John M. Browning’s Start Up

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Meet John Browning – Passionate Gun Designer and Innovator

John Moses Browning is perhaps the most brilliant gun designer and gunsmith that has thus far graced gunsmithing. His long list of achievements individually are enough to land him on the top ten list of gun designers, but together they move him to the head of the list. That list includes guns such as the 1911 pistol, M1917 and M1919 machine gun and the M2HB, but those are just the superstars. He held over 150 patents and designed over 80 guns. His guns are in service today in military, police, and for people all around the world. John Browning is no doubt a legend in shooting circles. How did he get started?

Browning — the family history

John Browning’s gunsmithing education was not by accident. His father, Jon Browning was a frontiersman who made his living repairing guns in Tennessee. Then, as the family converted to the Mormon religion, they moved to Utah. It was here that John Browning honed his skills as a gunsmith. There is a story about how a ten-year-old John Browning created his first gun using broken flintlock barrel, wire, scraps of tin and some wood. The gun worked and though impressed, his father challenged John to do better, creating the gun that started it all. What John took from his father’s lesson was the idea that improvements mattered.

Inspiration from a muzzle blast

The automatic gun was not a new thought. By the time John Browning came on the scene, the French and Belgium gunsmiths had already created something that was close — the mitrailleuse. Even in the U.S. Army deployed Gatling guns during the Civil War. The difference with all of these guns was that they were not fully automatic. They had to be cranked. It was something that was very common that sparked John’s interest in creating a fully automatic gun. At a target shooting competition, the force of a muzzle blast caused him to think about how he could use that force to improve guns. The pathway to a fully automatic gun was born.

Success breeds success

The first of the Browning Guns was a single-shot rifle, which he designed and manufactured by hand. He and his brothers took over the family business and expanded their services. It was this single-shot rifle that enabled John Browning to begin seriously inventing guns. The rifle was well made and it attracted the attention of Winchester’s head man T. G. Bennett. Winchester bought the rights for John’s single-shot rifle. In his mind, John M. Browning had another design – one that he discussed with Bennett. Browning designed and patented that rifle, then presented it to Winchester who bought the rights for manufacture in what would become the Winchester Model 1886. It was a large-bore lever action repeating rifle and a gateway to a long relationship between Browning and Winchester. Within two years, Browning designed and Winchester bought the manufacturing rights to 11 different guns.

The automatic gun inventor

It took him a day to design a new gun that would use the gas from discharge to create the world’s first truly automatic gun. He and his brothers took John’s design from concept to reality in just a day. They tested, refined and perfected a machine gun that fired .45 caliber bullets at six times per second. Instead of going to Winchester, John M. Browning went to Colt. Colt was a manufacturer of military guns. After demonstrations for both Colt and later for the U.S. Navy, John Browning‘s Colt Model 1865 Automatic Machine Gun began production where it would earn distinction during the Spanish-American War.

The list of what John M. Browning and his Browning Guns accomplished is long and distinguished. He was not an engineer by degree, but he was a gunsmith with passion for his craft. It was that passion, mixed with the desire to do the best he could that propelled John Browning into the position of one the most brilliant gunsmiths the world has known.

10 Things To Remember When Planning Your Dream Hunt

Preparing for the hunt in a forester cottage

10 Tips to Successfully Plan Your Dream Hunt

We all have them — lofty ambitions for the hunt of a lifetime. But do they need to remain only in your dreams? Absolutely not! Every year, hunters experience the thrill and adventure of taking down a trophy. A dream hunting expedition comes down to one thing – planning. In this article, we discuss ten things that turn an average hunt into the hunting excursion of a lifetime.

Successful hunting is all about planning. You can’t just hop in the truck, head for the woods and bag a trophy buck. That kind of hunting excursion is mostly about luck. Sure, luck plays a part in most hunting ventures, but how much luck impacts your adventure is somewhat controllable. A few of the thing things that we discuss includes equipment and supplies, using guides, and tips on how to plan a dream hunt. This is not a species-specific hunting article, so whether you want a trophy whitetail, elk, bear, or even big game like elephants or lions, the information in this article will be usable for you. Let’s begin with the first order of business — equipment.

