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Old 03-28-2016, 10:50 AM
tuckerd1
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Browning .22 caliber Pistol Historical Timeline



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I need help to accurately create a historical timeline for the Browning Semi-auto .22 caliber pistol. Some of you may have seen my catalog of Buck Marks. I want to expand that to include the Nomad, Challenger and Medalist pistols. But first I want to tell yall a little about myself.

I am 64, retired, a US Navy submarine veteran, living in Alabama. I am enjoying my retirement with my wife of 44 years, riding horses and feeding my addiction for firearms.

I purchased my first pistol in 1973 at an army surplus store in Alex City, Al. It was a US Army 1911 produced in 1917. I have owned many 1911 designs since then and was a 1911 addict for years. I have purchased and sold many different models of pistols, rifles and shotguns over the years. Some of those I have sold, I truly regret. I have given a few to my sons and granddaughter. A couple of others have been lost to a couple of burglaries, during which I feel very fortunate that others were not taken.

Anyway, I purchased my first Browning .22 pistol around 1991. It was a Buck Mark Varmint. I have shot it with rifle scopes, pistol scopes and now it has a Buck Mark reflex sight on it. Two years ago I decided to buy some extra barrels for my Varmint and played with them for a year. I added a Camper last year as a plinker.

Since then I have fallen for the Buck Mark. That was when the Browning addiction really began. I decided I would like to start collecting Buck Marks and that pistols made before 1998 would be a manageable collection. I used that date because of the serial # change. Well, I have added 6 Buck Marks to my collection since then and 1 Challenger III. The Challenger opened my eyes to a broader definition of my collection. I decided that my collection had to tell the story of the Buck Mark from the beginning and the Nomad, Challenger and Medalist needed to be included.

So that gets us to my original request. Please help put together a historical timeline with detailed descriptions of the Browning .22 pistols leading up to the Buck Mark. I will take your additions and corrections and add them as they become available.

I would like to thank M2HB, aprilian, murderman and seaotter for contributions I have already included. I have also used some information from an article "The Buck Mark Story" written by Clair Rees, and an article from Guns magazine published in August 1962.

The following is what I have so far.

Browning Semi-Auto .22 caliber Pistols
Models & Variations 1961 through 1997

The semi auto .22 caliber pistol originated from the design of the Colt Woodsman by John M. Browning in 1914. The design featured a half-length slide that separated from the barrel to extract and eject expended cartridges. In 1961 Bruce Browning made changes to his grandfather's design to reduce production costs and had the new pistols manufactured in Belgium by Fabrique Nationale (FN). See the prototype pistol. The pistol was originally called the PA-22, Pistol Automatique caliber 22. The PA-22 was introduced in 1961 as 3 different models with different names for American and European markets.

Nomad (aka Standard in Europe) - The Nomad was an entry level pistol that was made 1961-1974 for the US market. From 1961 serial numbers included a model letter code and a single digit year of manufacture. P2=Nomad for 1962. Example: 01000P2 = A 1962 Nomad .22 caliber pistol with serial number 01000. In 1969 Browning started using two digits for the year of manufacture which was preceded by the model letter code: P=Nomad. These three digits followed in the serial number.. Example: 01000P69 = A 1969 Nomad .22 caliber pistol with serial number 01000.

It was produced with an alloy frame up thru 1965 and with a steel frame in 1966 and later. It had a screw adjustable rear sight, blued trigger and black Novadar plastic grips. There was no slide release or hold open latch. It was produced in 2 barrel lengths: 4.5" and 6.75".

Challenger (aka deTIR/TIR in Europe) - The Challenger is a mid-grade target pistol that was made 1962-1975. The serial number scheme was the same as the Nomad except U was used to designate the Challenger U2=Challenger for 1962. Example: 01000U2 or 01000U69.

It was produced with a steel frame. It had a screw adjustable rear sight, adjustable trigger pull weight and over travel adjustment, gold plated trigger, slide release and hold open latch. Blued finish with checkered walnut wraparound grips. Plastic wraparound grips were available in 1974 only. It was produced in 2 barrel lengths
: 4.5" and 6.75".

