His is a name well known to gun enthusiasts, as he was one of the most successful American firearm designers of the 20th century. Born in Ogden, Utah, in 1855, his father was a skilled gunsmith who taught him the art of gun-making at a young age. By 13, he had crafted his first firearm and, at 18, he took over his father’s gun shop business. When he was 24, he was awarded his first patent for a gun he and his brother sold to Winchester Repeating Arms.
He continued to design firearms for Winchester—many of which became top sellers—and maintained a business relationship with the company that lasted until 1902. At that point, he sought out a new agreement that would pay him not just an upfront amount for his design, but a royalty fee based upon sales. Winchester declined, so he took his business to Fabrique Nationale d’Herstal of Belgium, where this design became one of the best-selling shotguns of the era.
He continued his work until past retirement age, and was developing a self-loading pistol design when he died of heart failure. Over his lifetime, he was credited with more than 120 patents, and many of his designs are still in production today.