If you've heard of the M16 assault rifle
or any variations of it, you should have heard of this man.
Unfortunately, not very many people have, and there is very little information about him on the Internet.
Eugene Stoner was born on 22 November, 1922 in Gasport, Indiana. In World War II, Stoner was in the Marine Corps in the South Pacific, where he gained firsthand knowledge of the use of infantry weapons. During the 1950s, Stoner worked for the company Fairchild Engine and Aircraft Company, in the ArmaLite division. Here he gained experience in the use of light, durable polymers and alloys.
In 1955, Stoner designed the AR-10 assault rifle for Armalite as a competitor to the T-44 Springfield (M14 rifle) for use in the United States Armed Forces. The AR-10 was made of these all-new materials, then only used in the aircraft industry. Chambered for 7.62mm cartridges, it wasn't able to stand up against the T-44 in testing, though the United States later asked ArmaLite and Stoner to design a smaller version of the gun. This was designated the AR-15, but was sold to Colt in 1959, who kept the designation AR-15. In 1963, after extensive testing, the gun was adopted as the M16 to the United States Military.
Although the M16 is Stoner's most notable achievement, he designed many other guns, and did so up until his death in 1997 at the age of 74. Among these are the Bushmaster M17, essentially an M16 in bullpup configuration which is much more reliable, Stoner 63 weapon system, SR25 precision rifle, and many other military weapons. Stoner died of cancer on 24 April 1997 with over 100 patents to his name.