POTD: John Moses Browning’s Flapper Gun – His First Machine Gun


POTD: John Moses Browning’s Flapper Gun – His First Machine Gun

Welcome to the very first Photo of the Day (POTD) on AllOutdoor.com. Starting off things right with a moment of engineering realization, the Flapper. As the story goes in 1890 John Moses Browning was out doing some sporting with his rifle and he noticed that the tall grass and weeds would move as gasses and energy was expelled out of the barrel after the bullet had left it. This was a lightbulb moment for Browning. He saw inefficiency and wasted power. This realization would change firearm designs as we know them.

Browning designed a prototype attempting to harness the expelled gasses trailing behind a bullet. He did this by modifying a Winchester 1873 rifle. He essentially made a cup with a hole in it and placed it at the muzzle attached to a hinging mechanism with a long bar attached to the lever on the rifle. When the rifle was shot the gas would push the washer downward forcing the hinge to pull the lever forward and then spring tension brought it back and would be fired again. This was Browning’s proof of concept gas-powered machine gun. It was later referred to as the Flapper Gun.

Colt 1895 Machine Gun (Potato Digger). Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Above is one of the first results just five years later, the Colt 1895 Belt-Fed Machine Gun. This was Browning’s design and it was dubbed “The Potato Digger” because if it was placed low enough to the ground the small arm at the front that hinged down would dig a hole.

Thank you for tuning in for AllOutdoor’s first POTD! See you tomorrow!

Legendary Browning “Flapper” Model 1873. Ogden Utah, 2016, www.browning.com/news/articles/finding-and-restoring-the-legendary-browning-flapper-model-1873.html. Accessed 13 Mar. 2021. 

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Writer | TheFirearmBlog Writer | AllOutdoor.com Instagram | sfsgunsmith Old soul, certified gunsmith, published author, avid firearm history learner, and appreciator of old and unique guns.

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