Book Review: V21N3

By Dean Roxby

Title:FN Browning Pistols: Side-Arms that Shaped World History, Expanded 2nd Edition ©2013
Author: Anthony Vanderlinden
Publisher: Wet Dog Publications
ISBN: 0-9707997-9-9
Cover: Hardcover, 8.75” x 11.25”, 416
Photos: 1,645

It is quite apparent that this book is a labor of love for author Anthony Vanderlinden. The back cover states that Vanderlinden has been collecting and researching FN items and history for 25 years. He has several other titles published on various FN firearms, including Belgian Browning Pistols 1889-1949 and Browning Auto-5 Shotguns. (FN and Browning have a close working relationship, as detailed in the book.) His publishing company, Wet Dog Publications, also features related works by other authors. It was a search for a now out-of-print FN-49 rifle book that led me to Wet Dog. It is worth mentioning that all Wet Dog titles are printed and bound in the USA, not printed offshore.

Beginning with a very detailed look at the history of the forming of Fabrique Nationale, it touches on the early products, including items besides firearms. During the early days of FN, they made bicycles, motorcycles and even a line of cars. The beautifully photographed front cover includes two FN typewriters amid several presentation-grade pistol cases and so on. It was during a trip to the USA regarding bicycle production that a chance encounter introduced John M. Browning to the FN group. This soon led to the FN Browning Model 1899. Following this first pistol, JMB also partnered with FN to produce the Browning Auto-5 in 1902.

The author gives a very detailed history of FN through present day, followed by a close look at John M Browning and Dieudonne Saive. Mr. Saive began his long career at FN as a toolmaker machinist, becoming an engineer, designer and assistant to JMB and eventually manager of small arms production. Among his designs was the staggered high capacity magazine that led to the Browning High Power pistol. He also was a major player in the design of the FN-49 rifle and the legendary FN-FAL.

The history lesson then examines FN in-house factory markings, Liege proof marks, various military acceptance marks and foreign import proofs. Detailed information on serial numbers, various finishes, engraving, grip material and other subjects follows.

A full 10 pages is given to JMB prototypes. Numerous JMB pistols are closely examined and described. Many of these prototypes are photographed by the author, courtesy of the John M. Browning Firearms Museum, Ogden Union Station, in Ogden, Utah. Following this unique section, we get to the main subject, FN Browning side-arms.

Beginning with the Model 1899, a separate section is dedicated to each significant model since the 1899, concluding with the Model 1935 GP (Grande Puissance or High Power). Besides the guns themselves, a fantastic amount of accessories and related equipment are also documented. This will be a tremendous benefit to collectors.

Most of the 1600+ photos are in black and white, but there is a 48-page block of wonderful color plates that shows off hundreds of engraved models, presentation cases, foreign manuals, holsters and so on.

If you enjoy fine books about firearms, consider adding this one to your library.

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V21N3 (April 2017)
and was posted online on February 17, 2017


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