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Best Firearms & Shooting Books (That We Love)

Looking for some books to further your shooting skill? We've got our favorites from Navy SEALs, competitive shooters, master snipers, and more.

Chances are your love of guns and shooting isn’t just confined to the range.

It can bleed over into your other interests, and influences the movies and tv shows you watch as well as the books you read.

Deadpool library

Thankfully, whether you’re looking to read a book that will make you a better shooter (with pistol, rifle, or shotgun), a better hunter, or just a more conscientious and legally-minded gun owner, there are a number of great books out there that you can read.

Unfortunately, there’s also a lot of crap, and the crap definitely outnumbers the good stuff.

That’s why we pooled our collective knowledge and came up with a list of the best books about firearms, shooting, and related stuff like hunting, gun maintenance, carrying a gun, competitions, and more.

Let’s take a look.

Best Books on Firearms and Shooting

1. Vicker’s Guides – Larry Vickers

Larry Vickers of Vickers Tactical is a special operations combat veteran who has made a name for himself in civilian life as a firearms trainer, consultant, and author.

Vickers Guides
Vicker’s Guide – AR-15 Vol 2.

The Vicker’s Guide books are different from most training books in that they offer a once-in-a-lifetime guided tour of the development and use of certain firearms that have had an impact on world history, and the world of firearms in particular.

There are volumes on the 1911, the AR-15 (Volumes I and II), and the Kalashnikov series, as well as a guide to the firearms of WWII-era Germany. Each volume is beautiful, and is full of not only excellent information, but also some of the greatest photographs of rare and valuable firearms in the world.

Vickers Guides2
Vicker’s Guide – WWII Germany, Vol 1

These books are worth the cost of entry (and they are somewhat pricey) just as coffee table art books, let alone for the history and insight on the firearms from one of the foremost experts in firearms history.

If you have any kind of interest in rare firearms, or the history and development of any of these weapons, I highly recommend you pick up these books. The photographs alone are worth the price, and the history and information from Larry and his co-authors are priceless.

2. Long Range Shooting Handbook – Ryan Cleckner

If you’re at all interested in long range precision shooting, Ryan Cleckner is a name you should know. Mr. Cleckner is a former Army Ranger sniper, team leader, and instructor, who served two tours in Afghanistan and now works as a trainer and firearms attorney.

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Prices accurate at time of writing

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He is, without question, one of the finest firearms teachers alive, and possibly the leading authority on teaching every aspect of long range shooting with a rifle. His most popular work is the Long Range Shooting Handbook which is basically everything you need to know to be able to start hitting targets at 1,000 yards and beyond, even if you’ve never held a rifle before.

The book covers everything from basic parts of a rifle to how to accurately gauge wind (something you’ll be making a lifetime study of if you plan to do any serious long-range shooting) and everything in between. If you’re an aspiring long-range shooter, or just want to improve your current skill set, there’s no doubt something in this book that can help you.

Ryan Cleckner
Ryan Cleckner

Cleckner, more so than almost any other instructor I’m aware of, has a gift for breaking down very abstract concepts in a way that’s both easy to understand and practical. He has actual field experience with the techniques he’s teaching, and that real-world focus shines through in this book.

This book and Cleckner’s other instructional materials like the work he has done with the National Shooting Sports Foundation have made me a much better rifle shooter, and some of the finest long-range shooters that I know have credited him as their go-to reference for training and just refreshing on the fundamentals.

If you have any interest at all in improving your ability to hit targets at extended ranges with a rifle, you owe it to yourself to pick this book up. It isn’t expensive, and following the information in it will make you a better shooter, even if you never shoot beyond 100 yards.

3. Deadly Force: Understanding Your Right to Self-Defense – Massad Ayoob

If there’s only one name on this list you recognize, it’s probably Massad Ayood.  Mr. Ayoob is one of the most prolific writers on the subjects of deadly force and self-defense in the world, and is considered by many to be one of the foremost experts on the subject.

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Prices accurate at time of writing

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Ayoob has appeared on just about every major news program you can think of as a legal expert regarding the use of deadly force, is a retired police Captain, and is almost without a doubt the most accomplished and publicly visible expert on the use and legality of deadly force in the world.

Massad Ayoob in court
Massad Ayoob is often called as an expert witness in self-defense shooting cases

His most popular book, Deadly Force: Understanding Your Right to Self-Defense should almost be required reading for anyone who wants to own a gun, and is certainly something you should read if you own one for protection.

This book deals not only with the psychology of using deadly force, but the actual legality of it, including what you can expect should you have to defend yourself with a deadly weapon, and also what legal protections you do and do not have.

