In 1878, Browning designed a falling-block single shot rifle, for which he was granted
a patent the following year, at age 24. Browning commenced making the rifles with his
brother by hand in their second-floor workshop in Ogden, Utah.
Winchester purchased the rights to this, modified it slightly, and released it as the
The Winchester 1886
The Model 1886 action’s design is another result of the genius of Browning and is
generally recognized as one of the finest actions ever developed.
Produced from 1886-1936 and re-introduced and currently in production by
Model 1886 Calibers:
Winchester 1887, 1st shotgun
The Model 1887 was the first truly successful repeating shotgun. Winchester
requested this from Browning, Browning suggested that a pump-action would be
much more appropriate for a repeating shotgun, but Winchester was known as the
lever-action company. So, Browning designed a rolling block lever-action.
Initially offered only in 12 Gauge, a 10 Gauge version was later introduced.
The 1890 model was the first Slide-Action (pump) rifle that Winchester produced.
The gun designed by John and Mathew Browning. It was chambered for .22 short,
long, and the Winchester Rimfire (WRF) cartridge, which was developed specifically
for the Model 1890. Later (1919) a version was produced chambered in .22LR.
The 1892 was designed to replace the venerable 1873 (the gun that won the west)
as a repeating rifle utilizing dual-purpose (i.e handgun) cartridges but also have the
strong action of Browning's 1886.
From the American Rifleman:
"Having a rifle capable of cartridge interchangeability with handguns had long been a
desirable feature for consumers, as was proven with the success of the Winchester
Model 1873. Winchester carried over that feature, along with the vertical breech locks
of the Model 1886, to the Model 1892. Known for its light weight and compact, smooth
lever-action design, the ’92 has long been hailed as one of the premier Winchester
rifles of the 19th century.
It was originally chambered in .44-40 Win., .38-40 Win. and .32-20 Win., then later in
.25-20 Win. and .218 Bee."
Winchester 1893 Shotgun
Just a footnote for this one, because it was designed for black powder shotgun shells,
this design was brief and was replaced by the more popular 1897.
The Model 1894 was the first Winchester specifically developed for smokeless
powder. The Winchester 1894 holds the record for best-selling high-powered rifle in
U.S. history and was produced from 1894-2006, with a release of commemorative
models in 2010 and a re-introduction from a Japanese company and imported by
Browning Arms, Inc. in 2011 to current. Most important of its many features were the
cartridges Winchester developed for this action. The old standby 30 W.C.F., also
known as the .30-30 has killed more North American big game than any other
cartridge and still remains popular to this day.
Early Model 1894 Calibers:
.32-40 - introduced in 1894
.38-55 - introduced in 1894
.25-35 - introduced in 1895
.30-30 - introduced in 1895
1st MG - Colt/Browning 1895
The potato digger, named because the piston under the barrel which would come low
and on a prone mounting, would scoop dirt. Browning's first entry in the MG world.
Was used by the U.S. Navy in the Spanish-American war.
To answer the demand of a lever gun using the newer, bottlenecked, pointed (spitzer)
bullets, Browning designed a lever gun that uses a internal box magazine instead of
the tubular magazine of most lever rifles and was the first box magazine rifle
The Winchester Model 1897 was designed to enhance the 1893 so that it could
handle the more powerful shells being introduced. The Model 1897 is an external
hammer shotgun lacking a trigger disconnector giving it the ability to slam fire. This
means that the user can hold the trigger down while pumping the shotgun and once
the pump is returned to the forward position the gun fires.
It earned its name trench gun in WWI as it was used in the trench combat of the War
to end wars. The Germans actually filed a protest against it claiming it violated rules
FN Browning 1899/1900
Browning's first pistol, and first firearm not licensed to Winchester, was a single action
blowback and was the first production pistol to use a slide.
It also represented a new first for Mr. Browning, an entry in cartridge design.
Introduced as the 7.65 mm Browning, it would later be more recognized by the name
adopted by Colt for a pistol he designed for them, the .32 ACP.
What a better way to turn the century than this match of Colt and Browning. The first
of a line that would eventually lead to the 1911, the 1900 was a long slide recoil
operate single action auto. This pistol also introduced another Browning cartridge
design, the .38 ACP.
The last rifle Browning would make for Winchester, this was a forgettable single shot
Bolt action rifle chambered for .22 rimfire and many sources don't even acknowledge
FN Browning Auto 5
The first semiautomatic shotgun, it was produced continually for almost 100 years by
several makers with production ending in 1998 and considered by Browning himself
as his best achievement. It features a distinctive high rear end, earning it the nickname
The story of the A5 is interesting and is also the story of the breakup in the
Browning/Winchester relationship. Browning knew he had a good design on his hands.
In his previous dealings with Winchester for design rights, Winchester would pay a
lump sum for the rights. This time, Browning wanted a better deal. He wanted royalties,
like he worked out with FN on his auto-pistol. Winchester refused and that was the end
of Browning's dealings with them. He went to Remington. While he was in the outer
office waiting for his appointment, the president's secretary came out & informed John
that the president had just died of a heart attack.
