Tag Archives: john browning

How short can you get on a 1911?

I give you the Micro Compact GI, an M1911-style pistol produced by Springfield Armory between 2004 and 2011.

Isn’t it cute?

The Micro Compact GI ran a 3-inch barrel, which seems to be the lower limit on John Browning’s famed Government Model.

More on the trend to whittle such pistols down to a more stumpy format in my column at Guns.com.

Cracking the Army’s Budget Book on SmallArms

The Army’s recently announced budget request for the fiscal year 2022 includes at least $114 million for new rifles, handguns, and the next generation of small arms. 

While the overall FY2022 Defense Department Budget is $112 billion, most of the non-operational dollars are for high-level R&D and big-ticket items like the F-35 fighter. The Army’s budget book for weapons and tracked combat vehicles meanwhile has a low nine-figure ask when it comes to individual small arms. 

The bulk ($97 million) is to go to the Next Generation Squad Weapons, with much of the balance to acquire new Barrett-made Precision Sniper Rifles, and a few crumbs for M4s, M17s, and the like.

More in my column at Guns.com.

The Most Popular FN Pistol You Never Heard of

To satisfy a military contract for 60,000 modified examples of John Browning’s Model 1910 pistol, stretching that .380 ACP’s standard 3.4-inch barrel an extra inch and bumping up the magazine capacity from 7+1 to 9+1, FN introduced what was initially referred to by some historians as the Model 10/22 (not related to the later Ruger plinker) in 1923.

Later formalized as the Model 1922, or just the M1922, when compared to the preceding M1910, the new pistol had an elongated slide, complete with a small but distinctive barrel lug, over a slightly lengthened frame. The production model went 7-inches long overall and weighed 25.7-ounces.

A forerunner of the later success FN had with the Browning Hi-Power pistol and FAL battle rifle, the M1922 was soon adopted by military and police in dozen countries, and it would continue in active service for over 60 years in this role. Further, the Germans liked it so much that it was their most common handgun in WWII that wasn’t a P-38 or a Luger.

More in my column at Guns.com.

The Best Concealed Carry Piece of 1903 Still Looks Good Today

Compact, slim, accurate, and simple. All mantras for the most modern concealed carry pieces today. They all apply to a design introduced 118 years ago as well – the Colt M1903.

While well-engineered semi-auto pistols abound today, the same statement simply wasn’t true in the early 20th Century. Most early autoloaders were downright funky (see the Bergmann 1896), had bad ergonomics (Borchardt C93), were overly complex (C96 Broomhandle, which are notoriously hard to disassemble), and proved to be evolutionary dead-ends (the Luger – not a lot of toggle actions in production these days). 

Enter the gun guru of Ogden, Utah, Mr. John Browning, who largely hit it out of the park with his freshman semi-auto handgun, the FN M1900 of 1896, the first pistol with a slide – let that sink in. A simple blowback single-stack chambered in .32ACP – which he also invented – he followed that up in 1897 with his short-recoil operated Colt Model 1900, a larger gun whose action was recycled into the Colt M1902, which we have talked about before, then scaled down to make the Colt M1903. 

And with a “carry melt,” easy maintenance, and outstanding ergonomics, the new gun is surprisingly modern when compared to today’s offerings.

Boom, sweetheart. 

More on the Pocket Hammerless in my column at Guns.com.

Sig: Next-Gen Weapons Delivered to the Army

Sig Sauer this week announced it has completed the delivery of the company’s Next Generation Squad Weapons system to the U.S. Army.

The company is one of three contractors who in 2019 got the nod from the Pentagon to continue with the NGSW program. The sweeping initiative aims to replace the Army’s 5.56mm NATO small arms – the M4 Carbine and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon. Sig’s program consists of an in-house-designed lightweight high-performance 6.8x51mm (.277-caliber) hybrid ammunition, NGSW-AR lightweight machine guns, NGSW-R rifles (based on the MCX carbine), and next-gen suppressors.

They certainly look the part and, if selected, would give Sig the small arms hattrick as their P320s have been adopted as the DOD’s standard handgun to replace everything from the USAF’s lingering K-frame 38s to the Marine’s M45 CQB railguns and everything in between. At that point, the only man-portable system used by the Army not made by Sig would be the M240 and M2, which FN still has a lock on.

More in my column at Guns.com.

NGSW? Don’t Hold Your Breath

The current NGSW field 

The U.S. Army is full-speed ahead on an initiative to select a new series of innovative 6.8mm-caliber Next Generation Squad Weapons to phase out its 5.56mm platforms for combat troops. However, it would seem the Department of the Army is hedging their bets with traditional systems just in case things don’t work out like planned such as in past ambitious programs for futuristic small arms.

