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The “Dinner Party Hypothetical” is a common psychological thought experiment. In it, you’re asked to list a set number of people from history that you would invite to a dinner party (with the assumption, of course, that everyone would be fitted with something like a Babel Fish that removes any language or communication barriers).  

Today’s experiment: Assume you can magically invite eight People of the Gun to dinner from all throughout history, whether they’re firearms designers, manufacturers, soldiers, lawmen, shooters, hunters…the choice is yours. They will attend a private range day with you along with your selection of modern and vintage weapons and ammo available for everyone’s examination and use. The range day would then be followed by a barbeque dinner with plenty of appropriate libations and cigars.

Who would you invite and why? Think about it and jot down your own choices before reading further. It makes this all the more fun.

My choices, as well as those of Dan Z. and my colleague and occasional TTAG contributor Peter Schechter are below. Rules were that each of us had to come up with our eight guests without prompting or seeing who the others had chosen, and after seeing each other’s lists you could list four more as honorable mentions or backups.  

What’s interesting is that two people made it onto everyone’s list: John Moses Browning and Jerry Miculek.

What say you?

LKB’s Great Eight

John Moses Browning – No comments necessary. Probably the best gun designer in history.

Manuel Mondragon Decades ahead of his time. The best gun designer you probably never heard of.  

Porter Rockwell  – Widely considered to be the deadliest and most ruthless lawman of the Old West. Opinions differ on whether he was a lawman, a criminal, or both, but no one disputes his manhunting abilities and his utter effectiveness with a gun.

Frank Hamer Last of the old school Texas Rangers.

Frank Hamer

Carlos Hathcock Probably the finest American sniper in history.

Simo Häyhä The “White Death” of the Russo-Finnish Winter War. Credited with more kills than the preceding three put together…and he did it in less than 100 days.

Theodore Roosevelt Hunter, shooter, soldier, rancher, conservationist, and larger-than-life persona (also the 26th President of the United States).

Jerry Miculek Is he human, or is he actually an alien species? How can anybody do stuff like this?      

LKB Comments: Many of my choices are based on the likely interactions and reactions of the various attendees to each other; e.g., Browning and Mondragon, Browning and Hathcock, Hathcock and Häyhä, Miculek and Hamer and Rockwell, TR and everyone.

LKB’s honorable mentions

Elmer Keith Inventor of the .357, .41, and .44 magnums. I grew up reading his columns and “Hell, I was there!” 

Jim Corbett  The paradigm “Great White Hunter,” specializing in hunting maneaters.

Georg Luger   How he managed to create a near perfect version of his iconic pistol on his first try, and why he did so little thereafter, has always been a mystery to me.

George S. Patton   He was robbed at the 1912 Olympics, because he insisted on shooting his duty-issue .38 rather than the .22’s shot by his competitors.   And like TR, a larger-than-life persona.

Peter Schechter’s Great Eight

John Moses Browning Pioneering gun designer, inventor.

Samuel Colt Avid hunter, inventor, gun designer.

Peter Paul von Mauser Gun designer who perfected the bolt-action rifle, among other achievements.

Peter Paul von Mauser

Jerry Miculek Superhuman marksman and shooter. I would love to listen to him pose questions to the first three (and I’d savor the range time spent just watching him shoot).

Marion Morrison, a/k/a John Wayne – He was an interesting guy in real life, and would enjoy the party (also an avid hunter and angler).

Napoleon Bonaparte Not only did he enjoy a good hunt, he was also a keen collector of fine guns and other weapons.

Annie Oakley Needs no introduction, probably the greatest trick shooter of all time.

Theodore Roosevelt Jr. – 26th President of the United States, statesman, soldier, conservationist, naturalist, hunter, historian.

Peter Schechter’s honorable mentions

Dwight D. Eisenhower 34th President of the United States, Supreme Allied Commander, Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces (SHAEF), 16 January 1944 – 14 July 1945. Avid lifelong hunter, angler, outdoorsman.

Winston Churchill Enjoyed hunting and fishing throughout his life, when he could find the time.

Gen. Manuel Mondragón  So I could ask him “What on earth were you thinking when you designed that bayonet?”

Curt Gowdy He must have some great stories to tell about his adventures as host of The American Sportsman.

Dan Zimmerman’s Great Eight

John Moses Browning – No explanation necessary.

Hiram Maxim – He invented the machine gun. Oh, and suppressors, too. And probably beat Edison to the punch on the light bulb, too. I’ll want to record every word of the exchanges between him and JMB.

Lyudmila Pavlichenko – Anyone who killed that many Nazis can sit at my dinner table any night she wants.

Lyudmila Pavlichenko

W.D.M. Karamojo Bell – One of history’s great polymaths, Bell was a soldier, sailor, artist, pilot, and one of the world’s great hunters (and hunting writers).

Eugene Stoner – He invented America’s rifle, one of the best, most versatile, and adaptable small arms platforms ever devised.

