Brownells Celebrates 85 Years of History

What began in a gas station is now a leader in the firearms industry.

posted on June 11, 2024
Brownells 85th anniversary

Brownells is celebrating its 85th anniversary this year, although the foundation for the company’s long-term success was poured years before its launch. Founder Bob Brownell managed the gas station and sandwich shop he owned in Montezuma, IA, but he was also an avid shooter and outdoorsman. In his spare time, he enjoyed customizing and repairing his firearms.

Friends and other shooters noted the quality he poured into his work and word spread. Orders grew steadily, and by 1938 the sideline was turning a profit. The next year he officially established Brownells. Finding gunsmithing tools with the quality to get the job done properly was a challenge, however. Online outlets didn’t exist, and reliable sources were hard to find.

Despite the challenges, Bob slowly accumulated contacts with all the right companies, and other gunsmiths started asking him to place their orders as well. Demand grew, so much so that in 1947 Brownells published its first catalog with the motto, “The First and Only Complete Gunsmiths’ Supply House in the World.” Today the company has grown from a small family business into a leading global supplier for gunsmiths, enthusiasts and tactical shooters.

“As we celebrate our 85th anniversary, we reflect on the remarkable journey that began with my grandfather, Bob Brownell,” Pete Brownell, CEO at Brownells, said. “He was a visionary gunsmith and writer who understood the importance of sharing knowledge and providing quality tools to the firearms community. His mission to professionalize the gunsmithing trade laid the foundation for what Brownells has become today. Our commitment to innovation, education, and customer satisfaction continues to drive us forward. We are proud to honor his legacy and look forward to serving the next generation of firearms enthusiasts and professionals.”

Today Brownells sells guns, gun parts and accessories, ammunition, gunsmithing tools and survival gear. The company also offers a large selection of both common and hard-to-find items, and an extensive collection of videos, articles and gun schematics. 


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