I know that you’re not too interested in “old guns”, BUT – here goes anyhow. The fact is, I’ve run out of resources and hope that a light will go off when you hear my question (isn’t that why we all seek our gurus?)
For some time now I have been shooting what I assumed was a Browning Superposed – but it seemed a bit unusual, as it has 28″ barrels, but is equipped with a factory recoil pad (Browning Logo) and has a trap buttstock (1 1/2 comb, 1 7/8 heel) and chokes (IM/F), yet a very slim forend.
At last it dawned on me that it was an F.N. gun – I looked at the barrel markings (duh) and it is clearly an F.N. That would explain why the engraving is in the F.N. “A-1” pattern, and the trigger is blued instead of gold. The serial number indicates manufacture in 1975, and it does have the late “diamond post” rib and a mechanical trigger.
Now, the remaining mystery is this: in addition to the standard F.N. markings, all in their expected places and applied with the usual light stamp, there is also a heavily struck “Browning Arms Co., Morgan, Utah” overstamp!
While winding along your path of shotgunning discovery, have you encountered F.N. guns, made to European specifications, imported and sold in the U.S. by Browning?
You know how we shooters can obsess over such trivia, and the gun is a favorite of mine. It just smokes 16 yard trap targets, and after 2,500 rounds (by me – who knows how much the previous owners shot it) is still so tight that I have to grunt to open it.
It isn’t that I’m not interested in old guns. I just don’t know anything about them. However, 1974 is not old. 1874 is old. And- it just so happens that since you have come to the feet of the Guru of Gunning Geegaws and Mahatma of Machinery, I think that I have the answer for you. I happen to own several guns exactly as you describe.
Your gun is indeed an FN (Fabrique National) made in Belgium. It is most probably a B-25 model standard Belgian Browning and looking (except for the engraving) very much like all the other American – market Belgian Brownings you see around. Of course, it might be the B-26 or B-27 model- a less expensive effort that FN made to compete with the Japanese, but I doubt it as those guns look a good bit different and you would have noticed it.
The FN B-25s made for the European market had some different cosmetics than the Browning B-25s made for the US market. The engraving patterns were different. A 10 mm wide rib was available in the FN, not on the US guns. The FN came out early with an anatomical trigger blade. The FNs of your vintage came with the Mark 5 mechanical trigger, the best trigger that Browning ever made. It was also rumored that the FNs used hard steel in all their guns, while the Browning B-25s made for the US market used a softer steel in the lower grades. I have heard one gunsmith comment that lengthening the forcing cones on a base grade FN took as much effort and cutting as it did on a Midas US B-25 and that the Grade 1 US barrels cut more easily. I have no idea if this is true or not.
FNs were always brought back to the US on an occasional individual import basis, but when Browning decided to get out of the O/U business in Belgium (and since changed their mind and has gone the custom shop route), they packed up a whole bunch of FNs of all sorts of types and sold what I heard was over 800 of them to Jaqua’s in Findlay, OH. This was back in the early ’80s. Part of the deal though was that the guns first had to be re-roll stamped with the Morgan, Utah designation as the FN no where has on it the word “Browning”. There may also have been other outlets for these FNs beside Jaquas that I don’t know of. I bought some of Jaqua’s FN Super Trap #6s at fire sale prices and have frittered away most of them over the ensuing years. Your configuration of 28″ bbl, thin forend and trap stock surprises me, but they sold all sorts of stuff. Sounds like an ideal pigeon gun.
Krieghoff and Perazzi have their devotees and the inexpensive Japanese Browning is developing a good reputation. But for my money, you own one of the best handling and most durable shotguns ever made.
The Technoid at <www.ShotgunReport.com>
(Often in error, never in doubt.)