Castle Gunmakers, Norham, Northumberland


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Castle Gunmakers, Norham, Northumberland

A quick history of Browning shotguns

Browning custom shotguns have been around for many years, as basic Brownings lend themselves perfectly to the customisation process. We currently have a custom shotgun project in the workshop and thought we would share it’s journey with you.

John Moses Browning, founder ofbrowning custom shotgunsThe founder of the Browning, John Moses Browning, was born in 1926 in Utah and became America’s most prolific designer of rifles, pistols, machine guns and shotguns. He made his first firearm at the age of 13 in his father’s workshop and he went on to register 128 patents and his guns are amongst the most copied of any producer. The weapons he designed were used for both military and sporting purpose and he is without doubt the most successful firearms designer of the 20th century. Browning influenced the design and manufacture of a huge range of firearms but it is the last gun  he designed that interests the modern sportsman. This of course was the Browning ‘Superposed’ or as it is more commonly known – the Browning ‘Over and Under’.

The Browning ‘Over and Under’ shotgun

This top of the range, elegant shotgun was conceived in the 1880’s and was finally completed with a single trigger system by his son Val A. Browning, the design being commercially available from Fabrique National in 1931 and is still available to this day. This shotgun was revolutionary in that its production was based mainly on machining with centre Capstan Turret lathes and milling machines. The original models were Lightening Pigeon, Diana and Midas. In 1960 the model changed to the 205/6 and the guns remain very much the same today.

The basic model was the A1. The higher B,C,D and M grades were based on the same action but with various engraving styles. Because the A1 is a top quality gun mechanically, but quite plain aesthetically, it lends itself perfectly to customizing by fitting a high-grade stock and by engraving the ‘soft’ action body in whatever style the owner may want.

Customising an A1 Lightweight Browning game gun

We recently sourced for a customer an A1 Lightweight game gun that was in good condition. The first job was to remove the plain but adequate stock and source a blank of high quality Turkish Walnut (this cost just a bit more than the original gun!). Instead of the pistol grip, the customer specified a “roach belly” stock and as is usual with other high-end Brownings, ‘drop points’ were added. The original butt plate was discarded, the stock bolt hole being fitted with a ‘trapped butt plate’ to give a much more English finish. High grade chequering and a glossy oil finish completed the operation.

Original Browning shotgun stock  High quality Turkish Walnut stock  Stock2

This Browning shotgun has now begun its transformation and will be used this season as it is. Next year the gun will be back in to our workshop to be engraved with Celtic designs. We’ll keep you posted…

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