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Discussion Starter #1
Okay on this forum, I’m sure most everyone will pick the M1911 pistol which is a masterpiece. But I’m going with the design that Browning himself was most proud of; the Auto 5 shotgun.

The design of this gun has to be placed in the time period. At the time invented, there were no standards for shotgun shells whatsoever. When a customer walked into a hardware store to buy shells, he could get any variation of:

2”
2 ½”
2 5/8”
2 9/16”

Smokeless
Black Powder
Cordite
Shultz

High base
Low base
High brass
Low brass

Paper wad
Felt wad
Cork wad

And I’m sure a bunch of other variations I’ve either forgotten or just don’t know.

Browning’s challenge was to create a gun that would work with any ammo a guy was likely to pick up at the store, and he did it. The design remains the most elegant and sophisticated solution to that dilemma ever devised. The reliability of the Browning is just really quite amazing. My only 50 straight in trap was with my Auto 5 that was made in the 1920’s with “suicide” safety and plain rib, choked full; what a cool gun.

Okay, let’s hear it; what was Browning’s height of genius in your opinion?
 

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I like your argument although I don't entirely agree...

I could probably name a handful of favorite Browning designs just depending on what I was shooting at the time but his real genius was for the basic principles of how things worked. In 1895 (96?) he received patents that covered the three operating systems: blowback, recoil and gas that still rule today.

Of them gas operation is the coolest because he observed grass blowing in front of a rifle, deduced that it was gas and then figured out how to harness it and made a working model out of a modified 1873 Winchester all reportedly within the space of a day.

That model gun is in the Cody museum and is truly crude but wonderfully simple... and it worked.
 

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It would be like picking a favorite child!
 

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1911. If the very first one appeared tomorrow morning, we would all marvel at its compactness, simplicity, ergonomics, and the genius of its design.

Name something else 100 years old that's still among the very best things of its kind still available.
 

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If the very first one appeared tomorrow morning, we would all marvel at its compactness, simplicity, ergonomics, and the genius of its design.
I'm sure you and I would but don't you imagine there would be lots of griping because it isn't made of modern plastic... :roll:
 

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Sorry Kevin, While the Auto-5 is a very sexy shotgun, I gotta go with the most successful, longest-running front-line heavy Machinegun there is, the Ma-Deuce. Even the round is amazing, basically an upsized 30-06. If you measure, proportionally, the 30-06 and the .50BMG are identical rounds. They even have the same velocity,2800fps. It(the M2HB) is almost universal in it's usage. It's on boats, vehicles, on the ground, it was even mounted in fighters and Bombers all the way to jets(F86-D). It's still in service.
 

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(Feeling almost dirty for posting this :cry: )

Viewed objectively, one could make the case that the affection for the M2 .50 is mostly a case of American familiarity. The Russian DshK, while newer (late '30s), is considered a simpler equally effective design.

The fact that the US still can't replace Ma Deuce, only improve it after decades of effort, does support the claim to the M2's excellence, though.

The M2 is also a much "prettier" gun. The Dushka* is pure ugly.

*Russian for "Dear, Sweetie". They became attached to their weapons, also.
 

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The BAR (M1918) ranks as one of JMB's best as well. Its action lives on as the FN/MAG (M240) GPMG.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Retmsgt. said:
Sorry Kevin, While the Auto-5 is a very sexy shotgun, I gotta go with the most successful, longest-running front-line heavy Machinegun there is, the Ma-Deuce. Even the round is amazing, basically an upsized 30-06. If you measure, proportionally, the 30-06 and the .50BMG are identical rounds. They even have the same velocity,2800fps. It(the M2HB) is almost universal in it's usage. It's on boats, vehicles, on the ground, it was even mounted in fighters and Bombers all the way to jets(F86-D). It's still in service.
Not only is it still in service...

