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View Full Version : Greatest miliary firearms designer . . . ?



Montana Pete
03-18-2010, 10:21 AM
I got the idea to post this because I chanced across a small newspaper article earlier this week. Gen. Mikhail Kalashnikov is still alive, and judging from photos, is in pretty good shape. He just received another award from the Russian government in a ceremony. At one point many years ago the NRA brought Gen. Kalashnikov to the US to present him with an award. It's likely that his design, the AK-47, is the most manufactured military rifle in history.

Other legendary designers of military weapons would include Paul Mauser of Germany, and John Browning of the US. Another deserving of honorable mention would be Hugo Schmeisser, the designer of the MP-38 and MP-40 submachine guns used by the Germans in WW II. They were sometimes termed "machine pistols" and "Schmeisser" was an unofficial name for them. They are often shown in war movies because they look very cool.

We all enjoy our guns, but we may too often forget the brilliant engineeers who designed them. Without guys like this, our gun racks would be pretty empty. Hats off to them, one and all!

SGJennings
03-18-2010, 10:53 AM
I wonder if one added up the total production of all the different firearms that were directly attributable to John Moses Browning, would it be greater than the production of the AK-47 and derivatives.

I think JMB had 128 firearms patents.

Greg J.

mhb
03-18-2010, 11:15 AM
that comes to mind for evaluating the contributions made by designers of successful military small arms, I think Mr. Browning is unquestionably the greatest. His contributions ranged from handguns through light and heavy machineguns to light artillery - some of his weapons designs are nearly a century old and still in manufacture and issue, despite later developments and 'improvements'. That's a hard record to approach, much less match.
mhb - Mike

alpacca45
03-18-2010, 11:22 AM
I think we'd need several catagories of designer.

There are the great ground breakers, who devise whole new operating systems and classes of guns, people such as Hiram Maxim, Peter Paul Mauser, James Paris Lee, Ferdinand Ritter Von Mannlicher.

Then there are those who perfect operating systems, or introduce new generations of a gun, these include, Browning (obviously), Aimo Lahti, for his second gen SMG, his cannon and MG designs, Luger for his pistol and rifle work, Shepherd and Turpin for the third gen SMG, Garand, Kalashnikov and Stoner.

I think there needs to be a catagory in there for the home based prodigy, Browning may fit in there, but he was the son of a gun smith with a family of older brothers working as smiths too, I'm thinking of people who were totally self funded and who took great personal risk, like the Reverand Forsyth (percussion caps), Phil Luty for his improvised SMG

Joe Maisto
03-18-2010, 01:27 PM
Strange...all we hear about is the AK-47. Most have never heard of the AK-74, which was introduced by the Soviets in Afghanistan, known as the .220 Russian...on the same case as well...necked down.

SGJennings
03-18-2010, 01:37 PM
I thought the 220 Russian was the direct ancestor of the 5.45x39 used in the AK-74.

Larry Elliott
03-18-2010, 02:22 PM
The 5.45x39 case is smaller in diameter than the .220 Russian/7.62x39/PPC case. The .220 was developed by the Russians for the running deer/boar/whatever match that is or was shot under ISU rules.

The Russians apparently wanted something that was close to the 5.56x45, and the .220 was larger than needed.

Trying to decide who's the greatest military arms designer is sort of like a dog chasing his tail. Everyone's work pretty much builds on previous work with some true genius thrown in for good measure. Browning, Mauser, Garand, Kalashnikov, Stoner, and others could all be put forward.

For number and breadth of designs I'd have to vote for Browning though.

SGJennings
03-18-2010, 02:36 PM
A lot of revolvers out there, but in breadth Colt was a nimrod compared to Browning.

lefty o
03-18-2010, 02:56 PM
as for military arms designers, Browning stands head and shoulders above the rest.

John M. Browning was self funded, his father died nearly flat broke, he also trained his brothers as gunsmiths, as he was the only one that worked with his father in the gunsmithing business.

Joe Maisto
03-18-2010, 03:43 PM
I thought the 220 Russian was the direct ancestor of the 5.45x39 used in the AK-74.

