Another bunch of The American Rifleman arrived recently as part of my project to collect one issue of the magazine from each year for the past century. In this latest batch, among the standouts are an issue from February 1940 (left front), the August 2011 issue celebrating the 125th anniversary of the founding of The Rifle magazine (right front), and an issue of Arms and the Man from December 1921 (front and center).
As many know, and as is recounted in the 125th anniversary issue, The American Rifleman has not always been the “official journal of the National Rifle Association of America.” Rifleman traces its history back to Arthur Corbin Gould’s publishing The Rifle magazine in 1885. In 1888 The Rifle became Shooting & Fishing magazine. A few years after his death, Brig. Gen. James Drain bought Shooting & Fishing magazine in 1906 and became its publisher and editor.
At that time, the name of the magazine was changed to Arms and the Man. The following year, Drain was elected President of the NRA and in 1908 he moved the offices of the magazine to Washington, DC, next door to the NRA offices. In 1916, Drain retired as publisher of Arms and the Man and sold the magazine to the NRA for $1. It became an official publication of the NRA.
By 1920, Arms and the Man had a circulation of 2,400. In June 1923, the magazine changed its name to The American Rifleman. (Even in the issue of Arms and the Man pictured here from 1921, you can see the masthead reads “The American Rifleman’s Magazine.”) The 125th anniversary issue lists the magazine’s circulation in 2010 as 1,902,185.
Perusing the 1921 issue of Arms and the Man is a fun way to step back in time. I was especially taken by the picture and caption below.