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Historical

8 Most Influential People in Shooting History

by Garry James   |  June 21st, 2012 85

As with all the G&A lists on our wonderful site, this one is a daunting task. My charge here is to come up with eight of the most influential personages in firearms history. Well, considering that guns go back about 700 years, narrowing down the candidates is nothing less than challenging. But we’ll give this old college try. Aren’t we doing this just for the engaging debate, anyway?

When one realizes that the originators of such things as gunpowder, the first firearms and different firing mechanisms were mostly anonymous, we are, of necessity, limited to more recent history. Below you’ll find my particular heroes, in chronological order. Please feel free to add your own in the comments.

  • SamF1911

    1. Samuel Colt
    2. Benjamin T. Henry
    3. John M. Browning
    4. Sir Hiram S. Maxim
    5. John C. Garand
    6. Mikhail T. Kalashnikov
    7. Eugene Stoner
    8. Gaston Glock

    • J. Hill

      I really like your list. I'm glad I read it or I would've repeated it, with one exception. Since these are shooting icons not just firearm designers I would include Col. Jeff Cooper. Try taking a gun class without hearing some quote of his, or having the instructor not use one of his many classification systems.

      • SamF1911

        Thank you. I couldn't agree with you more about Col. Cooper and to this day one of my favorite books is "To Ride, Shoot Straight, and Speak the Truth" by Col. Cooper.

    • https://www.facebook.com/jon.weatherspoon Jon D Weatherspoon

      Well done on your independent list. You don't reckon that the article's author had any outside influences on his "selections"? Some of his choices I feel maybe considered "pioneers", but I marvel at the accomplishments of the gents on your list. Bravo!

    • https://www.facebook.com/mikendebd Mike Denison

      I have to disagree whith #6, He took all of the good Ideas from the German STG.44, which was developed long before the AK. And it pretty much has the same operation.

      • SamF1911

        The StG44 has a similar appearance to the AK, but that's pretty much where the similarities end. Different locking system, different trigger design, different fire control systems, etc. They do have a similar gas system (long stroke), but neither the AK or the StG44 pioneered this method of operaton.

        • GUNMANOO1

          But the AK has allot of the SKS in it even though he denies coping it, it is easy to see the similarities.

          • SamF1911

            What does Sergei Gavrilovich Simonov's SKS carbine have to do with the StG44?

            Now back to the AK-47. The AK has more in common with the M1 Garand & M1 Carbine (double locking lugs and unlocking raceway), John Browning's Model 8 rifle (safety mechanism), and the StG44 (gas system and shortening the standard rifle cartridge to 7.62x39mm).

            So no, I don't see the similarities. Feel free to tell me them if you would please.

    • https://www.facebook.com/mikendebd Mike Denison

      Mauser didnt make it??

      • SamF1911

        That's just my top 8. Had it been a top 10 the Mauser boys would have made it.

    • Alex

      replace glock with bill ruger and u have my vote

  • Dana

    good list, although these would have been in my top 8 for sure. (in no particular order)
    Matt Dillon
    Joe Cartwright
    Clint Eastwood
    John Wayne
    Chuck Connors

    • Dennis

      Surely Adam Cartright and Josh Randall deserve prominent rankings as well

    • LarryArnold

      Davy Crockett (Fess Parker)

      I'm getting old.

      • https://www.facebook.com/jon.weatherspoon Jon D Weatherspoon

        No Larry…Mr Parker played Daniel Boone on that earlly/mid-60s show. There's still running it plus many other old shows back when we could maybe receive 2 maybe 3 channels on our small black & white sets. If Fess Parker did play Crockett…just reference for my most humble appologies. Our minds do suffer time lags sometimes.

        • old vet

          Mr Parker was Davy before he was Mr Boone.

          • old vet

            P.S. We're ALL getting old.

          • Alan_T

            Ain't it da troot McGhee ! Ain't it da troot !

          • Alan_T

            Vet , you're absolutly right , Walt Disney Productions .

        • LarryArnold

          http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0561021/

          Fess Parker as Davy Crockett, Buddy Ebsen as his sidekick George Russel, Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color, 1954. Four more episodes in 1955.

          I had me an official Davy Crockett coonskin cap and flintlock rifle. Cleaned all the bears out of our back yard.

