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Browning Arms: Respected Firearms Maker

Browning Company History

Browning Arms Company History

Founded in 1878 to market non-military firearms, the Browning Arms Company has been a respected maker of fine sporting rifles and shotguns for nearly a century and half. The company was created by legendary firearms designer John Moses Browning.

John Browning was born in Ogden, Utah and started the company there with five brothers. As one of the world's most important firearms designer and innovator, he was best known for inventing such iconic guns as the M1911 pistol, Winchester Model 1892 lever action, and M2 “Ma Deuce” machine gun.

The Browning Arms Company is currently a fully owned subsidiary of Belgian firearms manufacturer FN Herstal and is known for their sporting arms like the A5 and BPS shotguns, the BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle) and the A-Bolt and X-Bolt bolt action centerfire rifles. 

The A5 was adopted for military use by the USA, Great Britain, the Philippines, and the now defunct African state of Rhodesia, and saw service in both world wars as well as the Rhodesian Bush War of the 1960s and 1970s. Production of the A5 initially ceased in the late 1990s, but it was re-introduced by Browning as a sporting shotgun in 2014. The BAR, designed by John Browning’s grandson, Bruce Browning, was introduced to the market in 1967 as the only semi-automatic hunting rifle on the market offered in magnum chamberings at the time.



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Popular Browning Rifles

Often claimed as one of the best firearms designers in history, Browning has sought a long-time commitment to innovation. Some of the most popular Browning shotguns and rifles include the Auto-5 (A5), Automatic Rifle (BAR), A-Bolt, X-Bolt and BPS (Browning Pump Shotgun). Let’s take a look at the best features of these top selling models.

Browning A5

Browning Auto-5

First introduced in 1905, the Browning Auto-5 (A5) is a recoil operated semi-automatic shotgun touted as being the first successful commercially available semi-auto shotgun. Since the design is recoil operated, in that the recoil generated during the firing of a round works the bolt to eject the spent case, chamber a new round, and re-cock the hammer, there is no gas system that needs to be cleaned and maintained making for simple operation and upkeep.

Browning BAR

Browning Automatic Rifle

Although it shares its name with the famed light machine gun employed by US servicemen in the first two world wars, the civilian firearm to go by the name is a gas operated semi-automatic hunting rifle offered in a variety of configurations and chambered in a number of popular hunting rounds. The Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) design has been adjusted over the decades with guns produced before 1976 designated Type 1 rifles, those produced from 1976 to 1992 called the Type 2, and those produced from 1993 onward designated the Mark II. The Mark II saw notable improvements to the design including an improved trigger assembly and a more reliable gas operating system.

Browning A-Bolt

Browning A-Bolt

Introduced in 1984, the A-Bolt bolt action rifle features a short, 60-degree bolt lift and a non-rotating bolt sleeve. When unlocked, three guide ribs on the bolt sleeve align with the three locking lugs to allow the bolt to move without binding. The feeding of rounds from the magazine into the chamber is improved by a patented cartridge depressor that stays in position, independent of the bolt rotation, as the bolt slides gently over the cartridges in the magazine. Additionally, a recessed bolt face completely surrounds the cartridge base.

Browning X-Bolt

Browning X-Bolt

The bolt action X-Bolt sports a number of accuracy enhancing features including a free floated barrel; a recessed muzzle crown to protect the rifling from damage; a user adjustable Feather Trigger to allow a trigger pull of 3 to 5 lbs.; a robust, four screws per base scope base design; a 60-degree bolt lift; and a lightweight, detachable polymer rotary magazine. The X-Bolt is currently chambered in 23 different centerfire rifle cartridges, meaning there is an X-Bolt option for hunting all manner of game from ground squirrels to bison. The X-Bolt is also offered in a number of different configurations optimized for a wide variety of hunting and shooting situations, ranging from the classic sporter styled Medallion and Micro-Midas, to the heavy barreled Eclipse Varmint and Eclipse Target.

Browning BPS

Browning Pump Shotgun

Browning’s sole pump action shotgun offering, the BPS, features an all-steel receiver, dual steel action bars, and a bottom load/ejection system that makes the gun one of the few ambidextrous shotgun offerings on the market today. Offered in .410, 28-gauge, 20-gauge, 16-gauge, 12-gauge, and 10-gauge, there is a BPS available to cover all manner of game from squirrels to high flying geese. Specialty turkey models and fully rifled deer models are also available. 20 and 12-gauge models come with back-bored barrels, meaning bore diameters are slightly larger than typical 20 and 12-gauge bores. Back boring is said to reduce friction between the shot cup and the barrel, allowing the energy developed by the powder to propel the shot pellets to a higher velocity, reduce pellet deformation, and improve patterns.

Browning Firearms Gunstock Options

There are a number of reasons why the owner of a Browning firearm would want to replace the factory supplied stock with a hardwood laminate stock. First and foremost, wood stocks, for all their aesthetic appeal, can become damaged or break and will need to be replaced. Maybe a dinged up and well-used but otherwise functional BPS is inherited from a relative. The gun has many more hunts ahead of it, but the beat up stock is rough on the eyes. Such a gun is a prime candidate for a durable and attractive replacement.

Alternatively, a hunter may purchase a synthetic stocked X-Bolt in preparation for an upcoming elk hunt. The gun is amazingly accurate, but the hunter dislikes the artificial, plastic-like feel of the synthetic stock. It would make sense in this case to swap the factory stock with a Boyds replacement as the hardwood laminate composition offers the tactile feel of a classic wood stock while also retaining the strength and weather resistance of a synthetic stock.

Finally, a Boyds stock can be the perfect solution for situations in which a gun is a poor fit given the size of the shooter. Many stocks, especially the fully adjustable At-One stock, allow for length of pull and comb height to be optimally matched to a given shooter, optics setup, or shooting situation. Improved ergonomics translates to smaller groups and more game meat on the table.

To find the right Boyds stock for a given firearm, select your Make, Model and Action in our Gunstock Configurator drop-down tool at the top of the page.


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