The Guns of John Moses Browning

  • Type: Books
  • By: Nathan Gorenstein
  • Age Category: Adults
  • Genre: Non-Fiction
  • Recommended by: Tom S.
  • ISBN/UPC: 9781982129217
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What Tesla and Edison were to electricity, Browning was to firearms

Science fiction author L. Sprague DeCamp once described the years between 1840 and 1930 as “The Heroic Age of American Invention.”   In his book by the same name, DeCamp wrote about the dramatic careers of such engineers and inventors as Samuel F.B. Morse, John Ericsson, Cyrus McCormick, Elihu Thomson, and the Wright Brothers.  And while DeCamp’s chapter on firearms focuses mostly on Samuel Colt of revolver fame, John Browning (1855-1926) certainly deserves a spot among these geniuses.  Like many of them, Browning was largely self-taught, and, like them, succeeded through a combination of persistence, natural talent, and luck.  Plus Browning, and especially his partner and brother Matthew, had a good deal of business sense that many other inventors of the era sorely lacked.

How ubiquitous were Browning’s designs?  Well, if you’ve ever seen a noir detective movie from the 1940s or 50s, the gumshoe or one of his rivals will probably be packing a Colt M1911 semiautomatic pistol.  (Many variations of this handgun are still made today).  The .50 caliber Browning M2 Machine Gun remains a standard weapon in the U.S. military and around the world.  And in Western movies or TV shows with any amount of gunplay, it’s likely that you’ll see a Model 1894 Winchester lever action rifle – another Browning invention.  

If you like 19th century nonfiction that’s not concerned with government corruption or social climbing among the East Coast elite, try this book about the Utah farm boy who became a firearms legend.