Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Published in Great Plains Quarterly 6:4 (Fall 1986). Copyright © 1986 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


The subject of this volume is not one with which most readers of the Great Plains Quarterly will be familiar, yet firearms were the basic tools of survival during the "conquest" of the plains frontier. Often they were also symbols of power. Over the years, a popular literature concerned with firearms in the West has grown. Higher quality firearms history has, with too few exceptions (the books of Hanson and Carl Russel, for instance) not been brought to bear directly upon the West. Many previous syntheses of western arms were the work of dedicated hobbyists lacking the training necessary for their books to stand both historical and technical scrutiny. The joint authors herein, however, are both editors as well as competent scholars. Firearms of the American West, 1803-1865 is not without problems, but it is remarkably complete, technically and historically accurate, and wholly satisfying.