Originally posted July 20, 2007 on www.jiujitsutalk.com
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.
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)
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