A CERTAIN MR. BROWNING
THE MILLIONTH PISTOL
1913 saw the introduction of an automatic .22 calibre rifle, with Browning ordering 50,000 units. In the same year he also invented a 20 gauge pump action shotgun, of which he bought 25,000 units. However, the advent of WW1 prevented its production.
Since 1907, and at FN’s request, John M Browning had granted the right to use his surname as a trademark, thereby emphasising the common interests and goals that linked his family to the company. He never gave the same permission to any of the large American companies that had commercialised his first inventions, and the full significance of this decision would become apparent over the following decades.
The popularity of weapons developed by Browning and manufactured by FN would continue to increase, both in Europe and America. The sales figures provide convincing proof of this, especially with regard to pistols.
From 1899 to 1906, the number of pistols sold amounted to 250,000. In 1908 it reached 500,000 and in July 1912 the millionth pistol was assembled in Herstal. This event was celebrated on 31st January 1914 with a magnificent party, attended by 500 guests from the world of business and politics, including two ministers of state and the man of the hour himself, John M Browning.
The completion of the B25 fell to his son, Val Allen Browning, whose eminent role both as an arms technician and a manager of the family business should not be underestimated. He had clearly inherited his father’s genius.
Thanks to the combined efforts of father and son, as well as the technicians of Herstal, the Browning B25 over-and-under shotgun became a twentieth century world-class benchmark in the manufacturing of hunting and sports arms. Almost 400,000 were produced in Belgium over a 45 year period, 65% of which were destined for the North American market.
Frequently envied and sometimes imitated by competitors, the B25 has never been bettered.