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Famous Inventor
John Moses Browning - development of modern automatic and semi-automatic firearms
John Moses Browning - development of modern automatic and semi-automatic firearmsJohn Moses Browning (January 21 or January 23, 1855 – November 26, 1926), born in Ogden, Utah, was an American firearms designer who developed many varieties of firearms, cartridges, and gun mechanisms, many of which are still in use around the world. He is the most important figure in the development of modern automatic and semi-automatic firearms and is credited with 128 gun patents — his first was granted October 7, 1879.

Browning influenced nearly all categories of firearms design. He invented or made significant improvements to single-shot rifles, lever action rifles, and slide action firearms. His most significant contributions were in the area of autoloading firearms. He developed the autoloading pistol by inventing the slide design found on nearly every modern automatic handgun. He also developed the first gas-operated machine gun, the Colt-Browning Model 1895 — a system that would surpass recoil operation in popularity. Other successful designs include the Browning .50 caliber machine gun, the Browning Automatic Rifle, and a ground-breaking semi-automatic shotgun, the Browning Auto-5.


Browning belonged to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served a two year mission in Georgia beginning on March 28, 1887. His father Jonathan Browning, who was among the thousands of Mormon pioneers in the mass exodus from Nauvoo, Illinois to Utah, had established a gunsmith shop in Ogden in 1852. John Moses worked in his fathers shop and later developed his first rifle, a single-shot falling-block design, in that capacity. He founded his own manufacturing operation and began to produce this firearm.

Production examples of the Browning single-shot caught the attention of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company who dispatched a representative to evaluate the competition. Winchester bought the design and moved production to their Connecticut factory. From 1883, Browning worked in partnership with Winchester and designed a series of rifles and shotguns, most notably the Winchester Model 1887 and Model 1897 shotguns and the lever-action Model 1886, Model 1892, Model 1894 and Model 1895 rifles, most of which are still in production today in some form.

Perhaps the most infamous singular Browning-designed firearm was a FN Model 1910 handgun, serial number 19074. In 1914, Gavrilo Princip used the .380 ACP pistol to assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife, Sophie. This event arguably sparked World War I. The pistol was rediscovered in 2004.
A Winchester Rifle, circa 1894.

On November 26, 1926, while working on a self-loading pistol design for FN in Liege, he died of heart failure in the office of his son Val A. Browning. The 9 mm self-loading pistol he was working on when he died was eventually completed in 1935, by Belgian designer Dieudonne Saive. Released as the Fabrique Nationale GP35, it was more popularly known as the Browning Hi-Power. The Superposed shotgun was his last firearm design, marketed originally with twin triggers. A single trigger modification was later completed by his son, Val.

Throughout his life, Browning designed weapons for his own company, Winchester, Colt, Remington, Savage, and Fabrique Nationale of Belgium. In 1977, FN acquired the Browning Arms Company which had been established in 1927, the year after Browning's death.


Several of his designs are still in production today. Some of his most notable designs include:


Mid-1945 produced M1911A1 U.S. Army Colt.

    * M1895 Colt-Browning machine gun
    * Colt Model 1897
    * FN Browning M1899/M1900
    * Colt Model 1900
    * Colt Model 1902
    * Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammer (.38 ACP)
    * Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless (.32 ACP)
    * Colt Model 1905, the first .45 ACP
    * Remington Model 8 (1906), a long recoil semi-automatic rifle
    * Colt Model 1908 Vest Pocket (.25 ACP)
    * Colt Model 1908 Pocket Hammerless (.380 ACP)
    * FN Model 1910
    * U.S. Model 1911, the first .45 ACP military handgun
    * Winchester Model 1886 lever-action repeating rifle
    * Winchester Model 1887 lever-action repeating shotgun
    * Winchester Model 1890 slide-action repeating rifle (.22)
    * Winchester Model 1892 lever-action repeating rifle
    * Winchester Model 1894 lever-action repeating rifle
    * Winchester Model 1895 lever-action repeating rifle
    * Winchester Model 1897 pump-action repeating shotgun
    * Browning Auto-5 long recoil semi-automatic shotgun
    * U.S. Model 1917 water-cooled machine gun
    * Model 1919 air-cooled machine gun
    * Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) of 1917
    * Browning M2 .50-caliber heavy machine gun of 1921
    * The Browning Hi-Power, the last pistol that John Browning developed
    * The Browning Superposed over/under shotgun was designed by John Browning in 1922 and entered production in 1931


