Early Pigeon Grade Superposed (1932-1935) - question

Discussion in 'Browning Superposed Shotgun' started by vonfatman, Oct 3, 2017.

  1. vonfatman

    vonfatman Member

    Hello,
    I'm Bob. New here. Not new to guns but yes, new to Superposed shotguns. My father passed in April and he left me an extremely nice Browning. Dad purchased it from a customer in Iowa back in the mid-1960's. He hunted with the gun of many years. I can really still smell the gunpowder -- when he'd crack the ol' girl open after dropping a rooster.

    According to Mr. Lenny the Browning historian, Browning shipped it to Iowa Dec. 4, 1935. According to Mr. Schwing's book, it was of 1932 manufacture. The serial number is 473x.

    According to my father, several years ago (15 or so years back) , he gave the gun to a local dealer who sent the gun back to Belgium for a complete re-do...clean checkering, re-cut (sharpened) engraving, and of course re-finish. According to my father, the work was done by the decedents of the original engravers/craftsmen who worked for FN many years ago...(I know, a wild story)

    It literally looks brand new today.

    Anyway - if someone here would have a clue for me to follow, or an idea what I should do to follow this up...that would be terrific!

    Ultimately, I would like to have some documentation as to what was done and when it was completed so I could keep this information with the shotgun for my family.

    (I have been through BOXES of Dad's papers and have found no clue so far!)

    Thanks very much.

    Bob
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2017
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  2. SHOOTER13

    SHOOTER13 ON DUTY Staff Member Global Moderator Forum Moderator

    Welcome...

    I will defer your question to the experts here....
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2017
  3. vonfatman

    vonfatman Member

    Thanks Mr. Shooter.
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  4. NoDak Scotty

    NoDak Scotty Active Member

    Great story, and a wonderful gun. Make sure you only shoot lead or no-tox, no steel. Belgian barrels can't handle steel.
    If you have a Schwing book, you have as much history as anyone else, esp if you've talked to Lenny at Browning. One other option is to pay Griffin and Howe $50 and they will look to see if the gun was imported through Abercrombie and Fitch or Von Legenfold (sp), the big, big East Coast importers and distributors.

    Your gun was most likely sent back to Browning USA in St Louis for it's refinish, or maybe Art's Gun Store in Missouri. Art used to work for Browning in St Louis. I think it's very unlikely the gun was shipped internationally to Belgium for a refinish...cost prohibitive and I don't think Liege takes in that kind of work. I toured the Browning Custom shop there in 2011.

    Does your gun have an engraver's name? Many pre-war guns were not engraved. Can you share pics?
    Scotty
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  5. vonfatman

    vonfatman Member

    thank you for the informative reply. i will upload pics. have a few taken.

    just to be sure i do it right (and to share with all my ignorance), what is the proceedure in removing the forearm.

    it's different than other o/u shotguns i have handled. i don't want to mess anything up.

    thanks

    bob
  6. NoDak Scotty

    NoDak Scotty Active Member

    Bob, great question, and a trick question to boot...the forearm only slides forward, it does not come off for normal takedown. Once you release the latch, a portion of the latch "drops down" and allows the forearm to slide forward about 2 inches. If you really want to remove it, you need special gunsmith screwdrivers that will not bugger the screws. Your pre-war may not have an Escution screw in the forearm side, it may have the "Horse shoe" collar on the nose of the forearm.
    Again, unless you REALLY want to remove it...don't.
    The Great Man himself designed it this way so that waterfowl hunters would not drop or lose the forearm in the water...thus it stayed attached.

    Does the serial number have a P or C in it? C=Chasse, or Field gun, and P= Piege, or Trap gun. This refers to the comb height in the stock.
    vonfatman likes this.
  7. vonfatman

    vonfatman Member

    mr. scotty,
    thanks for the help with the forearm. you are correct, i do not wish to remove it, just remove the barrels from the receiver.
    the serial number has just four digits. no alphas.
    tomorrow i will attempt to remove the barrels.

    here are some pics as promised:

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    bob
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2017
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  8. NoDak Scotty

    NoDak Scotty Active Member

    Bob, that is a beautiful gun in amazing (refinished) condition for being 82 yrs old. You have two interesting factory options on this gun; you have the "Non-Crossfire Rib" which slopes up sharply from the breech end to a more-normal vent rib height a few inches later. This was designed by JMB himself. He felt it allowed the shooter to pick up the rib easier visually during the mount and swing. Something to do with the dominant eye and keeping both eyes open. It fell out of favor at some point before WWII and was discontinued. Also, your gun has the rear-position Single trigger. These pre-war guns were designed with double triggers, but the customer could have it modified after 1937 with the new SST, or Single Selective Trigger. That was a Val Browning patent. JMB was working on a SST when he died in 1926, but Val finished it. Anyway, many customers had their double trigger (DT) guns modified and you could select three positions: The normal DT front trigger, normal DT back trigger, or a normal SST "middle" trigger. Your gun has the DT rear trigger installed, and in gold. Don't see too many of those. When these mods were made, they usually replaced the slide-fwd/slide-back safety with the new H pattern which also selected which barrel fired first.

