Gun Digest

Browning Shotguns: The Top 10 Greatest Ever!

Citori Privilege, left receiver detail. An example of a high-grade factory Browning shotgun. Courtesy Browning.

From the earliest John M. Browning designs to today's state-of-the-art, here is Gun Digest's tip of the hat to the greatest Browning shotguns of all time!

Intro to Browning Shotguns

Early Browning shotguns ad.

Young lads growing up in a shooting sports family who haven't dreamed of Browning shotguns are few and far between. And it's no wonder, for the scatterguns of John M. Browning–and those of late design from today's Browning company–are both works of art and functional field guns.

As one early print ad put it, “For three generations the underlying principle in the manufacture of Browning guns is not “how cheap nor how many” but “how good” can guns be made. Smooth, finely fitting parts minimize wear; function is positive, dependability assured.”

With words like that, thousands of shooters have taken to the fields and trap ranges armed with confidence bordering obsession, Browning shotguns in hand.

What are the Top 10 Greatest Browning Shotguns?

Browning Superposed

Grade I Belgian Superposed 12-ga. with straight grip stock. Courtesy Rock Island Auction.

This series of Over/Under, double-barrel shotguns is chambered for 12, 20, and 28 gauges, as well as the .410 bore and is offered with vent rib barrels from 26.5″ to 32″ in length. It features various choke combinations.

This shotgun is built on a boxlock action and features either double or single-selective triggers and automatic ejectors. There were a number of versions offered that differ in the amount of ornamentation and the quality of the materials and workmanship utilized in manufacture.

The series was introduced in 1930 and is manufactured by Fabrique Nationale in Belgium.

Left receiver detail of one of the most popular Browning shotguns, a custom-engraved Midas Grade Superposed. Courtesy Rock Island Auction.

For many Americans, especially those who are not familiar with other European manufacturers, the Browning Superposed Shotguns were the ultimate in shotguns being offered for sale on a regular basis in the United States.

These are the weapons that were purchased by the more wealthy and affluent Americans shotgun enthusiasts. There is no question that these weapons rate a Collectibility Factor of #1. These weapons are highly desirable and highly collectible, especially in the smaller gauges.

Citori Series: Working Class of Browning Shotguns

20-ga. Citori with adjustable comb. Courtesy Rock Island Auction.

The Browning Citori is an Over/Under, double-barrel shotgun chambered for all gauges and offered with vent rib barrels of 26” through 30” in length. It has a boxlock action with a single-selective trigger and automatic ejectors.

Citori print ad.

The various grades differ in the amount of ornamentation and the quality of materials and workmanship utilized in construction. This Browning shotguns series is manufactured in Japan by B.C. Miroku and was introduced in 1973.

In my opinion, these are outstanding working guns. They shoot extremely well, and while they are a bit heavy, they seem to fit most people very well. I have a friend I hunt with who uses one of these on a daily basis when hunting, and I can tell you that he makes a formidable competitor.

Today, the more basic models offer a great value, and the price of these weapons, for the most part, seem to be coming down. If you are going to purchase one of these, I recommend that you only purchase those with adjustable chokes.

Browning Cynergy

When it comes to Browning shotguns, the Cynergy Field is still hard to beat. Courtesy Browning.
Cynergy CAD schematic. Courtesy Browning.

This series of Browning shotguns was introduced in 2004. Browning calls it the third generation over-and-under gun.

The Cynergy has a number of new design features such as a monoblock hinge system for a lower profile, an inflex recoil pad, a new mechanical trigger system, an adjustable comb, back-bored barrels, and impact ejectors.

Models include the Cynergy Field, Classic Field, Field Small Gauge, Sporting, Classic Sporting, Sporting Adjustable Comb, Sporting Small Gauge, Classic Field Small Gauge, Classic Field Grade III and Cynergy Feather, among many others.

Browning BT-99

BT-99 Plus. Courtesy Browning.

This is a break-open, single-barrel trap gun chambered for 12 gauge only. It is offered with a 32″ or 34″, vent rib barrel with screw-in choke tubes.

It features a boxlock action with automatic ejectors. The finish is blued with a checkered walnut stock and beavertail forearm. It was introduced in 1968 by B.C. Miroku.

The BT-99 Golden Clays model was first introduced in 1994. In 2003 this model was offered with an adjustable comb. Weight is about 9 lbs. Available with either a 32″ or 34″ barrel.

Browning BSS

The Browning BSS side-by-side shotgun. Courtesy Rock Island Auction.

This is a side-by-side, double-barrel shotgun chambered for 12 or 20 gauge. It was offered with a 26˝, 28˝, or 30˝ barrel with various choke combinations. It features a boxlock action and automatic ejectors. Early guns had a nonselective single trigger; late production, a selective trigger. The finish is blued with a checkered walnut stock and beavertail forearm. It was manufactured between 1978 and 1987 by B.C. Miroku.

NOTE: These particular Browning weapons, when first introduced, had nonselective triggers, and were not particularly popular or well received. They were competing with several other side-by-sides, e.g., the SKB. But slowly they began to become more appreciated, and today they have reached some degree of decent acceptance. I give them a Collectibility Factor of #2.