          [sigh]

          • old vet

            I still remember the odd three syllable report all the flintlocks had on Walt Disney films.

          • old vet

            Bye the way Larry keeping all us young buckskinners in caps, almost cleaned out all the racoons.

          • Alan_T

            And don't forget the Walt Disney movie : Davey Crockett And The River Pirates !
            For Christmas 1956 , my sister gave me a Davy Crockett flintlock cap pistol , it's stock was a sort of gold – orange – brown plastic . ………
            Now that I think about it ……. I guess that makes it a CAP lock not a flintlock !
            HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

        • GUNMANOO1

          FESS PARKER did play Davy in a series made by Disney. I think it's on DVD now.

  • Scott

    Mikhail Kalashnikov?

    • Scott

      Oppps…. Most influential to shooting….my bad.

  • LEE

    What about Hudson Maxim?

    • old vet

      Who the heck is Hudson Maxim?

      • old vet

        OK Googled him up. He was pretty influential. learn something everyday.

      • http://www.facebook.com/richardhighsmith Richard Highsmith

        Hiram Maxim invented the Maxim Machine Gun. This is his brother Hudson who invented a popular form of smokeless powder. I would say that of the two Hiram would be more influential, but that doesn't mean Hudson wasn't a genius.

        • Alex

          lol agreed i was think somthing didnt sound right with the name hudson
          i was thinking of hiram

  • Jim_Macklin

    Smokeless powder, a French invention…
    Elmer Keith
    Heller and McDonald
    Dr. Gatling
    Ronald Reagan who appointed a good and hopefully not the last Supreme Court

    • https://www.facebook.com/mikendebd Mike Denison

      Piss on the french they are cowards. If you take over Paris, the french will quit.

  • Thomas

    Theodore Roosevelt?

  • LarryArnold

    Col. William C. Church and Gen. George Wingate

    Whatever you think about the current NRA, if it wasn't here, we wouldn't be shooting. And if we weren't, few others in the world would be.

  • T.D. Honeycutt

    Add No. 9 – Gaston Glock. Just finished reading Glock: The Rise of America's Gun by Paul Barrett, and it's not hyperbole to say the Glock is America's Gun, since supplying law-enforcement here has made Glock and Glock the well-known pistol and personality they are.

  • Pete

    If I recall correctly, the 9MM Parabellum round was designed by Walther. The company motto, "Si vis pacem, para bellum", ("If you seek peace, prepare for war") was the inspiration for the name.

  • Dale Frantz

    Well as always your articles are the ones that interest me, by far, THE MOST Garry!!!!!

    Having owned ( and sadly traded ) a completely original, and pristine 1875 Model Gewehr M71 ( Amberg contract ) i certainly have a great admiration for the Mauser brothers and their Father along with all the 8 candidates, but John Moses Browning always holds #1 in my mind.

  • unapietra

    Bartolomeo Beretta??
    Beretta produces weapons before the birth of the United States…
    "Beretta has been owned by the same family for some five hundred years. The Beretta company was established in 1526, when gunsmith Maestro Bartolomeo Beretta.
    From Wikipedia

  • Alan_T

    Once again I have to take exception with you Mr . Tarr . You left possibly the most influential of all off your list , me . And I … ( what ? …. mmmm …. ok , wolvie , ok ) you left off wolvie and m ….. ( huh ? …… yeah , ok ) AHEM , You left wolvie , old vet AND ME off of your list . And I think it's very petty of you not to include me just ….. ( ok , ok , vet ) I think it's very petty of you to leave US …. off of the list just because I didn't agree with you about the " The Kingdom " on your movie list !
    ( what ? …… Garry James ? ……. are you sure ? …. ) Ooooooooops Mr . James ……… never mind !

    • Jeepers Creepers

      Alan_T your not on the list and wolvie also becuase what you both know about firearms and people could not fill a match box. But keep trying and never stop learning. Everybody knows that yourself and Wolvie need the extra help. (I have been watching your comments). Thank You.

      • Wolvie

        Dear Mental Patient,

        It should be obvious by now that every time you open your face sphincter and the greasy words fall out like turds from the back of an incontinent cow, you only succeed in reaffirming to all what an absolute waste of life you are.

        I never claimed to be the all-knowing guru of everything firearms. Alan is making a joke that was obviously lost on you…but that is not unexpected since people who are social retarded probably wouldn't be able to comprehend the joke.

