Saturday, November 26, 2011

Hats off, please...

How many gun designers in the history of the planet have had, say, five completely different, commercially successful weapons to their credit?

The answer is "one".

Single-shot rifles: Winchester 1885 "High Wall".
Lever-action rifles: Winchester 1886, Winchester 1892, Winchester 1894, Winchester 1895.
Recoil-operated autoloading rifles: Remington Model 8.
Gas-operated autoloading rifles: U.S. M1918 "BAR".
Over & Under shotguns: Browning Superposed.
Lever-action shotguns: Winchester 1887.
Pump-action shotguns: Winchester 1897, Remington Model 17/Ithaca Model 37.
Recoil-operated autoloading shotguns: Browning Auto-5/Remington Model 11.
Straight-blowback autoloading pistols: FN 1900, 1906, 1910 and Colt 1903 & Woodsman.
Short-recoil autoloading pistols: Colt M1911.
Gas-operated machineguns: Colt M1895.
Recoil-operated machineguns: U.S. M1917 and M2.

The man was John Moses Browning. Eighty-five years ago today he died. Eighty-five years after his death, the most elite counterterrorist groups in the U.S.A. are still using his pistols, and the most advanced main battle tank in the world still has a machinegun he designed over ninety years ago mounted above the commander's hatch.

It would not be an exaggeration to divide the world of metallic cartridge firearms to the periods "Before Browning" and "After Browning". This is the guy who invented the slide on the automatic pistol.

Eighty-five years gone, and still a genius.

38 comments:

Stephen said...

Amen...nuff said.

Joe in PNG said...

Had he lived another decade or so, we may have wound up with laser guns.

Kristopher said...

Hmmm. NFA question.

Is an 1895 Potato Digger a non-NFA antique if it was manufactured before 1898?

Stretch said...

There's no better definition of "classic" than 100 years of reliable service and happy users.
I type this with a 1911 on my hip.

Jac said...

And that's not to mention his cartridges...

Montie said...

Jac's right, gotta toss that into the mix!

Firehand said...

No kidding: the arms AND the ammunition.

There was an article the other day about the M2 that basically said "so effective, it's too good to replace." And still sits on top of a pile of "This will replace the aging M2" projects.

George said...

My wife and I were watching Shooting Gallery on the 1911. As a professional computer geek, we throw out or tech every two years as a matter of course. The 1911 is a design that is 100+ years old, and still state of the art.

All hail JMB!

The Jack said...

M2 article.

http://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htweap/articles/20111115.aspx

Yeah, the wiki list has .25 ACP, .32 ACP, .38 ACP, 9mm Browning Long, .380 ACP, .45 ACP and .50 BMG

Even if his arms all go by the wayside, there's still those cartridges, most of which are still in common use.

As Tam is wont to say. Firearms are a MATURE technology.

Thomas Smith said...

And speaking of dead geniuses, Freddy Mercury died 20 years ago on the 24th. I'm still finding stuff of his I'd never heard before.

Gewehr98 said...

Just a footnote to Tam's JMB achievement list:

His Auto 5 shotgun was not only produced as the Remington Model 11, but also the Savage Model 720 and 745.

His Remington Model 8 rifle was also sold under the FN brand, albeit in a higher grade of finish and embellishment.

greg said...

Hmmm...and all I made was scrambled eggs for my kids this morning. Talk about something to make your own efforts feel insufficient..

Anonymous said...

after 100 years, the Army finally came up with an "improved" M2. don't have to set headspace and timing anymore...isn't it funny that the new "high-tech" soldiers can't master that simple task?
- old 1SG -

Kristopher said...

Removing adjustable headspace on a heavy MG is not an improvement.

Adjustable headspace on that MG means you can tune the size of the beaten zone to fit your needs.

azmountaintroll said...

I don't consider it an improvement. Setting the headspace and timing on a M2 really isn't that much of a chore, and it allows any gun to use any barrel. Changing that means one more thing that go wrong.

Odysseus said...

And now, thanks to Larry Correia, John Browning is the magical superhero we always knew he really was.

Lewis said...