Mr. Jennings,

It is. As I said, it is the same cartridge case, just necked down from .308 to .224.
Not sure what you mean by "ancestor", but we all know the parent cartridge was prior to the .220. I have a magazine (in front of me which I dug up) that dates to '81, in which there is a lengthy article on my neighbor, Boots Obermeyer.
Soldier of fortune sent some people over there to try to bring back an AK 74.
No such luck. They did however...bring back some .220 Russian ammunition by which Obermeyer , (after which he ground the special rifleing cutters needed to duplicate the unusual Russian rifling form) manufactured the test barrel, was able to have reamers and headspace gauges made to the required specs, by JGS . He produced a platform on a 788 action by which to test their ammunition, thereby giving our government the information needed . I spoke to boots at length on this matter. 60 days from start to finish and it was done.

Testing of this cartridge was at that time, quite complete as stated in the my copy of "The American Rifleman", July 1981 ...page 36.
If you can find this particular magazine, it is great reading.

John Kielly
03-18-2010, 05:03 PM
Pity nobody recorded who that guy was who designed the bow & arrow.

Paul Fielder
03-18-2010, 05:37 PM
Nobody mentioned Samuel Colt.


I remember reading that Colt got some assistance from Mr. Browning on his lever guns;)


If Browning had the same biz sense that he did designing guns...WOW!!

Joe Maisto
03-18-2010, 05:39 PM
Pity nobody recorded who that guy was who designed the bow & arrow.

John;

Does anyone really know ? I feel you would have to go back to medieval times. Ancient history is the place to look, as in "The History Channel".

greg
03-18-2010, 06:19 PM
I got the idea to post this because I chanced across a small newspaper article earlier this week. Gen. Mikhail Kalashnikov is still alive, and judging from photos, is in pretty good shape. He just received another award from the Russian government in a ceremony. At one point many years ago the NRA brought Gen. Kalashnikov to the US to present him with an award. It's likely that his design, the AK-47, is the most manufactured military rifle in history.

Other legendary designers of military weapons would include Paul Mauser of Germany, and John Browning of the US. Another deserving of honorable mention would be Hugo Schmeisser, the designer of the MP-38 and MP-40 submachine guns used by the Germans in WW II. They were sometimes termed "machine pistols" and "Schmeisser" was an unofficial name for them. They are often shown in war movies because they look very cool.

We all enjoy our guns, but we may too often forget the brilliant engineeers who designed them. Without guys like this, our gun racks would be pretty empty. Hats off to them, one and all!

its pretty well documented that Hugo Schmeisser did not design the MP 38/40. He did design the MP18. ERMA was responsible for the 38/40. Tks

greg
03-18-2010, 06:20 PM
Nobody mentioned Samuel Colt.

"God made men, Sam Colt made them equal."

greg
03-18-2010, 06:24 PM
I got the idea to post this because I chanced across a small newspaper article earlier this week. Gen. Mikhail Kalashnikov is still alive, and judging from photos, is in pretty good shape. He just received another award from the Russian government in a ceremony. At one point many years ago the NRA brought Gen. Kalashnikov to the US to present him with an award. It's likely that his design, the AK-47, is the most manufactured military rifle in history.

Other legendary designers of military weapons would include Paul Mauser of Germany, and John Browning of the US. Another deserving of honorable mention would be Hugo Schmeisser, the designer of the MP-38 and MP-40 submachine guns used by the Germans in WW II. They were sometimes termed "machine pistols" and "Schmeisser" was an unofficial name for them. They are often shown in war movies because they look very cool.

We all enjoy our guns, but we may too often forget the brilliant engineeers who designed them. Without guys like this, our gun racks would be pretty empty. Hats off to them, one and all!

to John Garand, a native Canadian. That one semi auto rifle gave American troops SUCH an advantage over the bolt action equiped Nazis and Japs that it often determined the outcomes of encounters. It was the right design at the right time. Paton was right!

Montana Pete
03-18-2010, 09:44 PM
Greg wrote, its pretty well documented that Hugo Schmeisser did not design the MP 38/40. He did design the MP18. ERMA was responsible for the 38/40. Tks

I did some more reading, and Greg is right. The machine pistol that Hugo Schmeisser designed was an earlier precursor of the 38/40, the MP 18. I did see where Schmeisser headed the development team producing the STG 42, later succeeded by the STG 44. This was one of the earliest assault rifles. Almost half a million of these were supplied to German troops.

