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Old January 11, 2012, 09:07 AM   #1
Winchester_73
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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.



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Old January 11, 2012, 11:03 AM   #2
mete
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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 !!
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Old January 11, 2012, 11:35 AM   #3
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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.
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Old January 11, 2012, 11:42 AM   #4
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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.
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Old January 12, 2012, 07:23 AM   #5
Winchester_73
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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.
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Old January 12, 2012, 08:44 AM   #6
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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.
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Old January 12, 2012, 11:49 AM   #7
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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
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Old January 12, 2012, 12:08 PM   #8
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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.
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Old February 9, 2012, 04:25 PM   #9
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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.
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Old December 15, 2013, 08:28 PM   #10
BrowningCollector
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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.
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Old December 16, 2013, 08:12 AM   #11
PetahW
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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.


.
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Old December 16, 2013, 10:35 AM   #12
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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]
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