Author Topic: Was Browning the first one to develope gas operated firearms?  (Read 1373 times)

Offline Drydock

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Re: Was Browning the first one to develope gas operated firearms?
« Reply #20 on: February 09, 2021, 04:03:19 PM »
Gas operated bullpup from 1866  https://armourersbench.com/2018/08/10/the-curtis-rifle-the-first-repeating-bullpup/

Bet if I look long enough, I can find a french gas operated flintlock.  The potential for gas operation was known for hundreds of years, but black powder made it impractical.
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Offline OD#3

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Re: Was Browning the first one to develope gas operated firearms?
« Reply #21 on: February 09, 2021, 05:04:06 PM »
Maybe it is splitting hairs, but those "gas-operated" revolvers don't appear to have been at all practical, revolutionary, nor really qualify as gas-operated firearms.  From what I can see, they used gas to either drive an ejector rod back or directly impinge on the previously-fired empty case just to eject them automatically.  Those gas systems don't appear to have done anything else--i.e., they neither loaded the firearm nor cocked the action (as far as I can tell).  And the user still had to open those frames to load which, in a contemporary S&W, automatically ejected ALL fired cartridges just by mechanical means.  I think there's a very good reason that these never took-off.

Browning's gas-operated firearms utilized gas to load, eject, and cock the firearm, and this is a big distinction to me.

Furthermore, as it pertains to the 1911, I believe that much of its tarnished reputation of late comes from how widely copied it is and the ubiquity of hollow-point ammunition today--something it was never designed for.  I have never experienced a malfunction with any Colt or USGI 1911 or 1911A1 when using USGI or OEM magazines and ball ammunition.  I have had a plethora of frustrating range experiences with modern copies, including some by Auto-Ord. and Springfield Armory (their G.I. version) and some Kimbers before they were broken-in.  And my modern Colts with their "dimpled" feed ramp have been reliable with hollow-points.  I even fed them some Keith 452423 rounds, and never had an issue.  Regardless, Browning's tilting barrel design has become dominant, whether that is accomplished via a swinging barrel link or a cam. 

It frustrates me how the 1911 is viewed almost as a manufacturer rather than a design.  On other designs, shortcomings are properly attributed to how well each clone manufacturer executes said design.  With the 1911's, I've often seen the entire design condemned because someone bought a dirt-cheap clone and/or tried to use hollow-points with a non-modified 1911 (not suggesting this is the OP's experience).  PROPERLY-constructed 1911's are, in my experience, very reliable, though most USGI 1911A1's I had to qualify with in the army were well worn-out and not too accurate.

As for the BAR, I still believe it was revolutionary.  Sure, it was big, heavy, and clunky.  But envisioned tactics of the day placed value on "walking fire"--i.e., advancing with the rifle firing from the hip.  So it met the standard that was expected, irregardless of how impractical that tactic proved to be.  And its actual design WAS copied successfully, and not just in the Belgium versions of the BAR.  When I was first introduced to the M240 machine gun as a tanker in the Army National Guard, I realized that the action was little more than a BAR turned upside down.  The Belgians had just developed Browning's action into an outstanding machine gun that remains my favorite 7.62 cal machine gun ever.

Just this past Guard Drill (no longer a tanker), I examined the latest .50 caliber machine guns adopted by the US Army.  Although initially dismayed that they'd modified the design to no longer allow (or require, whichever one prefers) the operator to set headspace or timing, the overall mechanics remained the same.  It was explained to me that they'd finally developed the precision to manufacture them so that both headspace (utilizing interrupted threads on the barrel ala takedown rifles) and timing could be set at the factory and remain correct for a long time.  Regardless, the fact that this 100-plus year-old design is still our standard .50 cal heavy machine gun is a testament to Browning's genius.

As for some of his other designs, particularly some of his lever-actions, I have often wondered how much genius there was in his difficult-to-disassemble and non-intuitively-shaped parts (for reassembly).  I'll tear into a Winchester with no hesitation, but I have to be really motivated to work on an 1886 or 1895.  It always puzzled me how brilliant the design of the 1911 was in its ease of disassembly vs. many of his other sporting designs that seemed to have never been intended for anyone of average skill to take apart.

Offline Dirty Dick

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Re: Was Browning the first one to develope gas operated firearms?
« Reply #22 on: February 09, 2021, 06:26:15 PM »
 ;D I understand the John Browning created his first machine gun based on an 1873 Winchester, using a gas impingement system at the muzzle connected to a lever that cycled the action and a return spring to return to battery and fire again. Saw a picture of it somewhere.
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Offline Major 2

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Re: Was Browning the first one to develope gas operated firearms?
« Reply #23 on: February 09, 2021, 07:32:21 PM »
;D I understand the John Browning created his first machine gun based on an 1873 Winchester, using a gas impingement system at the muzzle connected to a lever that cycled the action and a return spring to return to battery and fire again. Saw a picture of it somewhere.

