Category Archives: Guns

Writing about firearms and hunting.

First Rules of Gun Safety

Here are some of the different “First” rules of gun safety I’ve picked up from different courses and various reading material:

1. Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction. Sometimes worded “Muzzles must point down range”, sometimes “Never point a gun at something you don’t intend to kill”.
1. All guns are always loaded! (Or the better, Canadian version: Assume every firearm is loaded.)
1. Never mix firearms with alcohol. (?)
1. The RSO (Range Safety Officer) has absolute authority over the range.
1. Never point any gun at Dave.
Well okay, that last one was an icebreaker for a class, as in “Hello everyone, I’m Dave. The first rule of gun safety is never, ever point any gun at Dave!” Dave was cool. I miss that guy.

Why Gunsmithing (And Why Not?)

I mentioned this last month in “Trying to Learn” but never got around to posting it.

The world of computers, IT as it’s called now, has been a passion of mine since the day my dad brought home a Commodore VIC-20. I’m not sure there was ever a time when I said, “When I grow up I will be in the computer industry.” It was never really a choice for me – if anything it seems to have chosen me. At some point, 5 or 6 years in to my IT career, I was give a permanent vacation from the company I was working for, and with it an opportunity to start fresh.

I’ve always wanted to do something with my hands. To directly create something, and be able to step back from it and say, “my hands created that.” I credit this with a construction job I briefly held as a teenager. The work was horribly taxing, but in the end the whole crew could step back and look at what we made. Then we cleaned up and left. Glory, however short-lived. One giant deck on the Chesapeake Bay in particular really comes to mind.

While computers and other technology have always been part of my life, and always will, they are but a small portion of all the things I love. It was time for me to pursue something new. I had not, of course, left computers behind forever. I simply took some time to learn a new skill. So that’s why I left IT, but still leaves half of the question unanswered – why gunsmithing.

Part of this answer is obvious – as I said I have for some time now wanted to create something with my hands. I didn’t want a new skill that was at all related to IT, the whole point of the exercise was to go in an entirely new and different direction. I thought about some of the aforementioned passions, such as cooking, gardening, hunting, and a list of others that would fill volumes. Those three rose to the top of the list. Does anyone really make any money gardening? That’s not a career, it’s a hobby. It’s not something you leave the lucrative world of information technology to do, unless of course you’re retiring to Florida. I, as fate would have it, was already in Florida, and was looking to leave Florida in order to effect this change.

So, on to cooking. Strange thing about my love of cooking – I don’t think I have one. I have a like of cooking, but I’m not sure it’s a passion. I love eating. Love is an extremely overused word, but I don’t think I’m abusing it at all here. I think about food all the time. I’m always planning my next meal, even while in a middle a meal. I can’t stand making dinner plans at a favorite restaurant a week in advance, because that’s all I can think about for a week. It only follows that I would enjoy cooking, because the end result is, of course, food. And it combines two passions – eating and creating. Should be perfect, right? Well, no. I’ve worked in a restaurant before. Closing at 3:00 AM. Scrubbing kitchen floors. Dishes. Changing oil in the fryers. Did I mention closing at 3:00 AM? So it seems that while I love eating, cooking is really just a necessary evil, a means to an ends.

Hunting and shooting. Okay, so neither of them is a career, I know. But this brings us to gunsmithing. What is it really? It’s part science, part art. A gunsmith is an artisan. To create a gunsmith you need one part mechanic. Combine with one part machinist, one part whitesmith, one part woodworker. Add a little bit of chemist, some metallurgist, engineer, engraver, physicist, historian, blacksmith, sculptor, troubleshooter, toolmaker, welder and inventor. Now you have the makings of a gunsmith.

The trade is at least as diverse as any other. If you ask someone what they do for a living and they say, “I’m in Information Technology” you know almost nothing about them. Do they answer a help desk phone, run cabling, develop kernels, design networks? If you don’t know me you probably wouldn’t guess at this point that my specialty is phones. A gunsmith may specialize on a particular gun (down to the model) or maybe they only checker stocks, refinish antiques, manufacture barrels, or any of a long list of skills.

Gunsmithing has served as in introduction to many new worlds, new opportunities, new passions… Just not a new career. I have another way I sometimes define a gunsmith – a successful gunsmith is either a great artist or a great machinist. I am neither, and as such I’m not a practicing gunsmith.

Top 10 Most Influential Repeating Gun Makers

Originally posted July 20, 2007 on

A while back I was having a conversation with wannabe about Ron Barrett. I made a comment like, “I wouldn’t put him  in my list of top 10 gun designers” (a statement I now question.)  So, that got me thinking, “What is my list of the top ten gun designers?”

So I started working on this list – The Top 10 Most Influential Repeating Gun Makers.  I specified repeating guns because 1) I needed to define down the list, 2) I wanted to stay within the range of what I’m interested in, and 3)  because there is more information available on them. I’m defining Repeating as a gun which holds more than one round prepared to be fired, whether it is chambered automatically or requires manual manipulation of some switch or lever. A single shot rifle with a storage compartment in the stock will not qualify, however most bolt action rifles do.  The gun does not need to have a removable magazine.

