Gundom's Dumbest Axiom

Gundom's Dumbest Axiom

Frank James sent in a story today, and it included an old chestnut that every gunwriter keeps at hand when inspiration fails (sorry, Frank).

That hoary maxim is Townsend Whelen's "only accurate rifles are interesting."

Now, I may have a jaundiced attitude toward the sainted colonel because my longtime boss and predecessor as technical editor of the American Rifleman Pete Dickey had met Whelen on several occasions as a boy and found him a pompous blowhard who didn't know near as much as he let on.

I wasn't there for that, so can't comment on Whelen's personality or erudition, but his most famous quote is simply absurd on its face, regardless of its source.

It is certainly the case that only accurate rifles may be desirable or useful or maybe only accurate rifles have a place in your gun safe, but it is preposterous to say only accurate rifles are interesting.

If some archaeologist dug up the first Chinese hand cannon, would your interest in it be conditioned by its accuracy? If you had the chance to examine an antique musket owned by Louis XIV, would you wonder what group it would shoot? Would you decline the chance to shoot an MBI Gyrojet because the chance of it hitting a tin can at 25 yards is infinitesimal?

I would argue that a "gas trap" M1 rifle is quite interesting, though they weren't much for accuracy. The Colt All-American 2000 shot patterns, not groups, but its construction was unusual and ahead of its time. The AK-47 is not renowned for accuracy, but I would say its role in world history is pretty interesting.

So Whelen's quote is bunk, in my mind, but I can guarantee it will continue to be used as long as a gunwriter is facing a deadline.

What do you think?

1. How dare you criticize an icon like Townsend Whelen!

2. Thank God; someone's finally told the truth about the old bird.

3. Who's Townsend Whelen?

Popular Videos

Ruger introduces Rifles Chambered in the All-New .350 Legend

Two Ruger American Ranch rifles and the AR-556 MPR are now chambered for Winchester's .350 Legend cartridge.

New addition to the Browning X-Bolt rifle series

New for 2019 is the Max Long Range model featuring a composite Max stock with fully adjustable comb, spacers for adjusting length of pull, stainless fluted heavy sporter barrel, threaded muzzle brake and extended bolt handle.

American Suppressor Association (ASA)

ASA is the unified voice of the suppressor industry and a leading subject matter experts on suppressors and suppressor related advocacy.

See more Popular Videos

More Historical


Guns of Agent 007

Will Dabbs, MD - March 16, 2018

From the Beretta 418 to the HK UMP, Will Dabbs, MD, takes a look at the different guns of 007...


Model 1909 Benet-Mercie Machine Rifle: U.S. Army's First Light Machine Gun | Part 1

Paul Scarlata - January 07, 2019

The first part of Scarlata's report examining the American Army's use of the Model 1909s.


German Sd.Kfz. 251 Halftrack - Part 3

David Fortier - February 12, 2018

The Sd.Kfz. 251 provided both mobility and protection while being able to traverse difficult

See More Historical

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction.


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.