Printed reference material and recommendations

As most of us on this forum have numerous reference books included in the library to explore this specific hobby, I offer the following for discussion.

I just recieved all of Tony Williams’ books. Inscribed. That alone puts them on the top shelf. It will ensure they will never be loaned out, not that I ever got carried away with that. I reference his webpage early on in my searches for IDing cartridges and cases. This “set” of books greatly expands the reference material I have on hand, covering as well a topic closer to my heart, GUNS.

I know there are bigger and/or better tomes out there, the list being near endless. BUT, I’m very reluctant to spend lots-o-money on a pig-in-a-poke. Having spent tons over the years on books of nominal value and accuracy, it would be real nice to have a rating system of sorts for those we utilize to verify assorted minutiae. Or disprove.

All that to wonder if y’all would be inclined to recommend or condemn your favored book on the subject at hand. I’m always in search of TMs and other mil manuals for reference, but they generally lack the glossy color pics I prefer when kicked back in my recliner.

So stomp in here and advise what you consider the varied offerings actually provide. I’m sure we will all benefit(read: not waste money) by basing future expenditures on your recommendations.


“History of Modern U.S. Military Small Arms Ammunition” Volumes I and II are well worth the price, if you’re interested in the subject matter. When volume III comes out, I will probably sleep with it under my pillow for a few months.

Chris Punnett’s “.30-06” is the definitive work on that broad area covering both military and commercial rounds (although it does not go into the excruciating detail of every experimental variation which is covered by Hackley, Woodin & Scranton).
However, it is also of great value to collectors of all calibers due to the wealth of info on the various makers of .30-06 ammo, nearly all of whom also made numerous other calibers, and the numerous photos of boxes helps date items for most of the 20th Century.

Barnes’ Cartridges of the World is a useful beginner book, despite its numerous persistent errors. For the advanced collector they are serious but for the beginner with a box full of likely common “bullets” they are trying to ID, it is easy to use and informative.

Anything from George Hoyem is excellent, although often highly specialized, as in his numerous reprints of obscure publications. Bless him for doing all that for us, because it is probably not the way to become rich.

Dean Thomas’ three volume “Round Ball to Rimfire: A History of Civil War Small Arms Ammunition” is the definitive work on that subject, and from the ammunition it is possible to learn a lot about many of the guns being used (e.g. pinfires) that gun collectors have overlooked. Essential for anyone interested in the transition era from paper cartridges to early metallic cartridges, but worthless if you are only interested in shotshells or .22 boxes or 9mm para.

Digital publications are also handy and cheap. The digital archives of the IAA Journal are great, and CSAEOD has many items available in digital format including the Buttweiler catalogs and numerous military manuals.

My free advice comes with a full money back guarantee.

The French language books Atlas Culots et Munitions Tome I and Tome II are excellent resources for headstamp identification. It’s not perfect, but what book is right? It’s a tier 1 resource.

If you are one of the more intelligent collectors you will want to specialize in US Military and there is nothing better than HWS.

For a general collection nothing beats the IAA JOURNAL CD and the Index and copies of current issues.



The book that I tend to pick up more than any other is Jean Huon’s ‘Military Rifle & Machine Gun Cartridges’.
It covers a wide range of military cartridges up to but not including 20mm giving just a brief history and descriptive details of each accompanied by a good quality picture or two. It is easy and logical to use and is interesting enough to just sit back and read.

Another vote for Jean Huon’s book, which is now out in a much-revised edition but so far only in French, so I’m keeping the English original version to help with translation! Its cover is comprehensive, with lots of obscure and experimental types as well as the usual suspects, and it normally has enough detail for my purposes.

Also for HWS, the bible on US military small-arms ammo.

Kent’s book on ‘German 7.9mm Military Ammunition’, obviously specialised and very detailed.

Labbett’s ‘British Small Arms Ammunition 1864-1938’, lots of detail on loadings of service types and loads of experimentals.

Labbett & Mead’s ‘.303’, hugely detailed with lots of experimental loadings.

Any and all of the series of ammo booklets by Peter Labbett, often in collaboration with Mead or Brown. These focus on British military ammunition and include auto cannon calibres, but the ones I refer to most often are ‘Assault Rifle Ammunition 5.6-11mm’ (international coverage, loads of experimentals) and ‘German Cannon Ammunition 1938-45’, in two volumes, one on 20mm and one on everything else 13-30mm.

