Reference books


How about a list of good reference books for the younger/newer collectors that might be lurking here. Personally, my library is quite slim. Aside from several copies of CoTW, I have Logan’s Cartridges, and Datig I-III.

And speaking of Datig, is the 4th volume worth pursuing? I’ve only seen a handful of copies for sale, and those in the $150 - $200 range (or more). What is it really worth?




Everybody will have their own personal favorite. Go to the IAA Main Page (link above), scroll down the left side and you’ll find a bibliography. That’s a good place to start.

Buy the CD of past issues of the JOURNAL. You can’t go wrong with it as a reference.




What Ray said.

I’ve splurged on a book or two in the past. Sometimes more than a splurge. I’m President of the Can’t Have Too Many Books Club in the larger Ash Flat Metropolitan Area.
A number of the cartridge book authors frequent this forum with signed copies available directly from them. Makes you feel better about spending the bucks if they’re signed. And you are supporting their efforts directly vs some online bookstore. Better hurry tho, they’re mostly old guys. If you know what I mean. Nudge nudge, wink wink.


Rimfire Cartridge in the United States and Canada is a good one!

The American Cartridge

Two great books on American Rimfire cartridges.

SYSTEM LEFAUCHEUX, Continuing Study of PINFIRE CARTRIDGE ARMS Including their role in the American Civil War

has history of pinfire guns and cartridges and a decent amount about the cartridges. These are super interesting cartridges and a great thing for a new collector to collect!


In my opinion, a decent cartridge library will have about 50 books spread out across the various field of ammunition. It is quite possible to have several hundred books on ammunition. If your interest is really in a study of ammunition, it is impossible to have too many reference works.

It is, though, always best to start with the basics.

The down side is that books on cartridges, and guns, are coming out at a lightning pace these days, and the prices on them are usually very expensive. It is very discouraging. I am just short of fanatical about books on the arms and ammunition subject, have about 1500 in my own library, and I can no longer begin to keep up even with the ammo books. You simply do the best you can.

If your interest is absolutely specialized - whatever field of ammo you have chosen - and you don’t care about the rest (and that is NOT a criticism), try as you can afford to do it, to obtain everything in print on your field alone, and don’t worry about the rest. Believe me, for many fields, that will keep you busy of itself.

John Moss


I know that the advanced collectors find various faults with books like Cartridges of the World, or Ammo Encyclopedia, but the 12th edition of COTW is out now, and the 2nd edition of Ammo Encyclopedia has just been released and they have many corrections and new info. For a beginner they are good fodder. If you have any specific ammo interest then you should ask around here and also look hard in various language Google searches since some books are very smalls runs - like mine on pistol caliber AP or Otto Witt’s book on 38 special.


If you already have Datig 1-3, you gotta get #4!
If you have any interest in US military ammo, you have to have the Woodin, Hackley, Scranton collection.
Beyond that, Dr. Moss is right. No need spending big money on rimfire books if the cartridges hold no interest to you. Knowledge really is everything in the collector game, however, so get any reference works you can find in the field you finally decide on.


DK gave good advice, as far as I am concerned. Some have called me an advanced collector - don’t know that it really fits. I am a “long-time” collector, and that probably is a bit more accurate description. However, I have every issue of Cartridges of the World, and many other very general books. COTW has had, and still has, some errors of commission and omission, but most works do. Read my answers to this Forum and you’ll see what I am talking about. Unfortunately, plenty of errors there. Haven’t gotten around to the new “Ammo Encyclopedia” yet, and here it is already in its 2nd edition. I hear it is better than COTW, but can’t judge what I haven’t seen. It is on my list to buy, along with a couple hundred other books. The point is, especially if you specialize and that is all your interest is, that is, your own specialty, it is extra important to have at least a couple of general references like COTW or Armmo Encyclopedia. Makes up for not having dozens of other titles, and saves you money you can spend on the books you really need for your own specialty.

Jon - thanks for elevating my AA Degree to a PhD. In actuality, the only area I would qualify for a Phd is if they gave one for being an opinionated, slightly ignorant old man. I have fun at it though.

John Moss


“Dr” Moss

PhD (Some say it stands for “Piled Higher and Deeper”)

…but isn’t that how you describe you voluminous (wonderful, priceless, invaluable, appreciated) file cabinets (nary a slot for an additional reference ?) …am I wrong to understand you have 15+ (??) file cabinets full of every printed item you can accumulate about guns, ammo, etc., etc??

Whatever the case…you will qualify for the honorary “doctoral degree of cartridge-ology” when the IAA can begin to bestow them !