Think of the list of guns that, if he hadn't invented, he'd still be a frickin' genius. Say that there NEVER EVER WAS a 1911. (Don't cry, we're just imagining.) JMB would still break out, for every gun nut, to John Moses Browning. Or that there never ever was a Winchester 94.

Sometimes, for laughs, I like to imagine a JMB-design double action revolver, because as far as I can tell, a revolver is about the only field he never got involved in.

Matt G said...

As much as I love the guy and his invention genius, I've grown more impressed at his genius at getting his stuff patented with his name on it. Many honest-to-Gawd geniuses fade into obscurity.

Keads said...

Indeed. The list is long. I always tell people in new shooter classes that this is a mature technology. Mostly because of him.

Tam said...

Matt G,

"As much as I love the guy and his invention genius, I've grown more impressed at his genius at getting his stuff patented with his name on it."

Actually, from what I can tell, he himself patented practically bupkis. Colt's, Remington, Winchester, and FN, however, apparently employed diligent little armies of patent trolls. :)

sofa said...

"I type this with a 1911 on my hip."

Me too. I tried it and swinging my hips like this is a good "core" workout. lol

Tam said...

I've got a plastic striker-fired M&P 9 on my hip... which, of course, uses the tilting-barrel short-recoil mechanism designed by John Moses Browning. :)

dlr said...

Any good books out there on Browning?

Keads said...

Tam,

Striker fired plastic bullet hose next to the Model 4 here. Oh yeah, the nine got "pimped" too.

atlharp said...

Too bad that M1911 never took off.

Nate said...

As much as I revere Mr. Browning and try to visit the museum where his first machine shop is on dispay once each year, just today it crossed my mind that there is someone else who should be equally beloved= whoever it was that invented the 22 Long Rifle cartridge.

I was out shooting in the desert with 2 buddies and as much fun as good be had with the AR and AK and SKS, a KelTec Sub 9 and several flavors of handguns. In spite of the fun with centerfire calibers, we all broke out our favorite 22 guns and played until we were tired.

But we didn't know who to thank for the creation of our favorite cartridge. His name needs to be remembered and revered too!

McThag said...

Not only is there a JMB gun by the TC hatch. The loader and coax guns are essentially his BAR design flipped upside down and given belt feed.

Anonymous said...

Stevens 520 pump and 37 mm Automatic Gun, M4, used in the Airacobra and on PT boats.

Tam said...

Anon,

...and Colt 1900, 1902, 1903 Pocket Hammer, 1905, M1919...

Obviously the above is only a partial list.

perlhaqr said...

I like to imagine a JMB-design double action revolver, because as far as I can tell, a revolver is about the only field he never got involved in.

He probably would have made it a totally controllable 6 shot machine gun somehow. :D With quick swap cylinders.

Guffaw in AZ said...

Thanks, Tam, for the reminder. I've placed a link to you post in my blog.
You said it so well. - gfa

Firehand said...

Ref the 'improved' M2, son said usually carried the thing to the vehicle in two pieces: mount the receiver, install and adjust barrel- headspace & timimg- and ready to go. Apparently it's not a big deal if you actually bother to learn how.

I'm tempted to add "Just like the designer intended."

Will said...

Lots of photos from his museum in this thread:

http://forums.1911forum.com/showthread.php?t=227641

global village idiot said...

I had to go out, so I celebrated the Ascension of St. John simply by wearing a Hi-Power all day.

gvi

Rob Reed said...

Dir,

There is a good book on Browning, co-written by (I believe) his son.

It's "John Browning American Gunmaker"

http://www.amazon.com/John-Browning-American-gunmaker-illustrated/dp/B0007DZF9Q

I believe that copies are also available through the John Browning museum at a better price than that Amazon link.

I've read the book and I highly recommend it

Rob

Nate said...

Rob, I have a first edition copy of that book, autographed by the author to the former president of the Utah Historical Gun Society. It's a treasure.

Dave said...

I was just telling my sons that Mr. Browning had more influence on the gun world that Mr. Stoner and/or Mr. Kalashnikov. He truly was an amazing designer.

Anonymous said...

and hero of the grimnoir knights