Renaissance Challenger - The Renaissance Challenger is deeply hand-engraved in Renaissance style. The surfaces are chrome plated in a soft satin finish. Intricate scroll work adorns the grips. They have hand fitted and polished actions. It was produced in 2 barrel lengths: 4.5" and 6.75".

Gold Line Challenger - with gold inlaid straight line style against a rich blue-black body. It was produced in 2 barrel lengths: 4.5" and 6.75".

Medalist (aka Concours in Europe) - The Medalist is a high-grade target pistol that was made 1962-1974. The serial number scheme was the same as the Nomad and Challenger except T was used to designate the Medalist. T2= Medalist for 1962. Example: 01000T2 or 01000T69.

Produced with a steel frame, 6.75" ventilated rib barrel and adjustable target sights. Blued finish with target type thumb rest walnut grips. The Medalist was sold in a presentation case with a cartridge holder, three different barrel weights and a screwdriver.

International Medalist (aka Medalist 150 in Europe) - Barrels are 5.9" (150mm). The same serial number scheme as the Medalist was used. Example: 1000T70. The International model was produced to meet the requirements on barrel length of 150mm under the European International Shooting Union Regulations. Some were being made as early as 1969. Production ended in 1974. 681 were sold in the US, although European models are being imported into the US.

US models will have the following stamped into the barrel flats:
Left side: BROWNING ARMS COMPANY
MORGAN, UTAH & MONTREAL RQ
Right side: .22 LR BROWNING PATENTS
MADE IN BELGIUM

European models will have the following stamped into the barrel flats:
Left side: FABRIQUE NATIONALE D'ARMES DE GUERRE
HERSTAL BELGIQUE
Right side: BROWNING'S PATENT DEPOSE. 22LR.
An Importer's mark will be on the pistol somewhere


Second Model International Medalist (aka International II in Europe) - Barrel length is 5.9" (150mm). It has the same serial number scheme as the previous models except an I was used to designate the International II. Example: 01000I75 = A 1975 International II .22 caliber pistol with serial number 01000.

Different rear sight from the International Medalist was used. The barrel was flat sided The pistol had a dull finish, anatomical grips with an adjustable palm rest. The barrel had an adjustable barrel weight. Made under contract in France and Canada. The Second Model International production started in 1975 to comply with changes in ISSF rules. Made in Belgium.

The second model was made starting in 1975. The specifications were developed to build a pistol that would qualify under both N.R.A. and International Shooting Union regulations. The heavy 5.9" slab sided barrel has a non-glare ventilated rib.

International II will have the following stamped into the barrel flats:
Left side: FABRIQUE NATIONALE HERSTAL
MADE IN BELGIUM
With Serial Number underneath
Right side: BROWNING ARMS COMPANY
MORGAN, UTAH & MONTREAL RQ
.22 LR. PATENT No 3.150.458


Practice 150 Medalist - Same as Second Model International with a different rear sight and a full length thumb rest grip without the adjustable palm rest. Made in France. Serial # scheme changed for this model. Example: 665PYxxxxx. I'm assuming this serial number would be for a pistol built in 1982. Made in France.

Practice 150 will have the following stamped into the barrel flats:
Left side: MADE IN FRANCE
FABRIQUE NATIONALE HERSTAL
Right side: BROWNING ARMS COMPANY MORGAN, UTAH & MONTREAL P.Q.
CALIBER .22 LONG RIFLE


Gold Line Medalist - Is an original Medaist engraved with gold inlaid straight line style against a rich blue-black body. It was produced in 6 3/4"barrel length. Estimate 407 were produced.

Renaissance Medalist - Produced from 1970-1974. It is an original Medalist deeply hand-engraved into the metal surfaces in Renaissance style. The surfaces are chrome plated in a soft satin finish. Intricate scroll work adorns the grips. They have hand fitted and polished actions. It was produced in 6 3/4"barrel length. Estimate 400 were produced.

