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THE STORY OF THE GUN (A&E Home Video, $59.95).

Narrated by actor Cliff Robertson, this four-cassette video set traces the evolution of fire arms since the invention of gunpowder a millennium ago changed the world forever. Featured are such weapons as the hand cannon, which posed more of a threat to the person firing it than to its intended victim; the matchlock musket that could be rendered useless by the smallest amount of moisture; the British “Brown Bess” flintlock musket, perhaps the most famous muzzle-loading gun, and the first gun to be standardized for use in the military; the Colt revolver,known as the most efficient firearm of its day; the multi-barreled Gatling gun, invented during the Civil War, which could shoot as fast as its crank could be turned; the Springfield rifle, developed in 1900; and the unbreakable Browning automatic rifle that was utilized on World War I’s front lines in the summer of 1918. The videos also highlight–through rare archival film footage, photographs, and diagrams of their work–the lives of such innovators as Oliver Winchester (1810-80); Samuel Colt (1814-62); Horace Smith (1808-93) and his partner Daniel Baird Wesson(1825-1906); Dr. Richard Gatling (1818-1903); and John Browning (1855-1926).