What's my point? My facts were a bit wrong, but Schmeisser does deserve recognition as one of the best gun designers of the Third Reich. And I do believe I am correct that the entire family of machine pistols used by the Third Reich sometimes went by the nickname, "Schmeissers."

If you want to see quite a few of them shown in Hollywood movies, check out the Indiana Jones series of films. Furthermore, much adventure fiction brings in the Schmeisser family of machine pistols. One of my favorite boy's books, the Rick Brant novel entitled "The Caves of Fear," involves a scene in a hotel room where a hidden assailant cuts loose with a full magazine from a Schmeisser machine pistol, raising holy cain with the targeted half of the room. Swiss cheese. The heroes, of course, hit the deck and the killer shot high. But these machine pistols are the very stuff of adventure films and fiction.

The following is direct quote from a Wikipedia article:

By the end of the war, some 425,977 StG 44 variants of all types were produced. The assault rifle proved a valuable weapon, especially on the Eastern front, where it was first deployed. A properly trained soldier with an StG44 had an improved tactical repertoire, in that he could effectively engage targets at longer ranges than with an MP 40, but be much more useful than the Kar 98k in close combat, as well as provide covering fire like a light machine gun. It was also found to be exceptionally reliable in the extreme cold of the Russian winter. (Wikipedia article)

Pete Wass
03-19-2010, 08:48 AM
the firearms museum in Cody, Wy, it's well worth the trip there to see it. I have visited Cody a number of times and have toured the Museum three times. I always find something of interest that I hadn't noticed before. Mr. Browning is very prominent there.

My question is, why did Browning practically give away his designs? I can see doing it for the first one but - - - - -

B.Johnson
03-19-2010, 08:51 AM
The Arasaka rifle, Nambu machine gun should fit in here somewhere.

lefty o
03-19-2010, 07:00 PM
according to brownings biography, he sold his designs to the U.S. government for next to nothing because it was his patriotic duty. his quote was something along the lines of " if i was 20 years younger , i'd be over there in the trenches (france WWI)", so he felt it was his duty to provide the best weapons he could for the U.S. soilders.

dtknowles
03-19-2010, 08:53 PM
Garand, Kalashnikov, Stoner, Mauser, Manlicher, Lewis, Vickers, Nambu, Lahti, Schmeisser, Colt, Maxim, Penderson and I will throw in Bochard and Remington but the top of the heap is J M Browning. The rest are more like a one or two hit wonder but Browning is not only the greatest Military Small Arms designer of all time he was the greatest firearms designer of all times.

If he had only designed the 1911, the BAR and the Ma Duce that might have been enough but the .30 cal machine gun and the High Power. I think that the High Power is not really an original J M Browning design but highly derivitive and produce by a company with his name. So I think that fairly covers the military side can you even imagine someone with another name who has a shot at matching this?

Lets add to the list of sporting firearms that Browning designed for Winchester, Remington and Fabricaite Nationale (Browning).

If we only list the Win Model 94 that would be enough but there was the .22 auto, the Auto 5 shotgun or whatever name you label it with. The Remington pumps and autos, the Model 92 Win or the High Wall, and Low Wall. I don't know who designed the Model 95 but I would guess Browning.

Now for a parting shot at Kalashnikov, I don't care how many of they finally make if my claim to fame was my design was cheap and reliable, I would not really brag. As for Stoner, his designs took a long time and a lot of help to get the bugs worked out.

Mauser, some genius there but still a one hit wonder (sort of), I am not sure who was more copied Mauser or Browning but for military arms Turn Bolts did not out last Browning designs.

Granted the domination of the US military has contributed to the supremacy of Browing designs but to a degree the Browning designs have contributed to the subremacy of the US Military>

Tim

greg
03-20-2010, 06:24 AM
Tim, the High Power was a Browning design, his last. The Winchester 95 was all his too.

