The Keefe Report: Remington Model 11

by
posted on December 26, 2019
rem11_receiver.jpg

Today, we take for granted the fact that a semi-automatic shotgun is simply going to work. Whether it be gas-operated or inertia-driven, even the most affordable of guns are expected to fire and cycle every time the trigger is pulled.

But this was not always the case. In 1900, John Moses Browning, America’s greatest firearm inventor, was awarded a patent for the semi-automatic shotgun. He regarded it as probably his most significant accomplishment. Considering he had just recently perfected the principle of gas operation with the Model 1895 Colt “potato digger” machine gun, that tells you something of what he thought of this design. But getting it manufactured was not the issue. For nearly two decades Browning would invent a rifle or shotgun, then sell it outright to Winchester. The company’s engineers would then take that gun from prototype to production, and everyone seemed happy. That was until Browning cracked the code on a semi-automatic shotgun. No, this time Browning wanted a bigger piece of the action, meaning a royalty for each gun. No deal. Winchester’s Thomas Bennett turned him down flat. 

Browning had started a relationship with Fabrique Nationale in Herstal, Belgium, with his Model 1899 pistol. Rights to the gun in Europe would go to FN, but if Winchester wasn’t to be the maker in the United States, where do you go if Colt’s wasn’t interested? The answer was Remington. In 1902, Browning and his brother Matt traveled to meet with Marcellus Hartley, then president of Remington. But before they could see him, Hartley died, thus short-stopping the beginning of Browning‘s relationship with Remington Arms.

Eventually Browning made a deal with Marcellus Hartley Dodge, who took over Remington after his grandfather‘s death. And the gun that we know as the Remington Model 11 began production in 1905. The name, of course, changed in 1911, and it became a bestseller—more than 850,000 by 1947—and it would remain the only semi-automatic that actually worked well for about a half-century, be it marked “Browning” and made in Belgium or “Remington” and made in Ilion, N.Y.

The Model 11 was made in a host of configurations, including riot and police versions, until 1948. And even then, the sleek and modern-looking Model 11-48 was little more than a Model 11 without the square-back receiver. But the 1950s was the era when gas-operated semi-automatics started to not only emerge, but work pretty well, including guns from High Standard, Winchester and Remington.

While the Browning-designed long-recoil-operated shotguns were king until the gas guns arrived, there were other designs. Swede Carl Sjörgen’s was the first inertia-driven gun, even though manufacture was somewhat short-lived. But its operation eventually challenged the gas guns from the big American manufacturers. An Italian named Bruno Civolani developed an inertia-operated system—really a form of delayed blowback operation—with a rotating bolt head. It was made by an offshoot of an Italian motorcycle company we know today as Benelli.

Those patents have long since expired, and some features, such as the rotating bolt head, have proliferated among other manufacturers, including Remington. Regardless, we now celebrate 115 years of Remington autoloading shotguns, and you can get the full scoop beginning by reading Field Editor Jeff Johnston’s engaging, and dare I say, epic, story.

Latest

Norinco 84S right-side view rifle semi-automatic gun wood stock white background
Norinco 84S right-side view rifle semi-automatic gun wood stock white background

I Have This Old Gun: Norinco 84S

The Norinco 84S presents the same general appearance as the Chinese-made 56S because it has the same overall length, is built around a stamped sheet-steel receiver and uses the same hooded front sight base, the same 45-degree gas block, the same fire-control components, the same wood furniture and the same high-polish blued finish.

Rifleman Q&A: Boattail Bullets And Barrel Erosion

In the recent spate of “long-range” boattail bullets presented to the market, I’ve observed the boattail’s degree of departure from the bullet’s cylindrical axis varies substantially from one design to another.

Quick Hits On 10 6.5 mm Cartridges

With so many 6.5 mm cartridges from which to choose, deciding on the one that’s right for you can be a challenge—so here’s a quick guide to help sort them out.

The Armed Citizen® Feb. 19, 2024

Read today's "The Armed Citizen" entry for real stories of law-abiding citizens, past and present, who used their firearms to save lives.

FBI Reportedly Harvesting Publicly Available "Weapon" Info

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is initiating Project Tyr, an effort to employ Amazon’s artificial intelligence-driven Rekognition cloud service to identify firearms—among other things—and the people associated with them.

Preview: Browning Backcountry Rifle Cover

Weighing in at a mere 5.29 ozs., the Backcountry Rifle Cover from Browning is a versatile must-have for any hunter hoping to protect a long gun from the elements.

Interests



Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.