I know there are many great, influential guns that are ignored on this list. That’s either because a single designer can not be credited or because I forgot them. But remember – this is a list of men, not guns. I also realize some of these men are perhaps given more credit than they deserve, because in some cases (Tommy Gun, Glock 17, AR-15) the named designer may have simply been the head of a team of designers. Where two men worked together on a single project I have counted them as one.

Anyway, I got through #9 and stopped. I figured I’d come back to it, fill in the 10th spot, and post it.  Since  then I’ve come back to it several times, but I can never figure out what to do with the 10th spot. So I’m giving  up.  I’m posting the list as is, and providing the reason each person was selected.  At the very bottom is a list of people I was considering for the 10th spot, and I figured that would become the “Also ran” list.

2-9 are in no particular order.

The List
1. John Moses Browning (American)
2. Wilhelm and Paul Mauser (German)
3. Mikhail Kalashnikov (Russian)
4. John Garand (Canadian)
5. Eugene Morrison Stoner (American)
6. Samuel Colt (American)
7. William B. Ruger (American)
8. Benjamin Tyler Henry (American)
9. Gaston Glock (Austrian)
10. ?


John Moses Browning – For 128 patents, including the designs of the 1911, the first gas-operated automatic machine  gun, the BAR, the fifty-cal, the Browning Auto-5, the Hi-power, a variety of lever actions, and various other  weapons sold under the names Browning, Colt, FN, Winchester, Remington, Ithaca, etc.  In addition to these guns he  is responsible for many cartridges still in use today, such as .45 ACP, .38 ACP, .380 ACP, and the .50 BMG.

Wilhelm and Paul Mauser – For a variety of improvements to bolt action design, culminating in the model 98,  arguable the greatest bolt gun ever.

Mikhail Kalashnikov – For the AK-47, the most popular military rifle ever, still in use over half a century later.

John Garand – For the design of the M1 Garand, the first semi-automatic rifle to be put into active military  service. It saw action in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam and is the direct predecessor of the M14.

Eugene Morrison Stoner – For the designs of the AR-7 and AR-10. The AR-10 was the basis for the AR-15, which became  the M16.  (Yeah, that’s right.  It’s not that civilians call the M-16 an AR-15 – the military calls AR-15s M-16s.)

Samuel Colt – For the revolving-breech pistol (the Revolver), which ushered in the age of the repeater.

William B. Ruger – For improving or perfecting the designs of guns in nearly every category, and bringing high  quality to the market at reasonable prices. The Standard .22 Automatic, the .44 Carbine, the 10/22, the Model 77,  the Mini-14, The No. 1, the Blackhawk, the Red label…

Benjamin Tyler Henry – For the Henry repeating rifle, the first practical lever action repeating rifle.

Gaston Glock – For the first commercially successful polymer-framed pistols.

Suggestions for #10

General John Taliaferro Thompson (American) – for the Tommy Gun.

Richard J. Gatling (American) – For the Gatling gun, the first successful “automatic” gun.  Although it did not  cycle itself, it could fire a long, continuous stream of rounds.

Sir Hiram Maxim (British/American) – For the first true machine gun, as well as  contributions to the creation so  smokeless gunpowder.  I’ll also give him credit for creating his son, Hiram Percy Maxim, who made the first  commercially successful suppressor.

Nicolas Lebel (French) – For the Lebel Model 1886 rifle, the first military rifle designed to use smokeless  gunpowder

Uziel Gal (German-born- Israeli) – For the Uzi submachine gun, which has played an important roll in the defense of  Israel.

Georg Johann Luger (Austrian) – For the Luger pistol, which for better or for worse brought about the rise of  the 9mm (9mm Parabellum, 9×19 Luger, 9×19 NATO)

Eliphalet Remington – Founder of Remington, great barrel maker.

Horace Smith and Daniel B. Wesson – Among other things, for creating the first successful fully self-contained cartridge revolver available in the world.

Ron Barrett – .50 BMG Bolt guns

Roy Weatherby – Probably more famous for cartridges than rifles.

Krag-Jorgensen (Captain Ole Hermann Krag and Eric Jorgensen, of Norway Arms)

James Paris Lee – Lee Enfield

Successful Hunt

I’m back from seeing family in West Virginia, celebrating Thanksgiving/Christmas combined into one, and doing some deer hunting.  I managed to accidentally dodge the pre-meal prayer by sneaking off to my car to chug some beer and rum with Chrissy’s cousin.  I felt like I was 16 all over again.

As always, it was a successful hunt.  I define that as any time I went hunting and returned safely.  Shooting a deer is optional.  As it turns out, a deer was shot on this trip, and is current in a pot on my stove, in the dehydrator, in the refrigerator, and in my stomach.

I do some of my best thinking when I’m deer hunting.  Hell, there’s nothing else to do!  Unfortunately I can’t take notes while still hunting, since remaining still is a critical element of still hunting.  But it’s a lot of time alone in the freezing cold woods with nothing but your thoughts and an occasional chipmunk.  I think I came up with some topics to blog about out there, if only I could remember them.  Maybe if I go in the backyard and sit in the woods for a while it will come back to me.