  1. Hunting equipment — It all boils down to quality

Hunting equipment is a set of tools, and tools are supposed to stand up to the abuse. The quality of your equipment is a key component to the success of your hunt. A good example is your gun; it won’t do you much good if it jams. It won’t do you much good if the optics are not spot on and you cannot see your target. It won’t do you much good if it is not powerful enough to allow perfect-ranged shots. Invest in a quality rifle or shotgun.

For many of us, that may mean a customized rifle that is built to fit your body and your shooting style. If you are not ready for a customized gun, then take your existing guns to a gunsmith who has been to school and let them service your rifle or shotgun. If you are the DIY type of hunter, and many of us are, consider taking a gunsmithing class or enroll in a gunsmith course. Most of us were taught to care for guns by our dads, but you’d be surprised about how many little tricks you can pick up from a gunsmith about the care of firearms.

What other hunting supplies might you need for a trophy hunt? Treat all equipment as though it is your gun because many hunts are ruined by a $0.03 part that broke. Don’t let that hunter be you.

  1. Know your target

It is one thing to say you want to target a trophy elk, and it is quite another thing to be able to find one. This is where we downplay luck and up-play skill. Learn about the animal you hunt and get to know it intimately.

  • What do they eat?
  • What kind of habitat do they prefer?
  • What are their defenses?
  • How well do they hear?
  • Is their vision better than yours?
  • Is your rifle or shotgun going to do the job to overcome their defenses?

These are just a few of the questions that successful hunters answer when they chase trophy game, especially when chasing a predator. Know your prey like you know yourself.

  1. Safety is always first

Hunting accidents, self-inflicted gunshot wounds and the rest of that long list of miseries are all preventable if you take safety into consideration. There are freak accidents where a limb falls out of a tree and takes you down — an act of God.  Most hunting accidents do not involve God, but rather poor safety policies. Nobody wants to limp home because they shot themselves in the foot, but it happens. Even former Vice President Dick Cheney shot his hunting partner accidentally. Be safe about how you hunt, and how you care for your equipment.

  1. Expect changes

A good hunter is versatile and adaptable. The environment in which you hunt is not going to adapt to you; you will have to adapt to it. You are going into the wild, and the wild is “wild.” Expect conditions to change, especially the weather. Pack your bag for all of the unexpected events. That includes staying longer than planned, lighting, extreme weather, and physical issues such as fatigue, pain, and even allergies. There is a lot that changes in the bush, including one of the most impressive predator groups –  insects (ticks, mosquitos and chiggers).

  1. Use a hunting guide

Good hunting guides are worth their weight in gold. The benefit is that they know the territory and they know the game. They help you overcome the learning curve that you cannot overcome by time, reading or watching videos. What they know they learned from personal experience on the land you’ll be working. They also understand what types of hunting supplies you’ll need, the conditions you’ll face, and what the physical and mental requirements of your hunt will be. A good guide helps make your hunt successful.

  1. Practice patience

How many of the “ones that got away” got away because hunters were impatient? Patience, they say, is a virtue, and that has never been truer than when hunting. Practice being patient until you master that skill.

  1. Lose the ego

Hunting is not about you. Hunting trophy game is about building a relationship between yourself and your prey. Most anyone can walk up to an elephant and shoot it. We read about that all the time on social media. To find a monster bull elk or moose is quite a bit different. It is like a dance, and you cannot afford to step on your partner’s toes. Hunting is about skill. You can be prideful after you bag your target. To get to the point of squeezing the trigger occurs more often when we leave our ego in the truck. Be humble and patient and increase your chances for success.

  1. Evaluate your presence

Do you smell? Can your prey smell you? Are you wearing scents? Even those manly scents from underarm deodorant and toothpaste can alert prey long before you even see them. This is an exercise in evaluating how well your actions and presence stack up against the defenses of you prey. Sight, sound and smell are just some of the tools that trophy game use to stay alive. We are foreigners in their territory and therefore, we stand out like a sore thumb. Evaluating your presence in their territory allows you to compensate or adjust your actions to overcome their defenses. Big trophy bucks did not grow up to be big trophy bucks because they were dense. These are smart animals with keen senses. If you want to bag one, you have to match their presence in their territory.

  1. Be willing to learn

None of us knows everything, even if we are good at hunting. Think of things in grades — amateur, novice, sufficient, master, guide. Where are you in this lineup? Even the top tier of hunters have things to learn and skills they can improve. A common improvement is how to squeeze the trigger. Eliminating shooting errors is a big part of being successful as a hunter. To hunt the top tier of prey you need to be the best hunter that you can be, and that comes down to skill. Be willing to learn and willing to put in the time to improve.

