Gun Library ArticleGun Inventors
Even tough James Puckle was British, he managed to remain in the history of American guns. The Puckle gun attracted the attention of many Americans, being one of the first machine guns ever invented. Its firing capacity was 9 rounds per minute and it had an innovative design for its time. In spite of the fact that they were almost a century apart, the Puckle gun and the Gatling gun had a lot of things in common.
The Puckle gun was designed somewhere around 1718 and it was tripod-mounted. Other characteristics included a single barrel of three feet long, a cylinder with 11 charges and a standard fire rate of 60 shots in 7 minutes. The basic design was functional both for square and round bullets, depending on the damage intended. However advanced the Puckle gun may have been, it didn’t get the attention deserved and was lost in the annals of history.
As for the Gatling gun it remained as one of the most important firearms used in the American Civil War. It was invented and patented by Doctor Richard Jordan Gatling in 1862 and it was truly ahead of its times. It had multiple-barrels revolving around a central axis and an innovative cooling system between shots. The accuracy of the gun was one of its main advantages and so was the preventing mechanism against untimely firing of the charge. The Gatling gun was not only used by Americans but it managed to capture the interest of the British Army in 1865, when it was presented by Gatling himself. If the first models of the Gatling gun contained paper cartridges, the year of 1866 brought technological innovations in the form of metallic cartridges.
Discussing about the American history of firearms, most historians agree that if it was a firearm that completely changed history it was the one invented by Hiram Maxim. He remained in history as the inventor of the first portable machine gun. Maxim invented the gun that was going to bear his name in 1885 and in the same year he presented it to the British Army. The British were especially attracted by the recoil-operated mechanism, the incredible rate of fire (500 rounds per minute) and they quickly adopted it. Apart from being extensively used by the United States and Great Britain, the Maxim gun was purchased by countries like Germany, Austria, Italy and Switzerland. Technology was developing at a faster pace than anyone could have imagined; the need for powerful guns was felt and the machine gun seemed to be in the center of attention, sharing the stage with the new generations of rifles.
He opened his company in 1894, somewhere in New York after traveling half around the world. Being an ambitious man, he came up with the first hammerless lever-action rifle and attracted the attention of all important men with his innovations. Savage Arms Company became famous for producing a lever-action rifle that had a steel receiver, an innovative rotary magazine and was affordable at the same time. Serving during the war, Savage Arms started to provide the soldiers with powerful rifles, not to mention pistols and the much needed ammunition.
The history of American firearms would not be what it is today without the name of John Marlin. He is most famous for the forward-looking models that he developed personally: 1891 and 1893. Marlin remained in history for having been the inventor of one of the greatest shoulder arms ever manufactured. The tradition was carried on and up to this day Marlin’s firearms are still produced. They have gained a reputation in the firearm manufacturing history, especially with the recent innovations for bolt-action rim-fire rifles.
Robert Parker Parrott was born in 1804, New Hampshire and was one of the greatest American inventors of military firearms. Graduating from the American Military Academy, he occupied a post for the artillery and had a lieutenant rank. After resigning from the army, he focused on working for a foundry in New York and started to focus on his passions. In 1860, the Parrott rifle came out on the market, being an innovative rifle for its times and one that was manufactured in several sizes. Robert Parrott wanted to be sure that his gun is received well; this is why he invented the 300-pounder version, with a projectile that may have entered the Guinness Book, weighing almost 140 kg. The Civil War brought in attention the Parrott rifles, being extensively used by both Union and Confederate armies. The qualities and the strong determination have made Parrott to continue with his experiments, especially in the field of artillery shells. However, the thing he remains famous for is certainly the invention of the Parrott rifle.
There are many widely known rifles in the American firearm history. And just as many are the names of famous gun inventors. Eliphalet Remington was born in 1793 and even though he was only a blacksmith he had much larger aspirations. When he was only 23 years old, he invented an innovative sporting rifle and designed the barrel for it on his own. The gun was welcomed and soon it started to be mass produced. It didn’t take long for Remington to become a name widely associated with the sporting rifles, his company enjoying steady profits and a continuous growth. Realizing the increased demand for firearms, Remington started to produce not only rifles but also shotguns, revolvers and ammunition. They always came up with innovative designs and their production increased even more during the war. Remington received orders not only from America but also from a wide variety of European countries such as France or Britain. Their success was unbelievable and after the war it grew even more, being particularly related with the company’s decision to focus on the sporting firearms production.
Oliver Fisher Winchester was an incredible politician but an even better investor. The Winchester repeating rifles was and probably will be for many years to come one of the most important inventions of all times, originally designed after the Volcanic Rifle of Smith and Wesson. Having Benjamin Tyler Henry by his side, Winchester improved the Volcanic Rifle and turned it into a definite success. He also designed new rim-fire cartridges and led to the patenting of the more than famous Henry repeating rifle. Winchester went ahead with the production of various other firearms, including double-barreled shotguns and bolt-action rifles.
You cannot talk about Oliver Winchester without saying a few words about the men who designed the original Volcanic rifle, meaning Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson. These were two entrepreneurial spirits and they formed a partnership in 1852, intending to produce a lever-action pistol. They called it the Volcanic rifle and hoped for its success. However, the rifle was not received as well as they expected and they were soon forced to sell to the clever Oliver Winchester. However, they were not let down by the first failure and reunited again in 1856. And this time they succeeded.
The two partners quickly became important names in the American firearms industry, especially during the American Civil War. Apart from producing firearms, they’ve also manufactured ammunition including the renowned 22 long rifle, the 32 Smith & Wesson, the 357 Smith & Wesson Magnum and the 44 Remington Magnum. And what is most amazing about Smith & Wesson’s recent history is that they have started to market various gun accessories, not to mention handcuffs and brand name apparel.
If there is one thing that history has taught us so far, that is that there were many ambitious men who became famous gun inventors. John Moses Browning was the designer of the well-known Winchester rifle, inventing various other assault rifles as well. And there were many other names, maybe too many to be mentioned here. But all these men have contributed to the making of history and they deserve the entire acknowledgement we can offer.