Even if you did not know it, John Moses Browning is the most successful and innovative gunmaker in American history. Chances are you have shot one of his designs as his contributions to firearms are reflected in thousands of gun models still in use today. He created and improved guns for Winchester, Remington, Colt, Savage, and FN Herstal, to name a few. Among his designs is the 1911 Colt, arguably the most-copied handgun in history. After the Colt 1911, he went on to create the 50 BMG and 25, 32, 380, and 45 ACP cartridges. It goes without saying that very few gunmakers can match Browning’s legacy. The following are just a few of his handguns that changed the firearm world forever.
FN M1900 in 32 ACP
Many might consider an AR 15, chambered in everything from 22 LR to 50 Beowulf, as a classic example of American firearms. However, Browning’s influence on modern American weapons is just as iconic. Arguably, that influence began with the FN M1900 in 32 ACP. For one, the FN M1900 is a gun designed so solidly that many perfectly working models can be found to this day. Perhaps more importantly, this was the first production pistol in history to operate with a slide cocking mechanism.
1911 Colt in 45 ACP
In addition to being the most copied, the 1911 Colt is among the most recognizable handguns in history. Browning’s design for the 1911 Colt pistol platform was so forward-thinking and ingenious that it remains in service today, over a century later. In fact, the 1911 Colt features a versatility similar to the AR 15, as an AR 15 receiver can host both 22 LR and 50 Beowulf. The 1911 Colt platform has been used for 22 LR, 38 Special, 10mm, 357 Magnum, and many more calibers. If you are in the market for a historic, reliable handgun, you want a Colt 1911.
Colt Model 1903/1908 Pocket Hammerless in 32/380 ACP
The Colt Pocket Hammerless is a precursor to the 1911 Colt. Along with being lighter and smaller, it featured a rounder, almost art deco outline. Additionally, the hammer was covered by the gun’s slide, making it easier to draw from a pocket or holster. The 1903 Colt Pocket Hammerless in 32 ACP created a new generation of pocket pistols. It was an extremely popular handgun, as was the 1908 variant chambered in 380 ACP. In fact, the Colt Pocket Hammerless was an apparent favorite of everyone from Al Capone and John Dillinger to Gen. George Patton.
Browning Hi Power in 9mm Parabellum
The vaunted AR 15, whether chambered in 22 LR, 223 Remington, or 50 Beowulf, was born as a military concept. The same goes for a variety of John Browning’s gun designs. One of his later designs, finished after his death by legendary Belgian gunmaker Dieudonné Saive, was the Browning Hi Power. Like the 1911 Colt, you can still find the Browning Hi Power in service nearly a century later. It would go on to kick off the era of high-capacity “super nines” that continues to this day. After a brief production hiatus, the Hi Power is officially back in production with new features such as an ambidextrous slide lock and enlarged ejection port.
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