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John Moses Browning
Personal Info
Birth January 21, 1855, Ogdenmarker, Utahmarker
Death November 26, 1926, Liègemarker
Age 71
Personal Wealth unknown
Company Info
Name Browning Arms Company
Foundation 1927, Utahmarker
Fate 1977, acquired as a subsidiary by Fabrique Nationale de Herstal (FN)
Company Value unknown
Headquarters Mountain Green, Utahmarker
Notable Weapons
Pistols M1911 pistol
Automatic rifles Browning Automatic Rifle
Shotguns Browning Auto-5
Machine Guns M2 Browning

John Moses Browning (January 21 or January 23, 1855 – November 26, 1926), born in Ogden, Utahmarker, was an Americanmarker 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. He had made his first very own firearm at the age of thirteen out of a piece of scrap metal.

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 M1911 pistol, 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 Georgiamarker beginning on March 28, 1887. His father Jonathan Browning, who was among the thousands of Mormon pioneer in the mass exodus from Nauvoo, Illinoismarker to Utahmarker, had established a gunsmith shop in Ogden in 1852. John Moses worked in his father's 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, the falling block single shot Model 1885, 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; over seven million Model 1894 have been produced, more than any other centerfire sporting rifle in history.

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 assassinatemarker Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife, Sophie. This event arguably sparked World War I. The pistol was rediscovered in 2004.

A deluxe takedown Winchester Rifle Model 1894

On November 26, 1926, while working on a self-loading pistol design for FN in Liègemarker, 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 Belgiummarker. 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.


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

Military weapons

The Colt 1911, Browning 1917/19, 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, Australian and Canadian armed forces. M2 50cal Browning Machine Gun also served in every conflict since World War II. The M2 BMG or "Ma Deuce" as its affectionately called by the troops is the longest serving weapon in US military history. A great testament to a design conceived in the 1920's and a great tribute to John Moses Browning's genius. The M2 heavy machine gun is still in widespread use throughout the world.

Selected patents

See also


  • Browning, John, and Curt Gentry. John M. Browning, American Gunmaker. New York: Doubleday, 1964. OCLC 1329440

External links

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