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  1. #1
    WineGuyD is offline Junior Member
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    Could this revolver be a Browning?








    Could JMB be John Moses Browning? There is some sort of proof mark or logo to the left of the initials, I can't quite make it out.


    Serial #3





    Note the oval markings at 9 o'clock, can't make out the letters too well





    I just inherited this antique DA break barrel revolver from my father who got it at a gun show about 30 years ago. The gun is sterile except for two faint markings on the cylinder face, a serial number of 3 on the bottom of the strap and two more markings hidden on the inside frame strap(see pics), there are no signs that any markings have been removed. I believe the gun is in the .32 family based on my non high precision calipers, five rounds, and the barrel is 3 5/16" long. The cylinder is 1 1/16" long.

    Is there any other gun maker or manufacturer that uses the initials "JMB"? If not, and certainly the letters could be an individuals initials, has anyone heard of John Moses Browning prototyping or modifying a revolver? Any provenance would be welcome.

  2. #2
    Steve M1911A1's Avatar
    Steve M1911A1 is online now Senior Member
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    You have a Belgian copy of a generically Smith-&-Wesson-style revolver. The Oval-mark-and-letters you note, on the rear face of its cylinder, is a proof-house mark from Liege, Belgium.
    While some Browning-designed guns have always been made in Liege, Belgium, none of them are revolvers. To my knowledge, Browning did not design any revolvers.
    The "JMB" mark on its grip, underneath the grip panel, could mean absolutely anything, including one-time ownership by John M. Browning. But to connect this gun to Browning, personally, would require a paper trail and a lot of research. It is also possible that this gun was an import, purchased from Browning's shop in Utah; but proving that, too, would require a lot of research and a strong paper trail.
    I am not certain that the "3" stamped on the butt of this gun is its serial number. When this pistol was made, there was no specific requirement for a serial number. On the other hand, it may indeed be a serial number, but, without knowing the actual maker of the gun, or its importer into the US, it's impossible to tell.
    If you are interested in research, and if you can connect this pistol to either John Browning or to Browning's shop, you will have a very valuable antique gun on your hands. Without those connections, I think that it will prove to be neither particularly interesting nor worth very much.
    But I could be wrong.

  3. #3
    WineGuyD is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve M1911A1 View Post
    You have a Belgian copy of a generically Smith-&-Wesson-style revolver. The Oval-mark-and-letters you note, on the rear face of its cylinder, is a proof-house mark from Liege, Belgium.
    While some Browning-designed guns have always been made in Liege, Belgium, none of them are revolvers. To my knowledge, Browning did not design any revolvers.
    The "JMB" mark on its grip, underneath the grip panel, could mean absolutely anything, including one-time ownership by John M. Browning. But to connect this gun to Browning, personally, would require a paper trail and a lot of research. It is also possible that this gun was an import, purchased from Browning's shop in Utah; but proving that, too, would require a lot of research and a strong paper trail.
    I am not certain that the "3" stamped on the butt of this gun is its serial number. When this pistol was made, there was no specific requirement for a serial number. On the other hand, it may indeed be a serial number, but, without knowing the actual maker of the gun, or its importer into the US, it's impossible to tell.
    If you are interested in research, and if you can connect this pistol to either John Browning or to Browning's shop, you will have a very valuable antique gun on your hands. Without those connections, I think that it will prove to be neither particularly interesting nor worth very much.
    But I could be wrong.
    Steve, thank you so much for all the info and insight...you've given me a lot to think about. It might be a fun, if not futile, project to try to link the gun to Browning one way or another. Do you have any guestimate of year of manufacture, or at least a range of years? Can you point me to any historical organizations that might help me make the connection. Do you think it would be safe to try to shoot it...the bore is clean and only shows minor pitting and the gun feels tight.

  4. #4
    WineGuyD is offline Junior Member
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    Steve, I did a little research and it seems that the majority of the Belgian clones were mostly in .44 and some in .38, I could not find any in .32 - do you think that adds value to the gun even without a Browning connection?

  5. #5
    Steve M1911A1's Avatar
    Steve M1911A1 is online now Senior Member
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    If it is indeed a .32, it's probably bored for the .32 S&W cartridge, which is not particularly powerful. Nevertheless, I would not shoot it.
    Even though it was probably a cheap gun, it was proofed in a reliable, government-run proof house. But I believe that it was proofed for black, not smokeless, powder. Smokeless powder's more abrupt discharge might overstress it.
    It probably dates from some time between 1890 and 1920, but it could be a little older, or a little younger, than that.

