IN MEMORIAM: Dan Shideler, Gun Digest Editor

Dan Shideler was the fifth editor of Gun Digest, "The World's Greatest Gun Book."

Dan Shideler was the fifth editor of Gun Digest, "The World's Greatest Gun Book."

We at F+W Media and Gun Digest are saddened to announce that our friend and colleague, Dan Shideler, a senior editor in the Firearms/Knives Group, passed away Sunday, April 3.

Dan joined the Company in 2004 as an editor in the books division in Iola, Wisconsin. He quickly gained respect throughout the company and the industry as an expert in firearms history, trends and pricing. Within a few years Dan took over as editor of Standard Catalog of Firearms. In 2010 he realized his childhood dream of becoming the editor of Gun Digest. It was the pinnacle of his career. In the introduction to the 64th edition, Dan wrote:

“I was raised on Gun Digest. Once a year, in the long-gone Indiana of the 1960s and 1970s, my father brought home the new edition, which my brother Dave and I eagerly devoured. I mean we read it literally from cover to cover, absorbing whatever wisdom and insight that could be found in its pages. I still have some of those 40-year-old volumes, nearly all of them showing pencil marks in their catalog sections where we, with boyish enthusiasm, checked guns that we would surely buy someday …

“And now, forty-some years later, I am the editor of that same book. Karma? The inscrutable workings of Fate? Call it what you will, I will say simply that it is an honor — for me, it’s the stuff that dreams are made of.”

Dan never called himself an expert, preferring to be known as “just an old-fashioned gun guy.” By the time he came to work at F+W, Dan had compiled a collection of every Gun Digest annual, starting with the inaugural 1944 edition. Wanting to share the legacy of “The World’s Greatest Gun Book,” in 2008 Dan hauled his entire collection from his home in Indiana to our office in Iola, Wisconsin, so it could be digitized and made available to everyone who shared his appreciation for firearms history.

Another, lesser-known aspect of Dan’s persona was his gift for music, both performing and composing. Dan was active in numerous community bands and composed several marches over the years. With that in mind, his family has established a memorial fund in his name:

Daniel Shideler Memorial Fund
John Philip Sousa Foundation Project
c/o Indiana Members Credit Union
7110 West 10th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46214

A Few Words from Dan’s Colleagues

Dan Shideler, Fall 2010. Photo by Corey Graff

Dan Shideler, Fall 2010. Photo by Corey Graff


Several of Dan’s colleagues have paid their respects below. You may do the same in the comments section of this page. Click here to jump to the comments section to pay your own respects.

 

Jim Schlender, Publisher, Gun Digest Books

I met Dan in 1997 while interviewing him for the position of “technical copywriter” at a previous company. It was certainly the most memorable interview I’ve ever been involved in. Five minutes into our discussion, his gift for communication was obvious. He was wildly overqualified to be a copywriter, but we hired him on the spot. To no one’s surprise, within months Dan was running an entire division of our marketing department.

We soon became fast friends, and Dan made it his mission to further my education on firearms of all types. I confess that Dan and I spent too much time discussing guns and hunting, both on the job and off, so it seemed only natural that years later we ended up right where we both wanted to be – working for Gun Digest. Partnering with Dan to produce some of the greatest titles in the industry has been an honor, and I’m better for having known him.

Kevin Michalowski, Senior Editor, Gun Digest the Magazine

Dan Shideler arrived at Gun Digest just about the time I was preparing to move out of the book division into the magazine division. We worked side-by-side for nearly a year here in the Iola office and Dan brought to work each day a great sense of wonder about firearms of all types and all ages. He was particularly fond of obscure pieces and I remember well the day he posed for a photo with that anti-garroting contraption. It was basically a cap-lock blackpowder barrel mounted to a metal plate. It was worn on your back and fired by means of pulling a string to drop the hammer. Apparently the idea was to blast anyone who would sneak up behind you intent on doing harm.  You wouldn’t have gotten me to wear that thing on a bet, but Dan loaded it up, strapped it on and, on the photographer’s cue, yanked the cord. The flame and smoke was impressive and we came away with a good laugh and a pretty good photo. Dan’s vibrant mirth and sarcastic sense of humor will be missed. We will also miss being able to pick up the phone and ask him about guns we’ve never heard of … And get a history lesson from his nearly limitless knowledge of all things obscure and interesting.

