Gun Design Genius John Browning’s Ties to Overseas Arms Builder FN Herstal

By Joe Grine

John M Browning
John Moses Browning
The Truth About Guns
The Truth About Guns

USA –-( Mention the name “John Moses Browning” to knowledgeable American gun owners and their usual reaction is profound respect and great appreciation. This is for good reason: though he died almost 90 years ago, John Browning either created or influenced the design of many of the most iconic pistols, lever-action rifles, semi-automatic shotguns, and machine guns in use today. The guns most often associated with John M. Browning are . . .

the famed Winchester lever-action guns that “won the west,” the ubiquitous Colt 1911 automatic pistol, and U.S. military machine guns such as the celebrated .50 caliber M2 “Ma Deuce,” the .30 caliber M1919 medium machine gun, and the .30 caliber M1918 BAR automatic rifle.

Indeed, with regard to the latter machine guns, every American owes Mr. Browning a huge debt of gratitude, since it was Browning’s firearms designs that helped carry the American military to victory in two World Wars and Korea. So great are his contributions to the security of this nation, that John Moses Browning undoubtedly deserves his own Mt. Rushmore or at least a memorial in Washington, DC.

The Guns of John Moses Browning
The Guns of John Moses Browning

Despite his considerable fame and recognition, there is another facet of Browning’s life that is less well known to American gun owners, yet critically important. That story involves Mr. Browning’s intricate and prolific relationship with an upstart Belgian arms factory now known as Fabrique Nationale Herstal (a.k.a. “FN Herstal” or simply “FN”).

The partnership between Mr. Browning and FN began in 1897 and has continued long past Browning’s death in 1926 to today. This partnership has had profound impacts for both FN and Mr. Browning, influencing firearms history for years to come. For its part, FN would make John Browning’s gun designs come to life on both American shores and abroad. Conversely, those same designs secured FN’s future as a manufacturer and positioned the company as a major player in the military small arms market, ensuring immortality for Mr. Browning’s vision.

John M Browning workbench
John M Browning original workbench in Ogden Utah

It is not understating matters to say that together, FN and John Browning shaped the course of development of modern small arms in ways that are still being manifested in today’s gun designs.

The Browning/FN story begins in 1886 in the blue-collar industrial town of Herstal, Belgium…

Read the entire article “A Partnership for the Ages: John Moses Browning and Fabrique Nationale d’Herstal” at :

About The Truth About Guns :
Robert Farago founded The Truth About Guns in February of 2010 to explore the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns. The TTAG team’s been at it ever since. We’ve built the site on word-of-mouth, strong writing, and a no-holds-barred attitude. Visit: