Winchester Model 1886 .45-70

John M. Browning was itching to build a repeating rifle as a follow-up to his first firearm patent, the Model 1885 single-shot he had just sold to Winchester’s President T.G. Bennett. That first agreement would set the stage for a bond that would last for the next 19 years. Along with the initial agreement between Winchester and John Browning for the single-shot rifle came the right to get the first look at a repeating rifle design Browning was developing.

Browning had applied for a patent for the new rifle in May 1884, and it was issued in October. The five months in between the rifle’s patent application and acceptance, Browning stayed busy by inventing another rifle. The habit of working on new firearms mechanisms simultaneously or right on the heels of a patent application would become the M.O. of this creative titan.

Browning’s first invention was sold to Winchester by Bennett taking a cross-country train ride to the quaint Ogden, Utah factory, but negotiations for his next rifle patent rights sale would bring Browning down out of the mountains, across the United States by locomotive and into the big city. Joined by his younger brother, Matt Browning, John had the experience of his first sale under his belt. Bennett paid $8,000 for his single-shot, but Browning had his sights set higher. Although no records survive of the transaction, it is believed that Browning received $50,000 from Winchester for his patent, which would be worth about $1 million today. Browning’s creativity is amazing. He designed and sold 11 new guns to Winchester between October 1884 and September 1886. In March 1887, Browning began his two-year stint as a Mormon missionary in Georgia.

For the complete article please refer to the print issue of Guns of the Old West Winter 2012 Issue #72

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