Dan Shea Recipient of the prestigious Chinn Award

    Daniel Shea, founder of the firearms research magazines Small Arms Review, Small Arms Defense Journal, and the training/supply company Pheonix Defense (formerly Long Mountain Outfitters) has become a recipient of the much respected Chinn Award, thereby honoring “a government or industry individual who, in the opinion of the Small Arms Committee Executive Board, has made significant contributions to the field of small arms and/or infantry weapons systems”.The award is only given out once a year and the recipients almost read like a who’s who of Infantry small arms design and innovation or contributing research. Previous award recipients have been Reed Knight (Knight’s Armament), Salvatore Fanelli (associated with H&K), Phil Dater (Gemtech), Ronnie Barrett (Barrett Firearms), James Sullivan (AR10 designer).

    The write up for Mr. Shea was no other than the recently deceased Jim Schatz of H&K fame (also a Chinn Award recipient). It appears that news about the award has been around for at least several months while Mr. Schatz was still alive and able to pen this citation

    Dan fits in very well indeed as one of 28 recipients for all that he has accomplished since he started his first machine gun business in the mid-1970s after ETS from the US Army. Dan is also unique in the history of the Chinn Award in that he personally knew most of the previous award recipients, as well as Colonel Chinn. Dan has in fact conducted and published interviews on many of these personalities for SAR/SADJ, or in the case of Dr. Ezell helped rescue his entire reference collection with the UK Defense Academy in Shrivenham England, digitized it and made it available to all on www.smallarmsreview.com.

    As a Chinn nominee, Dan Shea is unique. Known not only for his unmatched depth of knowledge of small arms and related ordnance, Dan is also one of the most connected subject matter experts in the small arms community. Dan travels to 20 or more foreign countries each year attending trade shows and visiting factories, hotspots and armories in search of new technologies, rare collectibles and relics, forgotten reference works and training aids and materials. Dan is well connected to senior government officials and industry leaders worldwide and through those relationships has access few others enjoy. As a result, Dan Shea can provide invaluable assistance to his customers be they military or civilian. Well known for his “RKI” (Reasonably Knowledgeable Individual) definition that applies to most “experts” in the small arms world, Dan is a true subject matter expert with few peers in any regard. While some “know guns” Dan knows far more and is able and always willing to convey that hard-earned expertise to those engaged in the fight against the adversaries of freedom. Dan and his companies have and still provide invaluable threat weapons training to our uniformed service members who face those weapons down range and has been since 1984 when he conducted the first foreign weapons class to the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Fort Devens

    Massachusetts. Knowing the real capabilities versus the reported myths and understanding methods to identify and/or counter those threats saves lives on the battlefield. Dan and his wife and long-time successful business partner Debbie, have shipped free of charge some 160,000 copies of SAR and SADJ to troops stationed overseas to help them pass the time on long deployments.

    Like the namesake for the award, Dan Shea is one who enjoys sharing his expertise and the vast array of knowledge he has collected over the decades. Where some might hoard and protect what they know, Dan shares it unselfishly and in many ways. He has penned more than 1100 articles since the 1980s and has served as Technical Editor for various magazines, technical books and briefings and the invaluable “NFA Handbook.” He created the “Machine Gun Dealers Bible” and today is working on the 5th edition. He is well known as one of the top authorities on NFA, State Department and Customs import/export and ITAR rules and regulations and provides that advice and expertise to those in need. Dan has consulted with countless government agencies, foreign governments and many industry companies on everything from small caliber ammunition to tracked radar-guided anti-aircraft systems. The elite agencies that provided endorsement letters in support of Dan’s Chinn Award nomination referenced Dan’s important technical and logistical support as being key in their mission success.

    The author has witnessed the level of Dan’s expertise and willingness to share it freely in the US and abroad on many occasions, each one memorable. At the UK Defense Academy in 2010, I marveled when Dan schooled numerous retired British Army veterans on the use of a Lee-Enfield rifle as the third leg of a BREN gun anti-aircraft mount. They had never seen that before. He then went on to inform the curator there that his prized 12.7mm Russian Yak-B’s were incomplete without the blank firing cassettes employed to clear misfires. There are cassettes, and they didn’t have them. While collecting information for an article on the ATF Reference Collection for SAR, Dan named each and every loose magazine in an endless box of pistol, sub gun and rifle magazines that had been separated from the firearms to which they belonged. Dan named every one, to include the one-of-a-kind prototypes and rare examples, much to the amazement of those in attendance. Accounts such as these are endless and a credit to Dan’s passion for the topic and willingness to share his experience and endless “brain box catalog” with most anyone.

    Dan Shea is extremely unique in this regard. Although he hasn’t designed something like the AR10 or oversaw the manufacture of such, his contributions to the NFA trade, historical firearms research, and in service to the United States as an instructor and advisor has made differences that are almost impossible to quantify on a number of levels. Unfortunately much his work is behind the scenes running his magazines and company, and he doesn’t get out in the public eye very much at all, leaving many within the same industry he is helping as to no clue who he is or what he does.


    Infantry Marine, based in the Midwest. Specifically interested in small arms history, development, and usage within the MENA region and Central Asia. To that end, I run Silah Report, a website dedicated to analyzing small arms history and news out of MENA and Central Asia.

    Please feel free to get in touch with me about something I can add to a post, an error I’ve made, or if you just want to talk guns. I can be reached at [email protected]