I think your last sentence is a really well phrased summary of Browning's influence. I also agree that the turn-bolt rifle was relatively short lived in military use and in any event, the Mauser, while the apex of that design was not "game changing" to the extent that Browning's machine guns or Garand's rifle were. From the standpoint of sporting arms, Mauser's design has, of course, been far longer lived than in military use.

that Browning is probably at the top of the heap when you consider the sheer number of designs he authored and the influence they had on both the military and civilian sport shooters and hunters. The Einstein of firearms designers.

EssentialTremor
03-20-2010, 11:18 AM
Nambu was a prolifically bad firearms designer--his MGs were almost universally ripoffs of Hotchkiss and Vickers guns, with a few design flaws added to make them unique. Don't even mention the pistols. Japan was a formidable enemy because of the men, not the machines.

Old Gunner
03-20-2010, 12:27 PM
I remember reading that Colt got some assistance from Mr. Browning on his lever guns;)


If Browning had the same biz sense that he did designing guns...WOW!!

The Colt lever actions were a Burgis design, Browning designed improved locking mechanisms for leveractions made by Winchester, the 1886 and 1892 models which evolved into the classic 1894 leveraction we know so well.

The toggle link locking mechanism may have been the brain child of an unknown European gunsmith, possibly Italian.
Its said that the original Volcanic rocket ball guns were a development of a rare gallery target pistol used in small numbers in Europe and firing primitive forerunners of the BB Cap, basically just a percussion cap with a birdshot stuck in the mouth. Those were never serious weapons, more like a toy or novelty.

The modern FN GMP and such use much of the BAR design.

Personally I don't consider numbers produced to be a measure of excellence of design. Also the basic AK action was an adaptation of the M1 Carbine bolt and trigger group to a sheet metal hull. It combined known and tested features rather than introducing new ones.

greg
03-20-2010, 05:59 PM
The Colt lever actions were a Burgis design, Browning designed improved locking mechanisms for leveractions made by Winchester, the 1886 and 1892 models which evolved into the classic 1894 leveraction we know so well.

The toggle link locking mechanism may have been the brain child of an unknown European gunsmith, possibly Italian.
Its said that the original Volcanic rocket ball guns were a development of a rare gallery target pistol used in small numbers in Europe and firing primitive forerunners of the BB Cap, basically just a percussion cap with a birdshot stuck in the mouth. Those were never serious weapons, more like a toy or novelty.

The modern FN GMP and such use much of the BAR design.

Personally I don't consider numbers produced to be a measure of excellence of design. Also the basic AK action was an adaptation of the M1 Carbine bolt and trigger group to a sheet metal hull. It combined known and tested features rather than introducing new ones.

the German late WW II Stg 44 had an influence on the overal configuration of the AK 47 as well as the cartridge it fired.

jackie schmidt
03-20-2010, 08:21 PM
If you go by the lasting success of one design, John Browning is tops. His M-2 50 Caliber Heavy Machine Gun was brought into service just at the end of WW-1, and is still in service to this day, surprisingly with little change. Few pieces of machinery can boast of such success.

If you have ever had the priveledge to shoot one, it is pure pleasure.

That is, untill it's barrel change time and you can't find those big insulated gloves:D..........jackie

Paul D. Hunter
03-20-2010, 08:38 PM
I am a fan of Mr. Stoner.

H."Snuffy"Smith
03-21-2010, 05:22 AM
what General George S. Patton said about the Garand during WW II ?

alpacca45
03-22-2010, 10:13 AM
I agree that JMB is the greatest of the giants.

But,
never forget that he would not stand anything like as tall without standing on the shoulders of the other giants.

Lee, Mauser and Mannlicher, for the box magazine
Mauser for the stripper
Mannlicher for the en bloc charger (as used by garand)
Maxim for recoil operation
Maxim, and mannlicher for gas operation
The unknown Italian, and maxim for the accelerator in recoil operation (the accelerator is an intrinsic part of the operation of the toggle action, virtually un known to gun writers, but well known to Browning and Lahti, who developed replacements for toggle action guns, even some of Browning's last patents were for toggle actions)
Bergman for blowback operation.
Mannlicher for blow forward operation

We have hardly mentioned the Russians
Fyodeov - inventer of the assault rifle
Sphagin, who turned Lahti's reliable Suomi SMG into a mass produceable item

Don't decry the production engineering side of it, Lugers took over 800 seperate machining set ups and cuts, that's a lot of skilled men and machines tied up. MP40s required specialist stamping dies and manufacture. the resistance could make stens by the thousand at home to shoot the guys who carried lugers and MP40s. Phil Luty looks like he has done even better in simplifying building.

