John Moses Browning is arguably the greatest firearm designer who ever lived. Sure there have been innovations since his death, but the scope of his work still stands today. We are talking about the guy who invented the 1911, the Winchester 94 and the M1919 machine gun all three of which are still in use today. And all but one are over 100 years old, the M1919 is a youngn’ at 93.
While there are plenty of others that are equally as well known as the ones above, you ever wonder about the ones that aren’t?
Winchester Model 1890
JB got his start with Winchester so it is only right we start here too. The M1890 is a slide (pump) action .22 rifle. The patents on this gun are attributed to John and Matthew Browning, the two brothers worked together on many projects over the years.
The Winchester M1890 is chambered in .22 Short, Long, Long Rifle and .22 Winchester Rimfire. A tubular magazine under the24 inch barrel is used to hold the cartridges. Most were made with blued receivers but a few were case hardened.
From 1890 until 1941 Winchester made 800,000 of these. The design was changes a few times over the years. Most notably in 1892 when it was made into a takedown style rifle. While the Model 1890 is highly collected today, some of the rarer variants can fetch thousands of dollars.
Remington Model 8
The Browning designed Remington Model 8 was produced from 1906 until 1936. In 1936 it received a small redesign and was changed to the Model 81. All told more than 130,000 Model 8s and 81s were produced, and in the end became one of the first successful semi-automatic rifles put out in the market.
The Model 8 can be described as the rifle version of the famous Browning Auto-5 in that it uses the same long recoil action. When fired the barrel and bolt both move to the rear of the receiver then unlock from each other to eject the spent round and chamber the new one.
The Model 8 was chambered in a number of rounds but the .35 Remington was the most popular and is still in use today. The .35 Remington cartridges is a great hunting round for most North American game at close to medium ranges.
The rifle was equipped with a fixed five-round magazine that could be loaded with stripper clips. These rifles were often modified, especially for law enforcement use. When Bonny and Clyde were ambushed there were at least three Model 8s in the hands of the officers. Their rifles had the fixed magazine replaced with removable ones that would hold as many as 15 rounds.
The Browning designed Stevens 520 pump action shotgun first introduced in 1904. In 1920 Savage bought Stevens and continued to produce the model 520 for a number of years. There were around 35,000 of these made for the U.S. military during WWII in the trench gun style.
There is one big thing that sets the 520 apart from most other pump shotguns. It is a takedown design, so the barrel and magazine tube come off the receiver pretty easily. There isn’t room in this article to tell you how but an internet search will find the instructions.
It is impossible to talk about John Browning and not have a Colt pistol come up in the conversation. The Colt Woodsman is a .22 caliber auto-loading pistol. Colt made them from 1915 until 1977. Although different the Ruger Mark Series and the Browning Buckmark have a linage to the old Colt.
These are great shooting pistols and command high prices today, depending on condition of course. They are incredibly accurate. The woodsman, much like the Ruger Mark III, is a great .22-caliber pistol for working on fundamentals.
The Browning Superposed was the last gun John Browning designed and the first commercially produced over/under shotgun. The O/U design was not new, but they were all handmade and were way out of the price range of the general gun buyer. Browning wanted to change that and he did.
These are guns that fall into the functional art category. They are sleek and elegant, but most importantly they are a dream to shoot.
When John Browning died he was working on a single trigger model that could be selected to fire either barrel for the Superposed. The shotgun originally went into production with a double trigger in 1931. JB’s son Val Browning continued to work on the trigger design and perfected it in 1939. All the Superposed made after then used Val’s trigger.
Just a few…
These are just a handful of the John Browning designed firearms that often get over looked, and there’s still some that haven’t even seen the light of day. It is rumored that Winchester bought over 20 different designs from JB just to keep them out of the hands of other manufactures. That alone speaks of John Moses Browning’s prestige as the greatest firearms designer.