John Moses Browning designed many guns in his lifetime, and many fireside chats over the last century have certainly been on this topic. Today, I will focus on the last John Browning-designed gun, the Browning Superposed. Unfortunately, John Browning never saw the Superposed come to fruition; this was left to his son, Val, who launched the Browning Superposed into production in 1931. Neither John nor Val could have imagined that this gun would still be made to this day. Sure, the ejectors and forend design may have gone through a change or two, but over 90 years, the two dots are definitely connected between the first gun and a new custom shop gun or even a Citori.
Nowadays, a reasonably priced and reliable over/under shotgun is taken for granted, but this was far from the case in 1925, and this is what truly made the superposed different; John Browning knew it, and so did Val. As for Val, he had to deal with a tremendous amount of uncertainty; was the Superposed ever going to be accepted by the shooting fraternity? Was this gun going to be reliable? Don't forget that 1931 wasn't the best time to be trying to sell a new gun of an unproven design! He pressed forward, and as we all know, the Browning Superposed was a tremendous success, and these guns are universally acknowledged to be excellent in every respect.
Initially offered in a 12 gauge model, this changed over time to include 20 gauge, 28 gauge, and 410 bore models, and you probably thought I would forget to mention the 16 gauge Citori. The Browning Superposed has also been offered with dizzying combinations of stock configurations, forends, ribs, and an extensive range of grades and engraving patterns. Because there is such a complex matrix of variations to the same basic design, many of these guns have been highly sought-after and collected; in fact, Browning Superposed shotguns, generally speaking have been a tremendous investment over time.
While we are on the subject of the best, rarest, or most expensive Browing Superposed, we would have to go back to the fireside chat and debate this until sunrise. You wouldn't be wrong to say a 28 gauge Midas or perhaps a sideplated exhibition grade engraved by Jose Bartaen. What with certainty wouldn't be mentioned would be a 12 gauge grade 1 double trigger gun with 32" barrels choked full and full.
Lou, what are you talking about? A grade 1, 12 gauge is the most common gun they made! Yes, you heard me right, and what's more, it has had the stock pinned at the head, a White Line pad added, and the forend has been patched. Sounds like a $500 gun to all of you, right? Well, not so quick; this gun is not only a first-year production gun but also serial number 6. Indeed, Val Browning would have handled and looked over this gun with a fine-tooth comb, ensuring that everything on this first-batch gun was perfect! While there may be five or six of these guns with a lower serial number somewhere out there, the chances of ever getting one are pretty slim, and to keep everything in perspective, if this gun was a Colt single-action revolver with this serial number at a well-publicized auction the gun surely in this condition would sell for well into the six figures! When this gun became available for sale, I had to have it! Moreover, I had to touch it, study it, and shoot it. Making the holes in the barrels smaller, engraving the gun with gold inlaid ducks, foxes, and treestumps, or a fancily checkered French walnut stock will never be a substitute for the sixth Browning Superposed ever made.