Both authors of this book may already be familiar to readers: Maxim Popenker runs world.guns.ru, and also occasionally contributes to TFB, and Anthony Williams is known both for his forum and his General Purpose Cartridge concept. In 2004, they co-published Assault Rifle, a relatively slim volume with the goal of giving the reader a comprehensive but digestible introduction to the subject.
Assault Rifle is not an authoritative volume for any one of the weapons and ammunition contained within it; instead it takes a very general overview, and in this I think it succeeds. It’s apparent that Williams had the most input regarding the ammunition, and Popenker covered the weapons themselves, and I think this division of labor works in the book’s favor. Williams is a collector with a wide knowledge of cartridges, which gives his sections of the book an appeal through both accessibility (since each item isn’t really covered in depth, and the language is plain and easy to understand) and intrigue (unlike other general volumes, Assault Rifle doesn’t shy away from covering the weird and wonderful). Popenker, too has an encyclopedic knowledge of weapons, and his coverage of rifles from all around the world rounds out the book as a go-to general reference tool.
Assault Rifle’s biggest weakness, perhaps, is the relatively modest pictures and illustrations, but this is compensated for by a rewarding text on the introductory level, which even still offers something to those who would otherwise have outgrown its depth. Enough figures, numbers, and statistics are included to make it a well-worn reference volume of mine, despite having already read it several times from cover to cover.
Among coffee table books of this type, Assault Rifle does not offer the large, glossy pictures that might attract the most attention (or please the most publishers), but it does offer instead a breadth of knowledge with sufficient depth to make it a worthwhile read for both novices and serious historians alike.
You can purchase Assault Rifle on Amazon.com for less than twenty-two dollars, a price that makes it absolutely worthwhile for all but those with the most extensive libraries.