  1. Learn the art of movement

Tracking game requires movement, and that means sound. Learn how to move slowly and how to make each movement with purpose. There are skills that you can learn that help you step softly or creep along the ground silently. Being able to move properly is a key component of hunting. It is not very likely that you will just walk through the woods and drop a trophy buck from 50 feet.

Hunters need to be flexible, able to bend, squat, and stand for long periods and then be able to move quickly, accurately and purposefully. If you’d like to evaluate how you move, consider taking a Tai Chi class. Tai Chi is a Chinese art, and it teaches balance and movement. Tai Chi will surprise you with what you will discover about yourself.

These ten tips address the entire realm of what a hunter is and offer insight into how to improve yourself so that you fit into the role of a top predator. Whether you shoot bullets or arrows, the best of us got there by practicing and improving. Skill wins over luck, and building skills require work. Master these and you’re well on your way to your Dream Hunt.  Happy hunting.

Reloading Ammo vs. Buying Ammo – Cost Saver or Time Waster?

Gunsmith's Guide: Reloading Ammo vs. Buying Ammo – Cost Saver or Time Waster?

Whether you’d like to save money or want to learn as much as you can about shooting and gunsmithing, reloading your own ammo may be the way to go. Most shooting enthusiasts eventually grapple with the ammo reloading issue.

On one hand, reloading bullets instead of buying commercial ammunition is often more cost-effective. On the other, it is a fairly time-consuming endeavor.

The question is: Where do you fall on the scale? Does reloading your own ammunition make sense for you?

Ammo reloading: Who does it?

People who reload their own ammunition typically fall into one of two groups. The first is made up of people who shoot a lot. Members of gun clubs go through lots of ammo, so the savings involved in loading their own is compelling.

The second is made up of people who are determined to be the most accurate shooters possible. They believe loading their own is the only way to make the most of their firearms.

If you meet the following criteria, you’ll probably like reloading your own ammo:

  • Detail-oriented — strong attention to detail is a must
  • Mechanically inclined — you enjoy tinkering with things and figuring out how they work
  • Patient — the work is, in some ways, pretty painstaking
  • You have spare time — this one speaks for itself

Top 4 reasons to load your own ammo

Even if you meet the criteria above, you may be unconvinced about the merits of ammo reloading. Consider these advantages:

  1. Save Money. This one is a little up in the air. Reloading some types of ammo can save you money. The typical 50-count box of commercially produced 44 Magnum bullets will set you back by around $40. Reloading your own ammo costs around $13, so you stand to save a hefty chunk of change. The savings aren’t as significant for other types of ammo, however. In some cases, it may even cost you more to load your own. If savings aren’t your primary concern, though, this may not matter to you.
  2. Improve Accuracy. Commercial ammunition must adhere to specific safety standards. It must be able to perform properly in the majority of firearms, so it’s not always loaded to the levels of velocity that are required for superior performance. Also, bullets must be seated far back enough in the brass to fit just about any magazine. Many believe accuracy is improved when the bullet is seated a little farther out. More importantly, by reloading your own ammo, you can use components that work for your exact gun and that perform properly for your desired application.
  3. Have Fun. Many people reload their own ammo simply because they enjoy it. If you’re curious about the mechanics behind shooting, you will probably enjoy the process of reloading your own ammunition.
  4. Shoot More. Have you ever felt like doing a little shooting, realized you were out of bullets and decided against it? That’s a pretty big letdown, and you can avoid it by keeping the ammo reloading supplies you need handy. From that point forward, you won’t have to run out to buy commercial bullets anymore, and you will be able to shoot more often.

The costliest part of reloading your own ammo is typically buying the equipment and supplies you need . For shotgun reloading that means a reloading press, but you’ll need a lot more for a pistol or rifle.

Used equipment is available, however, and gun clubs often offer great discounts on supplies too. Moreover, you can start with what you need for the caliber you use the most. If you enjoy reloading your own ammo, you can always invest in more dies for other calibers later.

Learn about ammo and the broader world of gunsmithing at the Colorado School of Trades. Our career counselors can help you decide if being a professional gunsmith is the right path for you.