John Browning

By: Darren Kremer

About John Browning

John Moses Browning was born on January 21, 2015, in Ogden, Utah. John Browning is often referred to as "father of modern firearms". Browning had designs for the following companies; Winchester, Colt, Remington, and Savage. Browning received his first patent on a gun that he designed that would later be manufactured by Winchester for its Single Shot Model 1885. Winchester who was impressed by Browning asked him to design a lever-action-repeating shotgun. Browning did design one, however Browning found that he liked a pump-action design better. Browning patented his first pump-action model in 1888. Browning's designs were aimed at the idea of making guns fire faster and more reliably. To fire faster this would mean that humans wouldn't operate the firing mechanism. Browning found his answer at a local shooting competition, Browning realized that when a man firing gases are released from the barrel. Browning patented his first crude automatic weapon in 1892, 3 years after experimenting with released gases.
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John Moses Browning

This picture shows John Browning a revolutionary fire arms designer. Some of his designs are still used in the military today.

Browning's Machine Guns

Shortly after designing the first gas operated system, John Browning began designing his first machine gun. Browning began experimenting with different prototypes, and was focusing on wether to use recoil-operated mechanisms or gas-operated mechanisms. Browning finally decided that recoil-operated was the best way to go. On June 19, 1900 Browning got his first patent on a recoil-operated machine gun. This model known as the Model 1901 spat out cartridges to the right of the weapon and had an external feed barrel. This model also had an accelerator which speed up the movement of the bolt, which would increase the weapons fire rate.

Browning later designed the Model 1910. This machine gun replaced the hammer firing method with the firing-pin. "He added a pistol grip with fiber buffer discs that absorbed excess energy and helped "bounce" the bolt back to battery and simplified the ejection system to eject the spent cartridges out through the bottom" ( Browning's Machine gun's used water-cooling systems. This means there is a "jacket" around the barrel filled with water to help cool the heat generated in the barrel after firing. The U.S military showed little to no interest in machine guns. But upon entering World War 1, the U.S military had a meeting in Washington D.C calling to american fire arms inventors. Browning showed up and displayed his M1917 Machine gun, which was an improved version of the Model 1910. The military requested that 20,000 rounds were fired out of the Machine gun. To their surprise the M1917 fired 20,000 without a single part malfunction or breakage. Browning then fired an additional 20,000 rounds, so he fired a total of 40,000 rounds with only a single failure of a component part. The Military then began sending M1917s over to their troops in France.

Brownings M1895 "Potato Digger" saw action in WW1. After the Spanish-American war in 1898, U.S gov was interested in machine guns, they took to a John Browning design under Colt known as the M1985. The M1895 is an gas-operated machine gun, that is air-cooled, and belt-fed. The way gas pressure works is, gases are generated behind the leaving bullet, these gases can be pulled through a small opening into a cylinder. This gas then triggers a lever action arm that creates automatic firing. The arm is located under the barrel were it gets pulled backwards into the receiver by gas pressure, this then opens the breech of the gun which releases the shell of the bullet. However to operate the arm needs an 8 inch clearance, unless the gun dug itself into dirt, this is where the nickname "Potato Digger" comes from.

Shooting the Browning M1917 Machine Gun
Albany 2013 M1895 "Potato digger" belt fed machine gun

John Browning's Colt

John Browning designed the M1911 Colt to fit Government contractings. Browning designed the M1911 off of his earlier 1900 model. The new Colt needed to be a semi-automatic pistol that could fire a 230gr bullet, this bullet was already fitted for previous Colt models. The Colt M1911 was chambered as a .45 ACP, and had a 7 round magazine. The .45 means this pistol is 45 caliber. These pistols replaced 45 caliber revolvers which would release black powder upon firing, these revolvers were also known for having a lot of recoil, and weighing heavily. The M1911 was smokeless and had reduced recoil. The Colt is also capable of firing at 800 fps, with 12,000 lbs of pressure per square inch. The Colt became a american favorite pistol, as before soldiers would use 1903 Springfield bolt action rifles, and their handguns lacked necessary fire power for close range.
Colt .45 M1911. Alan with his WW2 camp uniform. First time firing .45
Shooting a Original Colt 1911

Browning's BAR

On February 27, 1917 John Browning went to the Congress Heights in Washington D.C, here Browning displayed his M1917 machine gun, and his Browning machine rifle or Browning automatic rifle (BAR). Both shoot 30-06' shells at 30 caliber. The BAR is the lightest weapon used during the war by any nation. Besides the lightweight of the BAR, it is also compact and easily usable, and can be easily carried by a soldier. The BAR has great fire power, with great fire rate, and great mobility. The BAR has the same barrel as the 1903 Springfield, which is a service rifle or sniper. Meaning the BAR also has great accuracy. The BAR shoots at 600 rpm or rounds per minute, loaded with a curved magazine carrying either 20 or 40 rounds.
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M1918A2 BAR

Brownings Model 1918A2 BAR, shown with bipod.
BAR vs Block Wall ( Dad shares the fun!)


30-06 was the standard bullet used in WW1. 30-06s were used in weapons like the 1903 Springfield, the BAR, M1917 Browning Machine gun, M1917 Enfield, and many others.
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30-06 Bullet

This is my own 30-06 bullet. The ones used in WW1 had a pointed tip, however the sale of these is no prohibited for the average citizen, so this is a hunting rounded tip. This bullet would have been used in weapons like the BAR, or the 1903 Springfield.
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45 Casing

This is a casing of a 45 bullet. This would have been used in the M1911 Colt. I cut this out of the 30-06 shell (see image above to see cut line, slightly below half the height). That was also invented by Browning. The shells are the same diameter, and are rim cased (look at bottom of shell) making the shells easier to produce, by making them a universal size.

My Reaction

Overall this project was awesome. I really enjoyed learning all about John Browning and his inventions of firearms. I would have liked to do more, however due to time constraints of me procrastinating a little bit, this is what I have. This project was really cool and fun to learn about, and to create.


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M1917 at Congress Heights. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2015.

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