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Bolt Action Military Rifles of the World

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Bolt Action Military Rifles of the World

by Stuart Mowbray and Joe Puleo


Published by Andrew Mowbray Inc

ISBN 1-931464-39-1

Hard cover

Price $69 new.  Still in print. A Classic.  Many used copies can be found.


So here are my thoughts and Review back in 2010 when I first ordered the book.  A GREAT BOOK if you are into military bolt action rifles!

Shipped in a cardboard box, my autographed copy arrived in excellent condition from Man at Arms books. It is an excellent, high quality book with a printed cover and a matching dust cover. Written to provide an overall brief description and an in depth photographic review of specific military bolt action rifles for the milsurp collector, Bolt Action Military Rifles of the World by Stuart Mowbray and Joe Puleo offers an excellent photographic reference providing not often encountered photographic details that should be of assistance to all milsurp collectors. This book is not a price guide like Schwing’s Standard Catalog of Military Firearms, nor is it a manual on disassembly like the author’s superb book entitled The Collectors Guide to Military Rifle Disassembly and Reassembly. What makes this book brilliant are the photo mosaics providing close-up, detailed, professional, color photos of stock cartouches, marker’s marks, and overviews of the rifles. Like Gun Collector magazine, these are outstanding quality photos grouped in an artistic manner providing a well illustrated book with thousands of photos of each rifle’s details. Every page has numerous photos interspersed with verbal descriptions.

It is true... if you are looking for a specialist reference source like Ruth’s War Baby or Skennerton’s The Lee-Enfield, this is not the book for such detail. Instead, the book’s research value lies in its enlarged photos and in depth views of each rifle discussed. While Scarlata’s fine book, Collecting Classic Bolt Action Military Rifles, describes by word the basic identification of rifles and is aided by a few photos, Mowbray and Puleo’s book reverses the emphasis by describing the firearm’s unique features primarily through photos and then by excellent verbal description. It is a glossary of gunmarks and rifle overviews organized in the table of contents by country. I just wish they would have added subdivisions indicating which rifles are covered under each country. The book is organized alphabetically, but due to its vast scope, each rifle’s discussion is somewhat brief. Each rifle’s specifications are highlighted in a green information box listing caliber, total length, barrel length, weight, magazine, and bayonet. Their discussion is supplemented by a dazzling array of photos providing overall views of the entire rifle as well as the top/bottom, and right/left views. In addition, receiver crests and receiver side stampings, inspection stamps, acceptance marks, stock cartouches, bolts, bolt heads, barrel bands, sights, triggers, magazines, butt plates, nose caps and the internal views with open bolts are all shown in exquisite detail. An added plus is the view of the bayonet and scabbard and numerous military historical context photos showing soldiers with the particular rifle discussed. Some rifles are covered on one page, most others take four to sixteen pages to provide the necessary detail in order to illustrate each rifle. For example, the Gew 98 and the 1896 Swedish Mauser are reviewed in four pages, the Swiss K 31 in six, the 1895 Mannlicher in nine, while in contrast the K 98k Mauser requires twelve, and the Arisaka and Mosin are outlined in fourteen pages.

This is not a coffee table book. Rather, it is a useful display of standard issue military bolt action rifles that can be found today on the surplus market. The authors provide an ample amount of photographic and descriptive information you should know before you purchase a military surplus rifle. This book reminds me of a greatly enlarged version of John Walter’s small book, the Greenhill Military Manual on Military Rifles of the Two World Wars, but with more powerful photos and greater scope.

What I did not like about the book is the index; it is too incomplete. You cannot cross reference a rifle by model in order to search for it in the text. There is no master list of all the rifles discussed in the book. While bayonets are clearly identified and shown, no effort was made to identify and describe the slings, only few rifles actually have slings in the photos. In addition, there are no views of the cleaning rods and only rarely are there photos of the cartridges. Views of enblock clips or stripper clips are also lacking.

In the spirit of milsurp collecting, this book fulfilled my expectations. It will be an assistance to novice and intermediate collectors and I would daresay even to the the more experienced collectors venturing outside their preferred weapon of choice. While there are many more detailed books on specific rifles, this is an enjoyable book and is outstanding for the collector that wants an idea of what a particular rifle should look like and for its locational information relating to specific identification marks that are present on an unmodified military rifle. This is especially true if he or she is unfamiliar with a particular bolt action model. Its strong point is its focus on the types of rifles a buyer is likely to encounter at an auction or gun show in today’s market. After reading the section on a specific rifle, you can be sure when you go to an auction or gun show that you will know what you are looking for. Filled throughout with many excellent photos on high quality glossy paper, it is amazing that this book only costs $69. It is a “must have” edition. This is one of the three books I would recommend to a beginning milsurp collector.  It is perfect for an overview of a particular rifle. Bolt Action Military Rifles of the World is a “must” along with the authors previous book, a Collectors Guide to Military Rifle Disassembly and Reassembly, and Paul Scarlata’s Collecting Classic Bolt Action Military Rifles.

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