DVD Review: Firearms Guide (4th Edition)

    The Firearms Guide- 4th Edition, is a DVD for Mac and PC which contains a library of 57,000 firearms, airguns, and ammo from 630 manufacturers. They have some really nice high resolution pictures, 500 printable targets, and 4,300 gun schematics.

    The home screen.

    The home screen.


    Glock 18C search result.

    Glock 18C search result.


    Remington 870 shotgun.

    Remington 870 search result.


    FNH MK17 search result.

    FNH MK17 search result.

    However, I’ve got a few criticisms of the product. The first one is that it’s on a DVD. The DVD is going by the wayside, being quickly replaced by USB drives and well, the internet. When I asked about this, they mentioned that “putting it on a 16 GB USB stick, from a business perspective, is just too cost prohibitive at this time.” Their marketing language on their website positions offline access via DVD as a way to “research all types of firearms and ammunition in the privacy of your home without the possibility of anyone tracking what you are researching.”

    OK, not a bad rationale, but for the tech savvy folks there are ways around this (incognito mode in Chrome – other browsers have a similar feature, IP masking, and browser extensions to name a few). But if you’re not tech savvy, then perhaps a DVD such as this could be a good tool for you. Depending on your computer, a DVD may not read very quickly. I found myself waiting 3-5 seconds for a search result to appear, and as a 33 year old who used to work at Google, this feels like an eternity, especially if I’m doing multiple searches. So, like a good computer person, I found a workaround and dragged a copy onto my desktop and now had a local copy to work from. (Update: The publisher asked us to mention they do not believe it is legal to make a copy on your hard drive.)

    At 8.23GB, this is a fairly large file and you’ll want to make sure you have enough hard drive space if you opt for a local copy. It still took 7-8 seconds to load upon start-up, but search results were faster. I simply want fewer things in my life, and so getting rid of my DVDs is a good thing for me.

    I’m not a huge fan of the UI (“user interface” in tech-speak). It feels like the result of a high school project. I’m used to the shine of iOS and Android, the fit and finish of a Mac OS and Windows UI. While the ton of data is great, presenting it in an easily consumable way is just as important. Style is of course, a personal preference, and I’m sure there will be readers who think the UI is just fine.

    Their website compares the DVD results to a Google search results page:

    Screen Shot 2013-09-30 at 6.28.01 PM

    I guess since I am so used to web searches, I know how to efficiently sift through a search results page. I rarely ever go past Page 1, like many users, and so there’s that to consider. Now, I may do multiple searches which would add more time to my research, and perhaps I’m just not accustomed to using a bunch of drop down fields to zero in on a gun purchase.

    Back to the highlights, the schematics are a neat feature and the ability to zoom in and out in high resolution was nice. Note that while there are 4,300 schematics, it’s not a 100% complete library, which I gather would be difficult for any single database to achieve. For example, when I looked at Glock schematics, it only had the Glock 17, 17L, 19, 20, 21, 22, and 23. There’s only a limited selection of Benelli shotguns.

    M1911 schematic.

    M1911 schematic.

    The FFL locator, caliber chart, and target library (which contains printable targets) are all additional features which users may find useful. The FFL locator was a little cumbersome where I could search by state, by zip (but you also have to have the correct State selected, which was a little annoying), and by “Type of FFL” (dealer, manufacturer, pawnbroker, importer, etc). If you enter your zip code, it will only tell you if there are any results in that exact zip code, but not within an XX mile radius. So the only way I could effective search was to sort the results list by city and look at “San Francisco.”

    Search results snippet from the "FFL Locator"

    Search results snippet from the “FFL Locator”

    The “USA-EU Caliber chart” is just a long table:

    Screen Shot 2013-09-05 at 10.13.26 PM

    And finally, here’s what the printable target section looks like:


    So at the end of the day, this product is not for me. I can find pretty much all of the info the Firearms Guide- 4th Edition DVD contains for free online. I think the best reason to use the DVD is if you are concerned about your internet activity being tracked and used against you, and if you’re not tech savvy to block the tracking.

    The Firearms Guide- 4th Edition costs $39.95, not including shipping and handling.


    Chris Cheng

    Chris Cheng is History Channel’s Top Shot Season 4 champion and author of “Shoot to Win,” a book for beginning shooters. A self-taught amateur turned pro through his Top Shot win, Cheng very much still considers himself an amateur who parachuted into this new career.

    He is a professional marksman for Bass Pro Shops who shares his thoughts and experiences from the perspective of a newbie to the shooting community. He resides in San Francisco, CA and works in Silicon Valley.