Antique Browning firearms


2015-06-26 11:15:25


Antique Browning firearms are guns produced by American firearms designer John Moses Browning.

Background & history of production

John Browning designed guns for many of the great gun manufacturers in history. It was only in 1927 that he founded his own company, the Browning Arms Company.

Browning is thought by some to be the most significant figure in the development of modern automatic and semi-automatic firearms, and he also influenced nearly all categories of firearms design. He invented the telescoping bolt, which led to the first reliable and compact autoloading pistols, a design that is now found on nearly every modern semi-automatic pistol.

Browning developed the first gas-operated machine gun, the Colt-Browning Model 1895. His most successful designs include the M1911 pistol, the Browning .50 caliber machine gun, the Browning Automatic Rifle and the groundbreaking semi-automatic shotgun, the Browning Auto-5.

From 1883, Browning worked in partnership with the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, designing the Winchester Models 1887 and 1897 shotguns, the Model 1885 falling block single shotgun, and Models 1886, 1892, 1894 and 1895 lever-action rifles. Over seven million Model 1894s have been produced, more than any other centrefire sporting rifle.

With the design of a new semi-automatic shotgun in 1898, Browning attempted to negotiate his payment with Winchester, which was rejected by their management. The shotgun therefore became the Browning Auto-5 shotgun, produced in Belgium by the Fabrique Nationale de Herstal. This gun was popular, and continuously manufactured throughout the 20th century.

John Browning continued to invent and develop firearms to the end of his life, both for the great gun manufacturing names Winchester, Colt, Remington and Savage, as well as in his own name and produced by the FN in Belgium.

Did you know?

John Browning died of heart failure at his workbench, while designing a new self-loading pistol – involved with his lifelong passion right up until the end.

Collecting guide

For decades, Browning’s designs and Winchester firearms were synonymous. It is the prerogative of the discerning collector whether to include designs of Browning’s that come under the name of Winchester, and/or any of the other manufacturers his designs were used by, in their collection.

Price guide and notable auction sales

Browning guns usually sell for several thousand, while particularly nice or presentation examples with both guns of a pair present can fetch tens of thousands.

  • Fine pair of 12-bore M2 grade single trigger over and under Browning guns, sold for £11,162 at Sotheby’s in April 2002.
  • Pair of 20-bore gold classic model single-trigger ejector over and under Browning guns, sold for £14,400 at Sotheby’s in August 2005.
  • Pair of custom Browning presentation Superposed 12 gauge shotguns, sold for $26,325 at Bonhams in November 2008.
  • Superb pair of 12-bore Baerten engraved sideplated single trigger over and under Browning guns, sold for £31,200 at Sotheby’s in August 2006.
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