Manufacturing Moves to the US


In 1976, to overcome increasing production costs, John Val Browning, another grandson and president of Browning, discontinued these models and introduced the Challenger II, designed by Lee Faber. Manufacturing was also moved to the US in Morgan, Utah. The Challenger II series .22 Caliber Pistol ceased production in 1982 and evolved into the Challenger III in 1983. In 1976 the serial numbers started with 655RT01001. The date of manufacture was a two digit code as follows: Z=1, Y=2, X=3, W=4, V=5, T=6, R=7, P=8, N=9, M=0. This serial number scheme continued through the Buck Mark models through 1997.

Challenger II (1976-1982) - In 1976 the Challenger II serial number started with 655RT01001. This serial number and date code was followed through 1982. It was produced with a steel frame, 6.75" barrels, adjustable sights, blued finish, plastic impregnated hardwood grips.


Challenger III - (1983-1984) In 1983 the Challenger III serial number started with 655PX01001. This serial number and date code was followed through 1985. It was produced with an alloy frame, 5.5" slab side bull barrel, adjustable sights, blued finish, laminated wood grips.


Challenger III Sporter (1983-1984) It has the same serial number convention as the standard Challenger III. It was produced with an alloy frame, 6.75" round barrel, adjustable sights, blued finish, laminated wood grips.


Buck Mark (1985-1997) - In 1985 the pistol was again revamped, this time by Joe Badali, Browning's former chief designer, and given the name Buck Mark. The Buck Mark .22 Caliber Pistol is still in production today. It is made in the U.S.A.

In 1985 the Buck Mark serial number started with 655PV01001. The date of manufacture was a two digit code as follows: Z=1, Y=2, X=3, W=4, V=5, T=6, R=7, P=8, N=9, M=0. This serial number and date code was followed through 1997.

I have found 8 distinct models of Buck Marks with 30+ variations in these models. The information included here comes from the Browning catalogs from 1985 through 1997. I have distinguished a variation as a change shown in the catalogs and I have listed only the catalog variations offered by Browning. I have used the names that Browning used.

There is one variation listed that is not shown in the catalogs (See 1990 Target 7). I am not sure of the origin of this model. Is it a custom shop order? There are other variations not listed that could include one or more options offered during this time period. Or other variations offered through a special order from the custom shop. I have decided not to try to include these because it will require research into references from Browning I do not have access to. But, I will include these later as they become known to me.

Buck Mark Models - I have defined a model as one that was designed for a different purpose. I consider the Standard to be a model and the Plus or Standard Nickel to be variations of the Standard. Also, the Target is a model, but the Target Gold and Target Nickel are variations of the Target.

1. 1985 Buck Mark (Named the Standard in 1991)
2. 1987 Buck Mark Varmint
3. 1987 Buck Mark Silhouette
4. 1990 Buck Mark Target 5.5
5. 1991 Buck Mark Field 5.5
6. 1991 Buck Mark Unlimited Silhouette Match
7. 1992 Micro Buck Mark Standard
8. 1996 Buck Mark Bullseye

Variations - I have listed what I would call the stock variations shown in the Browning catalogs. These are those pistols that would be sold without options. A list of options known at this time are shown at the end of this list.

1. 1985 Buck Mark
a. 5.5" Slab Side Bull Barrel
b. Ramp front sight, rear leaf sight screw adjustable for windage and elevation.
c. Black composite grips with skipline checkering pattern with Buck Mark medallion

2. 1987 Buck Mark
a. 5.5" Slab Side Bull Barrel
b. Ramp front sight. Micro adjustable rear sight used for first time
c. Black composite grips with skipline checkering pattern with Buck Mark medallion

3. 1987 Buck Mark Plus
a. 5.5" Slab Side Bull Barrel
b. Ramp front sight. Micro adjustable rear sight
c. Laminated wood grips with Buck Mark medallion

4. 1987 Buck Mark Varmint New Model
a. 9 7/8' .900" dia. Bull Barrel
b. Full length scope base
c. Contoured thumb rest black multi-laminated wood grips. Forearm optional

5. 1987 Buck Mark Silhouette New Model - First 300 bought by and engraved for the IHMSA and sold to its members. Each pistol numbered 1 to 300.
a. 9 7/8' .900" dia. Bull Barrel
b. Full length sight base with hooded sights. Front sight is post type, adjustable for width and height. Rear sight is a Millet Gold Cup 360 SIL
c. Contoured thumb rest black multi-laminated wood grips and forearm.