Corrina Peterson, Gun Digest Books Editor

For the past few years I have had the privilege of working with Dan publishing books for Gun Digest. Watching him in action was awe-inspiring. Dan knew everything there was to know about firearms and their history. People call our office all the time with questions about guns they found in their father’s attic or behind the bathtub in the cabin they just bought. No matter how sketchy the description, Dan could always ask a few pointed questions and identify the gun. The real kicker is that the information was all in his head – he never had to look up anything.

Dan was one of a kind – a genius, a gentleman and a true friend. It has been a blessing and an honor to know him, and I will miss him terribly.

Dan Shideler became editor of the Gun Digest annual starting with the 2010 edition.

Dan Shideler became editor of the Gun Digest annual starting with the 2010 edition.

Patrick Sweeney, Gun Digest Author

I only knew Dan for a few years, but we quickly became co-conspirators. Together we schemed to find the best possible titles and content, for the benefit of ourselves, the publisher and the readers. He never complained about my complaining, and the only time he was upset was when I mis-remembered the details of a manuscript, and sent in twice as much text as needed. “I was crying as I was cutting stuff” he said.

He always had an idea, a plan, a funny line, and encouragement for the next project. Wise to the world, and the ways of publishing, he didn’t let that knowledge discourage him. He always had fun.
I’m going to miss him.

Click here to jump to the comments section

Massad Ayoob, Gun Digest Author

Dan Shideler was taken from us far too soon. He was a joy to work with, an advocate for the authors he brought into the fold, and likewise to those he inherited from his predecessors. His deep understanding of the book business would have earned him big bucks as an executive on Publisher’s Row in New York City, but he chose instead to apply his talents to his avocation.  The result is the many enduring books he did so much to craft, by so many authors…books balanced not just with well-edited writing, but with masterful application of illustration. Dan understood the “art of the gun” — the form-follows-function sculpture of the things, and the way in which the sight of certain iconic firearms trip the pleasure centers in the enthusiast reader’s brain, the way a ’57 Chevy does for someone who grew up during the Eisenhower years, the way a distinctive Ansel Adams image does for a connoisseur of fine photography.

With his encyclopedic knowledge of firearms, Dan blended scholarship into art. Working with the author on one end and the art director on the other, he shaped books that will be on the shelves of gun collectors and shooters for many decades to come.  His warm personality will be missed by all who knew him, and the world of the gun is diminished by his loss.

Corey Graff, Online Editor, GunDigest.com

I wasn’t quite sure what to think about Dan Shideler at first. Maybe it was the bright-pink sport jacket he liked to wear around the office! But over time, I grew to understand why he became the editor of Gun Digest. He had a knowledge of firearms that seemed almost super-human. He drew from that well when writing, but also had the ability to entertain. Like when he called the Remington 673 the “Batmobile of rifles,” he always had a different way of looking at things that left me smiling.

It was a personal and professional highlight for me to facilitate an interview between Dan and author Massad Ayoob about the release of Massad Ayoob’s Greatest Handguns of the World. I also will forever remember the video interview Dan and I did at SHOT Show 2011 with another hero of mine, Patrick Sweeney. I’d often e-mail Dan asking him to do this or that for the gundigest.com website and he’d always reply the same way: “No.” But then he’d come through with twice as much material as I needed. That, I came to understand, was classic Dan.

Phillip Peterson, Editor, Standard Catalog of Military Firearms

When Publisher Jim Schlender called me Monday afternoon to inform me of Dan Shideler’s passing, I was deeply saddened. Dan Shideler was a friend and mentor to me. He was the one who suggested I submit columns about collectible guns to Gun Digest the Magazine, back when it was called Gun List — when that publication expanded to include magazine content. And as his career with Krause expanded he was the one who suggested my name to the pub board to do the 4th edition of Standard Catalog of Military Firearms.

