NRA News highlights the rifle that brought together ideas and people that revolutionized the industry
Fairfax, Virginia - Think of a company that employed a young Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Larry Ellison. What could they accomplish? Or would their brilliance drive each other mad and lead to the disillusion of the operation? Now put them back in the 1840s. What would they have done then? Probably create the 1st Model Jennings rifle.
"The Connecticut Valley, where the gun manufacturers were located was the Silicon Valley of the day," said NRA Museums Director Jim Supica. "That was where the highest technology in the world was going on."
But who were the Jobs, Gates and Ellison of that day? How about Henry, Smith, and Wesson.
"They were all part of a series of guns that led to two very famous companies and the style of rifle that is most associated with America."
The rifle itself was a big step forward if for no other reason than the ammunition; a rocket ball.
"Instead of pouring the powder down and ramming the bullet down, you poured the powder into the hallow base of the bullet and sealed it," explained Gayle, owner of the Jennings. "They had pellets of priming compound that would fall down into the action when the action was working. Kind of like a corn powder. You pull the trigger and theoretically it would go bang."
Unfortunately the rifle never caught on. But what did do was bring together B. Tyler Henry, Daniel Wesson along with Horace Smith. And when they gave up on the original design, it was sold to a shirt manufacturer known to us all today as Oliver Winchester.
Guess he fills the Larry Page/Sergey Brin role.
To hear the full story, and see closeups of this incredible rifle, tune in to the Sportsman Channel this afternoon around 6:40pm eastern. Hear the history and the story behind the Jennings Model 1.
Though the Jennings isn't there, you can see all the other guns in the NRA National Firearms Museum collection at nramuseum.com