John Browning’s Harmonica Rifle

Ian of Forgotten Weapons takes a look at J.M. Browning’s Harmonica Rifle at Rock Island Auctions. Now the John Browning that we think of is not the maker of this rifle, but rather it was John Moses Browning’s father. A lesson Ian explains in some detail in this video.


Nicholas C

Co-Founder of KRISSTALK forums, an owner’s support group and all things KRISS Vector related. Nick found his passion through competitive shooting while living in NY. He participates in USPSA and 3Gun. He loves all things that shoots and flashlights. Really really bright flashlights.

Any questions please email him at


  • iksnilol

    You could really shoot the blues with that thing.

    I’ll be here all week, please tip the waitresses since they have to endure bad jokes such as this on a much more frequent basis.

    • TVOrZ6dw

      whaa whaa whaaaa, ‘rimshot’.

  • TVOrZ6dw

    Seems like a really usable design. Much faster to re-index that magazine bar than to poor powder and seat a new ball.

    • Flintshooter

      Risk of chain fire.

      • Blake

        …not if you put some tallow in front of the ball like you should in a percussion revolver…

        • Flintshooter

          True, takes time to do correctly.

          • Blake

            There’s nothing speedy about reloading cap-&-ball revolvers &ltgrin&gt

          • Flintshooter

            I agree with you, still figuring them out for for many years now. ( big grin )
            Like modern firearms ,but black powder is fun. Lots to think about while shooting
            Them . Thanks for your time Flatrock

    • Ken

      Yeah, far ahead of anything conventional in use at the time.

      The two downsides would be burning your support hand (like with the Colt Root Rifle) and possibly excessive gas leakage depending on the quality of fitting (like with the Hall Rifle).

      • Darren Hruska

        Well, as shown in the video, it does have a sort of “gas seal.” So, the probability of burning your support hand/arm or having a chain fire should be much lower than what you’d have with the Colt Revolving Rifle.

  • Hudson

    When I see a Harmonica Gun, I always remember the Yul Brynner Spaghetti Western were he used one, he kept his cigar in the last chamber.

  • There is an excellent article on the elder Jonathan Browning and his harmonica rifle in the 1985 Gun Digest. Curiously, it claims that his middle name was Edmund. The rifle featured in the article was then owned by Jonathan Edmund Browning IV. The author claimed that the rifles were typically sold with two 5rd slides, although slides as large as 25rd were offered.

    The lineage would be:

    Jonathan (Middle Initial?) Browning (1805-1879)

    – Jonathan Edmund Browning (1859-1939)

    – – Jonathan Edmund Browning (1889-1971)

    – – – Charles Edmund Browning (1912-1971)

    – – – – Jonathan Edmund Browning (1937-2002)

    In the article, Ed Browning (1937-2002) claimed that the rifle had been a gift from his grandfather (1889-1971), who claimed that it had been made by his own grandfather (1805-1879).

  • wetcorps

    Don’t miss his Jackhammer video. SOON

  • EHW2

    What a coincidence, I just saw one of these down in old sacramento.