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The Internet Claims Another Victim – ‘Soldier of Fortune’ Magazine To Cease Hard Copy Publication, Go Digital Only

According to the Wall Street Journal, Soldier of Fortune magazine is ceasing publication of the hard copy edition and going digital-only beginning with the April 2016 issue which should hit newsstands soon.  Publisher Robert K Brown, LTC (USAR, Ret) is 83 now and putting together a monthly magazine is no joke.  While I don’t blame him, it’s sad to see it go.  I’m hoping they’ll improve their online presence.  I’d like to keep up but their site needs some work.

 

Quite frankly, I am bummed. I grew up with Soldier of Fortune; literally. Although I didn’t read the magazine from the very first issue, I started reading it in 1978, after it had been around for a few years.  I still read printed magazines, including SOF.  Perhaps I feel like I’m being forced to consider my own mortality.  When you’ve seen something since you were a kid, it’s kind of a shocker to see it go.  SOF has had its ups and downs over the years but it was a magazine written by some guys who had been-there-done-that and definitely influenced more than one generation over its 40 year run.  What are your memories?

In the future, Soldier of Fortune’s content will be found at www.sofmag.com.

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26 Responses to “The Internet Claims Another Victim – ‘Soldier of Fortune’ Magazine To Cease Hard Copy Publication, Go Digital Only”

  1. TexasKrypteia says:

    I ordered a “Be A Man Among Men: Rhodesian Army” t-shirt out of that mag. My high school sociology teacher (a Vietnam vet) would always get a smile on his face whenever I wore it to class.

  2. Fly on the Wall says:

    Dayrooms (memba them? another blast from the past) and CQ desks will not be the same without 5-10 year dog-eared copies with pizza grease on them.

    At one point, they had pretty good articles. And the coolest ads for plastic “CIA letter openers”…

    That’s it…I’m old. Time to get that “Complete DD214 in pins on a Retired Veteran Hat” outfit with the Member’s Only jacket and hang around the PX refill pharmacy.

  3. Disco says:

    Lol I got suspended for bringing one to middle school but yet the black kids could have Ebony Jet and The Source full of gangster rap.

    IIRC is was the one issue about Waco

  4. cimg says:

    ACK! no more SOF, no more shotgun news, no more nudes in Playboy, a socialist running for president, cats and dogs living together, this is truly the beginning of Armageddon.

    • Disco says:

      We should make our own magazine with like nudie pictures of chicks with guns, articles about far off warzones, and, like….other ill shit.

      It’d kinda have to be digital these days. Like SSD, Gunbroker, and Hustler all in one.

      Yeah!

  5. Wow we must be getting old… Remember Hours spent with Buddies reading SOF as a teenager along with a massive collection of outdoor life and other outdoor magazines my uncle had given me that went back into the 50’s 2 Giant Boxes of Awesomeness for our 80’s Teenage Minds. Sorry to see it go to Digital – Digital is so easily wiped away and never to bee seen again for future generations sure there is the web but that could all vanish very quickly in a digital society.

    As usual Eric thanks for the Heads up we appreciate SSD!

  6. Strike-Hold says:

    I think the July 1978 issue might have been the first one I picked up – the cover definitely looks familiar: http://thumbs4.ebaystatic.com/d/l800/pict/272092482890_1.jpg

    Who can forget this one? http://thumbs4.ebaystatic.com/d/l800/pict/262185929961_1.jpg RKB goes to Afghanistan and scoops the CIA by being the first Westerner to evaluate a live AK74 in the field!

    The June ’82 cover was another classic! http://thumbs4.ebaystatic.com/d/l800/pict/262185912677_1.jpg

    Ah, the mis-spent days of my high school years…

  7. straps says:

    I remember being a 9-year-old kid reading that exact issue (summer ’75) and seeing facets of life rarely discussed in the mainstream media. It was the first time I saw V-hulled mine-protective vehicles in asymmetric conflict.

    The editorial approach stayed pretty unvarnished (no better or worse than most blogs today). the upside of that was you got the author’s perspective (and only ONE set of biases).

    I ordered a US-made Cold Steel Tanto out of that magazine that served me well until it was stolen a decade later.

    SOF helped me become the geardo I am today with its ads for the WerBell family’s various wares, some sold through a little outfit called Brigade Quartermasters.

  8. Ross says:

    Bob Brown is a legend. It certainly is an honor to call him friend.
    Sad to see this … so much of what we have today is just a “tactical fashion show”.
    SOF has always been the real deal and there is just something crazy good about turning pages, rather than “swiping” … Long live SOF.

  9. Dutch325 says:

    RIP SOF. I have the first several issues, when it was a quarterly publication. RK Brown, Michael Echanis, Al Venter, John Donovan, George Bacon………… yep, I am the old guy!

  10. bulldog76 says:

    *cries* thats the mag on i learned what Rhodesia was in the early 2000s (i was about 8) and seeing odas and rangers in Afghanistan …kinda sad to see it go digital only

  11. USASOF says:

    Robert K Brown and SOF Magazine are directly responsible for my entry and twenty-five years in the Army! Started reading in 78 and enlisted in 79. I remember my dad looking at Combat, House to House and Stick and Knife fighting by Mike Echanis and saying what are you reading!!!!! SOF led to many magazines running down that path, they survived.

  12. Bill in White Plains says:

    Started reading in 1977 or 78. I enjoyed the small arms articles by Peter Kokalis and even more so, Battle Blades by Bill Bagwell…. Never did order that Hell’s Belle Bowie from him. Favorite quote from RKB…. “Murican gun, Murican caliber” in a write up of the slimline grip Gunsite Service Pistol (if I remember correctly)

  13. jk pendleton says:

    me and a couple buddies drove to vegas one year from 29 palms for the SOF convention. we met ollie north, brown, dale dye (for the first time) and some honest to god Mujahedin fighters!