Mikhail Kalashnikov – Commie or not, he invented a hell of a good, reliable rifle.

Jerry Miculek – He does things you just didn’t think were possible and does them over and over again.

Dan Zimmerman’s honorable mentions

Chris Kyle – The legend.

Sam Colt – He made all men equal.

Buffalo Bill Cody – The entertainment value alone would be more than worth having him there.

Bob Munden – Miculek and Munden at the range together? Mow much more fun can you possibly have?




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  1. Nobody mentioned Harriet Tubman?


    America’s TOP poster child for civilian CCW thwarting tyranny. And led one HELL of a crazy life.

  2. if you don’t have LAV on your list while he’s still here to be a part of it, you are wrong and should feel bad.

  3. George Washington, Paul Revere, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, G. Patton, Annie Oakley, E. Stoner, Jim Clark Sr. and Jim Clark Jr. That’s 9, too bad.

  4. None. That would not only be living in the past, I wouldn’t want to risk clouding their judgement with what is the future of their world.

    Our task is to carry on their legacy.

    • Well, you’re no fun.

      Even Lt.Cdr Data played poker with some of the greatest scientific minds of history (Newton, Einstein, and Hawking if you’re curious).

  5. All three of those lists are absolutely fantastic. I would definitely have Peter Capstick there to record whomever I had over.

  6. If you do get Patton, ask him if he felt any remorse for leading armed troops against homeless WWI vets, chasing them from DC because they were politically embarrassing to the admin, and then burning down their shantytown across the Annacosta River. Google “bonus army” if this fun episode in US history wasn’t covered in your state approved curriculum.

  7. Federal Marshall Bass Reeves. Who shot to death at least 14 wanted criminals, who refused to give up. And who arrested his own son for murder.

  8. Colonel Jeff Cooper
    Audie Murphy
    Sergeant York
    Colonel Ethan Allen (commander of the Green Mountain Boys in the Revolution)
    SFC Shughart & MSG Gordon (Blackhawk Down, counting this as one choice)
    Winston Churchill
    Colonel Hiram Berdan (created the 1st and 2nd US Sharpshooters in the Civil War and essentially created modern sniper training and sharpshooting as we know it today)
    John Moses Browning

    • I wonder if someone was going to name the highest Decorated soldier in All of North America, maybe the world & a great western actor also.

  9. 1.Bartolomeo Beretta (founder of the firm in 1526)
    2.Leonardo da Vinci (if only he had the tools available he could have made everything)
    3. Tullio Marangoni (name a Beretta from the 20 century and he’s there)
    4. Dieudonné Sauve (designer of the right arm of the free world)
    5. Uziel Gal
    6. Bartolomeo Girardoni (Google for him)
    7. John Moses Browning
    8. Othais (he will explain everything about the above-mentioned)

    • “6. Bartolomeo Girardoni (Google for him)”

      No need, he’s famous here in TTAG, thanks to his sweet multi-shot air rifle…

  10. Luger. I’m no expert but it is my understanding that his mandate was to take the Borchardt pistol in hand and clean it up for mass production and sales. Which gave us the pistol Luger.

    He didn’t really design the weapon. He just tweaked an already existing piece.

    As for Lyudmila. You’d have to make sure she never crossed paths with dacian or miner49er. Given her history of killing fascists.

    • “As for Lyudmila. You’d have to make sure she never crossed paths with dacian or miner49er. Given her history of killing fascists.”

      I worked with a Slovak who escaped the ‘Iron Curtain’, his wife is named Lyudmila.

      He calls her ‘Luby’. As Ladislav (her hubby) tells it, the only thing she can make for dinner is reservations… 🙂

  11. In no order.
    Tom Horn
    Lewis B Puller
    John M Browning
    Mikhail Kalashnikov
    Eugene Stoner
    John Garand
    John Wayne
    Chris Kyle

  12. John Moses, Peter Paul, Samuel, Simo, Vasili, Mikhail, Eugene, T.R., E. Konig, A. Nariakira… and the list goes on… the unnamed/unknown inventors of- black powder, the flintlock, rifling, cast lead projectiles… etc. We live in wondrous times and have a rich legacy to enjoy, enhance, and pass on!

  13. “(with the assumption, of course, that everyone would be fitted with something like a Babel Fish that removes any language or communication barriers). ”

    all people of the gun speak gun already.


  14. Dianne Feinstein
    Janet Reno
    Chuck Schumer
    Gavin Newsom
    Beto O’Roarke
    Shannon Watts
    Thomas Dodd (Senator who started the push for gun control in the 1960s)
    Kris Brown (President of Brady Campaign)

    Forget the range event. Just lock them in a room with plenty of loaded guns and whiskey, and check in occasionally.

  15. Skeeter Skelton
    Bill Jordan
    Jeff Cooper
    Charles Askins
    Elmer Keith
    Chuck Taylor
    Jim Cirillo
    Ross Seyfried.

