Today we wanted to highlight some of the famous fathers of the firearms industry. Without their hard work, dedication, and innovation, we would not be where we are today in the gun world. While there are hundreds of influential figures we could talk about, these are just a few of our favorites.
This man enjoys an unparalleled status in the firearms community. He is arguably the most important figure in the development of modern automatic and semi-automatic firearms and holds 128 gun patents to his credit. He made his first firearm at age 13 in his father’s gun shop, and was awarded his first patent on October 7, 1879 at the age of 24. Browning’s most successful designs include the M1911 pistol, the Browning .50 caliber machine gun, the Browning Hi-Power pistol, the Browning Automatic Rifle, and the Browning Auto-5, a ground-breaking semi-automatic shotgun. These arms are nearly identical today to those assembled by Browning in the 1920s, with only minor changes in detail and cosmetics. Even today, John Browning’s guns are still some of the most copied guns in the world.
After the Texas Rangers ordered 1,000 of his Colt revolvers during the American war with Mexico in 1847, Samuel Colt’s firearms business expanded rapidly. His factory in Hartford built the guns used as sidearms by both the North and the South in the American Civil War, and later historians credited his firearms in taming the western frontier. Colt died in 1862, before the end of the Civil War, as one of the wealthiest men in America.
He was the inventor of the Henry rifle, the first reliable lever-action repeating rifle.
Oliver Winchester hired Henry at the New Haven Arms Company in the late 1850s to improve the design of the Volcanic-repeating rifle. On October 16, 1860, he received a patent on the Henry .44 caliber-repeating rifle, which soon proved the worth of the lever-action design on the battlefields of the American Civil War, where soldiers used Henry rifles alongside muzzle-loading rifled muskets such as the Springfield Model 1861. Benjamin Tyler Henry continued to work at the Winchester Repeating Arms Company until at least 1873.
Stoner is the man most associated with the design of the AR-15, which the U.S. Military later adopted as the M16. Many historians regard him, along with John Browning and John Garand, as one of the United States’ most successful military firearms designers of the 20th century. In 1955, Stoner completed initial design work on the revolutionary AR-10, a lightweight selective-fire infantry rifle in 7.62 x 51mm NATO caliber. Stoner submitted the AR-10 for rifle evaluation trials to the US Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground late in 1956. In comparison with competing rifle designs previously submitted for evaluation, the AR-10 was smaller, easier to fire in automatic, and much lighter. However, it arrived very late in the testing cycle, and the army rejected the AR-10 in favor of the more conventional T44, which would become the M14. At the request of the U.S. military, Stoner’s chief assistant, Robert Fremont and Jim Sullivan designed the AR-15 from the basic AR-10 design, scaling it down to fire the small-caliber .223 Remington cartridge. The U.S. military later adopted the AR-15 as the famous M-16.
In 1944, he designed a gas-operated carbine for the new 7.62×39 mm cartridge. This weapon, influenced by the M1 Garand rifle, lost out to the new Simonov carbine, which the Soviets later adopted as the SKS; but it became a basis for his entry in an assault rifle competition in 1946. His winning entry, the Mikhtim, so named by taking the first letters of his name and patronymic Mikhail Timofeyevich, became the prototype for the development of a family of prototype rifles. This process culminated in 1947, when he designed the AK-47, which stands for Avtomat Kalashnikova model 1947. In 1956, the AK-47 assault rifle became the standard issue rifle of the Soviet Army and went on to become Kalashnikov’s most famous invention. It is the most recognizable firearm in the entire world.
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