  14. fact275 says:

    In the mid-80s as a teenager I picked up an SOF Annual book at Crown Books (also long gone). It featured a slate of articles from the late 70s onwards. I most remember a pictorial essay of USMC Force Recon training in Puerto Rico–the first time I had read about them.

  15. Grady Burrell says:

    Meeting LTC (R) Brown some years ago at SHOT , was a dream come true for me. Such a humble gentlemen and always willing to listen to feedback on SOF. I will just read online now.

  16. Mark says:

    Met LTC Brown at the Marine exposition in Washington DC in 1985. Didn’t even know it was him at the time. He had free copies of the 10th anniversary edition and a few others. I have yet to meet him, but I plan on it when I get back to CONUS and out west.

  17. Bad Dancer says:

    Many of the books on my bookshelf are from featured articles in that magazine. Sadly I can’t find the one about a fella in Viet Nam with a sawn off shotgun as his second, I’m sure I have the magazine but just can’t find the book title!

    Good reads and more or less from the hip honest opinions from what I recall of it. Might give the e-edition a look see.

  18. Balazs B. J. de Berzsenyi says:

    Started reading SOF way back, when I lived in Germany, starting with Issue #1. Have them all, till about the mid-80’s when I discontinued buying/subscribing due to the technical and tactical articles getting fewer and fewer in between. Also have all the specials and the sister publications. End of an era for sure!!!

  19. AbnMedOps says:

    My first contact with Soldier of Fortune was before there was was even a SOF magazine. I think I was ten or eleven years old, around 1973, when I read a blurb in Playboy about a crazy Vietnam vet named Bob Brown with information packets about how to become a mercenary in Africa. I was a pretty hard-core anti-communist even at that age, so I sent off to the address provided, and pretty soon Mom intercepted my mail and started screaming that someone was trying to recruit her kid to be a mercenary! Mom: “This has your name on it! Do you know anything about this??” Me: “Uh, no mom. What is it? Let me see…” Mom: “Never mind! I’m going to call the Postal Inspector! This is crazy!” LOL

    Found my first newsstand copy in 1977, and aside from a few water-damaged issues, have an almost complete set of SOF up to today. It’s sad to see the magazine fade away, but back in the late 70’s into the early 90’s, SOF was a completely unique window into third-world insurgency, and into certain corners of military affairs and weaponry.

    The series on the Lebanese civil war was the ONLY thing in print that made sense of the years of random network news shots of guys with RPGs and bland anchorman comments about “Misery increases as cease-fire crumbles”…then, as now, the US media refuses to speak the name(s) of the enemy(ies). Only SOF broke down conflicts into identifiable factions and named the ideologies and foreign puppet-masters involved.

    In it’s publishing heyday, Soldier of Fortune was sort of the tactical equivalent of a young Rush Limbaugh circa 1993 – an utterly unexpected independent voice subverting the monotone, left-leaning government/corporate media culture that until that point had been the only source of information.

  20. Ranger Rick says:

    A publication ahead of its time, a source for information on places, people and events that Americans needed to know about that the MSM rarely covered. Also, except for the American Rifleman the only source of straight up firearms and related equipment reviews for the longest time. Almost forgot to mention the classified ads in the early year issues, loved them.

  21. pyronaute says:

    SOF has been a much enjoyed publication since I was in high school. The technical articles, as well as the historical perspectives were quite useful to me in many research projects in HS and college. Though my own efforts to pursue a military career were aborted, SOF remained a touchstone to that aspect of my life. RKB and staff could never be accused of being PC! I knew the format would eventually change but always hoped a print edition would outlive me. I’m sad to see it go, but at least I have nearly 40 years worth of back issues to enjoy and eventually pass on to another generation. The information is timeless.
    Thanks LTC Brown. Your service to this nation both in uniform and out, is appreciated.

  22. Springerpanhead says:

    This magazine has been a touchstone of my life. Now living in a world where I feel like I have fallen down a rabbit hole, and the world and all its values are upside down, not being able to go to the news stand and find this little bit of the world I once knew is a real blow to my aging psyche. On line is fine, but holding a real magazine in my hands that didn’t need a device for me to read was much better. It deserves a funeral with full military honors. God bless America and RKB.

  23. Jordan says:

    Found my first issue of SOF in the Rec Room at 3rd Bn 2nd Marines in summer of 1975. Twenty years later found myself taking a leak on the side of a road in Bosnia. Lt/Col Brown was doing same on the next tree over. Funny old world eh?
    Cheers RKB,

    Jordan

  24. Dan Morris (Denton Texas says:

    After serving in the USMC in Vietnam I joined the US Army as an infantryman. I became an avid reader of SOF and in 1979 I answered a pen pal ad from Rhodesia and subsequently was offered a job as security manager at the family’s copper mine. I turned down the job but kept up with the pen pal. She was in the Rhodesian cavalry wand was shot in the leg. After recovering she went back to the bush war and the letters stopped. I contacted Robin Moore through SOF and he went to his Crippled Eagles office in Rhodesia and tried to find out what happened to my pen pal (Fiona McKay). He said most of the family had been killed fighting. The old security manager I was to replace was killed by a land mine. The people at SOF were always willing to help and I continued reading it until I retired from the Army as a Chief Warrant Officer in Counterintelligence. I will miss SOF Mag.