  16. I want to go to the range with:

    Billy the Kid
    Genghis Khan
    Napoleon Bonaparte
    Joan of Arc
    Ludwig von Beethoven
    Sigmund Freud
    Abraham Lincoln

    That would be most excellent!

  17. 1. John Browning
    2. Sam Colt
    3. Oliver Winchester
    4. Wyatt Earp
    5. Jeff Cooper
    6. Elmer Keith
    7. Julian Hatcher
    8. My friend Randy. I just gave him $5000, but I have a tricked out BCM AR/w an Aimpoint sight an two vintage S&W 2nd model hand ejectors in .44 Spl. I’m sorry Debbie, but Randy doesn’t take credit cards.

  18. For no reason whatsoever the mod trashed my list of decent, honorable Americans. Perhaps I should have said Elmer Fudd?

    • Yea im pretty sure the mod program is part lottery, and part trigger words. Because ive been moderated several times on just your basic generic kind of stuff.

  19. Most of my top dozen or so have already been mentioned but I’ll add Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson, Spencer, Henry, Pederson, Gatling, Mosin and Ian McCollum

  20. Good lists all around, Browning and TR are natural and obvious picks with Kalashnikov and Stoner not far behind. Kieth would be up there for both engineering and color as well. Pederson would be a good one. Lastly in the weird realm Werner Gruner and Louis Stange. I knew what they made, had to look the names up though. 😛

  21. I agree!
    I could trim it back to twenty four, eight at three different dinners.
    Make that twenty five at one dinner, with Kyle Rittenhouse.
    Why, Kyle Rittenhouse, he has done a great deal for gun rights & is still in his twenty’s. Wonder what he will do when most of us are a name on a tome stone.

    • Kyle proved he has what it takes at age 17. I would have loved to have him on my tank crew while I was deployed.

  22. I’m sure most of us on the board here could come up with a couple dozen folks we would like to meet, shoot with, and have in depth conversations with. I would also like to add a few of our founders and framers of the Constitution and BOR to get their thoughts on both their contributions to the country and their thoughts and opinions on present day government and society. As well as their thoughts on modern firearms. T. Jefferson, J Adams, G. Washington, A. Hamilton, and a few of the early frontiersmen like D. Boone.
    You might have to go nail the shingles back down after such conversations because some of the people on the various lists would hit the roof if they could see how things have changed over the years. But, the discussions would be fascinating.

  23. Paladin — I think his first name was “Wire”

    Matthew Quigley

    John Wick

    Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson — a distant relative

    James Bond

    Lee Harvey Oswald — I’d ask him if he really did it on his own

    “Pappy” Boyington — okay, so he used six guns all at once

    Al Capone — I’d show him Geraldo’s TV special on the opening his vault

    Clint Eastwood — of course

    And kudos to our very own LKB for authoring this. I’m surprised that he didn’t put Perry Mason on his list.

  24. Quick correction on Dan’s list: Hiram Steven’s Maxim invented the machine gun. His son, Hiram Percy Maxim invented the muffler and silencer, and founded the ARRL HAM radio club.

  25. If you haven’t had dinner with Clint Smith, you would want to add him to your list. He’s a living legend. Catch him while you can.

  26. Any 8 of the folks mentioned above would suit me. Plus for kicks, put Hillary Clinton in the anteroom as an alternate. She would sit there alone all evening, listening to the muffled banter, laughter, and clinking of glasses, and watching a door that would never open…

  27. Jack Hinson (google him)

    John Basilone

    Audie Murphy

    Alvin York

    Jeff Cooper

    Col. David Hackworth

    Paul Harrell

    … just to name a few.

  28. I have to add one thing: the link to the Mondragon rifle and bayonet says: “Note HIERRO translates to Iron and Madera is a town in Mexico, so this bayonet was probably made with Madera Steel and or was made in Madera Mexico.” Not so. MADERA also translates to WOOD and it is likely that two different hardness steels were used for the two edges of the weird entrenching tool/bayonet. One side was likely intended to chop-cut barbed wire and the like, while the other could be used as an axe to chop wood … sort of. In practice, the whole thing — including what appear to be drainage holes in the crosspiece — is utterly useless, which is why no more than literally one handful of them have survived.

  29. I’d like to express my heartfelt thanks for this intriguing question and the captivating “Dinner Party Hypothetical” scenario. Combining history’s most influential figures in the world of firearms with a day at the range and a delightful dinner is an exceptional idea. It would be an honor to have legends like John Browning, Mikhail Kalashnikov, Samuel Colt, Annie Oakley, Audie Murphy, Wyatt Earp, Simo Häyhä, and Elmer Keith join us for such an unforgettable experience. Their contributions have shaped the world of firearms, and this unique gathering would undoubtedly be a celebration of their enduring legacies.

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