The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The Hide > The Art of the Rifle: General

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old January 11, 2012, 09:07 AM   #1
Winchester_73
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 20, 2008
Location: Pittsburgh PA
Posts: 2,859
Browning FN Mauser hi power Safari grade rifle - date of manufacture help?

I recently purchased a Belgian Browning FN Safari grade rifle. I was told that the rifle was from 1968, making it one of the salt wood guns. However, the metal is very clean and so I bought it. When I took the action out of the stock, it was very clean underneath. I surmised that apparently this was one of the Safari rifles that was sent back for a new stock with metal refinishing.

That was until last night. I went to proofhouse to look up the serial numbers, just for the heck of it.

http://proofhouse.com/browning/58_dating_sys.htm

The site mentions that "L" denotes safari grade, which the rifle is. Ok, no problem there. Then it says that the "8" to begin the SN was used for 1958 and 1968. I can find nothing conclusive to say whether the gun was 1958 or 1968. If its 1958, that would explain why the metal is so clean. On the other hand, many places list 1959 as the introduction date for these rifles.

This site adds to the confusion:

http://proofhouse.com/browning/index.html

It lists "L" for Safari grade, Mauser action beginning in 1959 but also starting in 68/69 "Z" denoted the Safari grade for Sako actions with "L" for Olympian grade and Medallion grade. Does this mean that for each year range, that the letters were ADDED as new model options or that the newer letters replaced the old ones? I can't tell.

There is very little info on these on the net, and it is scattered. I also tried googling "1968 FN Browning rifle" to see if my SN was close to that one, and there were very few results. Then I tried "1958 FN browning rifle" and found 1 result with a SN that started with "L", it was LXXXX with 4 numbers.

The blue book 28th edition states this model came out in 1958, and only had a letter prefix for the first few years dependent on the grade of rifle. This would mean that "8LXXXXX" would be 1968. For 1969, it states that the last 2 numbers for year of the DOM were used.

If I had to guess, being a 45XXX SN range (after the "8L" which refer to year produced and rifle grade) I believe my Browning to be a 1968 gun, assuming that they started with SN "1" and likely did not make 45k rifles in 1958, esp since most sources (not all) state that this model debuted in 1959.

Anyways, here is the rifle. It looks just as good as my pre 64 Winchesters or anything else I've had or have. Great trigger, quality in all regards. I really like the monte carlo stock it has. The bluing is magnificent as well. I have since placed a Weaver V9 on the gun but have yet to shoot it. I've had it less than a month. Here are some pics.



__________________
Winchester 73, the TFL user that won the west
Winchester_73 is offline  
Old January 11, 2012, 11:03 AM   #2
mete
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 14, 2004
Location: NY State
Posts: 5,491
Why are you assuming it was sent back for a new stock ? I thought only some
of the stacks were salted ? Anyway you have a good piece , shoot it and be happy !!
__________________
And Watson , bring your revolver !
mete is offline  
Old January 11, 2012, 11:35 AM   #3
old roper
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 11, 2007
Posts: 1,108
Winchester_73, As you know they did replace some stocks and yours could of been one but that doesn't hurt the value. I'm sure there may be some records as to serial # but that never figured into the value of your rifle. I got my Browning 1965 forget which year I heard about the salt wood but didn't have it.

Looking at the pictures got a nice rifle.
__________________
Semper Fi
Vietnam
VFW
old roper is offline  
Old January 11, 2012, 11:42 AM   #4
Scorch
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 13, 2006
Location: Washington state
Posts: 11,542
All of the salt wood stocks were Claro walnut, yours is European walnut. Claro walnut was often used for higher grade rifles due to the color and grain of Claro as compared to regular walnut. Very few of the rifles affected were Hi-Powers and Safaris, most were Medallions and Olympus grade rifles, which had the higher grade wood. T-Bolt rifles with salt wood are fairly common. Higher grade A5s and Superposed shotguns were also affected.

