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Happy Birthday John Moses Browning

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John M. Browning Day Celebrated in Utah all week.

January 23 was John Moses Browning's birthday. All of us at Browning are proud to celebrate -- along with gun enthusiasts everywhere -- the birth of the person known as "the greatest firearms inventor the world has ever known."

These words were first inscribed in history at the time of his death on a bronze plaque at the FN factory in Liege, Belgium, where he died:

TO THE MEMORY OF JOHN M. BROWNING. 1855-1926. This is the place where . . . he came from Ogden . . . where on the twenty-sixth of November, 1926, while he was busily engaged at work death overtook the greatest firearms inventor the world has ever known.

His designs and inventions have not only benefited hunters, shooters and outdoorsmen since his gun was sold nearly 140 years ago, but they also have strengthened and protected the cause of freedom everywhere.

This year represents a special year as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of his Model 1911 pistol design. This Browning design is considered the standard of excellence in the world of semi-auto pistols and it continues in production at numerous manufacturers all over the world . . . and also continues as one of the most popular firearms ever made.

The Browning company is headquartered in Morgan, Utah, just a few miles up a canyon from where John Browning was born, January 23, 1855, in Ogden, Utah. It was in his father's shop and store in Ogden that the great legacy of his genius began. John M. Browning is important to us as a company, as his vision of excellence, quality and reliability continue today. The extent of his impact upon our state and the world would be hard to illustrate. For these reasons, in celebration, the Utah State legislature has proclaimed January 24th, 2011 as John M. Browning Day. The press release for the events of this special day is below. Join us in celebrating his legacy --  wherever you are.

Read an updated story on the events from yesterday's celebration at the Utah State Capital,

For a special story on the development and history of John Browning's Model 1911 pistol design click the 1911 image below.


Read more about the Browning special issue 1911 and 1911-22 matched commemorative set.

Learn more about the new 1911-22 pistols -- scaled down versions of the original, made in Utah, a few miles south of John Browning's birthplace.

For details on the John M. Browning day celebrations, including displays, ceremonies and free museum times, read this brief announcement.


January 24, 2011 -- Media Release – for immediate release to all media 

Utah State Legislature Salutes John M. Browning
Salt Lake City, Utah - In recognition of his lasting contributions to the development of firearm design and the military defense of the United States, the Utah State Legislature has officially designated January 24, 2011 as John M. Browning Day. A native of Ogden, Utah, John M. Browning is widely considered the world’s greatest firearms designer, and many of his gun designs remain popular around the globe to this day.
The official commemoration will take place on January 24th at the Utah State Capitol Rotunda in Salt Lake City. Planned activities throughout the day include a display of many rare, historic and unique Browning firearms and modern military aircraft. The public is invited to attend and there is no charge for the event.
Utah Governor Gary Herbert is scheduled to make a formal presentation of the resolution to Christopher Browning, the great grandson of John M. Browning, at the noon ceremony on the capitol steps. A fly-by of F16 fighters from Hill Air Force Base in Ogden is also planned for the noon hour (weather permitting).
Also on the agenda for the Utah State Legislature’s 2011 session is a resolution by Rep. Carl Wimmer (R-Salt Lake) designating the Browning-designed 1911 pistol as the Official Utah State Firearm.
2011 represents the 100th anniversary of the adoption of Browning’s 1911 .45 caliber automatic pistol by the US Army. After a full century of service this pistol design remains in active military use with US special operations forces and is more popular than ever among civilians, gun collectors, competitive shooters and law enforcement officers.