6. 1988 Buck Mark Varmint
a. 9 7/8' .900" dia. Bull Barrel
b. Full length scope base
c. Contoured thumb rest walnut grips with Buck Mark medallion. Forearm optional

7. 1988 Buck Mark Silhouette
a. 9 7/8' .900" dia. Bull Barrel
b. Full length scope base with hooded sights. Front sight is post type. Rear sight is a Millet Gold Cup 360 SIL
c. Contoured thumb rest walnut grips with Buck Mark medallion and forearm.

8. 1990 Buck Mark Target 5.5 New Model
a. 5.5" . 900" dia. Bull Barrel
b. Full length sight base with hooded sights. Front sight is post type, adjustable for width and height. Rear sight is a Millet Gold Cup 360 SIL
c. Contoured thumb rest walnut grips with engraved Buck Mark logo

9. 1990 Buck Mark Target 7
a. 7" . 900" dia. Bull Barrel
b. Full length sight base. Front sight is post type, adjustable for width and height. Rear sight is a Millet Gold Cup 360 SIL
c. Contoured walnut wraparound grips

10. 1990 Buck Mark Silhouette
a. 9 7/8' .900" dia. Bull Barrel
b. Full length scope base with hooded sights. Front sight is post type. Rear sight is a Millet Gold Cup 360 SIL
c. Contoured thumb rest walnut grips with engraved Buck Mark logo and forearm.

11. 1991 Buck Mark Standard (Standard name used for the first time)
a. 5.5" Slab Side Bull Barrel
b. Ramp front sight. Micro adjustable rear sight
c. Black molded rubber grips with embossed Buck Mark logo used for the first time

12. 1991 Buck Mark Standard Nickel
a. 5.5" Slab Side Bull Barrel
b. Satin nickel finish on frame, slide, barrel, sight base and sights.
c. Ramp front sight. Rear sight micro adjustable
d. Black molded rubber grips with embossed Buck Mark logo

13. 1991 Buck Mark Field 5.5 New Model
a. 5.5" . 900" dia. Bull Barrel
b. Full length sight rib
c. Contoured thumb rest walnut grips

14. 1991 Buck Mark Target 5.5 Gold
a. 5.5" . 900" dia. Bull Barrel
b. Gold anodized frame and sight rib wit black barrel, slide and sight hoods
c. Full length sight base with hooded sights. Front sight is post type, adjustable for width and height. Rear sight is a Millet Gold Cup 360 SIL
d. Contoured thumb rest walnut grips

15. 1991 Buck Mark Unlimited Silhouette Match New Model
a. 14" Bull Barrel
b. Full length sight base with hooded sights. Front sight is post type, adjustable for width and height. Rear sight is a Millet Gold Cup 360 SIL
c. Contoured thumb rest walnut grips and walnut forearm

16. 1992 Buck Mark Standard (Pro Target rear sight used for the first time.)*
a. 5.5" Slab Side Bull Barrel
b. Ramp Front sight. Pro Target rear sight.
c. Black molded rubber grips with embossed Buck Mark logo

17. 1992 Buck Mark Plus
a. 5.5" Slab Side Bull Barrel
b. Ramp front sight. Pro Target rear sight
c. Laminated wood grips with Buck Mark medallion

18. 1992 Micro Buck Mark Standard New Model
a. 4" Slab Side Bull Barrel
b. Ramp Front sight. Pro Target rear sight
c. Black Molded rubber grips with embossed Buck Mark logo

19. 1992 Buck Mark Standard Nickel
a. 5.5" Slab Side Bull Barrel
b. Nickel finish on sides of frame, barrel and slide with satin black sight base and sights.
c. Ramp front sight. Pro Target rear sight
d. Black molded rubber grips with embossed Buck Mark logo