        But while I make no claim to being an expert on all things firearms, I do know for a fact that a lying, mentally damaged, criminal like yourself can offer nothing to these comments other than providing an opportunity for all others to point and laugh and feel better about themselves because they are not you. Congratulations, you have only succeeded in being the human incarnate of a Jerry Springer show.

        Now go crawl back under your rock before you transition into your regular M.O. of claiming to be a Marine, gauging a persons worth by the amount of guns they bought at a store, claiming to make 600-yard hits with a handgun, claiming to make 200-yard hits with a derringer, wishing death and violence on police officers and pretending that your past criminal convictions actually allow you to legally own a firearm.

        Remember, if anyone here actually wanted to hear an arsehole, they could simply fart. So, you aren't really providing any special service or purpose.

        • Alan_T

          Wow , Wolvie , incendiary rebuttal to Jeepers Creepers ! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

          • Wolvie

            Yeah, we'll its all your fault.

            After you set the bar so high responding to that fake DA, a simple, "Go drink Drain-O, stupid!" just wouldn't work…

          • Alan_T

            Yes , I am all too aware that it's all my fault Wolvie , that was a lesson I learned from my first wife .
            At first , I didn't have a problem with that guy on the " Texas Father " blog UNTILL he ( she ? ) started making claims that they were a former District Attorney , which I knew was a lie . Then they started turning into a Hispanic version of your " Buddy " Creepy Peepers .
            HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

      • Alan_T

        JEEPERS ! ! ! …….. How dare you watch my " comments " you pervert ! You should change your name to : Creepy Peepers , next you'll be trying to " ruphie " me ( or Wolvie ) ! ! !

        As for this " Everybody " you're talking about , do you mean all the people on here that give Wolvie or me positive ratings and you negative ratings ( because those are the only people on here ) ? Or are you referring to your imaginary " friends " at the Group Home ? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  • https://www.facebook.com/jon.weatherspoon Jon D Weatherspoon

    I haven't seen his evil presence meniton here…but I think BHO might be noted in complete satire and and strong irony. He and his minions, under the tutilage of the rich and powerful plus the anti-American icons that are yet free to dwell and walk among us are do credit for the GREAT RESURGENCE in America's RKBA. We've got single digit-aged girls shooting and doing field maintenace videos with Stoner's AR. America…what a country! May we sooner than later return to God's principles upon which our Republic was establishe. Reall Soon!

    • https://www.facebook.com/jon.weatherspoon Jon D Weatherspoon

      EXCUSE MY TYPOS…or don't! Spoon

  • https://www.facebook.com/matthew.groom.16 Matthew Groom

    1. Alexander Forsythe, because he invented the system that displaced the flintlock, which ruled the world for over 300 years (compared to centerfire cartridges which have been around about 160 years)
    2. Horace B. Smith and Daniel Wesson, because they invented the first lever action firearm that later became the Henry Rifle, as well as inventing the modern rimfire, namely the .22 Rimfire, which is still in use today. Nearly everyone who reads this sight owns a product of that lineage.
    3. Hiram Maxim, because he invented the modern, practical machine gun, which has changed the face of warfare forever.
    4. John Moses Browning, because obviously.
    5. The French chemists that invented Smokeless Powder.
    6. Colonel's Edward Boxer and Hiram Berdan for perfecting centerfire primers which metallic cartridges practical.
    7. The (probably German) gunsmith who invented rifling
    8. John C. Hall, who invented interchangable firearms parts and the rifle that bears his name.

    Without several of the innovations listed above, most inventors, their designs, and their users would not have been possible. It's a great shame that many of them cannot be given credit by name.

  • old vet

    I believe the one name that stands out to me is Browning. If you look at his many designs you see he would not settle for one mechanism does all. He would devise a whole new machine around every type of firearm he invented be it single shot, lever action,or auto and so on he had a totally different mechanism for each firearm. And they all worked well.

    • Alan_T

      And the second name that stands out to you is Alan_T ?
      Huh ? Huh ? HUH ?
      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  • Dale

    Only eight? Then you short-change Smith and Wesson! It seems the man who penned the Second Amendment should be first on all American lists Next time list him and those who influenced the inclusion of The Right to Bear Arms.

  • dennis Molle

    John Moses Browning, if I have to explain why then cleary your on the wrong site!

