Welcome to July everyone and while we are at it, Happy Birthday to our great country (preserving another year from the onslaught of socialists trying to destroy it). Just got back from spending some time down in Southern Illinois at Rend Lake. This is just south of Mt. Vernon and for you Chicagolites it is basically in South America. It ended up raining buckets but I managed to pull off a +1 which we will definitely get to this month. However, we are here today to discuss the latest cross off the reading list. Truthfully, this book really wasn’t on the list per-se, a friend of mine from work lent me this book thinking I might like it – and like it I did! This book was mostly written by Chris Kyle of American Sniper fame (link here). Unfortunately he and his friend were gunned down by a sickness they were trying to cure. Thanks to his wife and friends they were able to put the finishing touches on the book and publish it for all of us to enjoy. It is a bit macabre to be reading the thoughts of a recently deceased individual, but if you can get past that you will definitely find this an interesting read if you are into the history of rifles and pistols – gun control advocates can pass right by this work and go straight for the government aisle and learn what unalienable rights are.
The premise of this book is Kyle took a look back in history and identified 10 firearms that had a significant impact on the shaping of the United States (I can imagine the deafening Liberal gasp). Those 10 weapons of protection and war are: Kentucky Rifle, Spencer Repeater, Colt 45, Winchester 1873, 1903 Springfield, M1911, Thompson Machine Gun, M1 Garand, .38 Special and the M16. All of these were very recognizable by me and I’ve even had the pleasure of firing the Colt, the 1911, the M1 Grand, .38 Specials and the M16 based AR15. My favorite was the Garand by far – fire it, and you will never ever forget it. The power that rifle brought to the battlefield was incredible. This is one of those books that falls in the category of a quick read. Chris’ style is very conversational and clear. The entire book was read cover to cover on our trip back from Denver back in May (when I wasn’t driving ha). Don’t let how quick the read was give the wrong impression it wasn’t entertaining. On the contrary, I loved this book. It isn’t often I get to learn so much history in such a short time. It became pretty apparent that my early education was significantly lacking when it comes to American history. Woefully insufficient to the point it was news to me that Truman was even involved in an assassination attempt – successfully defended by individuals who willingly put themselves in harm’s way including Coffelt who gave the ultimate price. Another surprise was that the Americans lost 200 at the battle of Kettle Hill and San Juan Heights charges – always thought this was a complete slaughter rained down from the superior positions of the Spanish. Don’t get me wrong, 200 is an absolute tragedy, but given the situation I thought the numbers were in the thousands (there were 1200 wounded). There are way to many other gaps in my education that were filled to go into in this summary, so jumping to the recommendation – Get this book!
Check out the jump to see my many takeaways.
- Kyle “Members of the military voluntarily sign a check to the USA for a price up to and including their life”
- Dad taught how to shoot even before he learned to ride a bike – respect the weapon
- Revolution solders specifically targeted officers to disrupt their order which repulsed the high society British officers
- American Long Rifle – rifling, sleek, lightweight (9 pounds). Have to have precision to shoot deer – no second shot
- Musket bullets were actually undersized to prevent misfiring
- Bayonet charges were more deadly than several musket line firings
- British Colonel Banastre Tarleton executed a raid behind enemy lines that almost captured Thomas Jefferson and the entire Virginal legislature – he was later defeated on my birthday – January 17th
- General Santa Anna (of the Alamo fame) ordered a bayonet and bullet massacre of 353 Texan prisoners near Goliad on Palm Sunday March 27th – Sam Houston eventually paid them back
- The .58 Minie-ball (which I always thought was the mini-ball) invented by Claude-Etienne Minie allowed them to easily into the rifle bore – the deformations of that bullet left some ghastly wounds in the field
- The main difference between a rifle and carbine is the length of the barrel
