The Browning and Winchester Connection
Updated: Oct 10, 2020
On May 12, 1879, John Moses Browning - a fledgling 23-year-old gunsmith in Ogden, Utah - filed a patent for a "Breech-Loading Fire-Arm." It would change his life and set a new course for one of the largest arms makers in the US.
When the patent was approved on October 7, 1879, the Browning Model 1878 Single-Shot Rifle was born. John, along with his three brothers, produced some 600 of these rifles by the time they were visited by a man named Thomas Bennett in the spring of 1883.
Bennett was the Vice President of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, and he was very intrigued by the gun that the Browning brothers were making. By the time he returned home to Connecticut, Browning was $8,000 richer and Winchester had secured the rights to what would become the Winchester Model 1885 Single-Shot Rifle.
Browning and Winchester had entered into what would become one of the most prolific and profitable firearms deals ever. Winchester bought everything Browning presented to them, making John a very wealthy man and ensuring that Winchester was continuously out in front of all of its competitors.
The 19-year-relationship ended in January 1902, but neither Browning nor Winchester showed any signs of stopping. Browning entered into other partnerships and continued inventing guns until his death in 1926. And, of course, Winchester continues to make quality firearms to this day.
Browning's original patent model for his first rifle is in the Smithsonian's collection. For a tour of their Gun Room, check out this video:
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