Melvin Forbes Next Generation Scholarship Created for Gunsmiths

by Tommy Grant

Melvin Forbes, founder of New Ultralight Arms, and his family teamed up with Montgomery Community College in support of gunmakers. The Melvin Forbes Next Generation Scholarship will support gunsmithing students attending the college. The first scholarship award begins in 2024.

Melvin Forbes Next Generation Scholarship

For the uninitiated, Melvin Forbes redefined the lightweight, bolt-action hunting rifle. In 1983, the West Virginian quit his job as a high school shop teacher. Instead, he wanted to build the lightest, most accurate bolt-action hunting rifle possible. By 1985 he produced the Ultra Light Arms Model 20, weighing less than five pounds and captivating hunters everywhere.

From the design of its action to its incredibly rigid stock, Forbes’ rifles earned an enviable reputation for accuracy in a lightweight setup. For nearly 40 years, Forbes’ rifles graced the pages of gun and hunting magazines and websites. He won the 2011 National Rifle Association Golden Bullseye Pioneer Award for his groundbreaking work.

Forbes’ Rifle Legacy

“Melvin Forbes is a genius who has been masquerading as a country gunsmith. Why a genius? Because he saw what had not yet been created, but saw how it could be created, and then he built it and it worked. Why a genius? Because most of the people who carry the title ‘genius’ never get beyond step one, and Melvin took it all the way,” said David Petzal, longtime Rifles Editor for Field & Stream. “He made rifles for the 21st century a decade and a half before the century turned. If he had chosen to be a teacher, he would have been as great. He did that for a while and was able to explain things so simply and so clearly that anyone could understand. Not all ‘teachers’ can do this, but he could. Melvin’s time as a gun maker will have to stop, but with your help, the teaching can continue. That would make him happy.”

Forbes sold his business to Wilson Combat in 2022. But he will continue to be remembered as the man who changed the way hunters approach a lightweight bolt-action rifle. Along the way, Forbes continued sharing his knowledge, educating customers and industry professionals. So now Forbes pays his success forward with the establishment of this new scholarship.

The Melvin Forbes Next Generation Scholarship helps the next generation of gunsmiths reach their full potential. The scholarship is completely funded through donations from family, friends, organizations, and manufacturers from the firearms industry.

Contribute to the Scholarship:

  • (910) 898-9633
  • Mail a check to: Montgomery Community College Foundation, 1011 Page Street, Troy, NC 27371
  • montgomery.edu/foundation
  • Note “Melvin Forbes Next Generation” on any contribution

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