My favorite firearms designer of all time is James Paris Lee, because of his sheer inventiveness and forward-thinking edge that was still grounded in what was practical at the time. My second-favorite firearms designer is David Marshall Williams, because he was totally mad, with a bio that reads like it was ripped straight from a film script (this isn’t hyperbole – Hollywood thought so, too).
Who is my third-favorite firearms designer? I don’t have a quick answer, but a very strong candidate is the (today) highly underrated (then) rock star of gun design, John D. Pedersen. Who was he? I’ve mentioned him before in some of my other articles, but Forgotten Weapons has helped answer that question much more totally with their recent video, on the guns he designed:
One reason Pedersen could take the number 3 spot is that my current collection does not include any rifles by either of my two favorite designers, but it does include the nicest example of any Remington 51 I have ever encountered in pictures or in person. Owning and disassembling a Model 51 makes it clear that not only did Pedersen possess great genius, ambition, and a cunning for what would appeal to his investors and customers, but also that he was near-obsessed with surface grinding. Remington has taken on a daunting challenge, in trying to bring a revitalized 51 to the market, and I sympathize greatly with them and their initial failed attempts to control the tolerances for what is a very intolerant design.