Firearm History

Shining a Light on ‘Revisionist’ Firearms History

Smith & Wesson 44 Double Action Frontier Model Revolver

With all the changes taking place in our culture, I thought I would give you my perspective of where it started. Much to my surprise, I realized that even in the 1950s (before I suspected things started to change) I was subtly being fed misinformation.

To help prove my point, let me submit for your consideration the following proposition. The AR platform — the ‘modern sporting rifle’ (MSR) or whatever you chose to call it — embodies the entire history of mankind and all of man’s energy, ingenuity, and inventiveness was focused on its creation. Furthermore, had it not been for man’s focus on developing the ‘modern battle rifle,’ none of man’s other accomplishments would have been realized. We would have remained in the Stone Age.

AR-15 rifle topeed with a Trijicon ACOG scope
If you don’t know what this is, sign up for classes.

Everything we have, everything we have achieved, is in fact due to man’s pursuit of the ultimate weapon. The ultimate weapon — at this moment in history — is the modern battle rifle. Now that’s a really bold statement but allow me to explain.

In this article, I will provide you with some proof of that claim and present some examples of how ‘what we were taught’ was changed with the specific intent of negating the most influential achievement in our history. I will start by addressing one of the first, and possibly the most, egregious piece of anti-gun revisionist history that I’ve encountered. It attempts to erase the importance of weapons and their importance to our development.


I am sure most of you, at least those over 50, have heard the name Christopher Columbus. It was in 1492 that he set off on his epic voyage. Today, it is taught that he was a mass murderer of indigenous primitives regardless of where he encountered them. Those of my generation heard a different story. I will work from that version.

Recall if you can, what your teacher told you was the reason that Ferdinand and Isabelle invested so much of their precious venture capital on a crazy Italian guy, with a cockamamie theory that the world was round. He brashly stated, “He boldly went where no man had gone before.” You see how firearms indirectly influenced Star Trek.

Okay, that might be a stretch. Let’s get back to Chris and his bold statement. If he sailed off in the opposite direction of the Orient, he could find a shorter route to India and the Orient. Remember what our teachers told us was the reason for all these shenanigans?

The Pinta, nina, And Santa Maria ships
If you don’t know what this is, sign up for classes.

Silk and spices were what we were told…. You must ask yourself, “Why on earth (round or flat) would Ferdinand and Isabelle spend so much of their precious venture capital for silk to make pajamas and Saffron to sprinkle on their Paella? The answer, of course, is that they would not have, and we were lied to. Was it because our young delicate ears needed to be hidden from the truth? Or, were they just preparing us for a future of lies, control, and manipulation (like the 1619 Project…)? Again, I digress.

The real reason Ferdinand and Isabelle financed Columbus’ hair-brained scheme was for (wait for it…) Potassium Nitrate! Also known as Saltpeter and the main ingredient of gunpowder. It was India that had the largest naturally occurring deposits of Potassium Nitrate in the world and, Spain had been at war with France and England. Potassium Nitrate was the unobtanium of their time. Whomever had an unending source was the superpower of the day.

Well, what do you know? Some might challenge me to provide proof of my preposterous claim, but I cannot. The reason I cannot is because it was never documented. Why? Because it was TOP SECRET and unlike today’s leakers, back then traitors paid with a “lop it offa me” that’s a medical term for head loss.

Portrait of Christopher Columbus meeting natives
Chris getting unsuspecting natives ready for… religious conversion?

Now that we have that straightened out (Get it? Direct route i.e., straightened out — LOL) the search for the shorter route fostered astronomy, cartography, geography, and navigation. Who said the pursuit of weapons was not the primary motivator of knowledge, technology, science, and in fact, everything? Hang on, I’ll show you examples of how art and literature were influenced, not to mention men’s fashion if space permits. Are you starting to see why they need to diminish the significance of all things related to weapons and firearms?

If you want, I can convey the importance of India more thoroughly in the future. However, for now, try to recall how important it eventually became to England and the balance of power in Europe. The British East India Company, the Raj, and all that sort of thing. Say what? Sticky wicket old chap!

All of this was because of Potassium Nitrate. Additionally, the resources to manufacture firearms, powder, and shot continued to influence borders, foster diplomacy, negotiation, and wars which shaped the world into what we know it as today. Of course, they didn’t tell us that. Have I won you over yet?

Also consider that around 1500 the improvements occurring in metallurgy allowed for iron gun barrels to be made that were capable of firing more powerful charges. And yes, the improvements were about gun barrels not skillets. Are you starting to see how even cooking benefited from firearms though? Even Emeril got his signature BAM! from guns.


I realize that I have spent more words than necessary to get this far, but please understand that I have only touched upon a miniscule amount of the developments and the influence of those developments. In that regard, it is interesting to note one such development, that of the early matchlock, which was a weapon technology that stayed alive for a very long time.