After the first Gulf War, the Defense Department did a study of the effectiveness of small arms, from reliability to it's effect on the enemy. The M2 Browning came in as the most effective small arm used by any nation. I wish I knew where to find a copy of that White Paper I read, it was interesting.
 

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Just a little offshoot. I've heard for years that the 50 is a scaled up 30-06. No it's not. It looks a little, tiny bit like a big 30-06, but that's as close as it gets. Just a few- The neck length is quite a bit out of proportion- The shoulder angle is almost 2 degrees different- The case taper is close to double on the 50- The extractor groove is much wider on the 50- And the list goes on.
 

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But guys... the 1911 predates all of those.

With absolutely no mud to sling at the BAR, 1917, M-2 et. al, the total worldwide production of the machineguns would be eclipsed by just a year or two of the current 1911 market.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Truly the 1911 move the pistol bar WAY up. The reliability, durability, and effectiveness of the 1911 is unmatched in military circles. Only the Hi Power had a better service record than the 1911, and in my opinion, the 1911 is a much better pistol than my beloved Hi Power. Snake’s right, if it were introduced today, all would marvel.
 

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Snake45 said:
1911. If the very first one appeared tomorrow morning, we would all marvel at its compactness, simplicity, ergonomics, and the genius of its design.
And that the safety makes it impossible to clear the chamber with the safety applied. Add that the trigger guard makes all but the flimsiest gloves an impossibility. Let's also keep the issue 7lb+/- trigger in mind also. Guys, I carried one by choice for almost 20 years, but let's not get blinded here.

Ma Duce (M1921 originally) is a refinement of the M1917 heavy machine gun, so it's not exactly something that was a sudden inspiration. I do believe he was referring to the M1921 when he made the comment about "genius" (or whatever) being one drop of inspiration in a barrel of prespiration. There have been some minor improvements (bolt buffer for one) since Browning, but he did the bulk of the work. BTW, the air cooled MG (M1919?) deserves mention as an evolutionary step.

Kevins original choice of the A5 is a good one, I think the BAR (first squad automatic weapon) and the Hi-Power are right up there. While the 1911 may still be an emotional choice here in the US, the BHP was the service pistol of damn near the entire free (and some places not so free) world until fairly recently.

On a more mundane note, did JMB design the Winchester 94?
 

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Retmsgt. said:
It's on boats, vehicles, on the ground, it was even mounted in fighters and Bombers all the way to jets(F86-D)[sic]. It's still in service.
F-86D didn't have any guns at all--it was armed only with 24 rockets carried in a retractable pod. We did build a foreign version called F-86K armed with 4x20mm.

6x.50 was standard armament of Sabres F-86A, E, F, and the early Hs. Somewhere in H production the changeover to 20mm was made.

Naval version of the Sabre, the FJ-2/3, was armed with 4x20mm from the very start.
 

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Charlie Petty said:
With absolutely no mud to sling at the BAR, 1917, M-2 et. al, the total worldwide production of the machineguns would be eclipsed by just a year or two of the current 1911 market.
Total worldwide alltime? Hmmmmm. Don't forget aircraft--15K+ B-24s and 12K+ B-17s, each of which had ten M2/M3s; 15K P-47s, each one of which had eight; all the P-51s, Hellcats, and Corsairs, each of which had six, and so forth.... Add 'em all up and that's a LOT of .50s. :shock:
 

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Discussion Starter #20
About 20 years ago, I worked with a guy who’s life was devoted to scuba diving. One year he was diving the island of New Britain and saw something sticking out of the sand about 45 feet down. It looked a little out of place. He pulled on it and it moved, pulled a little more and it moved a little more. Finally, he made a huge effort and pulled out a Browning M2 (probably an M3) machinegun. He had to give it to the island antiquities department (or whatever they call it), to be placed in their museum. He said about a year later he received a video from the antiquities department showing them shooting the fully restored machinegun. I thought that was a fantastic story (a little hard to believe, but he never lied to me that I know about).
 
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