Small Scale 1911

Browning’s 85 Percent Solution

My favorite picture of John Browning shows him standing in his workshop, holding up his hand and estimating the size of a needed new part between his outstretched thumb and forefinger while one of his machinists has grabbed a vernier caliper and is quickly measuring and recording the distance between those gifted fingers. It exemplifies the mechanical genius he was, not someone hunched over a drafting table, but a mechanic who would file, chisel or machine part-by-part of a new firearm design he could visualize in his fertile mind.

I can imagine him today standing there at his cluttered workbench which has been recreated at the John M. Browning Firearms Museum in Ogden, Utah, setting out the dimensions of a new Model 1911 chambered for the .22 Long Rifle. That he didn’t, opened up a unique opportunity for Browning’s current engineers to do something especially creative for the 100th anniversary of the United States Military’s adoption of the Model of 1911. What they created has turned out to be a sensational, new rimfire handgun. So let there be a nice drum roll for the introduction of the Browning 1911-22.

According to Browning’s Firearms Manager, Denny Wilcox, the 1911-22 has been in the hopper since 2008 when work on the concept began. It’s existence up until the 2011 SHOT Show was a well-kept secret. Browning knows how to keep secrets when it comes to firearms in the design phase. I had an opportunity to visit the Browning engineering offices one summer. When you entered an engineer’s office, he either turned his computer off or turned to something less than confidential. It reminded me of the stories of the old English gun trade in which the individual craftsmen would cover up the work on their bench with their apron if anyone approached. Anyway, I don’t think you’d have much luck being an industrial spy in the Browning engineering offices.

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