The troops of the Ottoman Empire were using those early weapons in the mid 1400s. By 1526, they were introduced into India by the invasion of the Moghuls. In 1543, a Portuguese vessel was wrecked off Tane Ashima island in Japan and some of its crew showed the local Shogun their matchlock weapons, which the Japanese were very quick to clone and use for their own local wars.

Well into the 19th century, matchlock weapons were still being used in India, China, and Japan. There were even some records of rebels using matchlocks in East Timor in 2006. In a society that needs new cell phones every 2 years, the Matchlock technology had one helluva run.

Although it was revolutionary, the disadvantages of the “Match Lock” were many and a more reliable source of ignition was sought to overcome them. Remember, it was difficult to impossible to use in wet weather because of the problems of the powder in the pan getting damp and the ignition ember going out in heavy rains. It was also quite dangerous to have large quantities of gunpowder laying around with open flames. When large groups of soldiers were loading their weapons there was always a chance that the open flame from one person’s matchlock could set off another person’s supply of powder.

Obviously, I am not providing you with every example of how mankind benefited from the advancements the pursuit of weapons provided, but some are so noteworthy as to defy exclusion. The next example of the importance of firearms promoting state of the art technology was provided by a man that many believe displayed a brilliant mind and it wasn’t Sheldon Cooper! (That’s a reference to a TV character for those of you that don’t watch TV.)

Left to Right, Eli, the Cotton Gin, and his firearms sign.
Left to Right, Eli, the Cotton Gin, and his firearms sign.

Eli Whitney

What would be state of the art technology in 1794? Well, who remembers what rocked, or more appropriately shook the world? Before you answer, here is a hint: Get ready for more revisionary history. What did our teachers tell us that Eli Whitney was famous for? I’ll bet you think it was the Cotton Gin. Although Eli did in fact invent the Cotton Gin as a mechanical means to separate cotton fibers from their seeds which was very important to the economy of the Antebellum South.

Eli’s much more important contribution came from the company he established in 1798. It was at E. Whitney’s Improved Firearms in New Haven, Connecticut that he utilized and refined the use of interchangeable parts in the production of arms that laid the foundation of the production line and launched America as the leader of the Industrial Revolution.

All this writing has started me thinking — always a dangerous thing — and the expression, “You Son of a Gun” popped into my head. Over the years, I know that I have used it and have heard it used. However, curiously, I have not heard the expression used for some time and that piqued my curiosity. I am sure some of you are familiar with one of the most popular legends concerning the expression. That being… It has its origin in a Royal Navy directive that pregnant women aboard smaller naval vessels give birth in the space between the broadside guns to keep the gangways and crew decks clear.

Naval guns on an old sailing shop
A Royal Navy vessel showing the birthing space between the broadside guns and the gangways to keep clear.

By the expression you might think that military men didn’t appear to have daughters. I like to think that they had a more sensitive ear for the melodic. “You daughter of a gun,” just doesn’t have the same ring, does it? There are other explanations, but disputed etymology aside, I was wondering, what if I wanted to use that expression today? Would anyone under 40 even understand it?

They would probably find problems with it, Hmm! Maybe if I said something like, “you non gender specific projectile offspring of a birthing assault person!” Just doesn’t sound right to me. I guess I’m a sucker for alliteration and well-cadenced rhymes.

Did you learn something? What examples of ‘revisionist history’ get under your skin? Share your answers in the Comment section.

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Comments (17)

  1. I’m not sure how the British Navy became the source of the phrase, “son of a gun” but the actual source is the same as “shotgun wedding.” The girl’s father has the shotgun, and the “boyfriend” is urged to marry his daughter and keep the promises he has been making to the girl.

    “Son of a Gun” is an insult implying the person was conceived “out of wedlock” and his parents were forced to get married. It is the archaic meaning of “bastard.”

  2. I haven’t read a lot of deep history of the age of sail but i have read all of
    Forrester’s “Hornblower” novels and half of Patrick O’Brian’s “Aubrey / Maturin” series of novels (Master and Commander) as well as recently two novels by Francis Marriot in a book printed in about 1840. Marriot was a captain in the Royal Navy and served from about 1790 to 1825. All write about women and girls as passengers, captain’s wives and other lesser officers/non-coms wives being on the war cruises. Remember, midshipmen came on board as young as 10 years old.

  3. Is this intended as satire? Because if so, it’s rather poor satire.

    Yes, weapons development has been a leading driver of technology throughout history. Particularly metallurgy: hence the idea of the “Bronze Age” and the “Iron Age.” Yes, Eli Whitney did contribute to the idea of producing firearms using interchangeable parts (though he was somewhat less successful than certain other attempts).

