A Basic Manual of Military Small Arms by W. H. B. Smith

One of my favorite military manuals in my small collection was not put out by the U.S. military but by the Military Service Publishing Company. First published in 1943, A Basic Manual of Military Small Arms made a compelling arguement for its purchase on the front cover.

A working knowlege of every weapon in this book is a must for servicemen. It would take at least 80 manuals, many unobtainable to give what this one book gives.
   This book is a combat tool just as much as a rifle is. If you have a man in service, you may save his life by sending him the book which tells him how to operate all small arms of every belligerent. If you are a serviceman you can see what a buy this is.

The front cover says it all, "How to Load, Operate, Disassemble and Assemble American, British, Russian, German, Italian, Japanese and Other Small Arms"

Admittedly the 2 dollar sticker price on the front cover was a bit stiff at the time for a paper back. According to the CPI inflation calculator that would be $ 26.60 in 2013. Despite the price, I suspect that the book was a good seller, the copy pictured here is the Fourth printing from April 1944. The first printing was in December 1943.


This heavily illustrated book includes evaluations and field strip instructions for many military small arms of the day, including Schmiesser Submachine Gun and the U.S. Rocket Lancher, A. T. M1 aka the Bazooka.


This book after the War evolved into a fine book in it's own right, "Small Arms of the World"