Friday, December 10, 2010


John Moses Browning, super-genius.
Anyone who thinks John Moses Browning wasn’t a genius ought to be pistol-whipped with a Colt 1911A1. Born in Ogden, Utah in 1855, he later began experimenting in his father’s gun shop and eventually designed and made his own rifle. The Browning single-shot falling-block rifle was good enough to attract the attention of Winchester Repeating Arms, who bought the design and started producing it themselves. In 1883, John Browning began working with Winchester designing weapons and eventually came to be the Albert Einstein of firearms.

Browning was to design one or two guns you may have heard of, such as:

Model 1895 Colt-Browning “Potato Digger” machinegun
FN Browning Model 1899/1900
Colt Model 1900
Colt Model 1902
Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammer
Colt Model 1905 Pocket Hammerless
Remington Model 8 semi-automatic rifle
Colt Model 1908 Vest Pocket
Colt Model 1908 Pocket Hammerless
FN Model 1910
Colt Woodsman (Why did they ever stop making this handy little .22 pistol?)
Winchester Model 1885
Winchester Model 1886 lever-action
Winchester Model 1887 lever-action shotgun (See Ahnold in T2.)
Winchester Model 1890 .22 pump
Winchester Model 1892 lever-action
Winchester Model 1894 lever-action
Winchester Model 1895 lever-action
Winchester Model 1897 pump shotgun (The “Trench Sweeper”; I used one in 1988.)
Browning Auto-5 shotgun (Beauty sporting gun & used militarily by Brits jungle fighting in Malaya.)
Model 1917 machine gun (Water-cooled model. To convince the Army to buy this, Browning demonstrated it personally, firing it for 48 minutes straight, 21,000 rounds, without a hiccup. Try that with an M-60!)
Model 1919 machine gun (Air-cooled version of above.)
Model 1918 BAR Browning Automatic Rifle (Gives Bawb a woody.)
M2 Browning .50-caliber heavy machine gun (The Ma Deuce; ‘nuff said.)
Remington Model 24; also produced as the Browning SA-22
Browning FN Hi-Power (From Belgium’s famous Fabrique Nationale; the folks who brought you the FAL, Minimi, MAG-58 GPMG, FNC, FN 5.7, and FN SCAR among others.)
Browning Superposed shotgun

Browning also created several original cartridges, still in use today, to feed some of the above-mentioned shooting irons.

.25 ACP
.32 ACP
.38 ACP
.380 ACP
.45 ACP
.50 BMG

The Browning Ma Duece .50-caliber machine gun could quite rightly be defended as his masterpiece. You just don’t see that many firearms which, 94 years after being developed, are still manufactured and used by the military forces of some 100 nations around the globe. Cool as the Ma Deuce is, let’s face it, the only way any of us in the “Land of the Free” will ever get to fire one is if you sign onto one of Uncle Sugar’s Trade Schools for 2-4 years. Trust me, not even the Ma Deuce is worth that much BS.
Ma Duece. 'Nuff said.

Browning’s other contender for masterpiece is, of course, the Automatic Pistol, Caliber .45, Model 1911A1.

Automatic Pistol, Caliber .45, Model 1911A1

In between the Spanish-American War and World War I, America slipped in another little war when no one was looking, the Philippine Insurrection. The second phase of the war was the big fight, battling the Moro tribesmen. Moro was the Spanish term for (surprise!) Muslims.

Regardless the background, at the time the United States Army’s official sidearm (that’s pistol for those of you in D.C.) was the new-fangled double-action Colt revolver chambered for the powerhouse .38 Long Colt round, which lobbed a 150-grain lead round nose bullet at over 700 feet per second.. Trying to stop the fanatical and often hopped-up Moro warriors with this was like trying to stop them with, oh, say a 62-grain .224-inch full metal jacket round.

This decided lack of stopping power was particularly serious to the Army, since it was getting officers killed. The enlisted men did quite well with the .30-40 Krag-Jorgensen--“Civilize ‘em with a Krag” were some of the lyrics of a popular song at the time. The Army had to pull their old Model 1873 Colt Single-Action Army “Peacemakers” out of mothballs and get them back in the hands of the fighting men at the sharp end of the stick. Rather like how they had to dust off the old “unnecessary” 1942-vintage 60-mm mortar during the Vietnam War (the 115-pound 81mm was the "lightest" mortar the infantry in the jungle were issued at the time) and now the M14 for the “War on Terror”. Anyway, to no one’s surprise, the .45 Long Colt proved much better at dissuading attacking Moros.

Then Chief of Ordnance General William Crozier said, “Hey, I got an idea. Let’s get a new-fangled pistol but retain a .45 cartridge so that it will still kill people.” Too bad he wasn’t still around in 1990 when we got the Beretta M9, but that’s another story.

The rest, as they say, is history. The pistol and cartridge design submitted by our old friend John Moses Browning won the competition for the new service pistol as well as the new service round, the .45 ACP, to feed it. Designed in, you guessed it, 1911, the weapon was improved and became the Model 1911A1 in 1927, and was the standard sidearm for the American fighting man in WWI, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. Such notables as CMH-winners Alvin York and Audie Murphy made good use of the M1911A1.

"No, I don't want my .38 Long Colt back, thank you."

The weapon is still being manufactured by a wide variety of companies and is very popular amongst those special branches of the military who are concerned about killing people as well as a variety of competition shooters, law enforcement (for instance, in Sweetwater County Montana, the citizens are not spooked by a pistol carried around by deputies with the hammer back), and many of us just-plain-folks peasants. Sometimes, I think the 1911 may be too popular. In just about every glossy gun magazine these days half the articles are about the 1911A1; the other half are on the AR platform. I’m happy with the military plain-Jane “Ol’ Slabsides” rather than the latest, greatest race gun version.
Marine Force Recon celebrating the Model 1911A1's 100th birthday.

Now, on the 100th anniversary of the beloved .45 auto, Utah State Representative Carl Wimmer, (R), is proposing a bill to make Utah native John Moses Browning’s greatest masterpiece the “State Gun”.

This may come as a surprise to many who know me, but I heartily support politicians introducing asinine bills such as making the State Tuber the cassava or declaring February 12th as National Karaoke Singers With Throat Cancer Awareness Day. While the “ruling elite” are monkeying around with these dumb things, they’re not uselessly pissing away billions of our tax dollars or passing laws to have the U.S. Constitution declared null and void.

At any rate, it looks like the Utah State Gun may just make it into law, which is pretty cool IMHO.

Of course, the press ran right out and interviewed the president of the 4-member Utah chapter of the Gun Violence Prevention Center, Steve Gunn. What a last name! Ha-ha! Talk about irony. Anyway, Gunn sarcastically sniveled, "I would nominate arsenic as our state poison, because, of course arsenic is often a by-product of our state mining industry," He then went on to whine, “Waahhh! My pussy hurts!”

It doesn’t look like the weenies will have much luck in their pissing-and-moaning resistance to the State Gun. A poll of those pesky ol’ members of the public had 60% responding, “Hell yeah!”, and 13% saying, “Sure, why not?” Only 16% percent said that they were opposed to the measure, adding, “Waahhh! My pussy hurts!”

So here’s to Utah, John Moses Browning, and the Model 1911A1 Colt .45 automatic. Now why do I feel this sudden urge to go out and put some ball ammo downrange?


Ben said...

I was in the infantry 6 years and never got to shoot a Ma Duece. What a rip-off!

Anonymous said...

Ah, the great John Moses Browning. What would the world be without his inventions. I have tried to stray from the 1911, but keep coming back to this great pistol.