In addition, the cartridges he developed are still some of the most popular in the world. They include:

    * .25 ACP
    * .32 ACP
    * .38 ACP
    * 9mm Browning Long
    * .380 ACP
    * .45 ACP
    * .50 BMG

 Military weapons

The Colt 1911, Browning 1917, and the BAR saw action in World War I, World War II and the Korean War, with the 1911 going on to serve as the U.S.'s standard military side arm until 1986; a variant is still used by special operations units of the United States Marine Corps and the design remains very popular amongst civilian shooters. The Browning Hi-Power would have a similarly lengthy period of service outside the United States, and remains the standard sidearm of the United Kingdom's and Australian armed forces. The M2 heavy machine gun is still in widespread use throughout the world.

 Selected patents

    * U.S. Patent 220,271  Winchester 1885 single-shot, Browning’s first patent
    * U.S. Patent 306,577  Winchester 1886 and Model 71 lever action rifles
    * U.S. Patent 336,287  Winchester Model 1887/1901 lever action shotgun
    * U.S. Patent 385,238  Winchester 1890 pump action rifle
    * U.S. Patent 441,390  Winchester 1893 and 1897 pump action shotguns
    * U.S. Patent 465,339  Winchester 1892 lever action rifle
    * U.S. Patent 524,702  Winchester 1894 lever action rifle
    * U.S. Patent 544,657  Colt-Browning Model 1895 machine gun
    * U.S. Patent 549,345  Winchester 1895 lever action rifle
    * U.S. Patent 580,924  Colt 1900 automatic pistol
    * U.S. Patent 632,094  Winchester 1900 bolt action single shot .22 rifle
    * U.S. Patent 659,507  FN/Browning Auto-5 shotgun, also Remington Model 11
    * U.S. Patent 659,786  Remington Model 8 semi-automatic rifle.
    * U.S. Patent 678,937  M1917 Browning machine gun
    * U.S. Patent 747,585  Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless automatic pistol
    * U.S. Patent 781,765  Stevens 520 pump action shotgun
    * U.S. Patent 808,003  Colt Model 1905 in .45 ACP (predecessor to the M1911)
    * U.S. Patent 947,478  FN Model 1906 and Colt 1908 Vest Pocket in .25 ACP
    * U.S. Patent 984,519  Colt 1911
    * U.S. Patent 1,065,341  Browning .22 Automatic Rifle
    * U.S. Patent 1,143,170  Remington Model 17 and Ithaca 37 pump action shotguns
    * U.S. Patent 1,276,716  Colt Woodsman
    * U.S. Patent 1,293,022  Browning Automatic Rifle Model of 1918
    * U.S. Patent 1,424,553  FN "Trombone" pump action .22 caliber repeater (Rare in USA)
    * U.S. Patent 1,525,065  37 mm automatic cannon
    * U.S. Patent 1,578,638  Browning Superposed over/under shotgun
    * U.S. Patent 1,618,510  FN and Browning Hi-Power pistol
    * U.S. Patent 1,628,226  M2 Browning machine gun in .50 caliber

 See also

    * John Moses Browning House


    * Browning, John, and Curt Gentry. John M. Browning, American Gunmaker. New York: Doubleday, 1964. OCLC 1329440
    * Colt 1911 & Early prototypes by Gerard Henrotin (H&L Publishing - 2003)
    * The Colt 1911A1 Explained by Gerard Henrotin (H&L Publishing - 2004)
    * FN High-Power Explained by Gerard Henrotin (H&L Publishing - 2004)

   1. ^ Encyclopedia Britannica online, "John Moses Browning".
   2. ^ Pelley, Doug (2004-07). Pictures of Headstones: John M. Browning. Retrieved on 2007-01-23.
   3. ^ Belfield, Richard. The Assassination Business: A History of State-Sponsored Murder, Carroll & Graf Publishers: New York. ISBN: 0786713437 pg. 237
   4. ^ Connolly, Kate. "Found: the gun that shook the world", The Telegraph, 2004-06-21. Retrieved on 2007-01-23.

 External links

    * The Ogden Union Station Browning Museum
    * M-1911 Pistol History
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