As to whether or not your rifle was restocked, replacement stocks did not have the serial number stamped in the barrel channel, most original factory stocks do. Replacement stocks have a date in a circle stamped in ink inside the stock.
__________________
Never try to educate someone who resists knowledge at all costs.
But what do I know?
Summit Arms Services
Taylor Machine
Scorch is offline  
Old January 12, 2012, 07:23 AM   #5
Winchester_73
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 20, 2008
Location: Pittsburgh PA
Posts: 2,859
Thanks for the help everyone.

Quote:
Why are you assuming it was sent back for a new stock ? I thought only some of the stacks were salted ?
I thought all of the rifles in certain time frames / SN ranges were salt wood. Scorch has informed me that it was the higher grade rifles and shotguns.

Quote:
Winchester_73, As you know they did replace some stocks and yours could of been one but that doesn't hurt the value.
Well I was thinking the opposite. If it was replaced, that would help the value some. On the other hand, the condition of the metal shows there isn't any salt wood currently.

Quote:
I'm sure there may be some records as to serial # but that never figured into the value of your rifle.
IMO it would be worth a little more if it was 1958 instead of 1968, but I can't see it being 1958. The SN is 8L45290. Does anyone have any idea either way?

Quote:
All of the salt wood stocks were Claro walnut, yours is European walnut. Claro walnut was often used for higher grade rifles due to the color and grain of Claro as compared to regular walnut. Very few of the rifles affected were Hi-Powers and Safaris, most were Medallions and Olympus grade rifles, which had the higher grade wood.
I did a quick search and it looks like claro stocks are darker with beautiful wood grain compared to my stock? Is that how you were able to tell?

Quote:
As to whether or not your rifle was restocked, replacement stocks did not have the serial number stamped in the barrel channel, most original factory stocks do.
I wondered that. Mine DOES have the SN in the barrel channel. So I have an ORIGINAL, NON salt wood stock which is great. I no longer have to think about this issue anymore. Thanks for the tips.

Old Roper and mete: Thanks for the kind words about my rifle. I am sure I will enjoy it. I now wonder how it will group and there's only one way to find out.
__________________
Winchester 73, the TFL user that won the west
Winchester_73 is offline  
Old January 12, 2012, 08:44 AM   #6
FALshootist
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 24, 2002
Posts: 589
Cool old gun. What caliber is it?

They are very similar to the Sears JC Higgins model 50 (30-06 and 270). They also had the FM mauser action, similar stock (but W/O checkering) and although they both had open sights, the Higgins had a High Standard Chrome lined barrel.

I'll bet you will find that rifle shoots very well.
__________________
"Iwoke up this morning and got myself a beer. The future is uncertain and the end is always near."
FALshootist is offline  
Old January 12, 2012, 11:49 AM   #7
old roper
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 11, 2007
Posts: 1,108
I don't have a picture of my 243 when I got it but I pull up pictures of a Browning 243 that has the same stock that mine came with only difference is mine on Sako action.

http://www.gunsinternational.com/Bro...n_id=100218698
__________________
Semper Fi
Vietnam
VFW
old roper is offline  
Old January 12, 2012, 12:08 PM   #8
warbirdlover
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 13, 2009
Location: central Wisconsin
Posts: 2,324
I built a .243 on a new FN Mauser Supreme barreled action that looked exactly like that. I had always wanted the Browning but couldn't afford it so that was the only way I could get something similar. It was in a Fajen stock that was a much better grade then what I paid for so it ended up to be a super beautiful gun also. (Then I sold it like an idiot).

The old Brownings on the Mauser action were the cream of the crop back then IMHO. Even with the pre-64 Model 70's etc.
warbirdlover is offline  
Old February 9, 2012, 04:25 PM   #9
DutchTexan
Member
 
Join Date: February 9, 2012
Location: Texas
Posts: 20
Thanks for this info. I just bought one of these rifles in late December 2011.

Quote:
If I had to guess, being a 8L45XXX SN range ... I believe my Browning to be a 1968 gun, assuming that they started with SN "1" and likely did not make 45k rifles in 1958, esp since most sources (not all) state that this model debuted in 1959.
I think you are right on the 1968 date. Every Safari I could find from 1959 to 1965, except one from 1962, did not have the number in front of the L and they were all 4 digit numbers after the L (i.e. L9234). I have not seen a Medallion or Olympian grade gun without the date stamp on the gun from these years.

