B050-Austrian & German Guns and Rifles--$100.00
by Marco E. Nobili (in English and Italian)
This book of 303 pages provides lovers of Germanic arms an array of brief discussions of sporting arms types, makers and related topics drawn from Austrian and German historical and contemporary sources. The English translation of the Italian text is adequate, but challenging at times. The major arms type illustrated and discussed is the "basculating" arm, known to Anglo-Saxon enthusiasts as the "break-open" gun.
The photography, mainly black-and-white (428 b&w, 27 color photos), is the book's strongest feature. The reviewer knows of no other work with as many high-quality photos of various break-open action types under one cover. The excellent pictures allow careful study of engraving patterns and quality.
The brevity of the survey of topics leaves the reader thirsting for much more extensive coverage. The reviewer would have appreciated more discussion of the origins, design purposes, and relative frequency of manufacture of the 15 different break-open models identified. Good sales of this title might motivate other gun authors to tackle these topics more extensively in English.
After two chapters of introduction to action types and styling features, ending with an instructive summary of recent German and Austrian proof-house marks and meanings, the author briefly discusses each of the following German gun makers: Paul Mauser, Gebruder Merkel-Suhl, Simson-Suhl, J.P Sauer & Sohn, Krieghoff, Blaser, Krico, Heckler & Koch. J.G. Anschutz GmbH. F.W. Heym GmbH & Co KG. Carl Walther-GmbH, Waffen Dittmar. He ends this section with a listing of Suhl gun makers and a color photo section of highly-decorate-d Austrian and German guns.
Next, the author profiles Austrian makers: Steyr-Mannlicher, Voere Jagd-und Sportgewehre, Johann Springer's Erban. Then Ferlach, Austria and its gun makers come on stage for cameo appearances: Josef Just, Josef Hambrusch, Karl Hauptmann, Michelitsch, Johann Fanzoi, H. Scheiririg, Benedikt Winkler, Ludwig Borovnik, Jacob Koschat, Outschar. Gottfried Juch, Wilfried Glanznig. Franz and Anton Sodia receive a short chapter of their own, followed by text and pictures describing the Ferlach gunmaker consortium. The Ferlach and Suhl gunmaker school are described next, along with some color photos illustrating outstanding examples of their students' work.
Two chapters contrast Austrian and German engraving styles and techniques, as well as English and Italian styles in text and photos. Stand-alone, well-illustrate-d sections feature Hartmann and Weiss of Hamburg and London, and Peter Hofer of Ferlach. The book then turns to descriptions of famous ammunition manufacturers: Hirtenberger AG, Wilhelm Brenneke GmbH, Walter Gehmann and Vom Hofe, RWS Dynamit Nobel, discussing their past and present product lines. Austrian and German optical products for sport hunting, the next section, displays a bewildering array of options to the uninitiated; however, he briefly introduces the world-renowned optical makers: Zeiss, Swarovski, Kahles, Schmidt & Bender receive the most coverage.
The next-to-last chapter summarizes the St. Hubertus legend and its effects on hunting ethics. Finally, a lengthy list of sporting goods company addresses in Germany and Austria closes the text.