This forced Browning to look overseas to produce the shotgun. It was manufactured by
FN starting in 1902. Browning would later license the design to Remington, who
produced it as their Model 11 (1905–1948). The Remington Model 11 was the first
auto-loading shotgun made in the USA. Savage Arms also licensed the design from
Browning and produced it as their model 720 from 1930 to 1949, and their model 745
with an alloy receiver and 2-shot magazine from 1941 to 1949. Browning's long-recoil
design itself served as the operating system for subsequent Remington (11-48),
Savage (755, 775) and Franchi (AL-48) models after his patent ran out and they were
free to use it royalty free.
FN 1903/Colt 1903 Pocket Hammerless
The FN 1903 was the second blowback-operated pistol designed by Browning. Also
known as the Browning No.2 pistol, this design was a serious improvement over the
older No.1 (FN - Browning 1900) pistol. It was introduced with a new Browning-designed
cartridge, the 9x20mm Browning Long. This design was also manufactured by Colt
as the M1903 Pocket Hammerless and the 7.65mm Browning it fired was marketed as
.32ACP by Colt. Later, Colt would release a M1908 variant that fired the larger
.380 ACP (AKA 9mm Browning, 9mm Kurz, 9mm Short, and 9x17mm), another
Browning cartridge which was designed for the 1908 Pocket Hammerless.
Colt 1903 Pocket Hammer
Not to be confused with the hammerless, this was a recoil action pistol, grand pappy
to the 1911, and was chambered in .38 ACP.
As the 1903 was the grandfather to the 1911, this pistol was its daddy. When the U.S.
Army decided it wanted a semi-auto sidearm and wanted a .45 cartridge, Colt tried
to answer the call. But they were having issues with their design. The new powerful
round they designed was tearing up barrel links and pins.
Of course, Browning stepped up and delivered. The 1905 was what he came up with
and this is when he also designed the .45 ACP.
FN 1905(1906)/Colt 1908 Vest Pocket AKA Baby Browning
A striker-fired semi-auto SA, it was marketed as a small concealable firearm which
could be easily tucked into a gentleman’s vest pocket for unobtrusive carry.
Browning designed yet another cartridge for this pistol. The 6.35x16mmSR which,
of course, Colt later renamed the .25ACP.
We have learned from experts on this site that .25 ACP hits slightly less hard than a
swing cane and that you would be better throwing the gun at the would be target. ;)
In fact, in terms of joules of force, I found that the .22 rimfire are more powerful on
Remington Model 8
In 1906, Browning and Remington finally came together and produced this rifle. It's a
recoil-operated semi-auto, the 1st commercially successful auto-loader. It uses a
5-shot magazine and bolt hold after the magazine is empty. It is a takedown design,
meaning that the barrel and receiver are easily separated with no tools, allowing for
a smaller package for transport. Remington created four new calibers for the Model 8
rifle: .25 Remington, .30 Remington, .32 Remington and .35 Remington. These
cartridges were rimless designs to allow reliable feeding from box magazines. This
was the favorite rifle of Texas Ranger Frank Hamer, who used it in the ambush of
Bonnie and Clyde.
The gun that started WWI, used by the Serbian assassin of Franz Ferdinand and his
Paraphrased from Wikipedia:
The Model 1910 was a departure for Browning. Before, his designs were produced by
both FN in Europe and Colt Firearms in the United States. Since Colt did not want to
produce it, Browning had to patent and produce this design in Europe only. It
incorporated the standard Browning striker-firing mechanism and a grip safety along
with a magazine safety and an external safety lever (known as the "triple safety") in a
compact package. Offered in both .380 ACP (6-round magazine) and .32 ACP
(7-round magazine) calibers (with the ability to switch calibers by changing only the
barrel), it remained in production until 1983.
Ah yes, the 1911. On March 29, 1911 the Army adopted this Browning Masterpiece
as the Pistol, Caliber .45, Automatic, M1911, and it's service continues to this day. In
1924, the pistol received a major update based on experiences in WWI and this
upgrade is designated 1911A1, which is the variant most abundant today. Many
"1911"s made today are actually 1911A1. The easiest identification between the two
is the arched mainspring housing, shortened trigger, longer grip safety spur (but not
beaver-tailed), and frame cutouts behind the triggerguard. I can go on about this gift
to man from heaven, but y'all know the story.
FN Browning .22 Semi-auto rifle
A takedown rifle produced by FN. The rifle is currently in production. Produced from
1914-1974 in Belgium and continued in 1976 in Japan. Remington produced this rifle
from 1919-1935 under license as the Remington Model 24.
A little known slide (pump) action shotgun. Not much information out there about this
gun, and I hadn't heard of it before I started researching this.