The Colt Potato Digger (actually based on the  1886 level action rifles)

It was lighter than the Maxim and the Vickers at the time which were watered cooled
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Offline Drydock

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Re: Was Browning the first one to develope gas operated firearms?
« Reply #24 on: February 09, 2021, 07:45:31 PM »
The Potato Digger uses a tilting bolt locking system, much like an SKS.    Indeed, in many ways the SKS is a Potato digger flipped over.  Lots of Browning ideas got borrowed over the years.  The STG 44 was another tilt bolt design.   

I would agree many of JMBs manual operated guns were overthought.  Hepburn (Marlin) made better lever actions.  Browning hit his stride with automatic weapons.   But Colt and FN kept a lot of engineers busy simplifying his designs for production.
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Offline llanerosolitario

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Re: Was Browning the first one to develope gas operated firearms?
« Reply #25 on: February 09, 2021, 07:50:25 PM »
The first to offer a gun that would eject and feed using gas were the Clair Brothers of France, who were working on it as early as middle 1880s..according to Pollards History of firearms, chapter 12, by C.H.Roads.

The first sucessful automatic pistol was the Schonberger pistol,  1892, first made by the Austrian factory at Steyr and they were a practical application of the Laumann’s patents of 1890, 91 and 92.

It used a bottleneck cartridge, a quite advanced idea.

So no, Browning was not the first one to develope a gun that would eject and feed from a magazine, despite Browning arms company and History Channel mitifications who claim that in 1890 he was the inventor of that principle.

There was other people before him developing the automatic firearm, that would eject and feed using inertia or gas.

The primitive Ybarra revolvers were sucessful, as they were tested by the Spanish government, ans that’s why they decided to invest money building a new revolver for the army, something that Piñal would do.

The cases were extracted by direct gas expelling the case out of the chamber and deflecting it to the side. At the end, and as Mr 0D#3 wisely explains, there were contemporary  automatic ejection revolver designs like the SWs and Webleys and the advantages of the system were not great...thougth one advantage is that you  can shoot and reload the empty chamber so you allways have six rounds on the gun.

Offline Drydock

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Re: Was Browning the first one to develope gas operated firearms?
« Reply #26 on: February 09, 2021, 08:03:55 PM »
So?  I showed you an english design that goes back to 1866.  Napoleon had engineers working on self loading concepts in 1809. There were Wheellock revolvers in the 1600s.  Archimedes showed expanding gas can do work.  There is nothing new under the sun.  I still don't understand the argument.  Unless you're simply saying that there are stupid people running museums and the History Channel.  That I most heartly agree with.  The history channel has not been about history for the last 20 years.

And there's nothing advanced about a bottleneck cartridge.  Most of the early military and civilian cartridge of the 1860s were bottleneck.  The 450/577, .42 Russian, .43 Spanish, .44-77, .40-70 BN, all date prior to 1870.
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Offline Dirty Dick

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Re: Was Browning the first one to develope gas operated firearms?
« Reply #27 on: February 09, 2021, 09:30:09 PM »
 ;D ;D  Popcorn   ;D ;D
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Offline OD#3

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Re: Was Browning the first one to develope gas operated firearms?
« Reply #28 on: February 09, 2021, 09:59:28 PM »
While I don't credit Browning with the first automatic firearm, I haven't been able to find an authoritative source to nail down precisely when the Clair Bros first began experimenting with gas operation vs. Browning.  Both were close to each other, and I don't know if Browning knew of their efforts.  Regardless, theirs was a flop, and his model 1895 machine gun was successful. 

I don't worship JMB as "Gun Jesus" like some others do, but he certainly had a knack for designing firearms that worked well and were pioneering designs in how they were eventually adopted almost universally (like tilting barrels in automatic pistols).

If any here have been fortunate enough to acquire a copy of Hatcher's Notebook, his lessons on the development of Garand's rifle  vs. competitors informs the reader about what makes a new design successful and how "better" can be the enemy of "good".  Some of the competing designs were promising but suffered from excessive malfunctions and/or parts breakage, or included specific features the Army was dead-set against (like Pederson's lubricated cartridges). 

