Growing up, I often sat in an old dining room chair listening to my grandfather tell me stories about the war and his life experiences. As the years progressed, I started to hear the true versions of his stories that were unfiltered and raw. My grandfather had a busy life and after the war, he was a hydraulic engineer for Cadillac Gage from the Mid ’50s until 1979.
He started out working with hydraulic systems in tanks made by Cadillac Gage for the military. My grandfather had a reputation for testing out new products and tended to be a problem solver. During a test run on a new tank, the brakes went out and my grandfather ended up driving through an airport hangar door to stop the tank. By now you’re probably wondering what this has to do with Eugene Stoner, so let me explain.
Working For A Firearms Legend
So in the early to mid-’60s, Cadillac Gage had a military contract to make the Stoner 63 machine gun with Eugene Stoner heading up the project. For the new military contract, Cadillac Gage pulled various engineers from projects to work with Eugene Stoner. Now, this is verified by Reed Knight of Knights Armament who said Eugene would have been at Cadillac Gage in the mid-60s. My grandfather never talked about his work with Eugene Stoner until he was nearing the end of his life. All I have is an eight minute voice recording I had taken while he was still alive. Looking back on his stories from Cadillac Gage, I constantly think up more questions for him. I want to know more about that time period even though he’s sadly no longer with us.
He talked about Eugene as an ordinary man. Someone extremely soft spoken who loved what he did and always treated his workers with respect. Apparently on Fridays, if military orders weren’t backed up Eugene would often invite all employees to the range to test fire the Stoner 63 machine guns. Eugene had a true passion for firearms along with engineering and loved sharing that passion with other people around him.
Losing Information to Time
In the modern era, it’s fairly easy to track the progress of firearms and the evolution of firearm design. The sad truth is we are slowly losing details of early weapons design forever as time goes on. With workers and assets of firearms history passing away from old age, I think it’s important to get as much historical information as possible before we lose it to time. My grandfather didn’t talk much about it until he got to the last few years of his life but wanted to pass along his perspective of a firearm legend.
I wanted more proof and information on this era of the Stoner 63 machine gun. Sadly Reed Knight, who has an extensive historical archive on Stoner, has no information on that time in Stoner’s career. We talked on the phone for nearly an hour about Eugene Stoner in the 1960s. Even Reed Knight didn’t know certain aspects of the Stoner 63 evolution and development. I also reached out to Textron Systems who acquired Cadillac Gage. Sadly, all records of Eugene Stoner’s projects were destroyed decades ago.
In short, we may never know every aspect of the legend who is Eugene Stoner, but that will never change the fact he was critical in shaping modern firearm technology with the AR-15. I will continue to look for more information and write a follow up article if I can find out more information about the Stoner 63’s development. Is it important to know the history of firearm evolution or is it ok to let the past fade away? Let me know in the comments below.
If you guys have questions feel free to message me on my Instagram @fridgeoperator. Stay safe out there.