FREE Downloadable Classic Gun Books

Free Classic Shooting BooksFree is good. Here is a selection of older shooting books that can be downloaded for FREE from Google Books. This list, created by German Salazar, includes many classic treatises on marksmanship that still have value for today’s competitive shooters. In addition, we’ve included illustrated firearm histories, such as Townsend Whelen’s fascinating book, The American Rifle.

Below you will find a list of books, each with a clickable title link and brief description. The title link will take you to the Google Books page for each book. You can read the entire book online, or you can download it to your computer as a PDF file and save it (or print it). You can also create your own Google Library and save the books there for access from any computer. Most of these books are hundreds of pages long, so consider your paper and toner supply before printing!

The Bullet’s Flight From Powder to Target, Franklin W. Mann, 1909, 384 pages.
This is the original and still widely read and highly regarded book on internal and external ballistics. Dr. Mann was a tireless experimenter and had the resources to pursue his interest with the best equipment available. A close friend of Harry Pope as well as other notable experimenters in the early days of smokeless powder, Mann’s work is thorough and well documented. If you have an interest in ballistics, this is the foundation that you must know in order to understand the ensuing century of work in that field.

Irish Riflemen in America, Sir Arthur Blennerhassett Leech, 1875, 216 pages.
This book chronicles the Irish rifle team’s trip to America in 1874 to compete against the best of America’s riflemen as organized by the Amateur Rifle Club of New York when the fledgling NRA ignored the Irish challenge. The book also includes a great deal of history of Irish target shooting and an account of a hunting trip in the American West by members of the party. Well worth reading.


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The American Rifle, Townsend Whelen, 1918, 637 Pages.
Townsend Whelen was — and remains for many of us — the dean of American firearms writers. Here is a man who truly did it all and wrote about it with the authority of experience and the modesty of a true gentleman. Despite his roots in Philadelphia society, Whelen sought outdoor adventure and hard living and he found it; we are all richer for his ability to document it so well. This book, written immediately after (and during) the Great War gives a great insight into the period from a rifleman’s perspective: equipment, reloading, shooting — it’s all here. A long book and worth every page.

Whelen Military Riflemen

Suggestions to Military Riflemen, Townsend Whelen, 1909, 243 pages.
Townsend Whelen’s pre-war book on marksmanship which brought him to national prominence in the military establishment. Whelen, who coached the national championship winning Army rifle team at Sea Girt in 1906, covers all aspects of shooting the Model 1903 rifle, including long-range shooting. There is also an appendix covering the Krag-Jorgensen as it was still used by various state guard units at the time. Positions, sights, zeroing, windage, score books, slow-fire, rapid-fire, long-range, ammunition, vision; it’s all here. Every topic you see covered in a modern book on marksmanship was covered by Whelen in this book. You can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been — this is a “must read” for the serious marksman and student of history.

Modern Rifle Shooting From the American Standpoint, W. G. Hudson, 1903, 155 pp.
Dr. Hudson was one of the leading lights of the early smokeless era (as well as the Schuetzen era), a contemporary and friend of Mann and Pope, Hudson was a tireless investigator of all things related to accuracy. This very hard to find book is an introduction to target shooting with a detailed overview of equipment and practices and is well illustrated with many plates of top level equipment of the day; a real gem.

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Manual for Rifle Practice: Including Suggestions for Practice at Long Range, George Wood Wingate, 1879, 303 pages.
Wingate was the central figure in the founding of the National Rifle Association of America. Like Whelen’s manual 30 years later, Wingate’s book was adopted as the training manual by many military organizations. An authoritative view of marksmanship instruction in the day of the Trapdoor Springfield, Sharps, Remington Rolling Block, and Peabody military rifles. Includes diagrams and instructions for their care.

How I Became a Crack Shot — With Hints to Beginners, W. Milton Farrow, 1882, 204 pp.
Milton Farrow was one of the top shots of his time. Well-bred and highly educated, modesty was not among Farrow’s virtues. This makes for entertaining reading as he describes his travels and his many shooting accomplishments. The Hints for Beginners section has advice that remains sound even these many years later.

The Gun and its Development, William Wellington Greener, 1907 (8th Ed.) 786 pages.
Originally published in 1881, Greener’s book covers all aspects of the firearms world at that time and this 8th edition has many updates. While much of the text focuses on shotguns, there is a great deal of other material in this massive tome, including coverage of gunpowder and explosived, pistols, rifles, target shooting, rifle clubs and much more of interest to the modern rifleman. Many great period advertisements at the end will make you wish for a time machine!

Description and Rules for the Management of the United States Rifle, Caliber .30, Model of 1903, United States Army Ordnance Dept., 1904 (5th rev. 1914), 72 pages.
Here is the original US Army manual for the new Springfield Model 1903. A must-have for the Springfield 1903 buff or student of history.

Springfield 1903 rifle U.S. Army

Cartridge Manufacture, Douglas Thomas Hamilton, 1916, 167 pages.
This book is a well-written, technical presentation of small arms cartridge manufacturing during the Great War. An inside look at all processes at the Frankford Arsenal including case manufacture, bullet manufacture, loading and packaging. A useful historical treatise on the topic.

CLICK HERE for more FREE, downloadable Classic Shooting Titles.


Quick Title List

(Same List as above, but without our comments. Just Click Title to Download.)

The Bullet’s Flight From Powder to Target, Franklin W. Mann, 1909, 384 pages.

Irish Riflemen in America, Sir Arthur Blennerhassett Leech, 1875, 216 pages.

The American Rifle, Townsend Whelen, 1918, 637 Pages.

Suggestions to Military Riflemen, Townsend Whelen, 1909, 243 pages.

Modern Rifle Shooting From the American Standpoint, W. G. Hudson, 1903, 155 pp.

Manual for Rifle Practice: Including Suggestions for Practice at Long Range, George Wood Wingate, 1879, 303 pages.

How I Became a Crack Shot — With Hints to Beginners, W. Milton Farrow, 1882, 204 pp.

The Gun and its Development, William Wellington Greener, 1907 (8th Ed.) 786 pages.

Cartridge Manufacture, Douglas Thomas Hamilton, 1916, 167 pages.

Description and Rules for the Management of the United States Rifle, Caliber .30, Model of 1903, United States Army Ordnance Dept., 1904 (5th rev. 1914), 72 pages.

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