In April C-SPAN visited Ogden and featured the John M. Browning Firearm Museums on their Cities Tour. The video aired the weekend of May 3-4, 2014. Conductor Darwin Brimhall was interviewed.
Original models of firearms designed by John M. Browning are displayed in the museum. These include rifles, shotguns, pistols, machine guns, and cannons. Most familiar firearms, both sporting and military, are included in these inventions. The basic mechanisms of many modern firearms were first invented by John M. Browning, America’s Gunmaker.
Contribution of the Browning Family to Firearms Manufacturing
John M. Browning was well prepared for his chosen field. His father Johnathan had been a gunsmith with many original designs. The family background and inventive ability were brought to bear on a new field opened by the recent invention of the metallic cartridge. The initial effort was to improve the firearms that were used for hunting the big game that was plentiful and a large component of early western life. His inventions expanded from there to include all facets of firearms and dominated the field up to the present day.
Browning designs have been the basis for many of the models manufactured by Winchester, Colt, Remington, Stevens, and Fabrique National (FN) of Belgium. The Browning Arms Company is located in Morgan, Utah and has been a continuing supporter of the John M. Browning Arms Museum.
Four generations of Brownings are represented in the museum. From Johnathan, the father, there is the “Harmonica” and a revolving cylinder rifle. John M.’s son, Val A., did much of the early work on the superposed shotgun. Bruce W., John M.’s grandson is an inventor and designer of some of the more recent Browning firearms.
The Browning Single Shot Rifle was designed and produced in Ogden. The patent was sold to Winchester in 1883, followed by 18 years of fruitful collaboration. Many original models of the rifles designed for Winchester are on display. These include the Model 94, “the most famous sporting rifle ever produced”.
John Browning was one of the first to devise mechanisms to utilize energy generated from firing to load and cycle further rounds.
- Gas: Utilized in machine guns and semi-automatic shotguns.
- Recoil: Used in larger caliber pistols, rifles
- and shotguns.
- Inertia: Used primarily in small caliber
- pistols and rifles.
The first successful repeating shotgun was a Lever Action manufactured by Winchester. Pump models proved to be more popular. Manufacturers included Winchester, Stevens and Ithica. Early models of semi-automatic shotguns are shown. The final result was the Browning Auto 5 manufactured by FN in Belgium. The culmination of John Browning’s lifes work was the superposed “Over Under” shotgun.
The Arms Museum displays models designed for semi-automatic pistols. Many were licensed to Colt starting with a 1900 military pistol, a series of “Pocket Pistols” and the Colt Woodsman. The most famous is the 1911 Colt “45”. The U.S. Military side arm for over 75 years. Many others were manufactured by Fabrique National of Belgium. Every country in the world capable of manufacturing firearms has made pistols based on Browning designs.
An early Browning machine gun was licensed to Colt in 1895 paving the way for many to be developed for the First World War. Some are still in use by the military today.
- The heavy 30 caliber machine gun, mainstay of WW II.
- The BAR, introduced in WW I by Val Browning, John’s son.
- The 50 caliber machine gun used on vehicles from Jeeps to aircraft and continuing through the Iraq war.
- The 37mm automatic cannon.
- The Government 45 caliber automatic pistol; roughly 2,000,000 were produced in the 1940’s by Colt and others.
The history of firearms is presented through a collection of miniature models depicting the development of firearms from flintlocks through the Gatling Gun to today’s modern firearms.
The John M. Browning Firearms museum is located on the second floor at the north end of Union Station, there is access by elevator and stairs. Tickets can be purchased in the Gift Shop in the Grand Lobby. It is an attraction not to be missed.