Sure, Mikhial Timmofeyovich only put garand's bolt and trigger group into a remmington receiver, and put the gas cylinder into the right place, and...:D

I mean, what does an orchestral conductor do but wave his hands about infront of a bunch of musicians? what does a composer do but puts notes other people have used before him into a different order, a writer does the same with words ..... I can do that, Gis a job!;)

J. Valentine
03-23-2010, 02:18 AM
If you go by the lasting success of one design, John Browning is tops. His M-2 50 Caliber Heavy Machine Gun was brought into service just at the end of WW-1, and is still in service to this day, surprisingly with little change. Few pieces of machinery can boast of such success.

If you have ever had the priveledge to shoot one, it is pure pleasure.

That is, untill it's barrel change time and you can't find those big insulated gloves:D..........jackie

Thats a good point but I got one a bit longer. One of my mauser 98 actions is 112 years old and still operating as a working field weapon. There are millions like mine still out there being used.
So on that criteior Mauser is greater.

John Kielly
03-23-2010, 03:11 AM
I think that Mauser's pinnacle of design was his x 22 action screws - the only acceptable thread pitch that was available on both imperial & metric lathe gearsets.

Bill Wynne
03-23-2010, 07:09 AM
what General George S. Patton said about the Garand during WW II ?

Patton said a lot of things. I think he said that the most dangerous weapon that we had was the U. S. Army Jeep.:)

Concho Bill

glp
03-23-2010, 08:00 AM
what General George S. Patton said about the Garand during WW II ?

"In my opinion, the M1 Rifle is the greatest battle implement ever devised."

Montana Pete
03-23-2010, 09:19 AM
"In my opinion, the M1 Rifle is the greatest battle implement ever devised."

It is not perfect. For one thing, it is very heavy-- probably heavier than it needs to be.

For another shortcoming, it automatically pops the clip when the last round fires. In WW II the enemy used to listen for the "ping" when the clips popped -- thus knowing when the Americans were shot dry and needed to reload.

I could go on. I am not saying it is/was not a classic. But when you say "best" you are going to have a debate.

Greg Culpepper
03-23-2010, 09:33 AM
Well they made a movie about "Carbine" Williams. I just can't get my head wrapped around the utility of a pistol that won't fit into a holster. Just goes to show how much Hollywood knows about firearms.

glp
03-23-2010, 01:04 PM
It is not perfect. For one thing, it is very heavy-- probably heavier than it needs to be.

For another shortcoming, it automatically pops the clip when the last round fires. In WW II the enemy used to listen for the "ping" when the clips popped -- thus knowing when the Americans were shot dry and needed to reload.

I could go on. I am not saying it is/was not a classic. But when you say "best" you are going to have a debate.

maybe not the best design that Garand could have come up with, but for the state of knowledge, materials and manufacturing methods the M1 Garand was pretty good. It far outclassed both the Jap and German infantry small arms and that was a huge tactical advantage. As far as the ping of the enbloc being ejected, true enough, but a lot of those pings were empty enblocs being thrown on the ground to simulate an empty rifle. :)

It's a bit on the heavy side, but that brings robustness that enabled it to survive in a dirty, rough combat environment. And, most of the luggers were teen and early 20 year olds! Man, to be in that shape again. --Greg

lefty o
03-23-2010, 04:04 PM
i cant believe people keep bringing up that bulldung fairy tail about the enemy listening and waiting for the ping of the M1 ejecting its clip!

Joe Maisto
03-23-2010, 04:38 PM
It is not perfect. For one thing, it is very heavy-- probably heavier than it needs to be.

For another shortcoming, it automatically pops the clip when the last round fires. In WW II the enemy used to listen for the "ping" when the clips popped -- thus knowing when the Americans were shot dry and needed to reload.

I could go on. I am not saying it is/was not a classic. But when you say "best" you are going to have a debate.

Listen for the ping?
Did you ever hear one of the "enemy" in ww11 say that ?
I never had a North Korean or chinese tell me that...
All nonsence.