As I look at the images of Dan that appear on this Memorian page, I realized that I sold or traded from Dan every single firearm he is shown with.  He certainly did have a wide area of knowledge about obscure firearms and related historical topics. I happen to still have one firearm that came from Dan: A Winchester M1911 self-loading shotgun known as the infamous “Widowmaker.” He gave it to me in February as part of a multi-gun swap. I had intended to sell it but I think I will now keep it. It was the subject of one of my favorite columns by Dan. I will always miss his sense of humor and funny way of describing things.

Click above to watch a video review of the Rossi/Taurus Circuit Judge, with Dan Shideler.

Click above to watch a video review of the Rossi/Taurus Circuit Judge, with Dan Shideler.

Some of Our Favorite Articles By Dan Shideler

Collecting Gun Digest: The Greatest Gun Annual
In terms of firearms annuals, Gun Digest is unique. It has consistently attracted the biggest names in the business, and it’s more fun to collect than guns. Read more

673 Guide Rifle: The Batmobile of Remington?
Remington’s big-bore guide rifle is one collectors will love. And you don’t even have to be a guide. Read more

Jeepers Creepers, Where’d You Get That Pieper? – Part 1
Never heard of the Pieper Volley Gun, have you? Neither had I until I stumbled across it in the LaPorte museum. If the LaPorte museum’s W. A. Jones Collection of Antique Firearms contains the damndest stuff you’ve ever seen, then their Pieper Volley Gun has got to be the double-damndest. Read more

Jeepers Creepers, Where’d You Get That Pieper? – Part 2
So what’s a volley gun? Believe it or not, it’s a gun that’s intentionally designed to fire multiple barrels at once. Read more

A Must Read: “Firearm Curiosa” by Lewis Winant
If you’ve ever read my columns, you’re aware that I’m fascinated by oddball firearms. Perhaps you are, too. If so, Winant’s Firearms Curiosa is a must-have. Read more

Updated Classics: The NEW Ithaca Model 37s
The Gun Digest staff took a trio of Ithaca shotguns to the range to put them through their paces and see what we liked and didn’t like. There wasn’t much of the latter to be found.  Read more

Feeling Squishy for S&W 317 AirLite
When Dan Shideler first saw the Smith & Wesson Model 317 AirLite .22 Snubbie, his reaction was, “You gotta be kidding.” Read more

A little known fact about the Gun Digest 65-year 3-DVD Digital Set is that the books digitized for this product were from Dan Shideler's personal collection.

A little known fact about the Gun Digest 65-year 3-DVD Digital Set is that the books digitized for this product were from Dan Shideler's personal collection.

Video: Massad Ayoob Interview – Greatest Handguns Part I
Dan Shideler, editor for Gun Digest Books, interviews Massad Ayoob about the release of a new book, Massad Ayoob’s Greatest Handguns of the World.  Watch Now

Video: Massad Ayoob Interview – Greatest Handguns Part II
Dan Shideler, editor for Gun Digest Books, interviews Massad Ayoob about the release of a new book, Massad Ayoob’s Greatest Handguns of the World. In this installment, Shideler and Ayoob discuss some of lesser known models found in Ayoob’s new book. Watch Now

Video: Massad Ayoob Interview – Greatest Handguns Part III
Dan Shideler, editor for Gun Digest Books, interviews Massad Ayoob about the release of a new book, Massad Ayoob’s Greatest Handguns of the World. In this installment, Shideler asks Ayoob whether the 1911 is the greatest handgun of all time. Watch Now

From Mexico, With Love
Obviously, there could be no practical use for a BB gun that used a .22 blank cartridge as a propellant; which meant, of course, Dan Shideler just had to have one. Read more

