This year marked the grand opening of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and the launch of Fabrique Nationale d’Armes de Guerre (FN). On July 3rd, FN was set up in Herstal, Belgium, to manufacture 150,000 Mauser rifles for the Belgian government. This planted the roots from which the world’s leading designer and developer of small arms would grow.
From its inception, FN had bold ambitions to become one of the world’s largest and most innovative firearms manufacturers. 
Ownership of FN passed into the hands of the German owners of the Mauser license. They wanted to diversify the business with the production of bicycles. FN Sales Director Hart O. Berg went to the United States to study this new market’s potential. While there, he met by chance with one of the greatest firearms inventor ever, Mormon John Moses Browning. A 30 year long and fruitful cooperation between FN and JM Browning had begun. 

From the early 20th century onwards, FN explored new areas in which it could compete. This included the production of motorcycles and cars, in addition to firearms and bicycles.

In 1918, at the end of World War I, the Belgian Government forced the German investors to relinquish their shares, and FN was bought by a group of Belgian banks, including Société Générale de Belgique who became the main shareholder. The now fully Belgian company continued its traditional activities, and started producing writing and stenotype machines with the Manufacture d’Armes de Paris. 

A number of large orders for small arms, the presence of John Moses Browning in Europe and the economical crisis between the two world wars led to FN refocusing on its original and core business - the production of small arms. At the same time, FN’s production of cars and motorbikes continued due to its great commercial success in these markets.
To lay the foundations for its future success, FN setup a professional training center to educate young people in the art of firearms design and manufacturing. Later, this center will be known as Technifutur.
In 1926, JM Browning passed away in his office at FN in Herstal, during its 61st visit to FN’s European headquarters. 

The 1929 world economic crisis led to the closing of borders across Europe. FN production of cars was halted due to the restricted size of its local market. This acted as the trigger for further innovation at FN, with its commercial lines soon replaced by the production of heavy utility and military vehicles.

FN was requisitioned by the German Government, despite FN management’s resistance and the difficulty posed by the evacuation of a number of FN’s production tools. At the end of World War II, FN’s headquarters were partly destroyed by V1 and V2 flying bombs dropped by Germans as retaliation, and it took several years for FN to recover.
Simultaneously, FN resumed the production of motorcycles, and won the motorcycle racing world championship. Its diversification continued with the production of plane engines.

The 1950s up to the end of the 1970s was a period of prosperity for FN. The Belgian company acquired a share of Browning commercial company.
Under the impulse of most free countries wishing to standardize the equipment of their troops, FN developed a new cartridge in 7.62x51mm caliber, which was adopted by NATO in 1957. The development of this new cartridge went hand in hand with FN’s development of both a new rifle and a new general purpose machine gun. These three developments were the catalyst to huge success across the globe. FN repeated this success in the 1980s, with a new 5.56x45mm cartridge – also standardized by NATO – and a new light machine gun.