William C. Davis: A Tribute
This is a look back at the influential persons who blazed paths in the firearms industry. This time is dedicated to the late William C. Davis, the Master of Ballistics, whose expertise is why Horus’ ATrag program is now the backbone of the Horus Ballistics App as it exists today. We owe him great thanks for all he contributed to the world of long-range shooting.
On March 4, 2010, the renowned ballistician, engineer, and accomplished shooter William C. Davis died at the age of 88.
Davis graduated from St. Bonaventure University in New York in 1941 with a degree in physics and mathematics. He joined the Army in 1942, where he fought in WWII, and left his military service after the war in 1946 as a Captain.
Davis went back to St. Bonaventure to teach until 1951, during which time he worked as an engineering engineer for the U.S. government for 23 years. Some notable accomplishments during this time included heavily influencing the improvement of the M-16 rifle and standardization of small arms and ammunition between NATO countries.
In 1972, after many commendations and accomplishments, he retired from his work with the government. He became self-employed, consulting and writing, among other tasks in the subjects of firearms, ammunition, and ballistics. He eventually founded Tioga Engineering in 1980, which was operated by him and his business partner, Charlie Fagg.
Amidst his work within Tioga Engineering, he wrote for American Rifle Magazine, where he became the Contributing Editor in 1974, and went on to write over 50 articles from there. In 1986, he earned the title of Ballistics Editor.
Other Noteworthy endeavors from Davis were the development of Handloading by William C. Davis, the Very Low Drag (VLD) bullet, which led to a win for the U.S. International Shooting Team in the 300-meter competition and writing a majority of the NRA book, Handloading in 1981. He also contributed to the “Ammunition” section of the 15th Edition of Encyclopedia Britannica.
Davis is also well known for writing the first ballistic program for PCs, written in BASIC, which he offered for free to NRA members. He went on to write a total of 14 ballistic software programs. Horus Vision’s ATrag program actually derived from Davis’ algorithms and ballistic studies. You can read A Brief Course in Ballistics for insight into his findings.
On top of his technical expertise, he was also an avid shooter as a military expert in rifle, pistol, and carbine and a Lifetime Master in the NRA Smallbore Rifle. He was rated as a Class AA in NRA Hunter Pistol Silhouette.
This account of William C. Davis is an understatement of his impact, not only through his insight and accomplishments but also through his character, as he was described to be respected because of his dedicated, patient, and considerate nature.
- To read about ballistics from the master himself, click here.
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