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Post by 81police » Fri May 11, 2012 1:26 pm

Before Remington released the rifle that was to become the Model 8 in 1906, John Browning built a functioning prototype of his long recoil rifle. This gun was probably constructed between 1903-1905 in both the United States and in Belgium. Note under the safety “SUR”, a French word meaning “ON”, in this case suggesting safe or safety on. This rifle currently resides at the John M. Browning Firearms Museum in Ogden, UT.

model8_02 copy.jpg
Photo courtesy Lee Witten, Ogden Union Station
model8_02 copy.jpg (305.31 KiB) Viewed 805 times
Photo courtesy Lee Witten, Ogden Union Station
model8_01copy.jpg (76.94 KiB) Viewed 805 times

Most of the unique features that set this rifle apart from production rifles are depicted throughout the many patents related to the Model 8. A few are explained below.

Operating handle
Browning’s original long-recoil patent (659,786) did not have an operating handle at all, rather a cocking mechanism underneath the stock. It wasn’t until 1905 Browning filed patent (853,438) for the operating handle found on all Model 8’s. This operating handle is very similar to production 8’s but has slots instead of dimples for removal of the operating handle bushing. The “T shaped portion” of the op. handle, as Browning called it, is much longer and slides further into the bolt carrier than production versions.

Safety lever
The presence of a thumb safety did not appear until Browning’s 3rd rifle patent 984,263. Prior to the rifle was designed to use a “suicide safety” inside the trigger guard similar to early A5 shotguns. This particular lever is shaped differently than any of the 3 production Model 8 safety levers. There is also no detent cover.

Barrel nut
The barrel nut on this prototype is first seen in patent 853,438 which did not make it as a production item. It appears this barrel nut was removed using a type of face spanner wrench. For reasons unknown a barrel nut requiring a C spanner for disassembly was preferred.

The trigger is less curved than those found on Model 8 & 81's.

Rear sight
As pointed out by John Henwood, the ladder rear sight is what you’d find on Winchester 1892’s and some 1894 Carbines.

The rifle is fitted with an FN Auto-5 shotgun buttplate.
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Re: JMB's Pre-Model 8 PROTOTYPE

Post by Sarge756 » Fri May 11, 2012 2:41 pm

Thanks for the history lesson Cam. Is it just my old eyes or the illusion with the bolt handle slot and safety being different that makes it look like the receiver is longer than our 8`s ? Great to have more background information on these great rifles.
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Re: JMB's Pre-Model 8 PROTOTYPE

Post by Rem8&81 » Fri May 11, 2012 4:37 pm

Cam, Thanks for adding the pictures and observations, all very observant and accurate. I've viewed the gun in person several times and it is truely a great piece. Something Cam did not mention is the eyelet sling loop mounted in a threaded hole on the barrel, much like the late model 8's & 81's. Cam is correct about work on the prototype occuring in both the US and Belgium. It is said that a rough version of the prototype (probably this one) was sent ahead to Winchester with a prototype of the A5 shotgun. Upon the breakdown of terms with Winchester regarding the two guns, Browning supposedly went into their R&D and retrieved them both. Most of us have heard that the next stop was with Remington, but the president died during a board meeting while John waited in reception, which threw any possible deal there into chaos. He then took them on the boat to FN who was already making his 1899 and 1900 pistol. Of course they were thrilled to be offered the opportunity to produce just about anything John came up with and on his basic terms. It is there that he supposedly finished off the details to the prototypes and worked to refine them into production models. Such details were the FN buttplate and the SUR safe stamping. Some question whether both guns were originally at Wincherster's R&D or whether John broght them or even if the rifle prototype was there at all. Most agree that the Autoloading shotgun was at least there. I happen to believe that they were both there in some form, because the story goes that after departing Remington's facility he booked passage on the boat to Europe and did not return home to Ogden Utah before his trip. It is known that he arrived in Belgium with the rifle, so unless he somehow constructed it on the boat (he didn't), it had to of existed during the meeting with Winchester. I think the story helps us understand how the prototype came to possess FN features as seen in the photos and described. Great job Cam providing us with the pictures and description!
Last edited by Rem8&81 on Wed Sep 05, 2012 2:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: JMB's Pre-Model 8 PROTOTYPE

Post by Roger » Sat May 12, 2012 5:56 am

Thanks for the great photo s ,Cameron. Also very good to know some details on the prototype rifle.Corey, according to JMB biography there were at least 2 or possibly 3 models in the Winchester R@ D dept. For around 2 yrs. Maybe the rifle was one of them. I'm not sure whether they specify anything in the book. I'm getting forgetful in my old age! I would have to re-read that chapter. Thanks for all the good info,I'm always trying to learn more about JMB's guns. What a true American genius he really was.

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