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  • Writer's pictureT. Logan Metesh

The Browning and Winchester Connection

Updated: Oct 10, 2020

Browning, patent, High Caliber History

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.

Browning, patent, High Caliber History
Browning at age 18. We often only envision him as an older man, but he was young once!

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.

Thomas Bennett, VP of Winchester

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, patent, High Caliber History
Browning shop, circa 1882. John is 3rd from the left, leaning on the doorframe with his arms crossed.

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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