To complete your coverage of British .303 ammo, get Tony Edwards’ ‘Headstamps and Markings on .303 inch British Service Ammunition’.

Ken Elk’s very detailed book on Japanese ammo up to 40mm calibre is excellent and now out in a greatly revised and expanded two-part version with colour illustrations (although I’m not sure if Part 2 - 20-40mm - is for sale yet).

Braun’s ‘Handbuch de Fleuzeug Bordwaffen’ covers German aircraft ammo of WW2, by using contemporary data sheets for each loading, including ballistics tables and penetration graphs.

Moving up to bigger stuff, there’s ‘The American Arsenal’ edited by Ian Hogg, subtitled ‘The World War II Official Standard Ordnance Catalog of Small Arms, Tanks, Armored Cars, Artillery, Antiaircraft Guns, Ammunition, Grenades, Mines, etcetera’. This is a compilation of data sheets which is most useful for large calibre ammo 20mm-16 inch.

Hogg’s ‘German Artillery of WW2’ is good because it includes lists of case dimensions of much of the ammo, and the gun entries include details of ammo types. The companion volume on ‘British and American Artillery’ is almost as good, but sadly lacks the lists of case dimensions.

Hogg & Thurston’s ‘British Artillery Weapons and Ammunition 1914-18’ is the classic work on this subject, with lots of ammo pics.

Other large-calibre stuff I refer to includes Robert Hawkinson’s privately published lists of case types 12-7mm - 800mm, and on French ammo 20-40mm ‘Renseignements sur les munitions de petits calibres’, which (as you may have guessed) is a French document but is available in English translation. Then there are the US intelligence reports on Japanese ammo I referred to previously in this thread.

I have loads more, but those are the ones I use most - plus Jane’s Ammunition Handbook for modern military+police ammo from pistols to heavy artillery, obviously! ;-)

I have to vote for two oldies but goodies, these being Charles Suydam’s The American Rimfire and US Cartridges and Their Handguns. These were two of the first mrefernce books I bought, and I still find myself referring to them regularly, in spite of the many books that I have bought in the interim.

I also second the vote for George Hoyems volumes 1 thru 4 of The History & Development of Small Arms Ammunition.

I also regularly spend time in HWS Vols 1 and 2, and Chris Punnett’s .30-06.

As a Winchester enthusiast, I consider Dan Shuey’s Vol 1 & 2 of WRA Co Headstamped Cartridges and Their Variations to be invaluable. In addition, Ray Giles and Dan Shuey’s One Hundred Years of Winchester Cartridge Boxes 1856 -1956 is absolutely wonderful. Chock full of information and hundreds of color pictures of the label variations. You don’t really have to be a Winchester collector to appreciate this book - I may just ask to be buried with my copy.

For those interested in self-defense pistol ammo there are few books which focus on the subject, but in the Italian language there is the book titled: “Breve guida alle munizioni non convenzionali” by Stefano Scaglia. The contents of the book’s first and second edition can be seen here: (Italian). I mention this book because it is the only book which I have ever seen to have actual listings of such things as the Power-Plus “Beehive”, and the Kendall International “Equalloy” bullet among others. It’s not what I would call a high-grade in-depth lexicon, but it is at least a guide with some explanation of cartridges scarcely ever encountered or mentioned. It sells for about 15 Euros when found.

I find that almost every book I have ever picked up comes in handy at least every once in a while. Even books that don’t match my interests at the moment seem to come in handy in the future. I love books!
I will add that the digital copies of the IAA Journals and Buttweiler catalogs come in handy a LOT.

Moetz’ books on Austrian small arms ammunition is the best piece of scholarship on any arms related topic I’ve ever seen. I just wish he’d written them in a language I could read with facility. JG

I have thousands of ammo references of the world and am converting them to digital format as quickly as possible. Some will not be possible due to current copyrights and publisher/author reluctance.

Much of this material has never been available to the public due to previous classification or limited distribution.

Color photos look just fine in digital format and with the new TV technology can be converted to wall size if one wants.

Between 4-5 hundred have already been digitized and they are posted on Ebay as soon as possible after conversion.

The Buttweiler Archive with “click to find” feature should be owned by everyone who does not have the original catalogues. I sold my set of paper copies after conversion and use the single CD which is much easier.

Anyone with manuals which have not been digitized please contact me as they may be worth doing.

Special interest in Polish , Finnish and other central European country manuals at this time.

Chinese manuals are also needed.