On July 3, 1889, a company was established in the town of Herstal in Belgium to manufacture 150,000 Mauser rifles for the Belgian government. From the seed planted that day grew the world’s leading developer of small arms – FN Herstal. Throughout the 20th century the company flourished as it developed a series of world-leading weapons and ammunition, and in the 21st century has continued to add to its reputation for innovation and reliability.
Having been established as a rifle factory as Fabrique Nationale d’Armes de Guerre, FN added a cartridge factory in the early 1890s, and began gathering expertise in the production of ammunition. Shortly after, the factory struck up a cooperation with the renowned US firearms designer John M. Browning, and between the two they developed a series of world-beating weapons.
Browning’s first pistols were produced before World War I, and it is thought that a 1910 model was the weapon that was used to assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand, an act that precipitated the conflict. However, it was the BAR rifle of the 1920s that first marked out FN as a leading gun manufacturer on the world scale. In 1935 the influential 9mm Hi Power pistol entered production, having been designed by Browning before he died in 1926, in collaboration with the Belgian Dieudonné J. Saive. The pistol is still widely used around the world today.