In early 1966 they apparently started the 5 digit serial numbers in the 30,000 range. Every gun I have seen from 1966-1968 had the year before the L and a SN between 35000 and 45999 (i.e. 8L45123).

In 1969 and later production they all had the L and two digit date code at the end of the serial number (i.e. 64444L69). This was probably so that they avoided confusion with the 1959-1968 production even though the serial numbers were now all in the 60,000 range and up.

My rifle is chambered in .30-06 and I was told by the prior owner it is a 1965 gun. It has the L94## style SN with no preceding year digit.

So far I have found a few 1964 rifles with SNs in the L92## range and a 66 with a 6L355## (5 digit) SN so I think the dating is probably right and that the year number was not commonly stamped on the Safari grade rifles from 1959-1965. I found only one exception to this in a 1962 gun. All the Medallion and Olympian grade guns I have seen had the year stamped in front of the SN.

Here is my FN Browning High-Power Safari:






It came with a Leupold M7 4X scope and Weaver pivot mounts so you can use the iron sights in close quarters.

Here was the first trip to the range. I'll go back and sight it in with Hornady 150grain shells.



Edit:
On the salt wood, I read that it mainly affected the higher grade guns, not the Safari grade.
DutchTexan is offline  
Old December 15, 2013, 08:28 PM   #10
BrowningCollector
Junior Member
 
Join Date: December 14, 2013
Posts: 1
Ask BrowningCollector.com

I have met the gentleman who has www.BrowingCollector.com an he has probably the most complete set of Safari, Medallion and Olympian Grade collections in the world. You can go to his website and contact him there. In one of his articles, he mentions that there were 6 1959 bolt action Brownings and they are all considered "proto-types" that were sent to Browning by FN. I believe he has the first 3 rifles ever made, L1, L2 and L3.

I like his website and think he offers much more value for Browning collectors. Contact him when it comes to questions about the Belgium Browning Bolt Action Rifles. He has a lot of other Brownings he is writing about also.

On a separate note, there are many, many, many Safari Grades that are/were salty. I've tested many with silver nitrate and unfortunately many were salty. Salt was in nearly everything. A Browning gunsmith at Browning wrote in the forum section of BrowningCollector.com that even some of the pistol grips on the 9 mm were salty. He was there to witness this.
BrowningCollector is offline  
Old December 16, 2013, 08:12 AM   #11
PetahW
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 19, 2008
Posts: 4,679
Quote:
Originally Posted by Winchester_73

IMO it would be worth a little more if it was 1958 instead of 1968

While you're certainly entitled to your opinion, in reality the age would make zero difference in the value of your Browning, presuming the remaining original condition of a 1958 or a 1968 vintage is equal.


FWIW, over the past several years, there seems to have been a flurry of gun owners that are driven to find out their firearm's born-on date, in the the mistaken notion that the age drives the value, when that's nowhere near the actual driver(s).

What the DOM of a firearm really does is to help determine where whatever firearm phase/change of a particular firearm's design the particular gun may/maynot fall into - not much of a consideration with firearms made essentially the same over their production run (like a Browning Hi-Power boltgun).

It seems that the Antique Roadshow (public TV show) has mesmerized gun owners, along with the masses.

It is, however, perfectly natural to satisy one's curiosity.


.
PetahW is offline  
Old December 16, 2013, 10:35 AM   #12
Westcoaster
Member
 
Join Date: April 14, 2009
Location: Central BC
Posts: 70
Nice rifle, I hope it gives you many years of pleasure. I picked up a 1959 Safari Grade in 3006 a number of years ago. It had been used but not abused, shot very well.

The stock cracked so I got it reblued and fitted into a McMillan as it was not going to be a collector piece. Now it is just a very slick functioning, Mauser 98 actioned 3006 that shoots very well.

I have since the photo replaced those old Buehler mounts shown in the picture.

They are very nice rifles.