The Black Sheep of the Family? AR-15s as Collectibles
Is the AR-15 somehow beyond the pale of legitimate, serious gun collecting? I used to think so, but I’ve changed my mind. Let’s examine why some otherwise well-balanced gun collectors don’t pursue the AR-15. Read more

The S&W .38 Single Action
Smith & Wesson marketed a perfectly good line of self-defense revolvers as early as 1876 and produced nearly 160,000 of them before dropping the design in 1911. Read more

Guns to Love: Shideler Reveals His Top Picks
The able Contributing Editors of Gun Digest will perhaps forgive me if I take a moment and comment on just a few guns and gadgets that tripped my personal trigger during the past year. Some of these are doubtless discussed elsewhere in this volume, but what can I say? I was here first. Read more

Video Gun Review: Rossi Circuit Judge
Gun Digest editor Dan Shideler reviews the Rossi/Taurus Circuit Judge – a revolving carbine/shotgun that’s a hoot to shoot. Watch Now

10 thoughts on “IN MEMORIAM: Dan Shideler, Gun Digest Editor

  1. badmac

    Until now, I only knew Mr. Shideler through his writings. Reading the above comments educates me more about the man, and appreciate him even more.
    His son Ted’s comments are touching, and my condolences go out to the whole Shideler family and all those fortunate enough to know him.

    You mad a difference, Dan. Rest in peace.

  2. scrivner

    Dear Dan,

    Only today, when I sent you an email, did Marylou and I learn that you were no longer with Krause Publications and that you had passed on to the other side. Once we got over the shock of your passing I felt we needed to write you another email, to thank you for being a friend and for making us feel like a part of this special community. Although you’re no longer with us I’m sure you’ll receive this message.

    I recall that at our first meeting we discovered that we were both Indiana boys. Sharing those boyhood stories about me wandering the fields with my .22 and you acquiring the beginnings of the encyclopedic knowledge of firearms that was uniquely yours forged the links of understanding that later lead to us working together.

    Working with you was a pleasure. Your editorial advice was to the point and always supportive. I especially appreciated your open mind, the willingness to consider matters, even technical points, from another point of view. Although I lack your wide ranging knowledge of firearms, you respected my many years as a field man who lived with guns, and my personal points of view, which were often at variance from mainstream opinion. That meant a great deal to me in our professional relationship. Your personal support on a difficult project saved me from tearing out my hair, which is a good thing considering that I have none to spare. You were everything that any writer could ask for in an editor, and more.

    The times that Marylou and I spent with you at a trade shows never seemed like work. We felt like we were just hanging out with an old friend. Your wry sense of humor, ability to see things from another perspective and to skewer the foolish provided us with much amusement.

    You were a total professional and more importantly, a good man. Everyone here knows that. I’m sure that those who greet you on that distant shore will recognize your qualities and feel the same. Thanks for everything Dan. We’ll miss you.

    Best wishes,

    James Morgan Ayres
    Marylou Ayres

  3. davidrchicoine

    This is Dave Chicoine, Dan was my editor in 2004-5 for the “Antique Firearms Assembly, Disassembly” book which is where we first met. Right from the start I found him to be very sharp and creative in addition to being a surprisingly humble individual, I really enjoyed working with him. Just now thinking about working with him and recalled several phone calls where his wonderful sense of humor instantly made the day a better place to be in.
    He was a true professional who will be deeply missed. God bless you Dan and your family. Dave Chicoine, Gastonia, NC

  4. Brian Lovett

    I first met Dan in 2004, when I started as editor for Gun List (later Gun Digest the Magazine). Dan wrote the cover feature for that inaugural editorial issue. It was immediately obvious that he possessed a powerful intellect and encyclopedic knowledge of firearms. However, as Dan put it, “I write entertainment.” That he did, taking the driest, most esoteric topics and turning them into witty masterpieces anyone — no matter their firearms experience — could enjoy.

    I’m deeply saddened at Dan’s passing and am a better person for having known him.

