First of all, thanks for all the great articles you do for the website, I havent read them all yet, but Im working on it. I have a couple of questions about guns, but first, some background.
I shot on the Air Force Academy Trap & Skeet team from 1987 through 1991 while I was a cadet. The academy has some guns that were donated from the Air Force team. I dont know when they arrived but I think the AF team used them in the 70s or early 80s. These guns were either Krieghoff Model 32s or Fabrique Nationale trap guns. I dont remember if the FNs had a model number or name. Given your background in international shooting, you may well have seen these guns on a bunker range at one time or another. The FNs had a receiver very similar to a Browning and the stock was a kind of cross between an English straight stock and a pistol grip. The grip seems to just sort of flow out of the rest of the stock. Sort of looks like the jowls on a pig. I have always wondered about the origin of these weapons and then I saw your article that said you own an FN bunker gun.
Now the questions: Am I describing something similar to what you own? Are these guns related to Browning? I seem to remember they were made in Belgium but I dont remember much else about them. Although well used, they seemed like pretty high quality guns but they werent terribly popular with the guys because of their tight chokes. That leads me to my next question: Why are the chokes so tight? I dont know what the actual measurements on the chokes were but they were damn tight. Those things would turn a target shot from the 16 yard line into an ink ball, even from the bottom barrel. The top barrel would do the same thing from the back fence. Our theory was that since these guns were pretty old they were probably made during the time when only paper wads were used. Since there was no shot cup, the choke would have to be tighter than modern chokes in order to produce the desired pattern. Does that theory hold water?
I now shoot on the Air Force International Skeet team and Im not much of a trap shooter anymore but I wouldnt mind getting my hands on one of those guns if the AF decides to let them go. Unfortunately, last I heard the AF wont sell weapons to anyone and if the guns are no longer wanted they will be destroyed.
Thanks for the time,
Fabrique Nationaleaux Armes de Guerre (“National Factory of War Weapons”), alias “FN” is the parent company of the American Browning Division. FN makes (made) ALL the “Belgium Brownings”. Geez, I hate how that touch of illiteracy has worked its way into gun jargon. In the past 35 years FN has attempted to outsource some production due to problems with the Belgian labor unions and escalating prices that made their guns non-competitve on the world basis. Hence assembly moves to Portugal, adoption of the Miroku line in Japan and even some assembly in the less expensive USA.
FN made and marketed “FN branded” shotguns for European consumption. The shotguns made for the American market were marked as Brownings from Utah, not as FNs from Herstal. In dealing with the Superposeds, it was pretty much the same gun, but with some cosmetic differences in engraving, ribs, wood and, more importantly, the metal alloy used in the lower grade receivers. The FN grade 1s got the harder metal reserved for the Diana and Midas grades in the US. At least, this is what a gunsmith whom I respect said when I had him do some barrel work for me. The FNs also got the most excellent Mark V mechanical trigger starting in around 1973, long before it became available in the US.
A significant number of FNs, mostly 30″ trap models, were remaindered out to Jaqua’s in the early ’80s for very low prices when FN felt that they were getting out of the Superposed business for good. Of course, they later changed their minds and went back into the “custom” production that they do today.
My FN bunker guns are “special trap #6″ models with 30” bbls, standard trap stocks, Mark V triggers, medium ribs(not sold in the US)and a different modest engraving pattern. I have no real idea what the air force FNs are like. The pistol grip you describe sounds like a Prince of Wales grip, also called the Browning “Round Knob”. This was generally considered a field grip and for this reason I’d be surprised if it were on a bunker gun made from 1960 onwards. Every FN bunker gun I’ve ever seen has a conventional looking trap stock, no Monte Carlos. That’s one of the reason I like them.
As to the chokes, I really can’t come up with a reason why the Air Force’s guns are choked so tightly. My three FNs are Mod/Full or Imp Mod/Full and mike out conventionally in the .020″/.035″ or .025″/.035″ area. I’ve seen some Italian guns in the .040″s, but no Superposeds. Of course, as to stocks and chokes, Browning would do anything you wanted, so I guess some AF commandant could have ordered something different. That said, most of the Superposeds I’ve seen from the ’30s and ’40s had PoW grips and tighter chokes. If your guns are VERY old, that could be the case. Of course, it’s trivial to open chokes. I can’t imagine that an Air Force armorer couldn’t handle that. Jim Sizemore at the USAMU certainly never had the slightest problem with that. It’s a shame that the Air Force would rather destroy these guns than let someone enjoy them.
Tight chokes due to fiber wads? Yes, maybe. If the guns are pre-1960 (you can tell because there will be no letter in the serial number), then it’s possible. Ned Schwing’s book as all the Browning/FN serial numbers. After 1960, FN started using letter codes mixed in with the numbers.
Good luck with your IntSk. I shot IntSk against Lloyd Woodhouse and the Air Force team in the ’70s. Wasn’t John Satterwhite Air Force too? If memory serves, most of the AF team used Krieghoff Model 32s then. Of course, Dryke was beating us all with his 3200. Not a better gun, but definitely a better shooter.
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC
(Often in error. Never in doubt.)
Perhaps I can shed a little light on Brian’s question about the FN and Krieghoffs that the AF Academy has (had?) for the cadet team. As you may remember, I worked with the Army cadet team at West Point in the early ’80s. I saw the guns he wrote about at the collegiate nationals in ’81. My counterpart at the AF Academy stated that they were holdovers from when GEN LeMay was Chief of Staff of the AF. He had all Air Force teams in both trap and skeet and sent his top shooters to Liege and Ulm to get custom fitted. They were therefore custom shop products from the beginning. The FNs have extremely tight chokes and have hard chrome bores which made opening them up cost prohibitive twenty years ago. Keep up the good work.