Famous American gunsmith John Moses Browning (1855-1926) had many of his popular rifle and shotgun designs licensed exclusively with the Winchester Repeating Arms Company during the late 1800s. Having developed a new shotgun that would become the hugely successful "Browning Auto 5", he attempted to convince Winchester representatives of a new royalty-based fee system based on sales of the design. Being rebuffed, Browning took his work to Remington Arms Company of Ilion, New York, though an untimely heart attack to the then-president of the company shelved the endeavor for the short-term. With that, Browning secured production rights in Europe through his existing relationship with Fabrique-Nationale of Belgium (FN has already undertaken manufacture of Browning-designed pistols by this time). Within time, the design was back in the United States as Remington had agreed to manufacture the Auto-5 under the company designation of "Remington Autoloading Shotgun" in 1906. At its inception, the Remington shotgun became the first auto-loading shotgun to be produced in the United States. In 1911, the shotgun was renamed to the "Remington Model 11" and some 850,000 units went on to be sold until 1947.
The Model 11 functioned from a hammerless recoil-operated action with side ejection, allowing for a semi-automatic mode of fire. As such, the shotgun did not feature the rather traditional "pump-action" slide common to many designs of this class of firearm. All of the internal working components were housed in a rectangular metal receiver. Initial forms were available in 12-gauge chambering though 16- and 20-gauge forms eventually arrived during the span of 1931-1932. The wooden shoulder stock featured an integral pistol grip handle that was ergonomically formed. The receiver sported finely rounded edges and was relatively featureless save for the large ejection port found along the right side. The trigger sat under the receiver in the usual way and protected by a thin oblong ring. The forend of the firearm sported a bulged wooden handguard under the barrel and fitted over the internal tube magazine, the magazine housing up to 5 x 12-gauge shells. Charging of the weapon was through management of a handle along the right side of the body as part of the ejection port. The barrel protruded ahead in a conventional fashion to which a forward sight was affixed over the muzzle. Overall weight of the firearm was 7lbs, 12oz.
The Remington Model 11 was one of the many shotguns utilized by American forces in World War 2. During the conflict, US warplanners procured all manner of weaponry and the United States was one of the few nations that went to war with the firepower of the combat shotgun. This initiative spurred various forms from the base Model 11 that included the "Remington Army Model 11" for issue to both frontline combat and guardsmen for anti-riot/prisoner guarding duties. These were by and large faithful to the original Model 11 and delivered with 20- and 26-inch barrel lengths. The Army Air Corps utilized a slightly modified version of the Model 11 to train aerial gunners in the fine art of leading a target in flight. These shotguns were fitted on special mounts as part of a pseudo-aircraft fuselage in training spells and sported threaded holes about their receiver for mounting. A Cutts compensator was fitted over the muzzle to counter muzzle climb.
The base Remington Model 11 was known as the "Standard Grade" and received the official Remington Model 11A designation. There then appeared the Model 11R Riot Special, the Model 11P Police Special, the Model 11B Special Grade, the Model 11C Trap Grade, the Model 11D Tournament Grade, the Model 11E Expert Grade and the Model 11F Premier Grade.
In the post-World War 2 years, Remington reintroduced the Model 11 in a refined form as the Model 11-48 of 1949. These were produced until 1968 and available in 12-, 16-, 20-, 28- and .410-gauge. Various grades were, again, offered including Standard, Riot, Special, Tournament, Premier, Rifled Slug and Sportsman. In 1987, the Model 11 emerged once more through introduction of the Model 11-87 autoloader and available in 12- and 20-gauge forms. A slew of marks joined the base version. The Model 11-96 of 1996 was a short-run (1999) version recognized as the Euro Lightweight Autoloading Shotgun and available in 12-gauge chambering.
Beyond the wartime production handled by Remington, the Browning label itself produced approximately 65,000 Remington Model 11s during World War 2.