- The Union army formalized the role of a sharpshooter leveraging the Sharps rifle
- The primary Union army weapon was the muzzle-loading rifle-muskets. Eventually they started bringing in the Spencer carbines
- The Civil War was the last muzzleloader war
- Texas Rangers carried the Colt 45 and used them to protect the settlers from Indians – note the Colt firm went bankrupt just as the Colt was gaining popularity
- Sam Colt ended up striking a deal with Eli Whitney to mass produce the Walker Colt
- Civil War veterans on both sides were allowed to keep their weapons after the war resulting in a huge spike of civilian gun ownership
- The S&W Model 3 started a revolution in 1869 due to marrying the bullet, powder and primer into a single cartridge
- The Colt 1851 Navy revolver fired .36 caliber rounds – it was actually equally popular with civilians
- Wild Bill Hitchcock carried a Colt Navy – he was shot in the back by Jack McCall in Deadwood in 1876 (actually been there a number of times)
- The Spencer rifle had to have the hammer pulled back manually before it could fire – still the most successful repeater of the Civil War era
- The Sharps was considered to have knockdown power at both ends – .50 caliber – the cartridge was 2.5 inches long
- Custer’s last stand was actually a series of five individual stands – a defeat that lasted 60 minutes
- Theodore Roosevelt lost his mother and wife on the same day his daughter was born – he left politics and went to the American West
- The Rough Riders were the first Volunteer Calvary (1,000 strong) led by Teddy Roosevelt
- Black powder guns were actually “bullet magnets” – it told the enemy exactly where you were
- A batter of three Colt M-1895 .30 caliber Gatling guns cleared the path for the charging Rough Riders up Kettle Hill.
- The Kettle Hill and San Juan Heights charges cost Americans over 200 dead and 1200 wounded and the Spanish lost 215 with 376 wounded. Keep in mind Americans brought 15,000 strong to the fight and the Spanish were able to put up a formidable defense with 750
- The Springfield 1903 was copied so much from the Mauser that the US Government had to pay them hundreds of thousands of dollars in royalties
- I had no idea the aught six in 30 aught-six refers to the year it was introduced – that ammo made the Springfield 1903 a superstar
- I need to do some research on the WW1 Belleau Wood battle – I was not aware of this and it was a pivotal battle won by the Springfield 1903 – It was the bloodiest day in U.S. Marine Corps history to that point with 1,087 casualties. They put a cemetery there to honor the dead.
- The 1903 was used through WWII and even Korea and Vietnam
- The .300 Win Mag. was developed after the 30-06
- Remington’s Model 700 add – with over 5 million sold, the world’s largest army isn’t in China
- Mauser is actually a subsidiary of Sig
- Kyle used the .338 Lapua Magnum round when he made his longest kill (on the McMillan rifle)
- A German officer surrendered his troops to Sgt. Alvin York on the promise he would stop shooting at them (he was picking them off with unbelievable accuracy and even taunted them to come down and get some more)
- .45 ACP – Automatic Colt Pistol designed for the famous 1911
- Kyle’s Springfield TRP Operator 1911 took a frag for him in Fallujah
- Need to find out if Dad was aware of Master Sgt Ernest R. Kouma who made and unbelievable stand in a M26 Pershing tank holding off a force of five hundred North Koreans along Nakdong River
- The M1911 was retired from many of the military branches in 1985 – replaced by the NATO 9mm M9 Beretta – however many special ops instead prefer to carry the stopping power of the 1911
- John Taliaferro Thompson invented the Thomson Gun was developed to clear trenches in WW1 – just came too late to be used there but was employed heavily in WW2
- The Thompson was adopted by the Mafia – the weapon used in the infamous St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in Chicago on Feb 14, 1929
- First Lieutenant Harrison C. Summers is the Sgt York of WWII for his capture of building WXYZ
- Sgt Leonard A. Funk Jr. of the 82nd Airborne’s 508th Parachute Infantry (I’d be exhausted just giving that title) put the Thompson to good use earning the Medal of Honor for freeing American troops from the Germans
- General Patton considered the M1 Garand the greatest battle implement ever devised
- The Garand is considered the gun that saved the world . Created by John Cantius Garand who worked for the Springfield Armory in Massachusetts and fired the .30-06.
