OK, let’s cut to the chase, 365 Guns You Must Shoot: The Most Sublime, Weird, and Outrageous Guns Ever is one hell of a fun book. The provocative title had me from the get-go. I have to say that I had never before thought about wanting to shoot a different firearm each day of the year, but thanks to this book’s title, now I can’t get that thought out of my mind. While I will never have the opportunity to make a reality a dream that I heretofore never knew I had, author T.J. Mullin has stepped into the breach and provided an engaging, perceptive, and thoroughly enjoyable chapter-and-verse firing analysis of a year’s worth of weapons.
A respected firearms authority, T.J. Mullin is a former Army infantry and Judge Advocate General Corps officer and federal law enforcement agent. In addition to his law practice, he also provides training programs in firearms usage and associated tactical subjects to law enforcement agencies.
From Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (Who knew? Sure, the entry for that country is a Glock knock-off pistol design, but, Abu Dhabi?), to the United States of America, the book spotlights the shooting and handling properties of 365 pistols, rifles, submachine guns, and machine guns from 35 countries. The firearms in the book are used by the military and/or law enforcement agencies, or in self-defense. It includes some 19th century weapons, among them the Gatling gun, as well as weapons from World Wars I and II. Some are historical footnotes. The Ithaca Auto Burglar, for instance, is a short (a pistol grip, maximum barrel length of 12 inches), 20-gauge, double-barreled shotgun carried on the steering columns of cars prior to 1934 when night time automobile travel, particularly in rural areas, was dangerous. The book does not include flintlocks, cap-and-ball, or sporting firearms. As Mullin wrote in his introduction, “Someone else will need to do the book where those are tested.” The design is clean and eye pleasing. Many entries also include targets that were used, so the reader can see the shot patterns.
Where possible, Mullin conducted two types of tests: one on shooting ranges using paper targets at various distances, and the second in cinema ranges. The entries are short (the longest being about 300 words, with many much shorter), to the point, and fact filled. Every aspect of the weapon is covered. In addition to expected comments about weight, grip, feel, rate-of-fire efficiency, trigger pull, slide action, loading, and reloading, his comments include such details as comparative day-night efficiencies of sights (both hard and scopes), preferred magazine sizes, and other characteristics that a serious gun owner wants to know. Mullin is also not afraid to inject his opinion. An example on the plus side: the Browning P35 semi-automatic pistol. He wrote, “It is considered John Browning’s crowning achievement.” And, “The FBI ‘Super SWAT’ National Hostage Response Team (HRT) carried them, as did the British Special Air Service (SAS) units. There is no better recommendation.”
An example on the fun side was the conclusion of his commentary about the Czech Single-Shot .22-caliber that was manufactured in the years following the end of World War II: “To me [the pistol reflects] a leisurely time period when shooting .22 shots without ear muffs at pine cones or walnuts was a pleasant way to spend an afternoon with a companion, away from the distractions of modern life.”
On the negative side, there’s his summation of the French-made Ruby 7.65 pistol: “There is not a lot to recommend this pistol: its sights are hard to use, its safety is hard to disengage, and it is heavy and underpowered.”
The book is not without flaws. There are some dismaying typographical errors (for example Abu Dhabi, is spelled “Abu Dabi” and prices in U.S. dollars were weirdly spelled out instead of presented in numerical form). It would have been useful to include with the different paper targets the range distances. And, despite the book’s subtitle, I felt the “weird” and “outrageous” adjectives were exaggerations. But, those are minor flaws. Where it counts, 365 Guns You Must Shoot delivers a bull’s-eye at all ranges.