Massad Ayoob
Don’t let the suit in court fool you, Massad Ayoob has some major marksman skills

Overall, the book is easy to read, even if the subject matter sounds a little dry and boring, and I strongly encourage all gun owners to read this, particularly those that own guns for self-defense or to support the 2nd Amendment. And at under $10, you really have no excuse not to.

4. Green Eyes, Black Rifles – Kyle Lamb

Sgt Maj. (r) Kyle Lamb is another name you should know if you have any interest at all in tactical training or just training with firearms in general.

SGM Lamb served for 21 years in the military, 19 of which were spent with Special Operations forces, and 15 of those years were spent with Delta Force, kicking down doors and raiding terrorist hideouts in Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq (and probably some other places that we humble civilians aren’t allowed to know about).

He was also one of the Deltas to participate in Operation Gothic Serpent – the battle that would later be known as Black Hawk Down.

In other words, Kyle Lamb is the real deal.

He is also the founder of one of the foremost firearms and tactical training schools in the world, Viking Tactical. You may know them from their excellent slings, and other rifle accessories which we have recommended.

As part of Viking Tactical, SGM Lamb has written a number of books on using firearms in difficult situations, but perhaps the best, or at least most popular, one is Green Eyes & Black Rifles: The Warrior’s Guide to the Combat Carbine.

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Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

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This book delves deep into using a carbine in a combat situation and does a great job of discussing the combat mindset overall, as well as some specifics about wielding your carbine in the defense of yourself and others.

While the book is decidedly focused on helping our men and women in uniform to better their skills, much of the advice applies just as well to civilians, security personnel, and law enforcement also. And there are few people more qualified to talk about combat shooting than Kyle Lamb, so if you pick up his book, I’d recommend taking his advice to heart.

5. How to Shoot Like a Navy Seal: Combat Marksmanship  Fundamentals – Chris Sajnog

Here’s a joke for you:

“How can you tell if someone is or was a Navy SEAL?”
“Cause they’ll tell you all about it in their book!”

I kid, I kid. I certainly don’t want to offend anyone in the military, but if I had to upset anyone, I certainly wouldn’t want to pick a fight with a SEAL. Of course with that being said, it does seem like there are a ton of books out there by current or former SEALs right now.

Navy Seals movie
Wildly inaccurate, but still wicked cool movie!

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but with all that competition comes comparison, and there’s one book that always rises to the top in those comparisons is Chris Sajnog’s book How to Shoot Like a Navy Seal: Combat Marksmanship Fundamentals.

Unlike a lot of the slightly-bloated, perhaps mildly-exaggerated memoirs and other tales designed to cash in on the Navy SEAL cool factor and maybe pick up a movie deal, Chief Sajnog simply and briefly lays out some really great advice for building and improving the fundamentals of marksmanship.

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Prices accurate at time of writing

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Every single instructor I’ve talked to, class I’ve taken, and book I’ve read about shooting starts with the fundamentals. Why? Because that’s the foundation of everything else we do as shooters.

All the high-speed operator stuff may look cool, but without a solid foundation, you’re just reinforcing bad habits and pretending to be John Wick. Chief Sanjog is of the opinion, and for what it’s worth I agree, that the basics are the most important part, and the basics are what will save your life in a self-defense or combat situation.

Best of all: the book is short! I think I finished it in a few hours, but I picked up a lot of little tips and had a lot of things clarified for me that helped to make me a better shooter.

6. Shoot: Your Guide to Shooting and Competition – Julie Golob

Alright, full disclosure: Julie Golob is one of my personal heroes, as you might know from some of the other times I’ve mentioned her.  She has also written for PPT and we’re super lucky to have her.  

Pew Pew!

That out of the way, if you have ever wanted an inside look at what it takes to be an elite competition shooter, you need to buy her book Shoot: Your Guide to Shooting and Competition.

Julie is the first person to win national titles in all seven USPSA divisions and has been kicking ass and taking names on the competition circuit for a decade now, so there are few people more qualified to talk about improving as a competition shooter.

The book deals with some safety and fundamental issues to start with, but quickly delves into  handling the stress of competition and being on the clock, how to set goals for yourself in the areas you may be struggling with, how to track your progress and improvement as a shooter, and of course all kinds of drills and practice techniques to help you perform better.

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Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

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There’s also a ton of information about the various competition shooting sports that are out there, so there’s something for anyone that’s interested in shooting competitively here. This is one of two books that I will also recommend to those that are looking to improve their shooting performance on the field of competition.