20. 1992 Micro Buck Mark Standard Nickel
a. 4" Slab Side Bull Barrel
b. Polished nickel finish on sides of frame, slide, barrel with satin black sight base and sights.
c. Ramp front sight. Pro Target rear sight
d. Black molded rubber grips with embossed Buck Mark logo

21. 1992 Micro Buck Mark Plus
a. 4" Slab Side Bull Barrel
b. Ramp Front sight. Pro Target rear sight
c. Black Molded rubber grips
d. Ambidextrous thumb rest laminated wood grips with Buck Mark medallion

22. 1992 Buck Mark Target 5.5
a. 5" . 900" dia. Bull Barrel
b. Full length sight base with hooded sights. Post front sight. Pro Target rear sight
c. Contoured walnut wraparound grips
d. Shell deflector

23. 1992 Buck Mark Field 5.5
a. 5" . 900" dia. Bull Barrel
b. Ramp front sight. Rear Pro Target rear sight
c. Contoured thumb rest walnut grips

24. 1992 Buck Mark Target 5.5 Gold
a. 5" . 900" dia. Bull Barrel
b. Full length sight base with hooded sights. Post front sight. Pro Target rear sight
c. Contoured thumb rest walnut grips

25. 1994 Buck Mark Target 5.5 Nickel
a. 5" . 900" dia. Bull Barrel
b. Black barrel, slide and sight hoods with nickel frame and sight rib
c. Full length sight base with hooded sights. Post front sight. Pro Target rear sight
d. Contoured walnut wraparound grips
e. Shell deflector

26. 1996 Buck Mark Plus Nickel
a. 4" Slab Side Bull Barrel
b. Nickel barrel and slide with black frame, sights and sight base
c. Ambidextrous laminated wood grips with Buck Mark medallion

27. 1996 Micro Buck Mark Plus Nickel
a. 4" Slab Side Bull Barrel
b. Nickel barrel and slide with black frame, sights and sight base
c. Ambidextrous laminated wood grips

28. 1996 Buck Mark Buck Mark 5.5 Nickel
a. 5" . 900" dia. Bull Barrel
b. Nickel barrel and slide with black frame, sight rib and sight hoods
c. Full length sight base with hooded sights. Post front sight. Pro Target rear sight
d. Contoured thumb rest walnut grips
e. Shell deflector

29. 1996 Buck Mark Bullseye New Model
a. 7.25" Fluted Barrel
b. Pro Target sights
c. Molded composite ambidextrous grips with embossed Buck Mark logo

30. 1996 Buck Mark Bullseye
a. 7.25" Fluted Barrel
b. Pro Target sights
c. Contoured rosewood grips with heel rest

31. 1997 Buck Mark Bullseye
a. 7.25" Fluted Barrel
b. Pro Target sights
c. Contoured laminated wraparound grips with heel rest

Last edited by tuckerd1; 01-17-2018 at 01:08 PM.
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Old 03-28-2016, 11:23 AM
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I have also used some information from an article "The Buck Mark Story" written by Clair Rees.

The semi auto .22 caliber pistol originated from the design of the Colt Woodsman by John M. Browning in 1914. The design featured a half-length slide that separated from the barrel to extract and eject expended cartridges. In 1961 Bruce Browning made changes to his grandfather's design to reduce production costs and had the new pistols manufactured in Belgium by Fabrique Nationale (FN). The first model was called the Nomad, the second was the Challenger and the third was the Medalist. All three were in production simultaneously.


First, have a dose of salt available when reading Rees' article, particularly when he talks about the Belgium Browning .22LR pistols. (This comment is from personal experience in trying to write an accurate description of the variation of the Belgium Browning Challenger. So keep the salt shaker handy when reading any of my posts.)

Second, Bruce Browning's first design was the Medalist. I understand that he used a heavy High Standard barrel on his proto type. Somewhere here on RFC there should be a photo of his proto type that is on display at the Browning Museum in Ogden, Utah. The Nomad was the first produced for commercial sales, not the proto type.
SO
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Old 03-28-2016, 11:29 AM
tuckerd1
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SO, as I do more research I am finding the the Clair Rees article has some inconsistencies to it. That is why I am recruiting help from you guys that own the pistols in question.

