Gary Houtsma Recognized for Developing Picatinny Rail

Gary Houtsma Recognized for Developing Picatinny Rail
Gary Houtsma Recognized for Developing Picatinny Rail

Picatinny engineer recognized for developing venerable ‘Picatinny Rail’

PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. — ( – Although there are undoubtedly members of the United States military who haven’t heard of Picatinny Arsenal, those who are familiar with weapons would most likely have heard of the Picatinny Rail, a versatile and monumental development in small arms.

The Picatinny Rail provides a standard interface for the attachment of weapon accessories and can be found on almost every infantry weapon used by U.S. forces today.

For his work in developing the Picatinny Rail, Gary Houtsma was honored at Picatinny Arsenal Oct. 27 with the prestigious Order of Saint Maurice Award. Houtsma has served and supported the Infantry Soldier during his 35-year career as a mechanical engineering technician for the Department of Defense and the U.S. Army.

Houtsma developed the dimensional requirements and created MIL-STD-1913, which Soldiers simply call the “Picatinny Rail.” The venerable rail is used for such accessories as scopes, tactical lights, night vision devices, laser-aiming modules and bayonets.

The Order of St. Maurice Award recognizes individuals who have contributed significantly to the Infantry in ways that are stand out in the eyes of the recipient’s seniors, subordinates and peers. These individuals must also demonstrate the highest standards of integrity and moral character, an outstanding degree of professional competence, and serve the United States Army Infantry or the Infantry community with distinction.

Houtsma’s award citation reads in part, “Throughout his career, Mr. Houtsma has designed, developed and fielded a vast number of improvements to small caliber weapon systems used by U.S. forces. His efforts have touched across the spectrum of infantry weapons, from carbines to machine guns.”

Houtsma was presented the Order of St. Maurice Award and medallion by John F. Hedderich III, Acting Director of the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC), the largest organization at Picatinny Arsenal.

More than 90 percent of the Army’s armaments and ammunition–including warheads, explosives, all sizes of firearms, battlefield sensors and howitzers–are developed at Picatinny. In 2007, ARDEC received the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and is recognized for its efforts and awards in establishing quality processes throughout the organization.

The Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to develop technology and engineering solutions for America’s Soldiers.

RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. AMC is the Army’s premier provider of materiel readiness–technology, acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection and sustainment–to the total force, across the spectrum of joint military operations. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC provides it.