  • Jeepers Creepers

    So little space to remember all the great people that gave to what are the firearms we have today. There is so many names that need to be added. To name them all would be nice but not enough time or web space.

    • Wolvie

      Wow, all that typing and you fail to contribute even a single name.

      Thank you for continuing to add nothing to conversation.

      Back under the bridge with you! The adults without mental problems or the need to posture and lie are talking.

      • Alan_T

        Wolvie , I didn;t know you and Creepy were buds !
        Guess I need to pay better attention !
        HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

        • Wolvie

          In the immortal words on Roman Maronie…

          You fargin bastige!

          • Alan_T

            Wolvie , you'll have to tell us about how you and Creepy Peepers met . I'll bet it;s a charming story ! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  • Steve

    Buffalo Bill for making Trick Shooting famous.
    John T. Thompson for one of Americas most famous guns the Tommy.
    Jerry Miculek For being some one that other shooters can look up to and aspire to be like.
    David Williams for inventing the operating principle for the M1 Carbine while in a North Carolina prison.
    Henry Deringer, you know why.

    I can't think of any others that haven't already been thought of. There are so many important people to shooting that I'm sure others can add to this list.

  • Wolvie

    Well, making a list like this is almost an impossible task since you have more than 8 shooters and more than 8 designers and many more who have been lost to history.

    However, if I had to choose and I could break down the list into categories, I would pick the following (Note: I lumped some together because of what I consider to be a shared effort):

    Designers/Engineers Who Changed the Shooting World:

    1) John Moses Browning (On the eighth day, God created JMB…)
    2) Samuel Colt
    3) Oliver Winchester
    4) Peter and Paul Mauser
    5) Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson
    6) Gaston Glock
    7) John Garand
    8) Hiram Maxim

    • Craig Kinard

      Your #1 is the greatest inventor Americans have never heard of: I rank Browing with Edison, in terms of impact on American civilization. But, I agree on Garand being on the list, as well as Mikhail Kalashnikov. And surely John Thompson should get honorable mention. And . . . Bill Ruger???

  • Wolvie

    Shooters Who Changed the Shooting World:

    1) Jeff Cooper
    2) Buffalo Bill
    3) Annie Oakley
    4) Herb Parsons
    5) William Conant Church, Ambrose Burnside & George Wood Wingate
    6) John T. Thompson & Louis Anatole LaGarde
    7) Elmer Keith
    8) Skeeter Skelton

    • Alan_T

      9 ) Alan_T
      10 ) Wolvie
      11 ) old vet

  • Wolvie

    Politicians/Celebrities/Famous People Who Changed the Shooting World

    1) Thomas Jefferson
    2) Samuel Adams
    3) Theodore Roosevelt
    4) George Washington
    5) Carlos Hathkock & Edward James Land (intentionally misspelled to get past auto-censure)
    6) Charlton Heston
    7) Jack Weaver
    8) Chuck Norris (Because everyone is still trying to invent the gun that can kill Chuck Norris)

    • Alan_T

      9 ) Alan_T
      10 ) Wolvie
      11 ) old vet

      Special Mention :
      Wolvie for his incendiary rebuttal to Jeepers Creepers ! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

      • old vet

        Agree with No. 9+10 But no way that old bad kneed old has been. Be safe and have fun shoot'n

        • Alan_T

          I dunno , vet , I can understand why you wouldn't want to have your name associated with me …. but what did Wolvie ever do to you ?
          HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
          I suspect you and I are in approximately the same age bracket vet . I also suspect you know at least as much as I do and probably more .
          You be safe and have fun Shoot'n too my friend .

  • hunter

    What about the "gun" we all learned how to shoot with – the BB gun!!

    • Wolvie

      Actually, I learned on a .22 LR rifle and a .38 special revolver.

      Regardless…I have no idea who really invented the BB-gun…so it's kind of a moot point on a thread discussing the influential people in shooting…

  • Kent Churchill

    I believe that Quackenbush, should be included. Many thousands of youngen learnt to shoot with the Quackenbush BB gun….Hell most dont even know what BB stands for nowadyas!!! It means…….Ballistic Ball….see…you DID learn sumtin today!!

    • Wolvie

      I always thought that "BB" was the size of the shot the original air rifles used. It fell between the "B" and the "BBB" sized shot used in shotguns.

