The father of modern automatic and semi-automatic firearms was born in Ogden, Utah. The son of a Mormon pioneer, John Moses Browning started his illustrious career at the ripe age of thirteen when he crafted his first firearm in his father’s gun shop. He earned his first of over 120 firearm patents when he was 24. From a very early age, Browning’s life centered on firearms.
Revered by many as “The World’s Greatest Gun Inventor,” John M. Browning has left a mark on nearly every facet of weaponry. From lever action rifles to pump-action shotguns, Browning either created or improved upon existing gun designs. Some of these would go on to become the tactical shotguns or semi-automatic rifles we love today. These inventions revolutionized the early 20th century. One of his most noted accomplishments was developing the first auto-loading pistols. These firearms were made possible by his invention, the telescoping bolt. This helped him create the pistol slide. This telescoping bolt is seen on almost all of the semi-automatic pistols today.
Additionally, Browning crafted a variety of weapons for the military. The M1895 Machine Gun defended battlefields during the Spanish-American War. WWI, WWII, and the Korean War all had soldiers carrying Browning firearms with them, such as the Colt M1911 and Browning 1917. The 50 caliber M2 is also one of his weapons that saw plenty of action on the battlefield. It is also one that is still seeing time out in the field. In addition to the 50 cal., his designs are still used today with weapons such as the Browning BPS 12 GA, Browning Maxus Rifle D Stalker, and Browning BPS Rifled Deer Hunter. Throughout his life, Browning produced and designed weapons for both military and civilians for a number of companies. Winchester, Colt, Remington, and Fabrique Nationale de Herstal all have been touched by Browning’s work.
A career that spans a lifetime would have plenty of achievements. Though writing about them all would take a novel (which has been published), we don’t have space for that here. Rather here is a quick overview of the more recognizable accomplishments by Browning. Some common pistols that are tied to him include:
● Colt Model 1900
● FN Model 1910
● Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless
● U.S. M1911 Pistol
● Browning Hi-Power
The shotguns that helped make Browning famous include:
● Savage Model 720
● Winchester Model 1887
● Browning Auto-5
● Remington Model 17
His list of rifles accomplishments is as extensive as pistols and shotguns:
● Winchester Model 1885
● Remington Model 8
● Browning 22 Semi-Auto
● FN Trombone
It wasn’t just firearms either. His designs also helped shape many of the cartridges that were used. Some of the more recognizable ones would be:
● 9mm Browning Long
● .45 ACP
● .380 ACP
● .38 ACP
The list of Browning’s work is extensive. An avid gun enthusiast who was devoted to his work, he also had a hunger to create. Quite literally until his dying breath, Browning’s life pursuit involved improving and creating reliable and dependable firearms. While sitting at a workbench in his son’s production shop, John M. Browning died of heart failure. The weapon he was working on was a 9mm semi-automatic pistol that would be completed by a Belgian designer and go into production some ten years later as the Fabrique Nationale GP35, or more commonly, the Browning Hi-Power.
Today, Browning’s designs are still widely used. Though technology has brought modifications and enhancements to them, Browning’s presence can still be seen in modern firearms. To honor his accomplishments, there is museum dedicated to his many contributions in his birthplace of Ogden. Here, gun enthusiasts can look back in time; original models crafted by Browning. Pistols, shotguns, rifles, and even machine guns and cannons are all on display. The museum highlights four generations of the Browning family and their influence on firearms.
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