That is good info on the Medalist. Give me more!
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Old 03-28-2016, 11:29 AM
aprilian
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From my Dad's European manual that came with his '64 Target...

Nomad in Europe was named "Standard" and Challenger was "Target".

His manual, dated 63, shows that what we call the Nomad was already available in Europe, with the same differences from what we call the Challenger. It was definitely not a parts bin special as you have supposed.

Both guns were available in either barrel length.

Internationals?
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Old 03-28-2016, 11:49 AM
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Link to photo of Bruce Browning's proto type Medalist.

https://www.rimfirecentral.com/forums...ist+proto+type

SO
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Old 03-28-2016, 11:51 AM
tuckerd1
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Thanks aprilian, I think the suggestion about parts guns is referring to those produced in 74-75 for European sales. I will investigate further.
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Old 03-28-2016, 11:54 AM
tuckerd1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seaotter View Post
Link to photo of Bruce Browning's proto type Medalist.

https://www.rimfirecentral.com/forums...ist+proto+type

SO
Thanks. I found another thread with the same pic.

https://www.rimfirecentral.com/forums...=201788&page=3
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Old 03-30-2016, 04:17 PM
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Originally Posted by tuckerd1 View Post
Thanks aprilian, I think the suggestion about parts guns is referring to those produced in 74-75 for European sales. I will investigate further.
Have read at this. It might explain some differences between European and US FN pistols going back the 1960's - 1980's.

http://users.telenet.be/vanbeeumen/G...Belgian_FN.pdf
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Old 03-30-2016, 10:47 PM
tuckerd1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cramiekske View Post
Have read at this. It might explain some differences between European and US FN pistols going back the 1960's - 1980's.

http://users.telenet.be/vanbeeumen/G...Belgian_FN.pdf
Good stuff! Thanks I'll incorporate soon.
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Old 03-31-2016, 06:22 AM
aprilian
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The English language version of TIR was TARGET.
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Old 03-31-2016, 12:36 PM
Cramiekske

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The English language version of TIR was TARGET.
Just shows that the same pistol has various names, depending where you live on this planet. Then take into account that depending where it was manufactured the engraving is different. :-))
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Old 04-03-2016, 11:34 AM
tuckerd1
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I am still working on this but life is getting in the way. I am in the process of incorporating the info you guys have supplied. Do you think including pictures would be useful? Anyone have a pic of the Practice 150 I can use?
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Old 04-03-2016, 03:44 PM
Cramiekske

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I am still working on this but life is getting in the way. I am in the process of incorporating the info you guys have supplied. Do you think including pictures would be useful? Anyone have a pic of the Practice 150 I can use?
Here is the complete family, or at least a small part.

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Old 04-03-2016, 11:19 PM
tuckerd1
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Here is the complete family, or at least a small part.

NICE!! I'm jealous!
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Old 04-04-2016, 11:00 PM
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Turkered1, This is a great forum and everyone enjoys sharing their information to help others enjoy the sport of shooting and especially the collecting of Browning rimfire pistols, but I personally am hesitant to keep posting information on the Belgian Browning .22's for someones gain in writing a book, probably for profit when they seem not to purchase enough of the product to gain any hands on knowledge. Reason being, I personally have purchased nearly 250 Belgian Browning .22 pistols, having studied them extensively to gain the knowledge you want someone to give you to publish an article, book or whatever. I still do not consider myself ready to do the book, but from your short synopsis you have a long way to go and many additions and corrections. I certainly am not the only one on this forum with extensive knowledge and they may feel the same, maybe not. As you will learn I am always sharing very technical knowledge on the variations of these .22's along with pictures, probably a good start on a book already posted, but that information is not for someone else's financial gain. (Many years of research and many dollars invested.) I am not trying to be rude and maybe I have taken your post in the wrong context, but everything published in previous books on these pistols have many incorrect facts with a shortfall of accurate and complete information. It appears you may not have even read them, if not I would do so first. Mark (69 years - 27 months Recon Marine, also 2nd Marine Division Rifle and Pistol Team - Europe to Vietnam) " I do appreciate your service Bubble Head"
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