I Have This Old Gun: Browning B-SS Shotgun

brownss.jpg

Mention Browning shotguns, and thoughts often drift to the celebrated Citori over-under or the iconic Auto-5 semi-automatic. But from 1971 until 1987, Browning imported one of the best valued, most solidly built side-by-sides available in America—the B-SS (“Browning Side-by-Side”).

Unfortunately, at the time, hunters were turning away from classic side-by-sides in favor of pump-actions and semi-automatics. Moreover, in 1987, the government announced that lead shot was going to be banned for waterfowl hunting, beginning in 1991, thus forecasting the demise—for all practical purposes—of existing doubles for anything but upland hunting.


That’s not to say the B-SS was passé. Far from it. Expertly made in Japan by Miroku (guns made after 1977 were assembled in Korea using Japanese parts), and with its highly polished and hand-fitted action, it was sometimes viewed as “the working man’s Model 21.” Indeed, originally priced at $257.50 (which jumped to $354.50 five years later), the B-SS was a relative bargain—rock solid in appearance, construction and performance. Initially offered as a 12-ga. Grade I, a 20 gauge priced at $275 came out a year later. Barrel lengths were 26", 28" or 30", with a choice of full/full, modified/full or improved cylinder/modified combinations of fixed choke. Attractive 20-line-per-inch checkering graced a black walnut, pistol grip stock and beavertail fore-end that were paired with richly blued polished steel, featuring hand-engraved embellishments. Automatic ejectors, an automatic safety and a silver, single, non-selective trigger were standard.

In 1977, a single, selective trigger was introduced, the trigger color was changed to gold and a straight-stocked Sporter, priced at $369.50, was introduced. Also new was a Grade II variant with a more profusely engraved French Gray receiver. By that time, the price of the standard B-SS had risen to $359.50. An even more expensive sidelock version, with splinter fore-end and double triggers, was brought out in 1983.

Today, the B-SS is acknowledged not only as the value it always represented, but also as a potential collectable. There is already a slight premium for 20-ga. guns, and sidelocks in excellent condition can bring $4,000 and up. Six years ago, this early, near-mint, 12-ga. Grade I boxlock B-SS, even with a tiny chip in its buttplate, sold for $825 at Lock, Stock & Barrel online auctions (lsbauctions.com). Today it is easily valued at $1,150 to $1,450.

Gun: Browning Grade I B-SS Shotgun
Manufacturer: Miroku, Japan
Gauge: 12; 26" barrels (IC/M)
Serial Number: XX52A72
Manufactured: 1972
Condition: 98 percent — NRA Excellent (Modern Gun Standards)
Value: $1,150 to $1,450

Latest

Blackhawk
Blackhawk

Blackhawk Offers Product Customization

Blackhawk has launched a new custom Kydex holster and accessory program on its website, which allows customers to choose from a variety of colors, graphics and other features.

Firearm Actions For Mixed-Up Families

Can’t a lefty learn to run a right-hand platform? Sure, but the optimal answer is a firearm with a format that matches the shooter—although there are universally friendly, bilateral options.

This Old Gun: Model 1860 Henry Rifle

Although he probably didn’t plan it, when New England shirtmaker Oliver Fisher Winchester acquired the Volcanic Repeating Arms Co. in 1857 and re-named it the New Haven Arms Co., he ended up dramatically altering firearm technology, helped settle the American West and subsequently created a legacy that continues to this day.

Smith & Wesson Issues Safety Recall For M&P12 Shotguns

Smith & Wesson has issued a safety recall this week for the new M&P12 bullpup shotgun.

The Armed Citizen® Oct. 18, 2021

Read today's "The Armed Citizen" entry for real stories of law-abiding citizens, past and present, who used their firearms to save lives.

Bergmann’s Extraordinary Pistols

Although Bergmann’s products never received the notoriety of the Luger, the Broomhandle or the Colt M1911, he nevertheless set many milestones in firearm development—including making the first pistol to achieve genuine commercial success. How’s that for extraordinary?

Interests



Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.