Gunsmiths can dramatically alter the course of the firearms industry. Some designs and innovations continue to make a powerful impression hundreds of years after their introduction. In addition to a state-of-the-art facility, the Colorado School of Trades offers a gunsmithing curriculum as unique as the following 10 legends in the industry.
Although he was an accomplished gunsmith who improved the design of the revolver, Samuel Colt is best known for his business prowess. He led the field in assembly-line gun production that made the revolver commercially viable. The company that bears his name later manufactured the Colt .45 and the M16.
Eliphalet Remington was a blacksmith, who made his first flintlock rifle by hand at the age of 23. He would develop the reflection method of straightening rifle barrels and produced the United States’ first successful drilled, cast-steel barrel. The company he founded is still making guns like the highly regarded Remington Model 700 bolt-action rifle.
While working at the New Haven Arms Company, Benjamin Henry received a patent in 1860 for the world’s first reliable lever-action repeating rifle. During the Civil War, it was called the rifle you could load on Sunday and shoot all week. It demonstrated the advantages of rapid fire at close range.
In the early 1860s, Dr. Richard Gatling received a patent for a hand-cranked, multi-barreled piece of light artillery. Firing an unprecedented 200 rounds per minute, it was the first reliable, easy to use rapid fire weapon. The forerunner of today’s modern machine gun, the weapon was designed to eliminate the need for large armies.
Originally making Mauser rifles for hunters, Carl Walther became an influential pistol designer. His pistols retain a reputation as some of the most reliable weapons ever made. In addition to his innovations, Walther is well known for his cultural influences because the iconic fictional spy James Bond’s favorite firearm is the Walther PPK.
John Browning was one of the most prolific gun designers in history. He is credited with 128 patents. Many of his designs are still in use today. His most successful weapons include the M1911 pistol, the Browning Automatic Rifle, or BAR, and the M2 .50 caliber machine gun. Designed in 1933, the M2 is still the primary heavy machine gun for numerous armies around the world.
Canadian-American John Garand is best known for developing the M1, the first successful semi-automatic rifle to be widely used by the military. A patent for the rifle was issued in 1934. General Patton called the M1, “the greatest battle implement ever designed.” Garand also designed a light machine gun and an early prototype bullpup rifle.
Eugene Stoner is the gunsmith who designed the AR-15 rifle that would be adopted by the US Army as the M16. The rifle featured a straight-line barrel/stock design, composite materials and forged alloy parts. The result was a much lighter, easier to control infantry rifle. Stoner is regarded as one of the most successful gun designers of the 20th century.
Mikhail Kalashnikov is best known for his design of the AK-47. The model and its variants remain one of the most popular and widely used assault rifles in the world. It is highly regarded for its low production costs, ease of use and reliability under harsh conditions.
Uziel Gal is the German-born Israeli gunsmith who designed the Uzi submachine gun. It was the first weapon to use a telescoping bolt that enabled the magazine to be housed in the pistol grip..