The History of SATPCO

Thomas G. Samworth and his Small Arms Technical Publishing Co. produced classic gunsmithing titles from 1928 through 1950 and single handedly created the firearms technical literature genre.

by Brian R Smith

Well into the third decade of the 21st century, it seems as if hardly any people consult books for information. The Internet and smart phones have made doing any kind of research far too easy and convenient. The cellular mobile phone has become such an effective source of instant information at our fingertips, regardless of the information’s accuracy or veracity. If you need to know something, an answer (right or wrong) is just a few keystrokes away.

It wasn’t always this way. Before the Interwebz was commonly available, people relied on libraries, books, knowledgeable subject matter experts, etc. When it came to firearms and gunsmithing in particular, books and experienced gunsmiths had the answers. There are dozens of books on gunsmithing subjects in print as of 2022, some of which are reprints of much older texts. It might surprise some in the gunsmithing trade that the reference books many of us “gunsmiths of a certain age” learned from and routinely turned to came from one source: Thomas G. Samworth, who is single handedly responsible for creation of the firearms technical literature genre.

Especially noteworthy for gunsmiths, most of the important hardbound references published on the gunsmithing trade between 1928 and 1950 were done so by “Mr. Sam.” Many gunsmiths age 50 and older probably have some of these titles on their bookshelves. Those significantly older (raising own hand) likely have many of them. A few younger gunsmiths may have one or two as well, and probably recall seeing them on shelves in older gunsmiths’ shops when they were younger and became interested in firearms building, finishing, and repair. It is truly remarkable that nearly every significant reference work on the subject published and in use by gunsmiths in the 20th century came from one source: Samworth and The Small Arms Technical Publishing Co.

Read more in the May 2022 issue.

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