Bottom line, we appreciate your scholarly use of your reference resources, so “Dr” works for me !!


Hello everyone. Sometimes good cartridge info can be found in non-cartridge books. For example, I was recently given a copy of Warren Page’s 1973 book “The Accurate Rifle” and it is a good read, although I am not a bench rest shooter. Chapter 16 - Accuracy Cartridges and Loads is very informative and describes many different “modern” cartridges and the history of a few such as the 22-250 and the 243 Win. If you are into wildcats, then I reckon at least get a copy of that chapter of his book. Very interesting stuff and well written too. Has anyone else read that? Ian.


In my opinion a lot , really lot of info can be obtained from internet at no cost or paying a small annual fee.
There are several very good websites such as , worldwar , sammler munition and others, more specific on a restricted field ( 7.62 x 54 R cartridges, rimfire cartridges and so on)

Magazines are also a good source of info , especially on modern ammunition .Wildcats and proprietary numbers are often described on magazines better than book like COTW , and often the writer is the same guy who developed them

My interest is mainly in modern sporting cartridges , hoping to have at least a sample of each caliber.I am not interested to hds variations , experimental rounds or obscure primitive cartridges so internet is a good source for me

Just like to improve my library with a couple of books about wildcat cartridges. I have some headstamp books ( but some headstamps lists found FREE in the web are far more accurate) , some general books and some specific ones such as Brandt , Donnelly , Huon , Datig and Hoyem


IanB and Pivi are right on. You cannot divorce the study of ammunition from the firearms it is made for and many gun books are important to the study, both for their ammunition content and for a real understanding of why the cartridge was made.

The internet is a great place for free information, and those that are computer savvy are not saddled with a space problem using it, unlike us old “PHD’s” (Poor, Hard-headed Dumbbells) who print everything out because we can never find anything twice on a computer. The ammunition information on the internet seems endless, and while plenty of it is shallow, or with errors, that is true of many magazine articles and books as well - it doesn’t make them completely useless and eventually one learns enough to spot the weaknesses as well as recognize the strengths of them.

John Moss


I second Pivi’s suggestion on magazines. I have found many articles in old French gun magazines like Cibles, L’Amateur d’armes, Armes International, Armi, Action Gun, etc… on pistol-caliber penetrator ammo which I can find information on nowhere else. Often thanks to writers like Philippe Regenstreif. Or in U.S. magazines like American Handgunner, Guns, American Rifleman, Guns & Ammo, I find articles by Dean Grennell, Gary Paul Johnson, or Joe Zambone that interest me. You can sometimes go to the websites of these magazines and search their archive for keywords to find articles.


Magazine articles are good sources of information. I have found some of the European magazines to be a bit more scholarly than most U.S. magazines. My favorite U.S. Magazine for cartridge information is “Handloader” and it is, I think, along with “Rifle” among the better U.S. magazines. Many of the articles in the popular gun press have poor information, some from a technical or historical aspect, and others simply because they are “selling” a product in the article. Lots of hyperbole. They are best used with a little knowledge aforehand about the subject. I won’t start a fight here by listing magazine authors that, in my opinion, are full of BS. It is not a large list anyway.

John Moss


Thank you, gentlemen, for all the suggestions.


I would go along with COTW as the first book to buy. I know people on here don’t like it but its the best book to start with.


One more. Basic. Varied. Doesn’t assume you’re a PhD. And inexpensive.
Good starter. Probably pooh-poohed by the specialists, but oh well, it’s still a good book to have on the shelf.


The CD/DVD with all the back IAA Journals is an excellent, and inexpensive, choice. It is readily searchable for any topic of interest. And, if you just start reading through it, you will be exposed to every imaginable cartridge topic. After a few dozen issues you will develop a sense of what sort of topics you find interesting and those that have no interest at all. At that point you can focus more on reference books in a certain area.


Slick Rick - I don’t think anyone could denigrate the reprinting of many of Yust’s articles that appeared over the years in “The American Rifleman.” They are an excellent starting point for those interested in military loads. Steve added some other things, as I recall, as well, making the book quite useful for a beginner, and not without value to anyone interested in ammo.

John Moss


[quote=“JohnMoss”]Slick Rick - I don’t think anyone could denigrate the reprinting of many of Yust’s articles that appeared over the years in “The American Rifleman.” They are an excellent starting point for those interested in military loads. Steve added some other things, as I recall, as well, making the book quite useful for a beginner, and not without value to anyone interested in ammo.

John Moss[/quote]

That book also has an excellent chapter on clips and chargers. If you have every one which is illustrated by Yust then you already have a respectable collection.