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Do you know how your gun evolved??

John Moses Browning was born on 23 January 1855 in Ogden, Utah. He was one of the 22 children of Jonathan Browning, who, being a good Mormon, had three wives.

Gun making ran in the family of the young John Moses, as his father was a gunsmith who had already been responsible for a number innovations in the field. As a young boy, he spent his time in his father’s workshop, and knew the name of every part of a gun before he could read.

At the age of 23, John Moses lodged his first patent, for the “J.M. Browning Single Shot Rifle”. This invention consisted of a simplification of the percussion mechanism, making it more durable and reliable.

Shortly before his death, his father handed over his business to the young Browning who, in association with his brother Matt, despite having less than one thousand dollars in the bank and no experience of machine-tool operation, transformed the humble store into a small gun making workshop employing seven people. From the start the remoteness of their location, the ¬†lack of a ready supply of customers, and the lack of capital meant that the business struggled to survive until, that is, luck intervened to make the inventor known…

A representative of the Winchester company having chanced upon a gun made by the Browning brothers in another state and, considering its design to be of interest, bought it from its owner and sent it to his superiors in the company’s head office. So impressed were they that the managing director of Winchester himself set out straight away on a six day journey to what, at that time, was still the Wild West, to meet the Browning brothers. Despite his astonishment at finding two young men in their twenties in a rustic workshop, he was perceptive enough to not be fooled by appearances and concluded commercial deals with them which would last for several decades.

Over the years, Browning granted licenses to several manufacturers for dozens of inventions and firearms developed by him. It’s no exaggeration to say that he invented everything in the field of firearms. What is more, it should be noted that the vast majority of his technological innovations have not been able to be bettered or replaced since the beginning of this century, a clear demonstration of the level of perfection achieved.

He died of a heart attack as he worked in his office at Herstal, during the course of his 61st visit to Belgium in 1926. His body was repatriated to the United States, where he was buried with full military honours. His son Val continued his collaboration with the Belgian factory without interruption. A collaboration that continues until this very day.

Are you aware that you need to advise insurers if you own a firearm to ensure they are insured correctly and cover is extended to pick up your personal liability whilst using them?

By Clare Carby

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