365 Guns You Must Shoot – Book Review
365 Guns You Must Shoot: The Most Sublime, Weird and Outrageous Guns Ever. T.J. Mullin. Zenith Press. 320 pages. Soft cover. $22.99.
365 Guns You Must Shoot: The Most Sublime, Weird and Outrageous Guns Ever is author T.J. Mullin’s latest book on firearms. Within its pages, Mullin examines 365 different weapons from 35 different countries including handguns, shotguns, rifles and three categories of machineguns. In the introduction, Mullin outlines his criteria for inclusion – namely, he has personally shot or carried each firearm frequently enough to comment authoritatively on its performance. Unfortunately, the book does not live up to its name.
The author is something of a 21st Century Renaissance Man. A successful lawyer, Mullin is also a noted firearms expert, author of 13 books, firearms instructor, a former federal law enforcement officer and a US Army veteran. No doubt, he is an authority on the history and use of firearms. 365 Guns is written from a hands-on perspective focused on his personal observations from the range or in the field. In addition to some beautiful photographs, each firearm receives a half-page profile that includes information on the manufacturer, country of origin, caliber and typical use. Mullin remarks primarily on the guns’ individual performance characteristics such as balance, feel, trigger pull, grouping and accuracy. Less common is the inclusion of historical vignettes describing the development or employment of these weapons. On occasion, he traces the evolution of specific firearms, for example the Glock handgun or Lee-Enfield rifle, noting improvements or changes over time. Mullin writes in an informal, approachable style more akin to personal notes found in a diary or journal.
365 Guns suffers from several problems distracting from its overall appeal to prospective buyers. First, the title of this book is misleading. Few of the weapons are “sublime, weird or outrageous” as the title claims. Indeed, several of the guns are well known staples of firearms history such as the M1 Garand, UZI, RPK or MP5. Similarly, Mullin purposefully excluded flintlock and hunting weapons leading to an incomplete analysis. Further, I continually pondered two questions as I read 365 Guns. Who is Mullin’s intended audience? The cover states the book is “bucket list for every gunpowder enthusiast.” However, many of the firearms are rare, expensive or restricted to military personnel. The performance write-ups, while interesting, are far too short to inform potential weapon buyers. Nor are they useful to the historian desiring to learn more about an individual firearm. And, why 365 guns vice 300 or 400 or 1000? Are readers meant to fire a different weapon every day for a year? Perhaps Mullin’s intent is to share his thoughts on historically significant weapons most will never have a chance to fire. I read the book twice and am still uncertain.
Lieutenant Colonel Christopher J. Heatherly enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1994 and earned his commission via Officer Candidate School in 1997. He has held a variety of assignments in special operations, Special Forces, armored, and cavalry units. His operational experience includes deployments to Afghanistan, Iraq, South Korea, Kuwait, Mali, and Nigeria. He holds master’s degrees from the University of Oklahoma and the School of Advanced Military Studies.
The opinions expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not reflect those of the United States Government, the Department of Defense, or the United States Army.