7. Dryfire: Reloaded + Drills and Skills Reloaded – Ben Stoeger

And Ben Stoeger’s Dryfire: Reloaded is the other one. Ben is and IPSC World Champion and a multiple USPSA National Champion who competes and teaches classes all over the US.

He has also written what is without a doubt the definitive guide to dryfire practice and training at home. Few of us can spend as much time at the range as we want, either due to life getting in the way, or just the cost of ammo, so dryfire practice is extremely important for keeping skills sharp in between matches.

at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

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Most pro shooters I know spend at least a few hours a week doing dryfire drills and practice, with some even spending multiple hours a day practicing, and Ben does an excellent job here of breaking down why this kind of practice is important, as well as drills and other information you need to get the most out of your dryfire practice.

Speaking of drills, I also have to mention Ben’s book Drills and Skills Reloaded which gives you tons of actionable information on drills to do at home and at the range, and skills for your to practice to help shave those stage times down, and improve your overall accuracy and performance.

Another awesome dryfire training aid is the MantisX – we’ve got a hands-on review!

Both of these books are great for anyone who wants to learn to shoot better, but from the first few sentences, Ben’s competition mindset is clear. If you want to compete seriously, or just want to move up a classification or beat your buddies at your next club match, I highly recommend picking up both of these books.

8. Violence of Mind: Training and Preparation for Extreme Violence

If this was a movie, it would be rated R and directed by Quentin Tarantino.

Another book that is not for the faint of heart or if you have pre-existing conditions like high blood pressure.

And if you’re squeamish — good luck.

Violence does not come naturally to most people, so for many of us it can be hard to understand the fight or flight response. Really, it isn’t something anyone can understand until they have experienced it, but this book at least can describe it the best.

Dealing almost elusively with mindset and preparing yourself for a fight that will hopefully never come, Violence of Mind is a first-hand experience driven narrative into the depths of brutality.

Varg Freeborn isn’t a paper tiger like many who plague the self-defense trainer world, this is a man who has been on both sides of the law and has survived more before being legally allowed to drink than most professionals experience in their whole career.

I highly recommend this book.

at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

The Final Chapter

All of these books are worth picking up, but hopefully, there’s something here of interest to everyone. Whatever you’re looking to learn, if any of these books catch your eye I strongly encourage you to pick them up because they will make you a better shooter and a better gun owner.

Whether you want to hit targets at absurd distances, want to learn how to shoot from a Navy SEAL, or just want to learn how to safely navigate the legal minefield that is being forced to wield a weapon in self-defense, the information is out there. All you have to do is go and get it.

What did you think of these books? Is there one in particular that you’re interested in? Don’t forget to check out our Editor’s Picks for more awesome stuff!

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2 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    Bull o' the Woods

    Forgot to mention three additional books that are worth including in the serious shooter's library (all old, of course): "A Rifleman Went to War" by H.W. McBride. About 80 years before his time. Jeff Cooper borrowed the "modern technique" from Chapter 10 and the "scout rifle" concept from Chapter 15. "Sniping in France" by Hesketh-Prichard. Story of how the Brits made up their own sniper doctrine in the trenches of WWI, much of it borrowed from African big game hunting. Finally, "With British Snipers to The Reich" by Clifford Shore. (The author thinks it clever to use his first initial, as in "C. Shore" but his first name was Clifford.) Detailed discussion of British sniping doctrine during WWII and in the immediate postwar period. As a bonus, if you can find them and can afford ~US$60 or more per volume, the "Death from Afar" series by Roy and Norman Chandler (five volumes) is well worth the money, providing a look at USMC sniper doctrine and equipment from WWII up to the first Gulf War.

    January 13, 2020 11:04 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Bull o' the Woods

    Let's go old school: "Kill or Get Killed" by Rex Applegate; "Tactical Reality" by Louis Awerbuck; "Practical Shooting: Beyond Fundamentals" by Brian Enos; "Shooting to Live" by W.E. Fairbairn; "Farnam Method of Defensive Shotgun and Rifle Shooting" by John Farnam; "No Second Place Winner" by Bill Jordan; "Fast and Fancy Revolver Shooting" by Ed McGivern; "Be Fast, Be Accurate, Be the Best" by Bill Rogers; and "Handgun Combatives" by Dave Spaulding. I think there are still nuggets of wisdom to be found in these books, particularly with respect to "point shooting" now called "reflexive fire." What's old is new again. If you don't believe me about point shooting, try some force-on-force training (preferably with marker rounds but Airsoft will do) and see how well your square range technique holds up when someone is shooting back.

    January 12, 2020 2:24 pm
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