Browning Arms Museum Acquires Prototype Winchester

Leon Jones and the “Winchester 93”

The prototype Winchester rifle Union Station’s Browning Arms Museum just acquired actually looks too good to be this valuable.


How valuable? I was asked not to be more specific — anonymous donors chipped in to buy it.


But we can say: A lot. Union Station had to bid for it at auction.


What we got here is a prototype for a Winchester Rifle built in the early 1890s by John Browning. Leon Jones, chairman of the Union Station Board of Directors, said it was supposed to be the next development of the Winchester 92, a rifle much beloved by cowboys because it used the same shells as their pistols.


This one was supposed to be better because it took a larger shell, something with more power.


As it common with prototypes, they built this rifle, tried it out, said “Nope!” and went back to the drawing boards. The end result was the Winchester 94.


“It’s not a reworked 92, but it’s not a 94 either,” Leon said. “It worked fine, but it was never manufactured. It was too tight,” meaning the receiver for the longer shells needed more work. There are also major differences in how the lock and hammer work.


This rifle’s history is a bit twisted around. Browning built it, decided it wasn’t good enough, and stored it away. In the 1970s Fabrique Nationale, the Belgian company that now makes Browning guns of all sorts, bought out Browning. It didn’t have any interest in Browning’s history, Leon said, so it sold a bunch of stuff, including this rifle, which Leon said wasn’t really supposed to be sold.



Which was a shame. The Browning family saved massive amounts of their company’s history, including much of what makes up the Browning Arms Museum, and a prototype like this belongs with that legacy.


Instead, a collector got hold of it. Recently it went up for sale, anonymous donors pitched in to buy it back.


Now it’s back in Ogden. Leon said one of the reasons it looks so good is it was overhauled a while back, including a new stock, so it still looks like new, works smoothly, feels good.


A nice little item to join the other unique guns on display, sometime next month after a proper display case is prepared for it.