January 24, 2011

at the Utah State Capitol building

In 2010 the Utah Legislature declared January 24, 2011 to be John M. Browning Day to honor this great Utah resident on the 100th Anniversary of the adoption of the Model 1911 pistol by the U.S. Army. This page records the John M. Browning Day display in the Capitol rotunda and the ceremonies associated with this event.

The day was marked with an exhibit which included examples of every type of firearm invented by John M. Browning, and by a ceremony honoring the inventor, and his inventions. Utah Governor Gary Herbert spoke about Browning and then presented a proclamation honoring him to his great-grandson, Mr. Chris Browning. Chris then shared family stories about John M. Browning, his education, hard work, and other experiences relating to his life in Utah and his contributions to firearms technology and the defense of our country.

Other speakers included USAF Brigadier General (select) Zobrist, noting that virtually every combat aircraft of WW2 was armed with Browning machine guns. Utah Adjutant General, Major General Tarbet, spoke about the long service of Browning's designs, with the Model 1911 pistol and the .50 caliber machine gun still in service after 100 and 90 years respectively. Comments were also made by Sen. Mark Madsen, sponsor of the bill creating John M. Browning Day; Representative Curt Oda who organized the events, and Representative Carl Wimmer sponsor of a bill to designate the Browning designed Model 1911 pistol as the official Utah State Firearm.

Governor Herbert and Chris Browning. Chris Browning addressing the crowd.

. . . .
Sen. Madsen, Rep. Oda, MG Tarbet, Rep. Wimmer and BG (Sel) Zorbist

Left side of exhibit area with John M. Browning invented commercial handguns, rifles and shotguns.

RIght side of exhibit area with John M. Browning's military longarms, handguns and machine guns.

John M. Browning designed civilian handguns from the 1899 FN semi-auto pistol through the beautifully engraved "Renaissance" set of three Browning designed guns, and of course the incomparable Model 1911 semi-automatic.
(See more about Browning's civilian pistols- click here)

John M. Browning's shotgun designs included lever action, pump, semi-automatic and "Superposed" over-under types. His .22 caliber rifle designs included a simple single shot bolt action, and very successful pump and semi-automatic designs.
(See more about Browning's civilian shotguns and .22 rifles- click here)

The first rifles made by John M. Browning were single shot falling block types such as the top left, which was actually made in his Utah shop, but virtually identical to the 1885 model underneath still in production by Winchester. Other lever action models shown were mainly sold under the WInchester name as models 1886, 1892, 1894, 1895 with all of those still in production today! Also shown is Browning's semi-auto hunting rifle, sold by FN in Europe, and as the Remington Model 8.
(See more about Browning's civilian rifles- click here)

Military pistols invented by John M. Browning include the Model 1900 in .38 caliber, the Model 1905, the first ".45 automatic", the Model 1911 with WW1 and WW2 production shown, along with one modified for military shooting team use. Browning's "pocket" pistols such as the .32 ACP Model 1903 and .25 ACP Model 1908 were issued to generals and also to OSS agents. Bottom left is a Browning Hi-Power made by FN under German occupation during WW2 and at right, one made in Canada by Inglis for use by the Chinese during WW2, so some of Browning's guns ended up being used by both sides!
(See more about Browning's military pistols- click here)

Browning's machine guns are incredibly important for their contribution defending our country. Shown here on the table are the Model 1919A4 .30 caliber air cooled, and the M2 .50 BMG caliber machine gun still in use today after 90 years. Browning's first machine gun, the gas operated Model 1895 "Peacemaker" is mounted on the tripod with the brass cradle. These were also known as the "potato digger" for the tendency of the gas operating system to kick up dirt underneath the barrel. Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders purchased one of these and took it to Cuba in the Spanish AMerican War. A .30 caliber M1917A1 water-cooled machine gun is on the right.
(See more about Browning's machine guns- click here)

Browning's only shoulder arm developed strictly for military use was the Model 1918 Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) at top center. Some were used late in WW1, and they were used up until Vietnam, giving a solid base of firepower for an infantry squad. Other guns shown include a Savage Model 720 shotgun used for training aerial gunners during WW2, and an Ithaca Model 37 riot gun as used during WW2 and Vietnam, further examples of Browning designed guns sold under other names. Bottom center is a Winchester Model 97 "trench gun" used for guard or combat use with a short barrel and bayonet. The right side has a Winchester Model 94 carbine used by U.S. or Canadian forces along the Pacific coast during WW1 or WW2. Bottom right is a Winchester Model 1895 musket in military configuration. The U.S. Army purchased 10,000 in 1898 but they were delivered too late for the Spanish American War. The Russians bought 300,000 during WW1 and after being used there, many were used in the Spanish Civil War.
(See more about Browning's military rifles- click here)

Some Video Highlights

Overview from Browning Arms (2:42)

Part 1 of a two part set (9:22) A nice history of Browning and his designs.

Part 2 of a two part set- with nice overview of the exhibits (5:05)

Additional Background Materials

John M. Browning Historic Timeline (Word format) - (.pdf format)

Popular John M. Browning Firearm Designs – 1885 to 1926
(Word format) - (.pdf format)

The History of the 1911 Pistol (Word format) - (.pdf format)

John M. Browning Day Press Release (Word format) - (.pdf format)

QUESTIONS?- contact us

The 1894 Winchester .30-30 rifle, another of Browning's inventions

American Gunmaker: The John M. Browning Story
This is a fantastic 56:52 video, narrated by Fess Parker, which covers the man and his inventions.
This can be accessed directly at

A selection of Browning related photos

Browning gun store in Ogden, Utah in the 1880s

John M. Browning's original workbench in Ogden, Utah

John M. Browning (second from left) was a members of the famous 4 B's trapshooting team

John M. Browning with his Auto 5 shotgun

John M. Browning, in a photo taken later in his life

The John M. Browning-designed 1911 pistol, was adopted by the US Army March 29, 1911

US Army officer training with 1911 pistol in France circa 1918

John M. Browning's son Val with the Browning Automatic Rifle in France during WW I

US Army Cavalry troops with 1911 pistols on maneuvers circa 1930

US Army troops armed with a Browning machine gun and 1911 pistols cross a bridge circa 1942

A soldier from the US Army's 3rd Infantry Division cleans his 1911 pistol

US Marine armed with a 1911 pistol calls in artillery during WW II

A .50 caliber Browning on a US Army Half Track in WW II

Browning machine guns armed almost every US plane in WWII - B10 Gunner

Jeff Cooper based his Modern Technique on the the 1911 pistol

IPSC shooters prefer the 1911 pistol design over all others

Shooters continue to develop the 1911 design as the preferred competition pistol of the 21st century

Join the Browning Museum Gun Club!

John M. Browning Day was Sponsored by
And numerous private collectors and historians from around Utah








Copyright 2011 Fort Douglas Military Museum
Revised 29 January 2011