Despite the fact Browning Firearms was officially founded in 1927 by son John Moses Browning the actual beginnings of the legendary gun-making dynasty dates back even further, to 1852. That is when John’s father Jonathan Browning began making firearms. The senior Browning, a Mormon pioneer, moved his rapidly expanding family from the Midwest to state of Utah. It was there, on the bustling streets of the growing railroad town called Ogden the family patriarch opened up the first Browning gunmaker shop.
Three years after opening this shop his son John Moses was born. John Moses would grow up quickly and soon found himself mesmerized by his father and grandfathers talent of gun making. Before long young John had developed his own set of skills of crafting guns; helping him to become a third generation gunmaker.
At age 24, John Moses Browning was awarded a patent for a single-shot rifle; this was the first of nearly 128 patents held by Browning Firearms. This patent, coupled with Browning’s innovative thinking, a growing railroad industry plus the availability of skilled iron workers combined with a growing demand to supply the military with reliable firearms helped propel this young firearm company to the front of the line.
One of Browning’s most notable firearms was the classic M1911, a single-action pistol. This popular pistol quickly became standard issue for the military and carried by the United States armed forces for nearly 75 years. To date there have been nearly 2.7 million 1911’s issued since its debut. Browning was also one of the first to engineer a device capable of utilizing energy generated from firing such as inertia, gas and recoil to help load and cycle additional rounds. In addition some of Browning’s designs have been the model for other firearms makers such as Remington, Colt, Winchester and Fabrique National of Belgium.
Besides pistols, shotguns, sporting rifles and military firearms, the famous Browning logo, the “Buckmark” is equally successful. In fact the logo seems to have its own cult-like following of fans and is even recognized by people who have no other knowledge of firearms as a gunmaker’s logo.
Today this firearm giant still calls the Beehive state its home and is now headquartered in Mountain Green, Utah, less than 20 miles from the very first Browning shop. In fact, the residents of Utah are just as proud of its gunmaker heritage as they were nearly a century ago. In March of 2011, the state of Utah became the first state to declare their allegiance to a preferred firearm and of course it was a Browning, now the official firearm of Utah.
Browning’s hometown of Ogden has not forgotten the contributions Browning firearms made to the development of their city either. In downtown Ogden, at the old Union Station, is one of the country’s finest museum dedicated to firearms, the Browning Museum. This museum not only chronicles the westward movement of the Browning family but offers a must-see display of Browning greatest achievements in firearms.
One can not help but wonder if any of the Browning men could have envisioned the weight the Browning name would carry in the firearm industry a century later. Browning’s firearm legacy is certainly a great American success story forged out of grit, ingenuity, and a passion for making quality firearms.
Lisa Metheny is a published award-winning outdoor writer, photographer, speaker and outdoor skills instructor. Lisa holds several instructor certifications and conducts a number of women-focused outdoor seminars on topics like archery and hunting throughout the year. She regularly teaches hunters education and archery classes and has become an advocate for promoting traditional outdoor recreation to families across the United States. Lisa is also an avid and accomplished hunter with many big game species to her credit. She is a member of POMA and former Board of Directors member as well as a member of the NRA, RMEF, MDF and DU.
I vaguely remember my broher-in-law owned a Browning Sweet 16. The Browning was made in Belgium and a very good shotgun. Later shotguns if my memory serves me correctly were being made in Japan with not quite the quality of the Belgium Browning. Were these guns out sourced by Browning?