With its classic target pistol styling, this .22 caliber pistol is often regarded as an ideal handgun for the beginner target shooter. It is relatively quiet with very minimal recoil, making it a joy for new enthusiasts to shoot as they hone their handgun skills.
The path that led to the design of the Buckmark was not a short one. Its lineage can be traced back to John Moses Browning’s 1915 Colt Woodsman Pistol.
Back in 1961, when Browning wanted a .22 caliber pistol that would appeal to the target pistol loyalist and that could be manufactured at a minimal cost, they looked at the Woodsman as the example. This economical retake on the Woodsman would be completed for FN by none other than John Browning's own grandson, Bruce Browning. The pistol was branded the Pistol Automatique or PA-22. However, the name was changed for different markets and it became known as the "Standard" in Europe and "Nomad" in the United States. FN in Belgium produced the Nomad Pistol from 1962 to 1974.
The year following the introduction of the Nomad, Browning would introduce the mid-level version of their automatic .22 caliber target pistols.
The Challenger or "TIR" in Europe would feature an adjustable rear sight, a gold plated trigger, a slide release and a hold open latch.
Then in 1964 they introduced the high-end Medalist or "Concours" in Europe. These pistols were built on a steel frame and had a 6-3/4" ventilated rib barrel with adjustable target sights. The Medalist pistol came equipped with thumb rest style, walnut grips and included three individual barrel weights.
For each of these pistols, Browning offered finely crafted variations known as Renaissance and Gold Line models, as well as other variations.
Bridging the gap between those early models and the modern day Buckmark was the Challenger II produced from 1978 to 1982 and the Challenger III produced from 1982 to 1985. Both of these guns and current production Buckmarks are manufactured in Salt Lake City, Utah - just south of where it all began for John Browning in Ogden, Utah a century earlier.
In the 1980s the Browning .22 caliber pistol received another fresh makeover, this time by Browning's Chief Designer Joe Bedali. This new pistol was introduced as the Browning Buck Mark pistol in 1985. The Buckmark became a stand-alone replacement for the Challenger and Medallist target pistols.
The Buckmark frame is CNC machined to exact tolerances from a solid piece of 7075 aircraft grade aluminum. Each pistol's chamber is hand reamed and the muzzle is target crowned for accuracy. It features a single action trigger and a 10-round magazine. Over the years the Buckmark action has remained unchanged, with most modifications coming only in aesthetic design, grips, and finishes. At the time that this article was written, the Browning website lists 23 variations with differences in frame, barrel size, grips, sights, and finishes. Since its introduction, the Browning Buckmark has remained a top choice for competitive target shooters and weekend plinksters alike.