Browning Superposed

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Browning Superposed
Browning superposed.jpg
A Browning Superposed

Type over-under shotgun
Land of Origin USA, Belgium
Length varies by barrel
Barrel length from 20" to 32"
Weight 6.5 lbs
Caliber 12, 16, 20, 28 gauge and .410 bore
Cartridge various
Action boxlock

Production History
Designer John M. Browning
Design Date ongoing from 1922 until the 1960s
Manufacturer Browning Arms Co., Fabrique Nationale
Unit Cost custom
Produced 1931-1986
While no longer in regular production, this gun is still avaliable from the FN Custom Shop.
The Browning Superposed was the first over-under shotgun design to be mass produced and the last firearm to be designed by John Browning before his death from heart failure in 1926, at the age of 71. The Superposed introduced a wide variety of innovations including the single select trigger and over-under design. Browning apparently began designing the Superposed sometime in mid-1922. It was apparently Browning's intention that the Superposed would be both the first O/U shotgun affordable by the average working-class man who was willing to save for it (previous O/U designs were custom built to order for the gentry and priced wildly out of range for the average person) and also the last gun that any government would consider banning from private ownership.


[edit] Production

Original production dates were 1931-1939[1]. Original production grades were Grade I (Lightning/Standard), Pigeon, Diana and Midas. Due to the outbreak of the Second World War, all production of the Superposed halted from 1939 until 1948, when post-war production resumed and lasted until 1960 when the model underwent major changes[1]. The original goal of keeping the shotgun low-priced was met when the gun was introduced, and the Superposed stayed reasonably affordable for about the first 30 years of production. By the mid to late 1960's, however, rising Belgian labor costs (the gun was made by FN in Belgium) began to price it out of the market. In 1975 the Superposed was dropped from the regular Browning catalog due to the effects of inflation, but it is offered to this day in a myriad of grades or as a completely bespoke gun from the FN Custom Shop.

[edit] Double/single triggers

John Browning's untimely death in November 1926 came before some of the final details of the gun, in particular the single selective trigger mechanism that he wanted for the Superposed, had been finished.This resulted in the gun being introduced in 1931 with double triggers. Browning's son Val kept working on the single selective trigger design, which he finally perfected. It was incorporated as the standard Superposed trigger in 1939 (the 1939 halting of production described above resulted in very few of these '39 productions ever seeing the light of day; by some accounts, only 150-200 were ever made). This trigger uses an inertia block mechanism. It doesn't balk and it doesn't double. The Browning SST remains one of the very best and most reliable such triggers ever designed.

[edit] Features

An early advert for the Superposed.
The barrel selector is incorporated in the sliding tang safety. Move the safety slider to the right to shoot the under barrel first, or to the left to shoot the over barrel first. Once a barrel is selected with the safety in the rearward (safe) position, the slider need only be moved straight forward to the "fire" position when it's time to shoot. Like its single selective trigger, the Superposed's selective ejectors work first time, every time. They positively eject fired cases from the gun, while merely raising unfired shells for easy hand removal. The action is held closed by an under-bolt that engages bites in the tandem lumps beneath the lower barrel. (The barrels are struck full length and the lumps are machined integrally with the lower barrel.) This system allows a "clean" breech face without protrusions to interfere with loading. The takedown system of the Superposed is unique. A pull down latch frees the forend to slide forward, after which the top lever is used to open the gun and the barrels are simply lifted from the hinge pin. The latter can be replaced should it ever become worn. When the gun is taken down the forend stays attached to the barrels. This allows a tighter forend to barrels fit and also eliminates the possibility of misplacing the forend.

Superposed guns are not known for being especially lightweight, although special lightweight models (usually with straight hand stocks) have been produced. Nor, because of their under lump and bolt, are they shallow frame guns. But they are very solid, durable and handsome. They balance well and their mass helps to attenuate recoil.

Browning Superposed guns have been offered in all gauges from 12 to .410, and in multi-barrel skeet sets. Typical barrel lengths are 26", 28", 30" and 32". Choke borings range from Cylinder to Full.

Like most John Browning guns it is a complicated design. The great man never used one part when two or three could be made to work. On the other hand, those parts are lightly stressed and, like most Browning designs, Superposed shotguns are very reliable.

[edit] Resources

Gun Owners' Resource has the following relevant documents available for free download for the Browning Superposed and/or its variants:

[edit] Historical data

Date Historical Info Serial No. Info
1931-39 Production of the Superposed 12 ga. began in 1931. 1-17,000
Exact production figures are not available. Year of manufacture on Pre-World War II production is strictly a guess at best.
1939-1947 Production ceased during World War II n/a
1948 17100-17200
1949 Production of the 20 ga. began. First series of numbers are for the 12 ga. Second series of numbers are for the 20 ga.
These serial numbers for each year from 1949-63 are best guess.
12 ga.: 17201-20000
20 ga.: 100-1700
1950 12 ga.: 20001-21000
20 ga.: 1701-2800
1951 12 ga.: 21001-27000
20 ga.: 2801-2100
1952 12 ga.: 27001-33000
20 ga.: 3201-5300
1953 12 ga.: 33001-37000
20 ga.: 5301-6700
1954 12 ga.: 37001-43000
20 ga.: 6701-8400
1955 12 ga.: 43001-48000
20 ga.: 8401-9400
1956 12 ga.: 48001-54000
20 ga.: 9401-10500
1957 12 ga.: 54001-59000
20 ga.: 10501-11500
1958 12 ga.: 59001-68500
20 ga.: 11501-14180
1959 12 ga.: 68501-76500
20 ga.: 14181-17060
1960 12 ga.: 76501-86500
20 ga.: 17061-20640
1961 12 ga.: 86501-96500
20 ga.: 20641-23820
1962 12 ga.: 96501-99999
20 ga.: 23821-27300
1963-68 From 1962 serial numbers were followed by the date of manufacture.
2S=12 gauge for the year 1962.
2V=20 gauge for the year 1962.
2F=28 gauge for the year 1962.
2J=.410 bore for the year 1962.
Example: 6556S2 = A 1962 Superposed 12 ga. shotgun with serial number 6556.
S=12 gauge
V=20 gauge
F=28 gauge
J=.410 bore
1969-75 1969 started using two digits for the date of manufacture:
S=12 gauge
V=20 gauge
F=28 gauge
J=.410 bore
This was then preceded by the serial number beginning with 1000.
Example: 1000S69 = A 1969 Superposed 12 ga.. shotgun with a serial number of 1000.
S=12 gauge
V=20 gauge
F=28 gauge
J=.410 bore
1976-1986 In 1975 Browning standardized its serial number identification which it followed until 1998.
1. Superposed Type
213=12 gauge
233=20 gauge
173=28 gauge
183=.410 bore
2. Date of Manufacture is a two digit code
3. Serial Number beginning with 01001 at the start of each year.
Serial Number Example:


This would be an Superposed 12 ga., manufactured in 1976 with the serial number 01001.

[edit] References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Superposed Shotgun dates and serial numbers on
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