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Robert Hillberg
Born (1917-08-27)27 August 1917
Imsoa, Iowa, United States
Died August 12, 2012(2012-08-12) (aged 94)[1]
Branford, Connecticut, United States
Nationality  United States
Occupation firearm designer

Robert Hillberg was a firearm designer. He was the former head of High Standard Manufacturing Company. His designs included the folding shotgun stock, the Whitney Wolverine, the Wildey .45 gas-operated pistol, and the four-shot COP 357 Derringer.[2] Hillberg developed a variety of insurgency weapons, primarily multiple barrel shotguns, which could be covertly distributed to partisan forces fighting in the United States' national interests.[3]

Gun Digest editors have described Hillberg as a "national treasure".[2]


Hillberg worked initially at Colt's Manufacturing Company where he began to learn about how firearms are designed. He moved on to Pratt & Whitney and later Republic Aviation. During World War II he worked on adapting weapons designed for use on the ground to aircraft use, with all the challenges inherent in that problem. While at Republic Hillberg designed several automatic pistols, including for the first time in the gun industry solving the problem of having interchangeable barrels for multiple calibers in the same gun.[4]

After the war Hillberg went to work for High Standard as head of research and development.


Partial list of patents

Hillberg holds numerous patents for firearms, including:

  • 1974 US 3798819  for a folding gun stock
  • 1980 US 4221066  for a firearm grip assembly
  • 1980 US 4208947  for a firearm hammer block safety mechanism
  • 1981 US 4291481  for a firearm magazine safety mechanism
  • 1982 US patent #D262567 for a new break-action rifle design.[6]
  • 1983 US 4416078  for a handgun strut assembly
  • 1983 US 4400900  for a multi-barrel handgun firing mechanism


  1. Robert L. Hillberg Obituary in The New Haven Register,, August 16, 2012
  2. 2.0 2.1 Shideler, Dan (2010). Gun Digest 2011. Krause Publications. p. 91. ISBN 978-1-4402-1337-3. "Robert L. Hillberg... is a national treasure, being one of the few surviving masters of post-WWII American firearms design" 
  3. "Hillberg Insurgency Weapons: The Winchester Liberator". Retrieved 27 September 2010. 
  4. "The Oldest Name in Guns Comes Back". August 1956. pp. 24–27, 66–69. 
  5. Bodinson, Holt (July 2009). "Space gun Redux: return of the Whitney Wolverine". Guns Magazine. Archived from the original on 13 July 2012. Retrieved 27 September 2010. 
  6. "Patent #D262567". 
  • Taglienti, Antonio J (2008). The Whitney Wolverine .22 Caliber Semi-Automatic Pistol. Andrew Mowbray Publishers, Inc.. pp. 160. ISBN 978-1-931464-35-2. 
  • Smith, Walter Harold Black (1968). The W.H.B. Smith Classic Book of Pistols. Stackpole Books. p. 791. 

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