation buttons on the main page won't work. This is a Windows 7 problem, not a Firearms Guide problem, as I have experienced it with other programs. As of May 2012, Microsoft has not addressed the problem with a patch. So, if you are using Windows 7, make sure that you use the default display setting (100%) when using the Firearms Guide, as well with other programs, such as Origin Lab.

The nice thing about the Firearms Guide being in digital format is it represents a work in progress that can, and will, be updated periodically, as new information becomes available. The Firearms Guide 3rd Edition is not perfect. Few references of this magnitude are. Some data is missing from some of the firearms. For example, the velocity of the Gamo Bone Collector Bull Whisper airgun, which Mary reviewed, is not listed (it is 1,300 fps). However, when you are dealing with 55,000 models, it is to be expected that some data falls through the cracks. That said: The Firearms Guide is superior to anything else on the market. With an MSRP of $39.95, it is a must have for any serious shooter or collector.

Back to Outdoor Accessories

Copyright 2012, 2016 by Dr. Jim Clary and/or All rights reserved.