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Unidentified soldier in Union uniform with three Remington revolvers, two Bowie knives, and a Springfield rifle musket.

Early American Firearms and Their Makers

August 2016

Table of Contents

General Works
Individual Gunmakers
    Allen and Wheelock – Bullard
    Deringer – Parker
    Remington – Ruger
    Savage – L.C. Smith
    Smith & Wesson – Whitney
Price Guides and Collecting
LC Subject Headings

Image (left): Unidentified soldier in Union uniform with three Remington revolvers, two Bowie knives, and a Springfield rifle musket. [between 1861 and 1865]
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division


As tools for our ancestors and sporting arms for our contemporaries, firearms are intimately a part of American history and lore. America's interest in firearms and their history has continued unabated since its earliest days. The company histories of firearms manufacturers reveal important threads in the industrial development of the nation. Not only are several small arms manufacturers among America's oldest business establishments, but firearms manufacturing was the source of numerous technological innovations, such as interchangeable parts and the American system of manufacturing.

Following a selection of introductory titles, works are arranged by company name. Many of these volumes contain detailed biographical material about the early entrepreneurs who shaped the industry and whose names, such as Oliver Winchester, John M. Browning, and Samuel Colt, have become synonymous with their products. Finally, there is a selection of books about prices and collecting firearms. In addition to standard price guides, many of the titles cited throughout provide information about specifications, model runs, serial number ranges, and company histories, all of which are useful in determining approximate values and relative scarcity of collectible small arms. Almost without exception these works are profusely illustrated with excellent photographs and drawings which can be invaluable to proper firearms identification.

Originally compiled by Richard F. Sharp, Reference Librarian
revised by Margaret McGinnis, Collection Development Officer

Last updated: 09/06/2016

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  September 6, 2016
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