Thursday, January 20, 2011

Learn something new every day...

Well, it's not something I "learned", since I had both facts in my head all along, but just yesterday, the picture of the vase suddenly turned into two faces in profile...

I'd known that the early American pocket pistols featured some ingenious operating mechanisms, like the delayed blowback systems on Pedersen's Remington Model 51 and Searle's Savage 1907. Both those pistols, as well as H&R's Webley clone and Smith & Wesson's Clement copy, featured separate breechblocks...

...because Colt had the sole use of John Browning's patent on the one-piece slide and breechblock, not because it made sense to come up with new and complicated ways to make a pocket pistol work. Oh, sure, they touted the benefits in their advertising, but I rather think it was more of a case of trying to make lemonade than any kind of engineering fact. When Browning came up with a design, the companies he worked with would set their lawyers to work, patenting everything they could think of on it; think how many people blew their heads off cocking Winchester Model 1911 shotguns by pressing down on the barrel with the buttstock on the ground, all because Remington held Browning's patent for the bolt-mounted cocking handle...

(You'll also note that both the Savage's and Remington's grip panels either pop onto or dovetail into the frame, rather than being simply attached with screws. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that was patent-related, too...)

16 comments:

Noah D said...

Unrelated - have you heard about what's going on over at Travis' place?

Tam said...

Yeah, that'll be today's featured post.

Jeff the Baptist said...

You're right. The demise of Browning's patent meant the rise of the blowback pocket pistols. I still like Pedersen's design though. I wonder if you could scale it up to get something with the form factor of a PPK but chambered for 9mm parabellum instead of kurz.

Exodus said...

Tam, I don't know if you got your copy of American Rifleman this month or not, but there was a "100 years ago today" article discussing JMB and Colt's lawsuit against Savage's 1911-ish lookin' pistol. Has I known you were going to talk about it I would have paid more attention to the details of the article.

Interestin' co-inky-dink if you do not get the magazine. :)

Anonymous said...

Great minds run in the same circles.

Winchester made a .22 rifle that had a cocking mechanism way out on the end of the loading tube. Odd place to put it. They put their lawyers to work and figured out where they could put it where they would not violate the patent.

John Browning: Patent troll? Say it isn't so!

Tam said...

"John Browning: Patent troll? Say it isn't so!"

Not so much Browning himself as Colt's, Remington, and Winchester.

og said...

Browning improved the industry dramatically not only in the designs for which he was responsible, but for the innoation he forced in his competitors. Sorta the way James Dean forced Marlon Brando to be a better actor. Once Dean was dead, brando never improved. There was no reason.

Browning, in a day years before computers or Cad, was able to visualize the way internal parts worked together in a firearm, and the stresses they would have to endure, and the strengths of the materials they would have to use. Not one in a million is capable of that. His skills and imagination were legendary, but more important is the way others looked at his work and had to redouble their efforts to even be in the same industry. I've never judged Browning as much by the quality of his work, so much as the wake he created, motoring through the overly shallow puddle of firearms manufacture.

Matt G said...

As much of a fan of JMB as I am, I have to admit that the vast majority of his success has to do with the fact that the man knew a thing or two about getting his stuff patented quickly and firmly.

There's all kinds of enginuity.

Rob Reed said...

People under rate Browning when they focus on the specific guns he designed and don't realize that he codified many of the operating systems and features we use today.

Pretty much all modern auto pistols have some Browning DNA in them.

Heck, he had to work around his own patents from the 1911 on the early versions of the P-35.

Rob (Trebor)

DirtCrashr said...

There's a little Savage over at one of my locals, and a 1913 hammerless for $325. Hmm.

Steve Skubinna said...

In at least case, Colt "invented" patents for a Browning design. They resisted manufacturing his 1906 Vest Pocket design for two years because they couldn't patent it, what with FN producing it first, but in 1908 they went ahead anyway, engraving a bunch of spurious patent numbers on the slide, apparently as a bluff to would-be copycats.

wrm said...

If you don't already have a copy of _John M. Browning, American gunmaker_ you need to update your Netflix queue or write a letter to Santa or whatever it is you young 'uns do these days.

Winchester patented the Auto-5, well, before it was called that of course, then JMB hied himself off to FN, then Winchester spent considerable effort trying to find ways of circumvent the patent... or so it is said, anywayz.

Tam said...

wrm,

As I recollect it, Winchester helped him write up the patents (Browning didn't write his own patents, they were all written by guys from Colt's or Winchester; he just designed the guns,) but the deal to actually buy the rights to manufacture the gun fell through on Browning's demand for royalties, and thus follows the tale of the dead Remington president and the sale to FN.

Anonymous said...

As a patent holder (I have several granted and now over 50 in the queue at the patent office) my patent lawyer explained the goal is to set up a series of fences. If you can't get them on the big fence, get them on the next one and just nip away at every piece and part that is neat and uniuqe.

Just this morning I wrote up 4 more invention records on new ideas and inventions.

Keep in mind that these are my ideas and I feel no obligation to give them to industry without compensation. I have to put food on the table somehow. I am sure Browning and his group felt the same way I do.

Tam said...

Anon. 7:47,

Oh, I have no real problem with the concept; just noting the interesting results.

Anonymous said...

A few days late but ... my son bought me a Winchester 1911 at an estate sale last spring. They started the bidding at $200 - he offered $50 and bought the gun. The local gunsmith is hesitant to see if the shotgun is loaded.
Yes, the stock is split. oldeforce