    However, you lost the plot almost immediately when you tried to claim Columbus was seeking saltpeter. Europe had plenty of sources of saltpeter, so why would they need to trade for it in India? Your hypothesis can’t even be tested, if your reasoning about it being “top secret” is true, and it reeks of “conspiracy theory” type nonsense.

    At least you had the good sense to specify that the “son of a gun” origin was a legend. More accurately it’s a myth, because legends have to have a grain of truth (or at least plausibility) to them – and the idea that there could be women on Royal Navy vessels during the Age of Sail clearly voids any claim to plausibility this myth might have.

  4. Rich, I may be a hack but it must be very hard on you going through life without a sense of humor!

  5. Having grown up not far from Concord and Lexington and the Old North Bridge, I can tell you the 2nd Amendment was devised and written to allow the citizenry to protect itself from government tyranny. Anyone who thinks otherwise is a fool. Yes, we are also allowed to hunt our own lands, but that is because few in Britain were landowners and only the Royals and landed gentry could legally hunt.

  6. You can’t an absolutely preposterous claim like your BS about Columbus without providing some source to back it up. “trust me, it was top secret, that’s why no one has EVER written about it in the last 500 years” is nonsense
    Another load of BS you were taught in school was the nonsense about people not knowing the earth was round at the time. They all knew it was round. They also knew how big it was. Except that Columbus didn’t believe that the earth was as large as it is and he figured the trip would be much shorter. (see history channel article “Christopher Columbus Never Set Out to Prove the Earth was Round”)

    You are a hack.

  7. The worst case of revisionist history that I know of is the liberals interpretation of the 2nd Amendment. They claim it just gives us the right to hunt, and restricts us to firearms appropriate to that purpose (until they find a way to brand hunting illegal and take away those firearms too). Read the document; it says we are allowed to arm ourselves to defend against tyrants, foreign and DOMESTIC. Back in 1791 that meant the private citizen was allowed to have roughly the same kind of weapon as he would expect to have to fight against, a smoothbore musket, the AR platform of its day. One could argue that today, against automatic weapons, tanks and airplanes, the private citizen should be allowed more potent weapons. Instead the sheep bleat about a name, the “assault weapon”, ignoring the fact that the actual weapon is less deadly than most hunting rifles.

  8. I was taught that Chris was having an affair with Isabella(not unheard of int those times), and Ferdie convincedIssabella to loosen the purse strings to get rid of this cuckholder.

  9. Great article! The “saltpeter rush” is an interesting concept. Whitney never did get really interchangeable parts down for firearms. He did come close and may have inspired John Hancock Hall, of the Hall rifle fame, who did get it right and turned Harper’s ferry arsenal into a major training center for craftsmen who drove much of the later American industrial revolution.

  10. I cannot dispute the Potassium Nitrate argument, but the more direct reason for desiring a different route to the East was that Constantinople fell in 1453 and the musselmen wouldn’t allow Christians to pass without paying an exorbitant tax – if at all.

    Regardless, a fun article – thanks!

  11. I see the politically correct woke crowd aren’t the only revisionist writers of history. Gunpowder? I must presume the author is being a bit tongue-in-cheek. By all accounts I have read, Columbus’s backers were largely motivated by desires to find new trade routes to Asia in order to obtain gold and spices because the current routes were either blocked by rival Portugal or controlled by their Muslim enemies. Columbus, on the other hand, seems to have been inspired by a sense of Divine intervention. His own writings confirm he was motivated by a powerful sense of Christian duty to reach India and spread the faith. He had heard rumors that India’s rulers were interested in Christianity. He also hoped to eventually lead a crusade against the antichrist and the Muslims, and to find a paradise on Earth. These messianic visions did not prevent him from engaging in acts that can only charitably be described as unchristian (theft, subjugation, slavery, execution). His brilliance as a navigator was offset by his gross incompetence as a leader and manager of natives and Spaniards alike. After his third voyage he and his two brothers were returned to Spain to stand trial for their abuses of power. Columbus was absolved, but he no longer commanded great respect. Yet he remained convinced he was close to discovering an earthly paradise. Despite failing support, he managed to secure money for one last voyage which ended in disaster. After this he retired from exploration and spent his remaining years seeking redress from the Court of Spain for uncompensated wealth and titles he felt he was owed. Despite growing evidence, he always rejected the idea that he had discovered a new world instead of reaching the fringes of the Orient and a paradise on Earth.

  12. The “gunner’s daughter” is actually the gun itself. Many a seaman received lashings while spread across the cannon, hence, “To kiss the gunner’s daughter!”

  13. Yes, there were “daughters” of gunners. Many a midshipman had to “kiss the gunner’s daughter” for some infraction or other reason.

  14. Shades of James Clavell!

    You would find no women aboard small navy ships. Let alone foaling ones.

    Not to mention that India had a cottage arms industry the size of Windsor Castle.

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