[IMG][/IMG]
Westcoaster is offline  
Old May 28, 2014, 10:49 PM   #13
BrowningBirdMan
Junior Member
 
Join Date: May 27, 2014
Posts: 2
Serial # question

I think i may have inherited a salt gun. The rifle was my grandfathers and I am not sure that it has ever been fired. The serial numbers are 59xxx L70 and are on barrel, receiver, and bolt handle. All of the components are manufactured in Belgium as shown by the markings. I think it has a Sako style extractor? Im not sure whether this is an OEM feature. It is chambered in 7mm Remington. I am also not sure whether the barrel has been re-crowned or not. Any info would be great.
BrowningBirdMan is offline  
Old May 29, 2014, 02:28 PM   #14
DutchTexan
Member
 
Join Date: February 9, 2012
Location: Texas
Posts: 20
Does it show signs of rust around the metal parts or not?

Some of the guns don't show salt damage.
DutchTexan is offline  
Old May 29, 2014, 09:06 PM   #15
BrowningBirdMan
Junior Member
 
Join Date: May 27, 2014
Posts: 2
It shows some small rust spots on the un-blued portion below the rear of the bolt near the safety. but otherwise it only shows some minor discoloration of the blueing on the barrel just ahead of the throat. If there is minor corrosion of the barrel under the stock can it be mediated and then re-blued or Ceracoted? Is it worth restocking to prevent any further corrosion? I have not removed the stock because I have not found any instructions online showing how.
BrowningBirdMan is offline  
Old May 30, 2014, 09:46 AM   #16
DutchTexan
Member
 
Join Date: February 9, 2012
Location: Texas
Posts: 20
Quote:
If there is minor corrosion of the barrel under the stock can it be mediated and then re-blued?
Yes

Quote:
Is it worth restocking to prevent any further corrosion? I have not removed the stock because I have not found any instructions online showing how.
Possible? Yes, just a couple posts up is a gun that someone restocked with a synthetic stock.

Worth it is a value question you have to decide. In very Good condition these rifles are usually about $1,000 with price affected by calibre and condition. If you're asking this question you should probably take it to a gunsmith to evaluate it. They can give you a quote on restocking the gun.


Have him disassemble it and check for rust. Like I said above, the Salt Wood seems to be concentrated in the higher grade guns because it was prettier wood. The Safari Grade guns don't seem to have been as deeply affected.

Mine shoots very well. See the target above. I'm sure I will be passing it down to my son (10 months old now) or one of his sisters one of these days.
DutchTexan is offline  
Old August 8, 2014, 11:14 AM   #17
Mikezito
Junior Member
 
Join Date: August 8, 2014
Posts: 1
Also have an older Brownning rifle

Howdy all,

I'm new to this forum but this thread caught my attention, as I own an older Browning rifle and have similar questions.

SN is "3L 2xxxx" so I'm assuming this means it's from 1963? The gun was a gift from a gentleman who Safari hunts in Africa. It's in great condition, didn't realize it was so old.

Any further info on history and such would be great. Google searching hasn't been very fruitful :-/

-Mike
Mikezito is offline  
Old August 19, 2014, 01:12 PM   #18
DutchTexan
Member
 
Join Date: February 9, 2012
Location: Texas
Posts: 20
Mike,

I think this thread is one of the better places for information on these guns. I have posted everything I was able to learn about them in it.

Your 3L2####

is another example of a 5 digit SN and one that has the year in front of the L. Not too many of those that I've found but it's also a small sample size.

Last edited by DutchTexan; August 19, 2014 at 01:18 PM.
DutchTexan is offline  
Old November 24, 2014, 01:08 AM   #19
LDW500
Junior Member
 
Join Date: February 17, 2013
Posts: 7
Safari

^^^
I agree about this thread being very informative. I apparently have a 1964 Safari 7mm Magnum with Ser# 4L239XX which sounds like an uncommon number marking according to what I've read here. I bought the rifle from my father-in-law before he passed away. He said he bought it new in 1963 but he must have been off a year. Anyway, it's nice to know its not a salt wood gun!
LDW500 is offline  
Reply

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 06:13 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2014 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.12019 seconds with 9 queries