This page is just what the title says: a list of sources I’ve consulted and found useful in building the FAR System and FAR Western. Maybe you’ll find some of them useful or interesting, too…or maybe not. At the very least, listing them here helps ensure that I won’t lose track of them.
Guns of the Old West. Charles Edward Chapel. Coward-McCann, NY. 1961.
A broad-picture view of what was made and when, focusing on guns that changed the state of the art and defined various periods. Photos and illustrations aren’t very useful, unfortunately.
More info on military than civilian arms. Starts with a basic overview of primitive firearms and ignition systems, then moves to flintlock rifles and pistols (e.g., the Kentucky rifle) and percussion arms.
A good chapter on pepperbox pistols. Particularly good information on derringers. Three chapters on Colt pistols; one on Winchester rifles; one on post-Civil War military rifles; one on Confederate firearms in the West; a brief look at shotguns. Some entertaining stories that illustrate the place of certain guns in western life.
The History of Winchester Firearms, 1866-1975. (4th ed.) George R. Watrous, James C. Rickhoff, Thomas H. Hall. Winchester Press, NY. 1966.
There’s a lot more on the latter 50 than the first 50 years, but this book is nonetheless a great resource if (like me) you need to know which models and chamberings of Winchester rifles were available in the frontier era and when they were made.
One interesting thing I discovered is that when testing rifles for function and accuracy, the company set aside the best ones and designated them as “One of One Thousand” or “One of One Hundred” marksman’s rifles. (We’d say one in a thousand today, not of.) These were sold at a premium price, with upscale cosmetic options, and cased up with a cleaning kit and the test target as proof of performance. The One of One Thousand specimens were particularly snazzy. These are definitely going into the FAR Western armory as weapons that player-characters will cherish. They’re the Old West version of that +2 or +3 Sword of Slaying you covet for your character in D&D.
Another interesting thing I’m discovering is that no one seems to have made repeating rifles in .22 rimfire until the turn of the century. At least, Winchester didn’t, and I haven’t heard of any others yet. The marketplace assumption seems to have been that if you needed a repeating rifle at all, it was because you needed to kill something bigger than squirrels and raccoons.
The Role of Joseph E. Johnson and His Pioneer Newspapers in the Development of Rural Nebraska. Benjamin Pfeiffer. History Nebraska, history.nebraska.gov.
Joseph Ellis Johnson, who is an ancestral relative, was an influential newspaperman who helped settle Nebraska in the 1850s. An early Mormon convert, he relocated to Utah when the civil war began. In Utah, he was a very successful entrepreneur who lived for many years in St. George and helped settle what would later become Tempe, Arizona — but this article covers only his newspaper work in Nebraska.
It’s a good look into the work and mindset of a vigorous, independent, opinionated, and well-read man who was as concerned with art and culture as he was with business. It has a wonderful reproduction of the masthead of The Huntsman’s Call, which proclaimed itself to be “Independent in Everything, Neutral in Nothing.” There is also a large photo of Johnson.
The Sharps Rifle: Its History, Development and Operation. Winston O. Smith. William Morrow & Co., NY. 1943.
A treasure trove of information. Some great illustrations: patent drawings, catalog pages, diagrams. A full chronology of what was made and when, and a detailed guide to identifying all Sharps models.
The book itself is a bit of a historical artifact. The author talks about WW1 as recent history, and some of the people who actually manufactured Sharps rifles were still alive at the time — and he notes that factory-new Sharps could still be found in the dusty corners of certain gun shops if you were lucky!