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Massad Ayoob’s Greatest Handguns of the World

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Massad Ayoob’s Greatest Handguns of the World

A Modern-Day Classic from a Master Handgunner!

The next best thing to shooting the world’s greatest handguns is reading about them. And nobody writes about great handguns like Massad Ayoob.

Here, in one entertaining, photo-packed volume, are the handguns that changed firearms history. From the Colt 1911 to the latest and greatest Glock, Massad Ayoob shares his half-century of experience with the world’s greatest pistols and revolvers as only he can. Whether you’re a collector, a plinker, a competition shooter or simply a firearms enthusiast, you’ll agree that Massad Ayoob’s Greatest Handguns of the World is required reading for anyone interested in the history and development of handguns.


  • Colt
  • Smith & Wesson
  • Ruger
  • Glock
  • High Standard
  • Heckler & Koch
  • And more!

Massad Ayoob's Greatest Handguns of the World

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What customers say about Massad Ayoob’s Greatest Handguns of the World

  1. Karl E Martell "Karl Erich Martell" says:
    43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Seriously . . . buy it., April 13, 2010
    Karl E Martell “Karl Erich Martell” (6000′ above sea level, high desert, USA) –

    Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    This review is from: Massad Ayoob’s Greatest Handguns of the World (Paperback)

    As you probably know, Mas Ayoob is a veteran police officer, an accomplished defensive trainer, a prolific gunwriter, a respected shooting sports competitor, and an expert witness who is highly regarded in the legal community. I feel that his writings have tended toward the technical side of things, helping readers learn how to shoot properly, to address legal and tactical issues, and discussing the specifics of various guns. Ayoob is a great writer with a ton of valuable experience, and most of his writing – always masterly, captivating and informed – is intended to convey this very serious information for the _use_ of the reader.

    Massad Ayoob’s GREATEST HANDGUNS OF THE WORLD (286-pg, List $28, Amazon $18.47) is somewhat different. This book feels like a labor of love. GREATEST HANDGUNS OF THE WORLD evolved from a series of articles that Ayoob did for _The Accurate Rifle_ magazine. These weren’t dry, technical articles (though there’s plenty of technical info here), they were paeans to the art and implementation of handgun design. It’s as if Dave Brennan, the magazine’s editor, called up Ayoob and said, “Hey, Mas! Pull up a chair and tell us about the guns that you think are neat! What do you like about `em?” There’s a warmth of personal interest in the writing, a heartfelt love of the material. GREATEST HANDGUNS OF THE WORLD is great fun to read, and it sure feels as if Ayoob found it fun to write.

    The result is is gunwriting at its best – interesting, but also imbued with a personal connection, like that found in Keith’s SIXGUNS or so much of Taffin’s writings. In GREATEST HANDGUNS OF THE WORLD, Ayoob writes about guns that he likes. You learn why he likes the guns covered with each chapter touching on how and why the given model was developed and evolved, what made it great, anecdotes and interviews from a career of gunwriting about neat things that people did with these guns (both in using and in customizing them) and a master’s tips for getting the best performance from them. It’s a corker: I’m sure that Elmer Keith is smiling down on Mas from Heaven.

    The topics covered are:

    1. The 1911: The Once and Future King of Pistols
    2. The Colt Commander (and its clones)
    3. The Colt National Match Pistol (and its spiritual descendants)
    4. The Cold Detective Special
    5. Colt’s Official Police
    6. The Colt Python
    7. The Colt Woodsman
    8. The Glock Pistol
    9. HK: A History of Innovation
    10. The High Standard Sentinel
    11. The Luger Pistol
    12. The Ruger .22 Auto Pistol
    13. The Ruger P-Series Semi-Automatics
    14. Smith & Wesson’s Military & Police Revolver
    15. Smith & Wesson’s K-22
    16. Smith & Wesson’s Chiefs Special and family
    17. Smith & Wesson’s .357 Combat Magnum
    18. Smith & Wesson’s Classic Model 27
    19. Smith & Wesson’s Highway Patrolman
    20. Smith & Wesson’s .44 Magnum
    21. Smith & Wesson’s Landmark Service Pistol

