The designer of this firearm was a Harvard Law School graduate and U.S. Marine Corps colonel who served as a weapons consultant to the Secretary of Defense in 1951. He also co-authored a book in 1942 titled, Weapons for the Future.
It was his habit to give all of his prototypes a moniker. His semi-automatic rifle was designated “Betsy”—perhaps borrowing from Davy Crockett, who named his rifle Old Betsy. “Bertha” was a 20 mm aircraft cannon developed for the Navy—it was a name that brings to mind Germany’s giant howitzer called Big Bertha.
His machine gun was known as “Emma,” no doubt derived from the British military’s use of the term Emma Gee to denote “machine gun” or “MG” (M=Emma, G=Gee). And his auto carbine was “Daisy Mae,” likely a nod to the voluptuous Li’l Abner comic strip character of the same name.
His most famous creation bears his name, and it was a rifle he lobbied the U.S. military to adopt. While they ultimately chose to go with the M1 by Springfield, his patents were later used by Armalite on AR-10, AR-15 and M16 rifles.
Click here to learn more about this inventor and his rifle. If you’re fortunate enough to have one of these, it’s worth up to 10 times the price of a comparable Garand rifle. And it’s just one of the many great treasures found at the NRA National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, Va.