Mystery Photo, Is that John M. Browning?

Mystery Photo
Mystery Photo
AmmoLand Gun News
AmmoLand Gun News

USA –  -( An AmmoLand News reader sent us this image and is asking for help identifying the people, place and time.

We think the tall person in the center looks an awful lot like John Moses Browning, he is the right height and build and there are many images of him with that style of hat. Tell us what you think?

More from the photo’s owner.

I have an interesting quandary. I found a very old print (12 x 15) in my In-Law’s house after they both passed away and we were cleaning up. A screen shot is shown above:

I know this is a long shot, but maybe you or some of your friends are history buffs and can identify an old photo for me. It looks like something important, but I cannot identify the uniforms. Some say French officers, but I cannot confirm that either. Also some think that is an American rifle that is being shown. Any idea who the distinguished looking gent looking at the rifle might be, or what country those Officers might be from? I see two sets of cavalry type pants (one on the second officer from the left, and one on the pale uniform in the back – that we are guessing is American).

The file is big, so I am attaching a link to my Dropbox. You can copy the picture from there.

And here is the link to my hi-resolution file in Dropbox:

Most of my friends seem to think that the gun being shown is a Springfield 1903, but of course we can’t be sure, so I thought I would ask the gun experts.

Mystery Gun
Mystery Gun

Also, as you can see by the email thread, we think the tan uniform is US Army, and the Officer uniforms are French (one calvalry). Again, we can’t be sure. Those distinguished men with the gloves and canes are a mystery. Would you have any idea when this picture was taken, where, and of course, why?

Thank you in advance. We have no clue why my in-laws would have had this print, rolled up in a paper towel tube, and protected with plastic wrap J

J. Schreiber

Palm Coast, FL

Mystery Men, John Browning?
Mystery Men, is that John Browning on the left?

What follow next is a replies to the original email:

Sent: Tuesday, January 03, 2017 8:19 AM
Subject: RE: Old Photo

Hi J.

It definitely looks like World War One period. The figure 5th from left looks to have a US army uniform; his hat and leg puttees are very distinctive. The other officers look like they are wearing French uniforms; one is wearing cavalry boots. The suits look like politicians. Don’t recognize any of the faces. I don’t think it is Woodrow Wilson as he was clean shaven and the main figure appears to have a beard.

There were very few US troops France until early 1918 so it is unlikely to be earlier than 1918. It could be in the US; perhaps a “fact finding mission” to see how US troops were being train before coming to Europe? Or more likely is that it was taken at a US Army training base in France. US troops spend some extended time in France training in new techniques and equipment before being committed to the frontline. There was considerable pressure to get US troops into combat, so a political visit of this type to a training base makes sense.

I recommend contacting the Imperial War Museum in London. They may be able to help with ways to identify the image. Try this address.

[email protected]

Let me know how you get on.

World Cruising Club
120 High Street, Cowes PO31 7AX, UK
T: +44(0)1983 296060

So tell us who you think is in this photo in the comments below, we would love to find out?


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It’s an ’03 with the front sight protector hood in place. It is the small or “Army” sized one, not the “Marine” large sized one. The Army version was a simple protective device that did not allow for shooting. The “Marine” variant had a larger hood and could be used while it was attached.

Ol' Vet

I suspect the uniforms are Belgium, rather than French. Browning went to Europe and designed weapons for Belgium where is designed and manufactured a 9mm auto pistol for the Belgium. What other weapons I don’t know about but the 9mm was used by Europeans for many years. The fella in the back is dressed like a US Calvary Officer. The weapon looks much like a 1903 Springfield, has the stacking swivil, but what looks like the front sight is different. It could possibly a rifle that Browning designed for the Europeans. Could be the M1917 Enfield that Amerika made in… Read more »


I’m no expert, but I”m looking at images of an early Springfield 1903 (S/N 3875XX), and the bolt handle shape, forward sling mount, and the plate at the forward end of the stock all appear identical.


Looks like the guy from the dos equis beer commercial… stay thirsty my friends!