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American Firearms and Their Makers: A Research Guide

Allen, Browning, Bullard

Browning Gun

Bain News Service. Browning Gun. [1918]. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Ethan Allen (1808 – 1871) was a major American arms maker from Massachusetts. He operated under several trade names, beginning in 1831 as E.Allen, then Allen & Thurber, Allen & Wheelock, and finally E. Allen and Company 1865-1871. Allen's first firearm, developed in 1836, was the Pocket Rifle, a single-shot under-hammer percussion pistol. Allen and Thurber pepperboxes were the most popular multi-shot pistols of the 1830s and 1840s, slowly losing market share in the 1850s to Colt's 1849 Pocket and 1851 Navy revolvers. The later pepperbox revolvers were produced well into Allen and Wheelock era.

The Browning Arms Company was founded in Ogden, Utah, in 1878 by brothers John Moses Browning (1855-1926) and Matthew Sandefur Browning (1859-1923). John Moses Browning, sometimes referred to as the “father of modern firearms,” designed many iconic firearms, including military and automatic weapons. Many of the guns manufactured by companies whose names evoke the history of the American West, including Colt and Winchester, were actually based on John Browning's designs. Among the most famous guns Browning designed were the Winchester Model 1886 lever-action rifle, the Colt-Browning Model 1895 machine gun, the Colt Model 1911 semiautomatic pistol, the Remington Model 1905 semiautomatic shotgun, a variety of 30- and 50-caliber machine guns used in World War II, and the Browning Automatic-5 shotgun first made in 1902 and still produced today.

Bullard Repeating Arms Association was established in Springfield, Massachusetts, early in 1882 by James H. Bullard. It manufactured Bullard’s patented large and small frame repeating rifles, single shot rifles, and military and experimental models. Bullard rifles were handmade and custom fitted.

The following materials link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to online resources are included when available.

Ethan Allen