In April, FN won a 5-year $119 million contract for new M4/M4A1 Carbines from the company’s South Carolina factory– where 500 of the shorty 5.56s roll out every, single, day.

And this week, Big Army likewise issued a $78 million award to FN for more M249s, the squad-level U.S-made variant of the FN Minimi light machine gun that has been standard since 1982.

Just google the Individual Carbine (IC), Objective Individual Combat Weapon (OICW), or the Advanced Combat Rifle (ACR) programs to see why keeping the legacy infantry arms in production until things work out is a good idea.

The army advanced combat rifle ACR prototypes.

Le Glock Mle 2020

French trench raiders during the First World War, winter 1917 Bezange Forest, Lorraine, note the Ruby pistol.

The French military has flirted with modern semi-auto pistols for longer than most. During the Great War, thousands of Spanish-made Ruby and Star pistols augmented the country’s rather lackluster Modèle 1892 revolvers.

This cleared the way for the later FN 1922-inspired MAB Model D pistol and Charles Petter’s famous Mle. 1935, the latter design one that went on to morph into the Swiss SIG P210, arguably one of the best handguns of the 20th Century.

After WWII, the MAC Mle 1950, itself very P210-ish, was adopted and, coupled with the PAMAS G1, a domestically-made clone of the Beretta 92F, is still in service today.

The French MAC 50 PA modèle 1950 pistol

Now, 115 years after the Ruby was first ordered, the French defense ministry has placed an order for 75,000~ new Glocks.

The Glocks, reportedly a two-tone Gen 5 G17 MOS with a threaded barrel, suppressor-height night sight, and optics plate, will be delivered through 2022.

Besides the Austrian polymer pistols, the French are also going FN when it comes to a rifle to replace their venerable FR F2 (itself a souped-up MAS1936).

Sniper overwatch by a 3e RPIMa marksman with a French FR-F2, Rwanda, 1993. These rifles will be upgraded to SCAR H PRs in the coming years. 

More in my column at Guns.com.

That’s a lot of oily M4s

So I told you guys that I spent some time in the Palmetto State last month filming at FN with Guns.com. Want to see how the tour went? I think you will find the M240 and M4 production lines interesting. Do you know FN makes roughly 500 M4s every single day?

After they’re test fired, they’re disassembled, cleaned, then reassembled and given a 101-point inspection. Then, they’re literally dipped in preservation oil and packaged 50 rifles to a large wooden crate.

Some poor Joe or Devil is going to have to clean that off one day…

Anyways, check out the full video below.

The wonderful FN Browning 1900, and its many imitators

John Moses Browning’s first semi-auto handgun was one of the best ever made and, regardless of whether you call it the Browning No.1, the FN Mle. 1900 or the M1900, it has a very interesting (some would say infamous) story to tell.

Why was it born?

When Mr. Browning began to market his low-wall M1885 rifle, firearms giant Winchester stood up and noticed then promptly sent a lawyer to the inventor’s Utah shop with a contract to put him on the payroll with an exclusive contract. Throughout the next decade and change, Browning came up with the idea for some of the best lever action rifles and shotguns that Winchester ever sold, but by 1897 made a break from the company.

This put the Thomas Edison of American small arms into play and he branched out into designing not only lever action and pump action long arms but also semiautomatics, machineguns, and handguns– but needed someone to make them.

Going first to Remington, things didn’t work out, so Browning packed a steamer trunk and headed to the Belgian manufacturing town of Herstal to speak to the good folks at Fabrique Nationale (FN). Formed from the best gun minds in nearby Liege, renowned for firearms manufacture, FN was churning out Mauser bolt-action rifles by the thousands under contract for the Royal Belgian Army but was looking to expand.

Browning brought them his first semi-auto shotgun, which became famous as the Browning Auto 5, and a compact semi-auto pistol, which became best known as the 1900.

fn 1900 joeri-14

Read the rest in my column at Firearms Talk

The classic Colt 1903, a forgotten hammerless

In the early 1900s, John Browning was perhaps the most prolific and most ground breaking firearms engineer of the day. As it turned out, he produced an all-steel, 24-ounce, 9-shot pocket pistol whose design is still very relevant today.

John Moses Browning, the famous Utah gun genius, spent most of his formative years selling his designs to big name firearms makers to include Winchester. By 1900, he started a long relationship with Colt Firearms of Connecticut, which included such guns as the Model 1900, M1902 and the legendary 1911. These handguns however were large framed firearms for field service in the military. For home defense and use by police and detective bureaus, the company wanted something smaller than the 37-ounce M1902 with its 6-inch barrel. That’s where Browning came in at again.

Welcome to the world of the Colt 1903 Hammerless.

Welcome to the world of the Colt 1903 Hammerless.

Read the rest in my column at Firearms Talk