    Most “gun guys” would agree that these are all classic handguns, and Ayoob’s writing makes them all very interesting. I learned something in every chapter, and I’m by no means new to this hobby. The text is fascinating, relating Ayoob’s substantial personal experience as well as information gathered from Jeff Cooper, Bill Ruger, Bill Jordan, Chick Gaylord, Bill Wilson and many others over the years. Photos (mostly color) abound on every page to compliment the riveting text. The pictures do a great job of illustrating the points discussed, but not all of them are of Ichiro Nagata quality – this is not designed to be a coffee table art book; it’s a book on neat guns for people who like them.

    Now, as often happens, the title of this book might be a little misleading. Don’t get the idea that Ayoob’s GREATEST HANDGUNS OF THE WORLD is an attempt to catalog and discuss _all_ great or important handguns. (Notably missing, just at a glance, are the Beretta 92 series, the Colt and Ruger single-action revolvers, the Browning Hi-Power, Ruger double-action revolvers, the SIG-Sauer classic semiautos, the CZ-75s, and the Walther PP series and P-38 semiautos. Perhaps we can inveigle a sequel from the publisher, Gun Digest Books.) Instead, the book makes a reader feel like he went to gun shows/stores/museums with Ayoob for a year, and then hung out in his living room talking with him about all the neat stuff. “How about that Colt Official Police with the 2″ barrel? Pretty rare! Hey, and here’s a prewar one with a two-line barrel marking!”

    Ayoob’s GREATEST HANDGUNS OF THE WORLD would make a great gift for anyone who likes guns. It feels a lot like Keith’s SIXGUNS, but made more modern, relevant, and approachable. I can’t think of higher praise – and I wish that I’d had this book to read when I was a kid. I know I’ll be re-reading it until I get to go meet Elmer myself.

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  2. Bruce Brodnax "L.A. Biker" says:
    5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Ayoob’s list of favorites may not be yours, November 10, 2011
    Bruce Brodnax “L.A. Biker” (Lost Angeles, somewhere out in the smog) –

    This review is from: Massad Ayoob’s Greatest Handguns of the World (Paperback)

    This book is a very personal list of Massad Ayoob’s favorite handguns. While he make excellent cases for each as to why it should be counted among the greatest in the world, it is largely a matter of personal choice. And why shouldn’t it be? Mr. Ayoob has a lifetime of real world experience as a police officer and firearms instructor, so I’m willing to take his word for it. While this book is thin on technical details, it does have a lot of charm, and is in fact an enjoyable read if you are at all interested in firearms, where a book that was more focused on the technical merits of the individual firearms might be too dry & boring.

    I give this a strong recommendation because while it does possess some flaws [for one thing, it only covers about 20 examples, & some of them are very similar &/or repetitive], it is fundamentally a book you will enjoy rereading every couple of years, to compare the experiences that Mas imparts with any you have gained 1st hand.

    The individual chapters are culled from years of articles that Mr. Ayoob had written for some gun rag or another, and are here pulled together & polished up to make a cohesive whole. Someone who has been around long enough to have read the original articles in the magazines for which they were first written will feel gypped, but it was all fresh for me & I’ve read pretty much everything gun related for the last couple decades. About the only complaint I can level at it is the repetition in every chapter about how he’s figured out a way to get close to the same results from test firing off of sandbags as he would by testing the pistol in a Ransom rest. ZZZzzzZzzz [that much could have been edited to save everyone’s sanity… and is a clear indication that these were originally written as free-standing articles which appeared a month (or more) apart.]

    This would make a great gift for anyone who enjoys both reading & shooting, regardless of whether or not they are a pistol aficionado.

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