Gun writers. They’re much better that way. At least they’re emotionally simpler for me.
There are famous old writers and experimenters in the firearms field who are almost universally revered. They’re my favorites, but not always for the same reasons that they’re considered the “greats”.
The very best of them are all dead and therefore I like them better because I will never have to hear them rant about creeping socialism in the Obama administration. I will never have to hear their sanctified bullshit about longing for a simpler time before the fall of Traditional American Values. I don’t pretend that Townsend Whelen or Harvey Donaldson or Elmer Keith or Dr. Franklin Mann were any different than the current breed of entitled white guy. They may have been different, but I sure don’t count on it. I never have to hear their ignorant or hateful bullshit because they wrote in a time when they didn’t write about women or people of color or queers at all. If they do say things about the fairer sex women, what they say is so bizarrely quaint as to have no impact for me. I know where the silence comes from and I know what it means, but silence is easier to read around.
I stopped reading Skeeter Skelton (That’s a porn name, no?) because he’s a bit more recent and I couldn’t stomach his tales of adventurous encounters while serving as a Border Patrol officer.
The best all come from a period: 1880 to 1935 or so. Not just because of politics. This is a great period of discovery and experimentation. Guys like Harry Pope and Harvey Donaldson and Dr. Frankiln Mann were able (for the first time in history) to access precision machinery which allowed them to invent and experiment on their own. This lowering of the capital bar for individual experimenters coincided with the early years of smokeless powder development. There was actually tons of cool stuff to write about!
Now, gun writing is practically limited to thinly veiled press releases for new products and hashed over articles about nothing. My personal favorite is the article that everyone has written on the 30-30 cartridge. Some are making a case for it not being dead (which it isn’t at all), some try to draw interest by claiming that it might be on the edge of extinction (usually only in a headline). According to some, this quintessential American cartridge for deer-sized game will bounce off the noses of bunny rabbits. Others claim to be refuting the assertion that it is a difficult cartridge to reload; an assertion I have never read anywhere by anyone who knew anything about such things. I’ve often daydreamed that if I were ever to make a serious effort to enter the field, I would have to write a 30-30 article as a sample piece with something genuinely novel in it. I haven’t thought of anything that hasn’t been said dozens of times in the 115 years since the cartridge’s introduction, so here I am.
As I slide deeper in to writing about gun things, I expect I’ll be doing some of the things that everyone does. I’m sure I’ll write about some common mundane cartridge that I adore for fairly stupid reasons. I’m even planning the post already. What I will not do is pretend that I’m doing something that hasn’t been done. I think of it a little as an established form that I might enjoy working in, like a haiku.
Those old dead guys invented the form. They invented new subject matter for themselves. They invented the stuff that gun writers are still writing about and the way they are still writing it. I like gun writers better when they’re old and dead.