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.

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.


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