John M. Browning Historic Timeline

Jan. 23, 1855
Birth of John Moses Browning in Ogden, Utah.
Oct. 1869
John assembled a slide rifle out of spare parts for his brother's birthday.
Spring, 1878
John Browning begins work on his first single shot rifle.
April 10, 1879
John Moses Browning married Rachel Teresa Child.
May 12, 1879
The application for patent on the single shot rifle was filed.
Oct. 7, 1879
U.S. Patent No. 220,271 was granted to the single shot rifle.
With the aid of his brothers, John Browning established his arms factory.
Mar. 20, 1882
Patent application was filed on bolt-action repeating rifle with a tubular magazine.
July 25, 1882
U.S. Patent No. 261,667 was granted to the bolt action repeater.
Sept. 13, 1882
Patent filed on lever action, exposed hammer, tubular magazine rifle.
Spring, 1883
Mr. T.G. Bennett, Vice-President and General Manager of Winchester Repeating Arms Company, comes to Ogden, Utah Territory and forms an alliance that is to last nineteen years and is to change the course of firearms development. As part of the transaction, the Single Shot is sold to Winchester, and Mr. Bennett is assured of first rights on a new repeater. The Single Shot becomes the Winchester Model 1885.
May 26, 1884
Patent filed on lever action repeating rifle that employed sliding vertical locks.
October 1884
Patent No. 306,577 was granted on the new repeater and John, together with his brother Matt, traveled to New Haven to deliver what was to become the famous Winchester Model 1886.
Feb. 16, 1886
Patent No. 336,287 was granted on a lever action repeating shotgun. Known as the Winchester Model 1887, it was the first successful repeating shotgun.
Mar. 28, 1887
John leaves for Georgia to spend two years as a Mormon missionary.
Dec. 13, 1887
Patent was filed on a 22 caliber pump action repeating rifle. It has been called "the most popular 22 caliber pump action rifle ever made." Patent No. 385,238 was granted on June 26, 1888. First marketed as the Winchester Model 1890.
Fall, 1889
Began development of the first models that were designed to employ the expanding gases behind the bullet to operate the action.
Jan. 6, 1890
John filed his first patent dealing with gas operation.
June 30, 1890
Patent application was filed on a pump action repeating shotgun. Marketed as the Winchester Model 1893. A later take-down version was known as the Winchester Model 1897
Aug. 3, 1891
Patents filed on two separate automatic gas operated guns.
Nov. 7, 1892
Filed first patents on the Colt Model 1895 Automatic Machine Gun. Earned the name "Browning Peacemaker" during the Spanish-American War.
Jan. 19, 1894
Filed patent on what would become the Winchester Model 1894, the first repeating action sporting rifle to handle smokeless powder cartridges. This rifle is ascribed by many to be the most popular high powered rifle ever built.
Nov. 19, 1894
Patent was filed on a lever action repeating rifle with a non-detachable box magazine designed for jacketed sharp-nosed bullets. Marketed as the Winchester Model 1895.
Sept. 14, 1895
Filed patent application on first semi-automatic pistol.
Oct. 31, 1896
3 basic pistol patents were filed that concerned blowback action, a locked recoil system with a turning lock, and a locked recoil system with a pivoting lock.
July 17, 1897
A contract between Browning and Fabrique Nationale was signed which authorized the Belgium firm to manufacture a blowback operated, 32 caliber semi-automatic pistol for all markets outside the United States. Production commenced in 1899.
Feb. 17, 1899
Application for patent was filed on a single shot 22 caliber plinking rifle known as the Winchester Model 1900.
Feb., 1900
Colt placed a Browning designed 38 caliber recoil operated semi-automatic pistol on the market. It was the first semi-automatic pistol in the United States.
Feb. 8, 1900
The first of four patents were filed on the revolutionary autoloading shotgun. It would be manufactured by Fabrique Nationale in 1903 and by Remington Arms Company in 1905.
Oct. 6, 1900
The first successful autoloading high-power rifle received Patent No. 659,786. U.S. manufacturing and sales rights were granted to Remington Arms Company, and the rifle first appeared in 1906 as the Model 8.
July 16, 1901
Browning submitted a blowback operated 32 caliber semi-automatic pistol to Colt, who immediately accepted it. The marketing agreement stipulated that the pistol would be priced low enough to compete with the revolvers of the period.
Jan., 1902
In a disagreement about the public acceptability of the autoloading shotgun, John Browning severed his nineteen year relationship with T.G. Bennett of Winchester.
Jan. 8, 1902
An appointment was made to show the new shotgun to Mr. Marcellus Hartley of Remington. This meeting was cancelled by Mr. Hartley's untimely death that afternoon.
Feb., 1902
With his autoloading shotgun securely tucked under his arm, John Browning embarked on his first ocean voyage. He would offer the new shotgun to Fabrique Nationale.
Mar. 24, 1902
A contract was signed granting FN exclusive world rights to manufacture and sell the autoloading shotgun.
July 10, 1903
Patent application was filed on a pump action shotgun that would become the Stevens Model 520.
Summer, 1903
At the request of FN, Browning developed a 9mm military semi-automatic pistol.
In the face of restrictive tariffs, FN agreed to cede to Remington the rights to manufacture and sell the autoloading shotgun in the United States.
June 21, 1909
The application for a patent on a 25 caliber semi-automatic pistol was filed. It has been manufactured and sold by both FN and Colt. It was part of the Browning Arms Company line from 1955 to 1969.
Feb. 17, 1910
Patents were filed on a 45 caliber semi-automatic pistol. It served as the official United States military sidearm for almost 75 years.
Nov. 26, 1913
Filed patent on a pump shotgun that would be marketed as the Remington Model 17. It was John M. Browning's last repeater-type shotgun.
Jan. 6, 1914
Patents were granted and production began on a semi-automatic 22 caliber rifle. Remington also produced this rifle as the Model 24.
Feb. 27, 1917
First public demonstration on the Browning 30 caliber Heavy Machine Gun at Congress Heights, Washington, D.C.
July, 1917
Began work on the 50 caliber Water Cooled Machine Gun. Completed too late for World War I, this weapon played a prominent role in World War II and Korea.
Aug. 1, 1917
Application for patent filed on the Browning Automatic Rifle. The B.A.R. first saw combat in 1918.
July 26, 1919
Patent application filed on a 22 pump action rifle that would be produced exclusively by Fabrique Nationale.
Early 1921
John M. Browning began work on his first 37mm Aircraft Cannon.
Oct. 15, 1923
The first of two patents were filed on the Superposed Over/Under shotgun.
June 28, 1923
Patent application was filed on a 9mm short-recoil, locked-breech, exposed-hammer semi-automatic pistol. This was John M. Browning's last pistol development.
Nov. 26, 1926
John Moses Browning died of heart failure at Liege, Belgium. The great gunmaker had laid down his tools.
Browning remains a major player in the international firearms, gun safe, outdoor clothing and sporting goods industry. Browning, along with Winchester Repeating Arms, FNH USA and FNM are owned by Fabrique Nationale, located in Herstal, Belgium.

Historical Note:

John M. Browning's father, Jonathon Browning, was a pioneer and an innovative gun designer himself. Before coming to Utah by wagon train as one of thousands of Mormon pioneers in the 1850s, Jonathon owned a gunsmithing and gunmaking shop in Nauvoo, Illinois. After coming to Utah, Jonathon set his inventing aside to deal with frontier living. After estabishing a successful blacksmithing business, a store and gun repair shop, the stage was set for John to start designing firearms in the back of his father's shop and . . . making history.

The Jonathon Browning home and gunsmithing shop in Nauvoo, Illinois.

Inside the shop in Nauvoo, is a recreation of his work equipment and samples of firearms. Notice the early rifling machine in the foreground.

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