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“Born in 1855, John M. Browning dedicated his life to inventing revolutionary firearms that were desitned to shape the future. Read about him in this riveting biography. Click Here to learn more.”

Historic Timeline

This timeline is provided for informational purposes only and is not to be considered definitive. The information below has been compiled from various documents, books, magazine articles, and employee recollections. Any errors are inadvertent. This is not a legal document in any way and in no way is it definitive.

Understanding Browning product history can be confusing. Some firearms designed by John M. Browning were not actually imported under the Browning name for many years. Many manufacturers made his designs before the Browning brand was established as a firearms brand on the actual rifles, shotguns, and pistols.

An excellent example of this is the Single Shot rifle, Browning’s first commercial design. However, it was originally sold by the Browning brothers out of Ogden, Utah. Then the rights were sold to Winchester and it was produced as the 1885 Single Shot for many years. It was then revived under the Browning brand as the B-78 in 1969. In the 1990s, it changed brands again and was produced and sold by Winchester, which continues until today.

Early Browning Single Shot Rifle

Early Browning Single Shot Rifle

1850 — 1900

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 a 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
A patent application was filed on a 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.

John Moses Browning as a young man.
John Moses Browning with his family in Ogden, Utah.

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 
A 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 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 operations.

June 30, 1890 
A 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
The 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 the 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.

1900 — 1950

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 canceled 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
A 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 military 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 
A 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.

Sept., 1927
J.M. & M.S. Browning Company was incorporated in Utah with the Browning Arms Company as a subsidiary.

St. Louis distribution center and sales organization established. Ogden remained the headquarters, directing all activities.

The Superposed shotgun was introduced into the Browning Arms Company line.

Auto-5 “Sweet Sixteen” was introduced.

After the German occupation put a stop to Belgian production, Remington made an American-Made Auto-5 for Browning. This was their Model 11, but included the magazine cut-off, which was not a part of the Model 11.  This was called the American Browning.

Remington resumed making the American-Made Auto-5 for Browning until the discontinued production of the Model 11 to introduce their new 11-49 autoloader.

FN resumes Auto-5 production.

June 1948
Light 12 Auto-5 introduced, 12 gauge Superposed re-introduced to the American market.

New 20 gauge Superposed introduced.

JMB Biography

Born in 1855, John M. Browning dedicated his life to inventing revolutionary firearms that were designed to shape the future. Read about him in this riveting biography. Click Here to learn more.