    Even if the caliber is very rare, the gun type isn't. Thus even this potential rarity, also, would require some understanding of when and by whom it was made.

  6. #6
    acepilot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WineGuyD View Post
    Steve, thank you so much for all the info and insight...you've given me a lot to think about. It might be a fun, if not futile, project to try to link the gun to Browning one way or another. Do you have any guestimate of year of manufacture, or at least a range of years? Can you point me to any historical organizations that might help me make the connection. Do you think it would be safe to try to shoot it...the bore is clean and only shows minor pitting and the gun feels tight.
    You might try sending the pictures to Guns and Ammo magazine. They have a monthly column called "Gun Room" where readers send photos of guns for identification and rough estimates of value. You might try emailing them at gunsandammo@IMOutdoors.com and maybe use "Gun Room" as the subject.

  7. #7
    WineGuyD is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by acepilot View Post
    You might try sending the pictures to Guns and Ammo magazine. They have a monthly column called "Gun Room" where readers send photos of guns for identification and rough estimates of value. You might try emailing them at gunsandammo@IMOutdoors.com and maybe use "Gun Room" as the subject.
    Great idea...thanks!

  8. #8
    dogngun is offline Junior Member
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    I have owned a few older top break revolvers over the last 45 years This looks like a combination of features from S&W and several other makers as well as maybe some innovations by the actual maker. From the cylinder length, it might be chambered for the .32 S&W cartridge, which was originally a black powder cartridge. USUALLY US made guns of this type with flat hammer springs rather than coil springs were designed for black powder use, and made between the 1880's and 1910, by which time most makers in the US either went to stronger smokeless powder designs or went out of business completely. The later small top breaks were made in the US by Iver Johnson, H&R and S&W and production of all of them ended with the advent of WWII. H&R did make a few top break revolvers in the 1950's and '60's, but they did not well well.

    Some tips...DO NOT USE Hoppe's solvents on these old nickel plated guns - it will loosen the plating and it will flake right off after time. Use CLP or Froglube to clean and lube the gun. If you take the grips off, be very careful - do not pry them off, but back the screw most of the way out and then use it to pop off that grip and tap the other one out. They were made of hard rubber, and are now very brittle and impossible to replace and they will break very easily.

    To me, this looks like a European made revolver from near the beginning of the 20th century. The stamp on the cylinder is ELG, a Belgian prof mark. JMB might be anything, but I doubt it has to do with Browning, who designed many auto pistols that were directly competing with revolvers. Still, it is a nice old gun and deserves respect and a decent cleaning. If not for the rust, it might sell online for around $140.

    mark

  9. #9
    WineGuyD is offline Junior Member
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    Belgian...but what?

    Quote Originally Posted by dogngun View Post
    I have owned a few older top break revolvers over the last 45 years This looks like a combination of features from S&W and several other makers as well as maybe some innovations by the actual maker. From the cylinder length, it might be chambered for the .32 S&W cartridge, which was originally a black powder cartridge. USUALLY US made guns of this type with flat hammer springs rather than coil springs were designed for black powder use, and made between the 1880's and 1910, by which time most makers in the US either went to stronger smokeless powder designs or went out of business completely. The later small top breaks were made in the US by Iver Johnson, H&R and S&W and production of all of them ended with the advent of WWII. H&R did make a few top break revolvers in the 1950's and '60's, but they did not well well.

    Some tips...DO NOT USE Hoppe's solvents on these old nickel plated guns - it will loosen the plating and it will flake right off after time. Use CLP or Froglube to clean and lube the gun. If you take the grips off, be very careful - do not pry them off, but back the screw most of the way out and then use it to pop off that grip and tap the other one out. They were made of hard rubber, and are now very brittle and impossible to replace and they will break very easily.

    To me, this looks like a European made revolver from near the beginning of the 20th century. The stamp on the cylinder is ELG, a Belgian prof mark. JMB might be anything, but I doubt it has to do with Browning, who designed many auto pistols that were directly competing with revolvers. Still, it is a nice old gun and deserves respect and a decent cleaning. If not for the rust, it might sell online for around $140.

    mark
    Thanks Mark, consensus agrees that it is Belgian, .32 and turn of last century. The JMB and #3 on the strap really have me intrigued, I've reached out to the Browning estate but never got a response. One of the suggestions above was that the gun might have been imported by John Browning for either his personal use or for sale in his store...I like that thought, even if not provable. Kind of makes sense though, wouldn't you agree?

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