20 years ago, in November of 1999, now renowned firearms expert, researcher and author Maxim Popenker started a gun website called Modern Firearms (www.modernfirearms.net formerly hosted under www.world.guns.ru domain) which I bet you’ve come across if you have ever done a research on any firearm. 20 years is a lot for an Internet source. To have an idea about how long of a time period it is in the history of the Internet, let me tell you that in 1999 there were no such things like Facebook, YouTube or Wikipedia and the World Wide Web itself was barely 10 years old. This author remembers himself eagerly absorbing any new information published on World.Guns.Ru as a teenager and I am sure for many of you that’s exactly how you started expanding your firearms knowledge, too.
Below we are presenting you TFB’s interview with Max Popenker where we discuss the Modern Firearms website and the release of a new book.
TFB: Hello Maxim, and thank you for taking the time to give us an interview. First, let me congratulate you on the 20th anniversary of founding the Modern Firearms website. Most of our readers probably already know who you are, but for those who don’t, please introduce yourself.
Maxim Popenker: Hello. To keep it short, I’m a Soviet “boomer” with few guns in my safe and a lot of gun books in my library. To be more specific, I’m 46 years old IT professional by trade, with a university degree and a rank of Lieutenant (reserve) in the Russian army. Firearms were my long-standing hobby, along with aircraft.
TFB: Let’s talk about the Modern Firearms website. How was it to start a gun website 20 years ago? What challenges did you face? What significant events have there been in the history of the website during these 20 years?
Maxim Popenker: It started almost by accident during the second half of 1999. I was reading some now-defunct Russian web site which listed some guns, and had a huge number of errors (like translating .30 cal Browning MG into Russian as “30mm Browning”). I immediately left a comment to that effect in their guest book, and, all of a sudden, got a reply from admin: “if you are so smart, why don’t you help us to improve?”. So I signed up and spend a month or two writing some snippets which were a tad better than their own texts. After a while, I thought: “what the heck? Why don’t I have my own web site”? So, I started my first effort at some long-forgotten free hosting, and after a while, I was offered free hosting at the then-new GUNS.RU site, which now is the oldest and biggest Russian gun forum. That’s when world.guns.ru came into existence some time in autumn of 1999. The biggest challenge I had was finding new info and images, and I really had no idea what its future would be like. And if you want to see some of my very humble early efforts, Internet Wayback machine has snippets from early 2001: http://web.archive.org/web/20010202133000/http://world.guns.ru/
TFB: Maxim, you are an author and co-author of a number of gun books. Please tell us a little bit about your books. How many of them are still in print?
Maxim Popenker: I wrote four books in English (co-authored or edited by Tony Williams) and four in Russian (one co-authored with Marin Milchev). Most of these books were written quite a long time ago, but still can be found at Amazon or other online book stores. I also wrote an unknown number of magazine articles (probably well over a hundred), in Russian and English. People who read Small Arms Review, AK-47 and some other American gun magazines may find my name somehow familiar to them… or so I hope.
TFB: Talking about books, let’s discuss the latest news. Several days ago you announced the release of a new book titled “The Story Of The Russian Avtomat: Fedorov, Kalashnikov & Beyond” which will be published by Headstamp Publishing. While the title is largely self-explanatory, please tell us what exactly the readers should expect to find in the book? What audience is it mainly aimed at?
Maxim Popenker: Book will be of interest to anyone who likes military arms and their history. It will cover the story of the development of Russian assault rifle, from 1916 and to this day – a whole century. Everyone knows about AK and Kalashnikov, many heard about Fedorov and his “Avtomat”, but the actual story was so much wider and deeper that even with the book as big as this will be I’m only covering most important trends and developments. Reader will learn about numerous highly interesting “also-runs” and dead-ends, unique weapons like ADS or TKB-059, newest rifles like AK-12 and ASh-12. Also, they will find key reasons for those developments, ideas and scientific concepts behind them, lots of facts, previously unknown in the West. And, last but not least, of course, lots of unique photos. All this will be perfectly laid out, printed and bound by guys from Headstamp Publishing. Readers who are interested can sign-up for updates at the Headstamp Publishing website: www.headstamppublishing.com/newsletter
TFB: Lastly, what are your future plans? Any new projects and books that we should expect in the foreseeable future?
Maxim Popenker: Yes, I do have some plans for more books. First, I’d like to see my Russian “Submachine guns” book printed, after almost 5 years of hiatus with previous publishers. Then, I have some ideas for English language books, but I’m not yet ready to discuss them in public.
TFB: Maxim, once again congratulations on the 20th anniversary of Modern Firearms website and the release of the new book. Thank you for the interview!
I hope you guys enjoyed reading this interview. I am really looking forward to reading this new book. Right now it is not yet available for purchase. As Max mentioned, to be notified about the start of preorders, subscribe to Headstamp Publishing newsletter which you can do by clicking HERE.