He also recalled a conversation he had with JMB in which he was declaring him the best firearms inventor of all time, to which Browning replied that it was actually Pederson.  He explained that his own best designs were behind him, but Pederson was young and already showing greater talent than Browning had at the same age. For example, Pederson's .276 rifle that competed against the Garand was almost entirely worked out in Pederson's head and on the drawing board and then a prototype was made that worked right from the start.  He had a singular ability to design his firearms this way without having to work his way up through various iterations of malfunctioning prototypes.  I've often wondered what would have been the final outcome between him and Garand if he'd hit upon the fluted chamber principle rather than going with those hard wax-lubricated cartridges.  The whole caliber thing might have knocked him out in the end, anyway, but...

Wow, didn't mean to meander so much.  Sufficed to say, that I wouldn't be at all surprised to find other celebrated inventors being unearthed who were actually the first to experiment with what others eventually got all the recognition for.  But I'll wager that the forgotten ones were ignored for good reason.  They could come up with a new concept, but couldn't really make it practical.

Offline llanerosolitario

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Re: Was Browning the first one to develope gas operated firearms?
« Reply #29 on: February 09, 2021, 10:08:29 PM »
It was a quite advanced idea to develope the first semiautomatic pistol cartridge in bottle neck configuration..thougtht I dont know  it it was rimless...as it was a bad idea to abandom that configuration in all pistol cartridges designs developed in the last 80 years except for a few exceptions.

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Offline llanerosolitario

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Re: Was Browning the first one to develope gas operated firearms?
« Reply #30 on: February 09, 2021, 10:38:54 PM »


The  Garand..and I had a danish isuue one like 25 years ago, was an over engeneeried design that only a very rich nation like the US could afford to adopt.

An overrated rifle that offers a bit more at a  high price in manufacturing cost, weigth and reliability under mud conditions.

About the 1911s I owned, they were all Colt except the spanish clones...the 38 super was a series 70..the others were deries 80s and my opinions are not based only on own exoeriences but about what I see at the club....its probably the system that gives more troubles....except the terrible M9 Beretta.
by comparison,  the Cz75 is trouble free.

My old Astra 400 is trouble free and has seen a war. The old Brno 75 has a perfect grip and shoots like heaven and rarely fails
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Offline Dave T

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Re: Was Browning the first one to develope gas operated firearms?
« Reply #31 on: February 10, 2021, 08:18:36 AM »
If we concede to the OP that all American firearms designs are crap (and we are all just nationalistic about it) and everything designed in Europe was earlier and superior...can we end this?

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Offline River City John

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Re: Was Browning the first one to develope gas operated firearms?
« Reply #32 on: February 10, 2021, 08:55:05 AM »
llanerosolitario has presented some interesting material, and it's good every once in awhile to be given a global perspective.

I think we miss the point - that gun manufacturers around the world influence each other's designs. Look how Smith & Wesson's design was used as the basic platform for that "gas-operated" Spanish revolver.

Every country can be rightfully recognized for their manufacturing contributions to the world of firearms creation.

(As to the 1911, it has been said that by the laws of aerodynamics the bumblebee is too ungainly to be able to fly. Yet it does, and Mother Nature continues to produce them, so  that must make it a successful design for it's purpose.)

This thread has just enough nose tweaking to send us all to the reference books, thereby educating us all. I'd term that a success, with very little actual blood spilled and a satisfying amount of national pride displayed on all sides.

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Offline llanerosolitario

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Re: Was Browning the first one to develope gas operated firearms?
« Reply #33 on: February 10, 2021, 09:22:19 AM »
If we concede to the OP that all American firearms designs are crap (and we are all just nationalistic about it) and everything designed in Europe was earlier and superior...can we end this?

Dave

I don’t think so at all. I just don’t like myths. I have allways hated myths. I hate them...!

Many of the latest pistol  designs coming from Europe are pure  euro trash....including the veteran M9, the USP, the Walther P99s...Benelli hunting rifles....overinflated expensive British shotguns that are no better than a good double basque...

So we have a plethora of euro crap designs. I would say that most assault rifles coming from Europe can’t compare to the excellent AR15, for instance...Sigs..Fals...Hks...the American rifle is the best...period.
A far better design than the less reliable and cumbersome AK47.

So Nationalism, in itself, is not a bad thing. So being proud of J,M, Browning contributions to the development of firearms is ok...thinking that “he was the only one”..is just historically innacurate.

Thinking that the Garand  was a great design is a controversial thing. Only Americans think so.

Thinking that the 1911 is the best or one of the best is even more controversial. I am the only one who does not see it that way. Most shooters  in the 5 continents where gun ownership is legal, except  Russia, and Eastern Europe,  where they love The Brno 75, and maybe Glock, are enthuastic about it.

as a range pistol, it offers great possibilities that others  cant, thanks to its “kit” concept. But I learnt not to trust that pistol. The 1911 was designed for 45 and ball. Period. And someone said it clearly here.







