Browning Superposed Broadway Trap O/U Shotgun

By Chuck Hawks

Browning Superposed
Modern Browning Superposed circa 2007. Illustration courtesy of Browning Arms.

I purchased a Browning Superposed Broadway Grade I trap gun when I was shooting a fair amount of trap and could just barely afford a fine gun (used, of course). One of my shooting buddies used a Broadway Trap, which I admired greatly. So when the chance to purchase a good used example came along I could not resist. That was the beginning of my personal experience with Browning Superposed shotguns.

Some years later my very good friend John Rauzon was given a similar gun by his father Alex, who had shot it for years but by that time had pretty much quit trap shooting. Like my gun, this Superposed had been built in the 1960's. After John's untimely death the gun passed to his son Nathan, the very Nathan Rauzon on the Guns and Shooting Online masthead. So that approximately 50 year old Superposed, still in excellent condition and in regular use, has been owned by three generations of the Rauzon family. God only knows how many thousands of shells it has fired with unfailing reliably.

That little tale merely illustrates the quality built-in to every Browning Superposed shotgun. It is, literally, a gun that can be handed down from generation to generation. Before we get too far along, here are some general specifications of the 1960's vintage Browning Superposed Broadway Trap shotgun.

  • Firearm: Over/Under shotgun
  • Action: Break-open boxlock with dual under bolts and replaceable hinge pin
  • Gauge: 12
  • Chamber: 2-3/4"
  • Metal Finish: High-luster blue.
  • Barrels: 30" struck full length, Broadway ventilated rib
  • Chokes: Improved Modified and Full
  • Sights: Ivory front and center beads on 5/8" wide ventilated rib
  • Trigger: Single selective, gold plated
  • Safety: Tang mounted slider; incorporates barrel selector
  • Extraction/ejection: Selective ejectors
  • Stock: French walnut with pistol grip, beavertail forend, generous 20 lpi hand checkering pattern, hand rubbed high gloss finish, recoil pad
  • Length of pull: 14-3/8"
  • Drop at comb: 1-3/8"
  • Drop at heel: 1-3/4"
  • Length: 47-1/8"
  • Weight: 7 lbs. 12 oz.
  • Features: Gold plated single selective trigger, selective ejectors, clean breech face, scroll and rosette hand engraving
  • Country of origin: Belgium
  • Type: Trap gun

John Browning designed the Superposed (O/U) shotgun in the 1920's. It was his last firearm design and a labor of love. He passed away in November of 1926, before some of the final details of the gun, in particular the single selective trigger mechanism, had been finished. The gun was introduced in 1931 with double triggers. Browning's son Val kept working on the single selective trigger design, which he finally perfected. It was incorporated as the standard Superposed trigger in 1939.

This trigger uses an inertia block mechanism. It doesn't balk and it doesn't double. Today, for whatever reason, mechanical selective triggers (some of which work fine and some of which don't) are in fashion, but the Browning SST remains one of the very best and most reliable such triggers ever designed.

The barrel selector is incorporated in the sliding tang safety. Move the safety slider to the right to shoot the under barrel first, or to the left to shoot the over barrel first. Once a barrel is selected with the safety in the rearward (safe) position, the slider need only be moved straight forward to the fire position. After the first barrel has been fired, a second pull of the trigger fires the remaining barrel without any manipulation of the safety/barrel selector. The safety is entirely manual. It does not automatically return to the "safe" position when the gun is opened.

Like its single selective trigger, the Superposed's selective ejectors work first time, every time. They positively eject fired cases from the gun, while merely raising unfired shells for easy hand removal.

The Superposed pivots open on a large diameter, full length hinge pin mounted in the lower front of the receiver. This hinge pin can be replaced should it ever become worn, a feature lacking in most competitive O/U guns today.

The action is held closed by a massive under-bolt that engages bites in the tandem lumps beneath the lower barrel. (The barrels are struck full length and the lumps are machined integrally with the lower barrel.) This strong system allows a "clean" breech face without protrusions to interfere with loading.

The takedown system of the Superposed is unique. A pull down latch frees the forend to slide forward, after which the top lever is used to open the gun and the barrels are simply lifted from the hinge pin. When the gun is taken down the forend stays attached to the barrels. This allows a tighter forend to barrels fit and also eliminates the possibility of misplacing the forend.

Browning Superposed
Browning Grade I Broadway Trap gun taken down. Note wide rib.
This example is similar to the guns reviewed here.

The famous Broadway ventilated rib featured on the Browning trap guns that are the subject of this article was a full 5/8" wide, while standard Browning trap guns came with 5/16" wide ribs. Some shooters liked the looks of the Broadway rib, while others did not. Perhaps because I mostly shoot side-by-side guns with a broad sighting plane, I like the wide Broadway rib.

The appearance and finish of Superposed shotguns has always been excellent. The receiver and barrels are highly polished and deeply blued. The Grade I scroll and rosette hand engraving is understated and elegant. The select French Walnut stock gleams in hand rubbed splendor.

Superposed guns are not known for being especially lightweight, and that is particularly true of trap models. Nor, because of their under lump and bolt, are they shallow frame guns. But they are very solid, durable and handsome. Their mass helps to attenuate recoil, which is particularly important in a trap gun.

The honed chokes in our guns patterned exactly as they were supposed to with standard trap loads using 1-1/8 ounce of #8 shot. My 1 ounce reloads using hard #8 shot also achieved normal pattern percentages from both the IM (65%) and Full (over 70%) barrels. Broadway trap guns shoot about half a pattern high for me when I "figure 8" the beads, just as a good trap gun should.

Shooting a Superposed Trap Gun, like shooting any shotgun, is a matter of concentrating on the target, establishing proper lead, and keeping the gun moving when you shoot. The gun needs to fit and work correctly. Most of all, it should not intrude on the shooter's concentration.

Good shotgunners don't think about their gun, they are focused on the target. A Superposed Broadway Trap is so well engineered and so reliable that it allows just that. As big and handsome as it is, it never intrudes.

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Copyright 2007 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.