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Browning Superposed Shotgun

The Superposed Shotgun was the first commercially successful over-under shotgun, and John Moses Browning's last gun.


Although the basic concept of an over-under shotgun dates to swivel-breech muzzleloaders, and guns such as the Boss preceded it, the modern stackbarrel smoothbore was born in 1923 when John M. Browning received two patents for an innovative shotgun configuration. Rather than position twin barrels alongside each other, as was common with double guns, Browning stacked the tubes. Browning called his new design the Superposed. It would become the world’s first commercially successful over-under shotgun.

Unfortunately, it would also be the last gun Browning designed. On Nov. 26, 1926, the inventor died of a heart attack while working on the Superposed in his son Val Browning’s office at the Fabrique Nationale factory in Liège, Belgium. It fell upon Val, a brilliant firearm inventor in his own right, to make his father’s sophisticated design a reality.

Even though FN’s Superposed was mass-produced, the labor-intensive gun was comprised of more than 70 individual parts and required 155 hand-fitted assemblies, plus the artistry of engravers and woodcarvers. The Superposed was launched in 1928 with a price of $107.50. The guns initially had double triggers, but in 1933 Val invented a Twin Single Trigger that alternately fired the barrels by either the front or back trigger. This was replaced by a single trigger with a tang-mounted barrel selector in 1939. The gun was first offered in 12 gauge, and 20 and 28 gauges were soon added. Later a .410-bore model was introduced. There was no 16 gauge. Each chambering had its own serial number range.

The Superposed was a spectacular shotgun made in escalating levels with Grades I through VI, primarily reflecting external embellishments. In the 1960s classifications were changed to Grade 1 and post-war epithets of Pigeon, Pointer, Diana and Midas. S.P. Fjestad’s “Blue Book of Gun Values” lists more than 50 variations. Since 2001 the Superposed has been designated as B-125 and B-25 bespoke guns from the FN Browning Custom Shop in Liège.

The 12-ga. Superposed Grade I shown here was made in 1952 and purchased by the current owner in 1991 for $800. It is in NRA Excellent condition, retaining its original horn buttplate, crisp hand checkering and engraving. As such, Fjestad’s “Blue Book” values it at $1,825 —a virtual bargain compared to the cost of ordering such a gun today.

Gun: Browning Superposed Grade I
Gauge: 12
Condition: 98 percent, NRA Excellent (Modern)
Serial No: 27XXX
Manufactured: 1952
Value: $1,825

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6 Responses to Browning Superposed Shotgun

jesse wrote:
January 09, 2014

I have a browning superposed 12g in I,d say fair con s.number on it is 3480 this one has 30 inch barrels anyone with info on it also for sale

rachelle wrote:
May 10, 2012

My dad has a 1952 12 gauge superposed. The one pictured here (maybe its just the way the photot was taken) appears to have some finish rubbed off the stock and appears to be abit faded. And the barrel doesn't look as shiny and nice. My dads doesn't have the original buttplate, but he's sure he has it somwhere. And the finish both on the wood ad the barrel is even better than the one pictured. It has just the slightest bit of blueing rubbed thru at the tip of the barrel on one side and just a tiny spot on the reciever. Its also a grade one. There are no tool marks or damage, this thing is pristine! Assuming my eyes aren't tricking me looking at the one pictured above, how would that affect the value of the one we have?

jay wrote:
April 08, 2011

i have a 12 guage browning super posed a grad, compass and rose on reciever i inherited,so guessing from 1950's. anyone interested contact me. gtownjay@hotmail.com.

Harry Williamson wrote:
November 04, 2010

I have a Browning 20ga that looks exactly like the one in the magazine. serial #12852 the left side says (Browning Arms Co St Louis Missouri. Special steel 20ga shells 2-3/4" and 3")The right side says. (Patents N'2203378 - 2233881 Made in Belgium) I love to shoot it and it is great for pheasants. The bluing is worn through in a few places and it has some scratches from hunting use. Would re-bluing and refinishing affect the value? Also I have considered having choke tubes installed would this also change the value. Could you tell me when this shotgun was made? Thank you. Harry Williamson

John Hopkins wrote:
October 20, 2010

Is this still for sale? The Browning Superposed Grade 1 made in Belgium Serial number 27XXX

Jeff Pierson wrote:
August 27, 2010

About a year ago I bought a really nice Superposed from Gander ( you can buy better but you can't pay more!) in 12 gauge, field grade with 28" barrels. The gun was obviously pre-enjoyed and the blue was worn on the receiver so I had it and the trigger guard re-blued. Now, I've wanted one of the FN Brownings since I was a kid and I briefly owned a Broadway Trap. In shooting trap the gun just beat me up and I'm no wuss, but if you shoot eight rounds a day, three or four days a week, the recoil adds up. Back to my 1100. Nevertheless, my new one is a pleasure. Sweet shooting, sure pointing and the machine work is outstanding. I suspect I will put fancier wood on it in the near future. If you can find a nice example, buy it!