An Appreciation Of Fonts Of Knowledge

I have always been fascinated by firearms; their history, the way they work, and the way they look. During my middle school years, I remember the first laptop my mother gifted for my 8th grade school year. This was right around the time Web 2.0 was starting to get traction and we were seeing more sophisticated websites and front-end DOM features, but for me this was my first time getting to know the Internet on a personal level.

With the intense level of curiosity that I still possess, that laptop truly felt like a window into the greater world. I certainly made no haste in using my access to the Internet to satisfy my rampant and natural curiosity about firearms. I remember back in those days when I literally knew nothing about the topic, that any informative video on the then up-and-coming YouTube website or any article evoked a feeling that a bespectacled scholar would probably experience upon finally seeing some long lost manuscript that held the glue to the theory of his life’s work.

Mr. Maxim Popenker holding an AS Val suppressed assault rifle chambered in 9x39mm Soviet. image credit:

In those days in particular, I fondly remember the website “” which is now called This website is curated by Maxim Popenker and in those days it truly felt like a treasured personal encyclopedic collection of information. Through Mr. Popenker’s work I was able to establish my foundational knowledge of actual firearms that existed in the real world, especially with regards to XXth century designs. What I especially enjoyed about Mr. Popenker’s website is that he not only covered his bases with regards to Western firearms, but at the time it felt like his site was the only place for information about esoteric or lesser known Soviet and Russian designs beyond the AKM assault rifle or PK machine gun. Being exposed to prototypical weapons such as the Korobov TKB-022PM experimental bullpup assault rifle or all of those carbines chambered for 9x39mm cartridges (like the AS Val or the 9A-91) felt like seeing that strange marine life that lives in the deep darkness of the greatest depths of the ocean—where things just work differently.

Soviet bullpup rifle prototype by German Korobov. This is a TKB-022PM chambered in 7.62x39mm Soviet. Its bakelite shell design makes it very distinctive amongst any experimental rifles of the 20th century. image credit:

Admittedly I have not visited Mr. Popenker’s website as often as I used to, but it’s nice to see that the website is still up and active and has grown since those halcyon days of my first forays into firearms discovery.

P.E. Fitch
I am a shooter first, and a writer second. IG & Twitter: @pfitch45