    Pre-War Pigeon Grades have much larger pigeons than post war guns, like 50% bigger. You can spot a pre-war Pigeon a mile away with those big birds.

    A gorgeous gun. I am a fan of refinishing the wood on these old gals. just like a classic car needs new paint every so often, these guns need their wood cared for. Wood "lives" in that it breathes, contracts, expands, absorbs oil, etc, and so must be cared for every 50 years or so.
    Scotty
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  9. vonfatman

    vonfatman Member

    Mr. Scotty,
    Thanks for the information!
    Here are two more pics. Besides showing I need to clean this shotgun, they also show the safety.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
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  10. NoDak Scotty

    NoDak Scotty Active Member

    OK, another cool thing; your gun has the "Browning Superposed" engraved on the Non-Crossfire Rib. Those are not really rare, but they are uncommon, and totally cool. I wish I had one with that script engraving. It appears your gun still has the original style safety, so maybe it was not retrofitted. Hard to say.
    One thing I noticed is a small crack in the wrist behind the safety; these things happen, and can be fixed. In the meantime, I recommend not shooting high-brass loads or in real cold weather. Have a gunsmith inspect it to see what kind of attention it requires.
  11. vonfatman

    vonfatman Member

    Scotty,
    Thank you for the head's up on the crack. I only shoot light loads so I should be ok.
    My dad told me on several occasions that the gun was an early "single trigger"
    Superposed...I was never sure what he meant by that.
    I sure appreciate all the information.

    bob
  12. NoDak Scotty

    NoDak Scotty Active Member

    Bob, you're right, it is an early single trigger. In the second photo I can see the slide selector that determines which barrel fires first. I missed that the first time by. This is really a unique, uncommon gun with many different unusual features, not the least of which is there just aren't that many pre-war high grade guns. The Depression made it very hard for someone to buy a $350-$400 gun in 1935! Did Lenny say where it was shipped in Iowa? Des Moines? Ames? Iowa City? Back then, Universities still had money and professors could still afford high cost items. My 1931 Superposed was shipped t a banker at the University Club, Columbia Universty, NY City.
  13. vonfatman

    vonfatman Member

    Scotty,
    Lenny told me where the gun was shipped (I am thinking perhaps Mason City? ~~ Mason City had plenty of folks with the ability to buy such a gun....certainly a man who was a business owner, a banker, or a doctor could afford such "opulence" during the down times of the 1930's) but I quit writing down all the gun's details when Mr. Lenny told me the information would be in the gun's letter which I had just ordered.

    I'm afraid it may be 3-4 weeks before the official Browning letter arrives. When it does arrive, I will most certainly fill in the gun's details. Mr. Lenny told me it was shipped to a Mr. Decker....with 30" barrels. The ship date was December 4th, 1935...I believe he also told me the the business it was shipped to bore the same name as the owner.

    Mr. Schwing suggests that FN batched the receivers and then the craftsmen pulled as they went. His book suggests a 1932 build date. Lenny told me it was manufactured in 1933 and then shipped in 1935...the 'shipped date' seems to be the date you could most depend on.

    OK, back to the "removing the forearm stock"...

    A person told me that with the "early Superposed shotguns"...if I wanted to verify whether this shotgun shipped with the current 26" barrels (it came to my father in the mid-1960's with 26" barrels), I would need to remove the forearm...if the barrels shipped with the gun, the serial number would be under the forearm.

    I do have gunsmithing screwdrivers and have very carefully removed the looooong screw at the front of the forearm...the one in the "horseshoe" at the muzzle end of the forearm stock. With the screw removed, I have carefully tried sliding the forearm off but I have not been able to easily remove it from the barrels. I dare not go 'hard' on this removal and if it can not be removed easily, I will forget it and re-assemble. I would like to see if the barrels are serial numbered to this shotgun but will not risk the gun's integrity to find out. Suggestions?

    BTW, Mr. Lenny told me that twice in the 1930's a new forearm stock was added to this shotgun by Browning...indicating (perhaps) that the forearm design was fragile? (or that a someone 'forced' it off a time or two? ) I noticed that this shotgun's forearm is not real wide/thick...it also does not have a crossing screw like I have seen on other older Superposed shotguns.

    I had given up trap shooting because I never seemed to have a shotgun that fit me. This ol' girl pulls up great. If I can manage to bust a few clay birds with it (the last time I shot it I was 12...now 59) I am going to install a small trap thrower at my range and put her back to work!
    Maybe I will even break enough birds to get my grandson's attention!

    Working on cleaning off the old oil residue that can be seen in the pics.

    Thank you and thank you again,
    bob
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2017
  14. john stevens

    john stevens New Member

    Bob , I have a special fondness for the Pigeons and you have a stunning example of a pre-war. As Scotty has pointed out ,there are some really unique features on this gun. This is really a treasure and a wonderful "gift" from a father to son ! Listen carefully to Scotty , there is a wealth of knowledge there :) Regards...... John
  15. vonfatman

    vonfatman Member

    john,
    i apprecite the reply. lots to learn!

    bob

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