Browning Auto-5

Belgian Auto-5 16-ga. round knob with “suicide safety” in ON position at front of trigger guard. This is not a Sweet Sixteen. Courtesy Rock Island Auction.

This series of recoil-operated, semi-automatic shotguns was designed by John M. Browning and was offered in 12 or 16 gauge. The barrel lengths were 26″, 28″, 30″, or 32″ with various chokes and ribs. It has a unique, square-back action that has become instantly recognizable.

John Browning with one of the greatest Browning shotguns of all time, his legendary Auto-5. Courtesy Browning.

The finish is blued with a checkered, walnut, round-knob stock. The various versions differ in the amount of ornamentation, type of rib, and quality of materials and workmanship utilized in construction.

This series was manufactured in Belgium by FN between 1903 and 1939. The first example appeared in the United States in 1923. Pre-WWII 16 gauge guns, introduced in 1936, had 2-9/16″ chambers; early models should be inspected by a qualified gunsmith before firing.

NOTE: These shotguns, while somewhat strange in appearance, were the rage, especially after their introduction.

Many older shotgunners tell stories of how well these gun shoot and operate. There is no reason why I would not accumulate a few of these at the right price, especially in the more rare configurations.

These weapons deserved a Collectibility Factor of #1. In addition, although, technically speaking, these guns are considered to be somewhat antiquated, it’s amazing how well they sell and how much demand there is for them.

In 1976 production of the Auto-5 shotgun was begun by B.C. Miroku in Japan. This move was accomplished after approximately 2,750,000 Auto-5 shotguns were manufactured by FN in Belgium between 1903 and 1976.

Auto-5 Final Tribute. Courtesy Browning.

The Japanese-manufactured guns, in the opinion of many knowledgeable people, show no less quality or functionality but are simply not as desirable from a collector’s standpoint. In 1999 Browning discontinued production of the Auto-5 shotgun.

In 2014, the Browning A5 was released, which resembles the Auto-5 aesthetically but is recoil-operated. The A5 remains in production today. 

Browning B-2000 Series Shotguns

Browning B-2000 with accessory slug barrel. Courtesy Rock Island Auction.

This is a gas-operated, semi-automatic shotgun chambered for 12 or 20 gauge and offered with a 26″, 28″, or 30″, vent rib barrel with various chokes.

The finish is blued with a checkered walnut stock. This shotgun was assembled in Portugal from parts that were manufactured by FN in Belgium.

There were approximately 115,000 of these Browning shotguns imported between 1974 and 1981.

Browning Gold Shotguns

Model Gold 10. Courtesy Browning.

Introduced in 1993, The Browning Gold 10 was a gas-operated 5-shot semi-automatic shotgun chambered for the 10 gauge shell. Offered with 26″, 28″, or 30″ vent rib barrel.

The standard model has a walnut stock, blued receiver and barrel while the Stalker Model is fitted with a graphite composite stock with nonglare finish on receiver and barrel. Both models are fitted with choke tubes. Weighs about 10 lbs. 10 oz.

One of the more contemporary Browning shotguns is the updated Gold Evolve. Courtesy Browning.

Introduced in 2004, the Gold Evolve model is an updated version of the original Gold gun.

It features newly designed receiver, magazine cap, ventilated rib design, checkering pattern and Hi-Viz sights. Offered in 12 gauge 3 with choice of 26″, 28″, or 30″ barrel with choke tubes. Weight is about 7 lbs. for the 28″ model.

The full line of Browning Gold shotguns includes field-grade models for waterfowl, upland game, turkey and trap and skeet. In addition, there are several slug gun variants available.

Browning Silver Series

Browning Silver in Mossy Oak camo. Courtesy Browning.

The value-priced Silver series of gas-operated autoloaders was introduced in 2006.

These Browning shotguns feature a semi-humpback design and aluminum alloy receiver. Weights vary from 7.25 to 7.5 lbs. depending on barrel length and stock material. Three choke tubes provided with all models.

The Silver Hunter version features a satin finish walnut stock and forend. It is available with a 3″ chamber in 26″, 28″ and 30″ barrel lengths or with a 3.5″ chamber in 26″ or 28″ barrel length.

Similar to Silver Hunter, the Silver Stalker model has matte black composite stock and forend. Sling swivel studs. 3.5″ chamber only.

Browning BPS Pump Shotguns

The Browning BPS 20-Ga. Field Grade. Courtesy Browning.

The BPS is a slide-action shotgun chambered for 10, 12, or 20 gauge. It is offered with various length vent rib barrels with screw-in Invector chokes.

It features 3″ magnum chambers and a bottom-ejection system that effectively makes it ambidextrous. It has double slide bars and a 5-shot tubular magazine. It is constructed of all steel. It was introduced by B.C. Miroku in 1977.

The BPS remains a flagship among Browning shotguns and offered in a bewildering array of models and configurations.

This article is an excerpt from the Standard Catalog of Browning Firearms. Corey Graff contributed to this article.

Interested in Browning gun values? Check out Gun Values Online by Gun Digest.

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