J. Valentine
03-23-2010, 05:42 PM
i cant believe people keep bringing up that bulldung fairy tail about the enemy listening and waiting for the ping of the M1 ejecting its clip!

Having been in combat myself . I also find it hard to see how you could hear the ping of the clip over the noise of battle.
However maybe in certain special circumstances where only two people are shooting at eachother it may be possible but you would have to be awful close I would think.
I thought the pinging of an ejected clip related to the 30 -06 Gerand not the M1 carbine.
The M1 carbine had a removable magazine .

lefty o
03-23-2010, 09:26 PM
it is the M1 garand that ejects its clip. having fired many thousand rounds from the M1 rifle, i can tell you there are times when i dont notice/hear my own rifle ejecting its clip. then if we factor in others shooting(at you , and next to you), and having no hearing protection, the odds of hearing that little ping are slim to none. now lets factor in the speed of reloading an M1 rifle, it can be done faster than any other battle rifle if your proficient, so that in itself gives the enemy one very narrow window when your empty. last but not least, if my rifle runs dry, the guy next to me , and the guy next to him etc, etc are probably not empty. the whole enemy waiting to hear the ping is just an ignorant old wives tale that wont die!

Joe Maisto
03-23-2010, 09:47 PM
Right on Lefty;

Furthermore, while that other guy is climbing out of his spider hole to come at me, (after he hears my... "ping " ?) amid mortar rounds and grenades mind you, I could have loaded three more clips.
This nonsense story needs to come to an end.

danbnimble
03-23-2010, 10:25 PM
whoever started the ping thing had no idea how deafening and consuming chaos is...I'm thinking it's the same director that had hollywood hero types pulling pins out of frags with their teeth

J. Valentine
03-24-2010, 02:53 AM
whoever started the ping thing had no idea how deafening and consuming chaos is...I'm thinking it's the same director that had hollywood hero types pulling pins out of frags with their teeth

We had an idiot in the army that pulled a grenade pin by accident and came walking into my tent with it in both hands. I thought for a second he had gone troppo . Eventually I wrapped around the grenade and handle with tape to hold it down and spent the next half hour getting the firing hammer into correct position to put the pin back in. You should have seen the onlookers scatter when I suddenly cut off the tape!
I could not just throw it out over the wire in camp in a war zone as it would have set off a huge response.

Montana Pete
03-25-2010, 10:03 AM
As for the ping of the ejected clip -- we see this on the forum all the time.

People are "dug in" to some opinion, and regardless of any counterargument, they will just spin everything to support their notions. There's nothing you could say about a Garand that would be negative for those really "locked in" to their notions. Numerous examples of these biases can be seen here on the forums.

That's one reason these discussions here often get deadlocked, and finally just peter out.

I think the ping can be greatly exaggerated as a negative, yes, but I think it is a negative.

Old Gunner
03-27-2010, 12:07 PM
I remember someone wrote that when using the Johnson LMG in semi auto the gunners occasionally would fire off eight rounds rapid fire then bounce a discarded Garand clip off their helmet. The enemy thinking they were armed with a Garand would then try a charge and the gunner had 22 more rounds at the ready to cut them down.
Apocryphal tale at best, but it does sound like something a gunner might think up.
The Johnson LMG was so light it probably was more useful in semi auto than full auto fire anyway. A newsreel I saw of one of these in action showed it kicking itself back off a rock wall at every burst, the gunner having little control. The gunner was in a very cramped position though.

The enbloc clip of the Garand is far easier to insert than using a stripper clip to load five rounds at a time. The Enfield magazine holds ten shots but reloading the mag with two five round chargers takes more than twice as long as inserting the eight shot enblock clip.

Larry Elliott
03-27-2010, 03:28 PM
Reading about the Battle of Midway a few years back, and the author said that Dauntless rear gunners figured out a way to suck Japanese fighter pilots in close. They'd carry an empty ammo can along and when a Zero was coming up on them they'd fire a few rounds then pitch the empty ammo can out. The Zero pilot figuring he had a sitting duck would close right up on the Dauntless and get a face full of .30 cal.

Combat troops figure out "field expedient" fixes for problems pretty quickly.