- The Garand became the Army’s official rifle on January 9, 1936 – Kyle mentions the nasty thumb catcher of a loader it had and even mentioned the tell-tale “ping” it made when your clip was empty – nothing like telling the enemy you defenseless for a few seconds.
- The durability of the Garand meant life or death in the cold months of Korean war – it was even recommended to run them completely dry (no oil) to keep them from freezing up and jamming – need to ask Dad about this
- I had no idea President Harry S. Truman was a target of an assassination while he was staying at the Blair House while the WH was undergoing renovations
- Leslie Coffelt died defending Truman – the only secret service member to have died protecting a president
- The .38 rounds diameter is really .357 which is why revolvers can carry either round
- H. Ross Perot bought every officer in Dallas an automatic of his choice after he heard they were outgunned in the field
- Ruby killed Oswald with a .38 special
- Assault rifles are defined as rifles that can be selected to fire single shots , bursts or full automatic – sorry liberal media, the civilian AR-15s do not classify as your evil assault rifle
- The AR-15 was invented by Stoner and Armalite. It lost out to the M14 for the military so sold the weapon in 1959 to Colt for 75K with a 4.5% royalty on future sales. in 1963 the M14 was replaced by the by the AR15 which became known as the M16
- The M16 reached the troops in ’65/’66 but soon experienced failures in the field from the dirt/grit along with changing the powder from the initial cartridges
- They have the weapon all tuned up now the release of the M16A4s and the M4 Carbine including the three round burst mode and the accessory rails.
- Recommends the Sig 516s for perimeter and containment work and compact enough for interior work
- 6 million guns are manufactured in the US in a single year – hoo ya
7 thoughts on “Book Recollection: American Gun”
A very interesting review–thanks!!
White House renovations, huh? Am I the only one who thinks that was secretly an excuse for building a nuclear bomb shelter below the White House?
Other than the renovation bit, for which I’ve harbored that thought for years, I knew absolutely nothing on this review list, including the attempted assassination of Truman. And I just bought a Browning ball cap (for birding).
Is that a Caterpillar tractor!!! I have not heard the theory about the bomb shelter – I thought it was the secret escape tunnels Kennedy used to get Monroe in and out secretly. You didn’t know about the assassination attempt either – now I don’t feel so uneducated. I had notice your ball cap previously and keep forgetting to welcome you into the NRA. hehehe
No, that ball cap was just a generic camo hunting cap with an Under Armor logo or something. My new one has a large Browning deer outline logo in the front and the name “Browning” along the rim of the brim. It basically tells all attacking birds, snakes, bumblebees and steers that I’m probably armed.
Too funny – you want the protection the name on the hat affords but not the actual items that made this great country what it is today – you realize that once those birds, snakes, bumblebees and steers (recently added by the way and a much more sinister name that just plain cows) realize your hat is just a facade on the face of fear you will harassed to no end! hehehehehe
I’m concerned that any gun I’m carrying might accidentally go off when I’m tumbling down hills. I tell you, birding is the most dangerous activity I’ve ever been involved in.
Oh, did I mention wild dogs and packs of coyotes that stare me down on the trail and follow me in the woods and a group of questionable characters who tried to circle behind me?! And nearly getting my head slammed by a metal door while trying to free someone (not you) trapped in a pit toilet? And at the moment I’m nursing about 20 huge chigger bites. If I had a birding blog I would relate those adventures. (Particularly the 50 steers with seriously scary horns chasing me out in an open prairie last Saturday, a real highlight.) But I don’t have such a blog. I have to use yours, thanks.
Of all those things – that pit toilet story is by far the most scary – having been there and witnessing that steel door come shooting out like a bullet was damn scary. That could have ended very bad which is ironic because we were trying to help someone out who was having a claustrophobic episode when the door lock/jammed behind her. That was an experience I’ll file away not to do again (that might apply to both the approach to getting the door released and the more general concept of helping someone – pretty sure this all started because her husband saw you and could tell you were a socialite. As far as the guys trying to circle around you – NEVER let that happen and the 2nd Amendment is your friend!