Who Invented the Gatling Gun?

The Gatling gun is arguably one of the more famous and recognizable among all of the firearms ever made. Due to its distinct appearance and its unique capabilities, many are familiar with Gatling gun, even those who are not well-versed with firearms. Despite this familiarity even with the most gun-averse of laymen however, not many know who invented the Gatling gun along with the history of its design and development and its impact on modern warfare.

As its name suggests, it is easy to remember who invented the Gatling gun. This because the man who invented the Gatling gun lent it its name. The man who invented the Gatling gun is Richard J. Gatling, an inventor responsible for numerous patents in the United States in the latter half of the 19th Century. Despite the Gatling gun’s fearsome reputation in the battlefield, the man who invented the Gatling gun reasoned his newly-designed gun will actually lessen the casualties in warfare. Since the Gatling gun will allow relatively few personnel to deliver tremendous fire power (for its time), less soldiers will then be needed to fight wars and therefore lesser battle casualties.

Of course we all know that the idealistic notion of Gatling that fewer men will die in battle as a result of his invention’s tremendous fire power was baseless. But the man who invented the Gatling gun was in part right since for the first time in history, a few personnel with the help of his invention will be able inflict massive damage to the enemy. Battle before was mostly a man-to-man struggle between combatants but with the Gatling gun, a soldier can single-handedly inflict heavy casualties on the other side.

More than a hundred years after its invention, the Gatling gun still sees action in today’s battlefield. This feat is even more astounding, given the fact that it has been decommissioned and deemed ‘obsolete’ by the United States Army shortly before the First World War. This episode in the Gatling gun’s lifespan was brought about by the invention of the machine gun, which proved superior in delivering fire power. The genius of the Gatling gun’s design became apparent when it was found out that machine guns are prone to overheating and their barrels are likely to be deformed from the extreme heat generated from the machine gun’s very high rate of fire. The Gatling gun does not suffer from the same problem as its multi-barrel design allows the strain of firing be distributed and prevent barrel deformity and jamming. Currently, the Gatling gun sees action as the weapon system of choice of ground support aircraft, which are important in taking down enemy armor and fortification.

Battlefield casualties may not have lessened more than a hundred years after the commissioning of Richard Gatling’s invention, but the man who invented the Gatling gun was nevertheless right in expecting his invention to change warfare forever.