    Brian Lovett
    Editor, Turkey & Turkey Hunting

  5. schmidtd

    Dan Shideler was a larger-than-life character in the “SHOT” (shooting, hunting and outdoor trade) industry. He was always honest and upfront and never apologetic for his convictions. That’s what I admired most about him. A few years ago, he did us the honor of writing several firearms-related articles for our D&DH Equipment Annual. In the many years I’ve been associated with the magazine, I can honestly say no one has ever written more interesting articles on deer hunting firearms. He could take a rather dry subject (the history of the .308 comes to mind) and spin it into an article that you simply could not put down until you had consumed every word.

    Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.

    Daniel E. Schmidt, Editor, Deer & Deer Hunting Magazine

  6. wingshooter21

    I never had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Shidler, but my own collection of Gun digests is almost as complete as his was. I will miss his writing. My thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family.

  7. sarahshideler

    This is Dan’s daughter, Sarah. I am so impressed and touched by the outpouring of compassion expressed toward the memory of my father and to our family. My dad cherished his time at Gun Digest, and as he often said himself, achieving his position as editor truly was the realization of a dream for him.

    Towards the end of his life, although he remained active and always on-the-go, he really was very ill, and as he forged ever onward, it was easy to forget that. A diabetic, he had already suffered at least one confirmed stroke and several heart attacks, as well as undergone bypass surgery before what was believed to be protracted bouts of pneumonia finally manifested itself as renal failure.

    Our family had several scares due to his health, but he was quite lucky for a long time, and my father maintained a low level of kidney function for some time. He was able to avoid clinical dialysis until the last week of his life. I believe that now is he finally at peace.

    I know that despite the increasing severity of his illnesses and the debilitating effect that they had on him, the great joy towards the end of my dad’s life was his position at Krause Publications and specifically, getting to work on Gun Digest, the Standard Catalog of Firearms, and many other fine publications he was proud to contribute to. Many of people have heard him recount how he and his brother, my Uncle Dave, pored over the latest edition of Gun Digest as children, hardly able to wait until they were able to collect all the guns they saw and learned about in those pages.

    My dad’s life came full circle when he went from a wide-eyed boy thumbing through worn copies of the book over and over again, to overseeing the pristine pages of the latest edition and getting it ready to go to press. In short, I want to thank everyone at Krause Publications for the joy that my father’s position as editor of Gun Digest brought to his life. He died happy.

  8. Boomer

    Wow,
    So sad. But it is exceedingly clear what a great person Dan was. I never met him, but always enjoyed his articles in Gun Digest. Such kind words from his collegues and some of my personal heroes … I wish I had the chance to meet him.

  9. tcshideler

    I knew Dan Shideler from within seconds of my birth, as he was my father. Although I received only glimpses of his more professional side- a laptop here, a printed manuscript coming out of the sharpie-notated fax machine there, I grew to respect and hold to high esteem his work- his passion.

    I grew up in a separate household where shooting was, to say the least, held to less than high regard, but the respect and affection he had for his colleagues bled down to me almost through osmosis, and I grew to hold those people- the people that have written touching anecdotes further up on this page- to an almost godlike standard. Even though I’ve only met a handful of his fellow writers and editors in person, it means so much and is such an honor to have them recount their memories about my father.

    With dad, you could always tell when he was proud- he’d get this devious grin that try as I might in my spare time, I’ve not been able to replicate. Working with his friends doing what he loved ensured that this particular glint never left his eye. As he told me many times, editing Gun Digest was a dream come true.

    Although he introduced himself as an “old fashioned gun guy,” I just knew him as dad. And no matter how we became acquainted, through his family, his music, or his writing, I know that everyone whose lives he touched will surely miss him for a long, long time.

    Thank you all,

    Ted Shideler

  10. Derrek Sigler

    I, too, have had the pleasure of working closely with Dan during my time at Gun Digest. I was greatly saddened to hear that he had passed. The firearms community and the world has lost a treasure.
    Aside from being a walking library of gun knowledge, Dan had an amazing sense of humor. He made me laugh every time we spoke. He was also generous to a fault.

    Rest in peace, Dan. We will all miss you!

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