West Point firearms documentaries

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A TFB reader sent these into us about West Point professor Arthur Alphin making firearms development and history videos for his classes, using his own firearms, and those from the West Point Museum. We’re so used to seeing videos explaining cycles of operation using graphics and various 3D techniques today, it’s easy to forget that there was a time when all people had were a low quality video camera and their own imagination about how to demonstrate various principles. They are available over at Documentary Tube and the West Point Department of History Youtube channels.

TFB reader Buddy Lee writes-

I was going through your videos and realized it reminded me of these videos I had to watch while a cadet at USMA for history classes.  Apparently in the 1980s, a faculty member made instructional video supplements to history classes using firearms from the department’s and his own personal collection.

Unfortunately, after the professor got out of the Army, he started a custom rifle business named A-Square and took a serious hit when he tried to move to Wyoming from Kentucky. Both failing, and being sued.

Much thanks to Buddy Lee for the tip!



Miles V

Former Infantry Marine, and currently studying at Indiana University. I’ve written for Small Arms Review and Small Arms Defense Journal, and have had a teenie tiny photo that appeared in GQ. Specifically, I’m very interested in small arms history, development, and Military/LE usage within the Middle East, and Central Asia.

If you want to reach out, let me know about an error I’ve made, something I can add to the post, or just talk guns and how much Grunts love naps, hit me up at miles@tfb.tv


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  • USMC03Vet

    Bayonet > Laser pointer

  • milesfortis

    Thanks for showing the vid.
    I had enjoyed watching many of his film presentations when I was on active duty and never really knew his background other than he taught at the point.

  • Some Dude

    Art Alphin is giving me early 90’s era, public access cable TV, Shoot’n Show flashbacks.

  • Brian Fulmer

    I watched these in a class at Berkeley in about ’90 – Modern American Military History. Great class, the prof wore a Silver Star from Tet when his firebase was overrun and they fixed bayonets. Said prof was a LtCol at the time and he was a real wide thinker and these videos were part of that. Had a big lecture class and then a small upper division come to think of it, both well done. That or another of his classes introduced me to then Capt. Daniel Bolger, quite a writer (Dragons at War, 1986, A Violent Peace, 1988). Even got Bolger to come to campus for a speech in ’91 when the 1st Gulf War read like an exercise at Ft. Irwin.

  • Pete Sheppard

    I’ve enjoyed several of his videos on YouTube. Allowing for his presentation quirks, they are very informative and thought-provoking. One video, where he compares a BAR to an MG42 is something of a stretch, but shows US perception of automatic weapons at the squad level during the WWII era.

    I hope he’s able to resolve his issues and goes on to success!

  • gunsandrockets

    The business failure reminded me of something I read (can’t remember the source). That most small business failures are not because of a tough business environment (the usual excuse for failed restaurants) but because they were badly managed. Apparently it’s fairly common for small business startups to operate with almost total carelessness towards the bottom line.