The Colt Woodsman was Hartford's premier .22 caliber pistol. Produced from 1915 to
1977, collectors divide up the 62 year Woodsman production into three different frame
types, designating them as series one, two and three. The first series refers to all
Woodsmen built before and during World War Two. The second series includes all
versions from late 1947 until mid 1955, and third series Woodsmen extend from 1955
to the end of regular production in 1977.
M1917 .30 BMG
A water-cooled heavy machine gun. Unlike many other early machine guns, the
M1917 had nothing to do with Maxim's toggle lock design. It was much lighter than
contemporary Maxim type guns, while still being highly reliable.
When the US got involved in WWI the government asked several designers to submit
weapons. Browning arranged a test at the Springfield Armory In the first test, the
weapon fired 20,000 rounds without incident. The reliability was exceptional, so
Browning fired another 20,000 rounds through the weapon without any parts failing.
The Ordnance Board was impressed but was unconvinced that the same level of
performance could be achieved in a production model. Consequently, Browning used
a second gun that not only duplicated the original trial, but it also fired continuously
for 48 minutes and 12 seconds (over 21,000 rounds).
Oooh! I get shivers just thinking about this one. This is one of those rare exceptions
from Browning in which, for it's class, it wasn't the best. Experts say. The Bren was
better. The Johnson M1941 was (arguably) better.
But when it comes down to it, if I had my choice of what I want to
be carrying. I take the BAR, hands down. Maybe it's because it's essentially a .30-06
rifle that keeps going as long as I do. I hear the complaint about the rate of fire. Can
you image a (relatively) light rifle firing .30-06 at a high rate of fire? Personally, I'll
take the slower rate and hit what I'm aiming at.
Browning .30 MG M1919
Essentially a lighter, air-cooled version of the M1917, the M1919 saw widespread use
with US military from its adoption through the Vietnam war. The M1919 had several
variants with the A4 being the most common. It was eventually converted from .30-06
to 7.62 NATO and has as proud a history as any weapons Browning designed.
Remington Model 17
A pump action shotgun. Remington had bought the rights earlier, but with WWI, their
production focused on existing war time production and they didn't release this until
1921. This design was the basis for the Remington Model 31, the Ithaca 37 and the
The ma deuce. Faithful fifty. Or just the fifty. A historic deliverer of wrath
to the enemies of America. This piece of deadly art has been in service since 1921
(albeit the original M2 was a lighter barrel with a water jacket, the one we've come to
know and love is the M2HB, Heavy Barrel air-cooled). Making it the second longest
small arm (funny to call it that) with the exception to... Browning's 1911!
This bit of perfection is used as anti-aircraft, anti-personnel, anti-vehicular,
anti-fortification, and anti-bad guy in general. It's been mounted on aircraft (bombers
and fighters), Jeep and HMVs, personnel carriers, tanks, PT's, and war ships. The .
50 BMG was designed by Browning for this gun and it has achieved legendary status,
being used for more than a mile sniper kills. In my opinion, this is the
weapon that epitomized Browning's genius and craftsmanship.
FN Browning Trombone
The FN Browning Trombone is a pump-action .22 rifle designed by Browning
manufactured by FN from 1922 to 1974.
37mm M4 Cannon
An auto-cannon designed for anti-aircraft duty, this was the largest weapon Browning
The Browning Superposed was one of the first over-under shotgun designs to be
produced, and the last, possibly the most elegant, firearm to be designed by John
Browning. The Superposed introduced a wide variety of innovations including the
single select trigger and over-under design.This design being revolutionary in the
1930s it was later found that Browning had already made a model of this design in
the 1880s.This shows the mastermind was never running out of ideas.
FN commissioned John Browning to design a new military sidearm. He had sold the
rights to his the 1911 to Colt, and was forced to design an entirely new pistol.
Browning built two different prototypes. One was a simple blowback design, while the
other was operated with a locked-breech recoil system.
The locked breech design was selected for further development and testing. This
model was striker-fired, and featured a double-column magazine that held 16 rounds.
The design was refined through several trials held by the Versailles Trial Commission.
This was the design Browning was working on when he passed away.
In 1928, Dieudonné Saive took up completing this design.
By 1931, the Hi-Power design incorporated a shortened 13-round magazine, a
curved rear grip strap, and a barrel bushing that was integral to the slide assembly.
By 1934, the Hi-Power design was complete and ready to be produced.
These are the guns of John Moses Browning, genius and gentleman. I might have
missed some, and there are certainly variants, copies, and modifications of these that
I haven't covered.
But I think this illustrates how prolific and profound his body of work is. And the fact
is, almost every modern firearm worth its salt today owes some homage to J.M.
Browning. What would the world of firearms look like today without him? I don't know,
but I can tell you this: It's not a world I want to know.
One of these days when I leave this world and, God willing, pass through the pearly
gates, John Browning is one man I want to find and shake his hand.
"I don't think Hank done it this way" - Waylon