Offline Cliff Fendley

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Re: Was Browning the first one to develope gas operated firearms?
« Reply #34 on: February 10, 2021, 12:04:47 PM »
I personally have never been a fan of the 1911 either but have to appreciate the design and remember it's over 100 years old. By today's standards comparing to Glocks and other striker fired pistols the 1911 probably is a less dependable weapon and certainly more complicated and more to to wrong. That said you can just feel the solidness in a 1911 compared to the new plastic pistols and the 1911 is a pleasure to shoot.

John Browning was a genius and if weren't for him the history of firearms would be much different and we wouldn't enjoy so many of our classics we take for granted today.

I'll admit many Brownings designs were a bit clunky looking but they work. My cousin and I have always kidded how the guts hang out of so many of Brownings designs when cycling the action like they are going to fall apart. The 1887 and 1897 shotguns and the model 1894 and 1895 rifles are some that come to mind.
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Offline OD#3

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Re: Was Browning the first one to develope gas operated firearms?
« Reply #35 on: February 10, 2021, 02:15:54 PM »

The  Garand..and I had a danish isuue one like 25 years ago, was an over engeneeried design that only a very rich nation like the US could afford to adopt.

An overrated rifle that offers a bit more at a  high price in manufacturing cost, weigth and reliability under mud conditions.


I still have a Danish-issue returned Garand (CMP).  I won my first military rifle match with it using Danish surplus ammo.  I don't think it fair to compare pioneering designs with more recent refinements.  Compared to military rifles today, the Garand was difficult and expensive to build--so difficult that other manufacturers (most notably International Harvester in the 1950's) had great difficulty meeting their production goals without purchasing some major components (like the receiver) from another manufacturer for a while. But when it was adopted in 1937 (when the USA's military budget was VERY small compared to other developed nations), there had been very few other self-loading rifles developed that could fire a full-power rifle cartridge, especially ones that could do so reliably, without parts breakages, and were suitable for mass-production, due to its inventor having been a tool and die maker and designing each part with a particular mass-production method in mind.  That other designs achieved parity before the mid-40's, and its superiority had been thoroughly eclipsed by the 1950's is irrelevant to how it compared to its peers at the beginning of WWII.  So I think it deserves high regard, historically.

Likewise, the M9 Beretta, given the era in which it was adopted.  I was in the military then and despised it, only because it meant that the US was abandoning the .45 ACP, which in ball form, we all believed to be superior to 9mm NATO. But the first time I qualified with one, I marveled at how smooth its breech-locking system worked and at how accurate it was.  I've never had a malfunction with one and considered it my most reliable weapon system on my tank in Iraq (once I'd scraped the parkerizing from the inside of the issued Checkmate magazines, but that magazine snafu is another story).  It, too, was eclipsed long before being replaced; but back in the late 1970's, when double-stack 9mm's other than Browning hi-powers were becoming popular, it was a top-notch design among its peers. 

The 1911's biggest Achilles heel may be its "kit" concept you referred to.  In its basic G.I. and commercial form, it is a reliable .45 ball-feeder, for which it was designed.  Add all the bells and whistles, recoil buffers, accuracy mods, etc., and it can become finicky.  And too many aficionados consider these mods a "must" for any serious 1911 shooter.   

I echo your high praise for the CZ-75.  Unfortunately, it was banned from importation into the US during its early years and do did not have the chance to really compete with what was available here back then.  There were Tanfoglio "clones" and the Israeli Jericho/ Baby Eagles, but they didn't quite do the CZ justice.  Having owned more than a few 75's, I never can keep one around for more than a few years.  Every time I take one to the range, its performance and ergonomics have me chastising myself for ever selling its predecessor and resolving never to do so again, only to have some friend or other talk me out of it later with a trade worth just a little bit more.  I always tell myself that I'll just buy another one eventually, provided they don't quit making them.  Excellent pistol whose only Achilles heel was its liability to break slide-stops eventually.  I still have some spares for when I inevitably acquire another one.  Never had an Astra 400.  Always wanted one.

Your comment about the M16 family of rifles had me chuckling.  My Guard unit once trained in Romania with some of their mountain troops, and we conducted a weapons familiarity exercise with them where we shot each others' weapons.  They each had a low opinion of the M16 (these were M16A2's) compared to their AK-74--until they shot them.  One Romanian in particular was impressed with its 300 meter performance and commented in his heavy "Count Drakula" accent, "Its precision.  Like Swiss watch!"  There have been many developments with that system since I first fired one in basic training, various piston designs being hailed the most.  But outside of some of the accuracy-enhancing free-floating handguards and optics, I never found these variants to be worth their outrageous prices, regardless of what the HK and FN fans believe.       

 

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