      I also head that BB stood for "Bearing Ball. I never heard it referred to as Ballistic Ball.

      • Alan_T

        I had a ballistic ball once ……. it was really painfull !

    • Alan_T

      Quackenbush ? They quack now ? ? ?

      • Guest

        LOL@Alan

  • MMcQuown

    I'd add Stoner for the modular approach to firearms systems rather than single weapons and Kalashnikov for reworking the German-designed assault rifle into a nearly indestructible battlefield workhorse. DOes anyone know who created the original German weapon?

  • Redbeard

    I'm supprised no one mentioned the Englishman, Ferguson, who invented the repeating rifle during or right before the revolutionary war. He designed a rifle that could be fired accurately 6 or 7 times a minute. If the English military powers that were back then hadn't been so stupid, we might still have a king.."it is too complicated for the average soldier to operate". I would like to see a report about him and his rifle, or a reprint if one has been done before.

    • old vet

      Sorry Redbeard, but although Ferguson was an interesting and historical British officer during the revolution, the gun he invented was far from being a repeating firearm. It was a very well thought out breach loading flintlock, and it was single shot. Evidently it was pretty much his only design as he was killed on King's Mountain in 1780. He had a reputation of gallantry, but his association with an officer named Tarlton brought the Frontiersmen's wrath upon his command.

      • old vet

        excuse my bad keyboarding that should be Tarleton as in Banistre . A very reviled Brit. who who brought the wrath of the Colonials down on everyone connected to him

  • http://www.facebook.com/richardhighsmith Richard Highsmith

    In terms of influence the persons on this list don't even come close to approaching the types of raw geopolitical influence that resulted from the introduction of the modern field deployable machine gun and the selective shoulder fired rifle. You could make a serious argument that Hiram Maxim made late 19th century imperial armies invincible and made modern mass warfare hell. You could also make an argument that Mikhail Kalashnikov made it impossible for anyone to hold onto a colonial empire and ensured that the Soviet Union (or any nation like the United States with millions of selective shoulder filed rifles) could not be invaded by any army, ever …. or at least not until the introduction of some as of yet unknown technology.

  • bmckinny

    I can't believe that John Garand didn't make the list, but Annie Oakley did? When did she ever design or advance the design of any firearms? She certainly did advance the popularity of shooting, but it was always popular before her discovery, what with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show traveling the country and the world at the time. Calamity Jane was part of that show as well, as was Sitting Bull, but you didn't put them on your list…

    John Garand designed one of the finest rifles ever used in battle by any country, beating the Mauser hands down, and even George S. Patton credited M1 Garand as one of the most influential factors in winning the war, calling it "the greatest battle implement ever devised". But it wasn't good enough to make your list? I am disappointed.

    Also, as a side note, I am appalled at the sheer amount of spelling errors on your site. Someone needs to hire a proof reader for your magazine if the writers are incapable of, or unwilling to do it themselves. It's a peeve of mine to see so many in a single publication. It is almost painful to read the news online these days because of it.

    • old vet

      Ok, If you need to get "nit Pickey" go back and read the title again, it is not about designers, but people who were influential to the sport, Annie certainly was, not Calamity Jane or Sitting Bull. For that matter Garand designed a great rifle, but only one, and while a fantastic battle weapon, it did not have that much influence otherwise except for DCM matches. As far as the spelling. Lighten up Francis.

  • bob johns

    Wouldnt expect aYank to know, as many ,many Aussies dont either but Billy Sing while not a designer of or developer of firearms was a prolific slayer of Turks at Gallipolyi in 1915 with over250 confirmed and who knows how many in France? He survived the war and died broke in Brisbane in I think1943. A snipers Memorial stands in his memory in Clermont in QLD. His weapon was an iron sighted (probably an aperature range sight )No 1 Mk111 Lee-Enfield .303

  • Alex

    1. John Browning
    2. Mauser Brothers
    3. Samuel Colt
    4. Lee Enfield
    5. Mikhail Kalashnikov
    6. Hiram Maxim
    7. John Garand
    8. Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson

  • old vet

    Of course I mean Lynyrd Skynyrd, DUH.

  • http://profiles.google.com/hellcatcomanche21 Chas. Foster

    I have read all the comments and am surprised no one mentioned Eliphalet Remington.

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