Michael Helms is a firearms historian living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

He holds a degree (summa cum laude) in history from North Carolina State University where he wrote his thesis on the evolution of the American firearms industry in the late 1850s and early 1860s. The focus of that research was on Smith & Wesson and its seminal Model 1 revolver, but the research expanded into the worlds of Samuel Colt, Simeon North, Robert Johnson, Rollin White, and a dizzying array of other gun makers, engineers, craftsmen, lawyers, politicians, and crooks.

He is particularly interested in how Smith & Wesson’s rise fits into Alfred Chandler’s theories about management and the growth of the modern enterprise, and how this intersects with the rapid advances in metalworking and machine tools over the first half of the 19th century. He also examines the parallel shift in how patents were being increasingly leveraged by large enterprises to maintain monopolies, and how “production engineering” became an important vocation.

An accomplished public speaker, Michael has displayed and presented his research to the following organizations and publications:

Michael maintains active memberships in numerous collecting organizations including the American Society of Arms Collectors, the Smith & Wesson Collectors Association, the Smith & Wesson Historical Foundation, and the Colt Collectors Association. A skilled marksman, he earned the Appleseed rifleman designation and is a certified range safety officer and a certified Glock armorer.

He is available to provide expert witness testimony on the topic of historic firearms and their use.

Michael has been an amateur genealogist for over 30 years and actively maintains an online family tree. He is a member of the Sons of the American Revolution through his g-g-g-g-g-grandfather John Frederick Gaul. He was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in 2014 while still a junior at NCSU and has been a Toastmaster since 2006. He earned a Geological Technician diploma from Fleming College in 1999. And his call sign is W5MJH.