Melvin Johnson

United States


August 6, 1909


January 6, 1965 (aged 55)

Associated Companies

Johnson Automatics



Famous Works

Johnson rifle, Johnson light machine gun

Melvin Maynard Johnson, Jr. was an American firearms designer.


Born into a wealthy family in Massachusetts, Johnson was drafted into the US Military in 1933 as a marine. He designed his first weapon in 1938, and his most famous firearms in 1941, the Johnson rifle and machine gun, and worked tirelessly to promote his weapons all throughout the war. The company he founded, Johnson Automatics, was bought over by Winchester, who later employed him for a short period. His patents were later used by the AR-10 and 15 rifles, with ArmaLite later employing him as a consultant to promote their rifles which used his bolt design. Johnson also developed the 5.7mm Spitfire cartridge to be used with the M1 carbine, along with also working to improve the carbine. In 1963, he started Johnson Arms Inc. While on a business trip to New York City, Johnson passed away as a result of a heart attack.


Johnson was known for his work with the Johnson rifle and light machine gun.


  • Johnson had a habit of giving his projects pet nicknames.