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  #1  
Old 02-26-2021, 01:42 PM
taters613

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New Belgium Browning Challenger



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I just purchased an absolutely gorgeous, near mint condition Browning Challenger with a 4 1/2” barrel off GunBroker. The pistol included the original case and appears to have seen very little usec(bluing is perfect, no scratches, no wear). I got a fantastic deal for it: I won the auction at $450 with free shipping.

The reason for the price being so low is that the seller commented that the gun did not come with its original grips; rather, the pistol came with Nomad grips. However, upon closer inspection, I don’t think these grips could possibly be Nomad grips: they have a cutout for the slide stop which, of course, is not even present on the Nomad! Furthermore, the cutout looks too clean to have been done by hand, and cutout looks absolutely, 100% identical to the cutout shown in images of the brown “novadur” grips that shipped with most 1974 challengers. The grips themselves look identical to the brown Novadur, except for the fact that they are black instead of translucent brown. The grips fit the gun perfectly, and I see no evidence that they’ve ever been removed. I’m thinking the grips must be factory original, but I’ve never heard of a challenger with black novadur grips.
So: is it possible that I lucked out and purchased an ultra-rare variation of the pistol that, for whatever reason, shipped from the factory with black novadur grips instead of brown ones?!
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  #2  
Old 02-26-2021, 03:27 PM
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photos would help ,
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  #3  
Old 02-26-2021, 05:55 PM
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Congratulations.

Any way you look at it you got a good deal.
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Old 02-26-2021, 07:20 PM
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Never seen the black grips you are talking about just these on these 2 examples.



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Old 02-27-2021, 12:32 PM
taters613

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Originally Posted by webfoot56 View Post
Never seen the black grips you are talking about just these on these 2 examples.



Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
I’m having trouble posting pics straight to this thread (maybe I haven’t been an active user for long enough?), but I made a Flickr album with a couple pics (sorry, they’re not great...):

https://flic.kr/s/aHsmUxnArY

As you can see, the pistol is in fantastic shape. @webfoot56: the grips on my pistol appear identical to the ones in your second pic, but are flat black instead of brown.
What do y’all think? Factory original?
Either way, I LOVE this little pistol, and I’m super excited to bring it to the range next week!
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Old 02-27-2021, 02:10 PM
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Challenger

You got a smokin' deal, at least it would be in my neck of the woods. For $450, in that condition I would have bought with no grips at all. These are fantastic and underrated pistols. I had one on my list for years but they are very scarce in my area. I finally broke down and bought a minty Challenger on line. I was hooked, bought a Nomad at a gun show a few months later. All steel (some alloy framed Nomads) beautiful craftsmanship, great trigger, what's not to like? I wish the Nomad had a slide lock but I can live with it. I'm pretty sure there is another in my future.
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Old 02-27-2021, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by matchgrade View Post
You got a smokin' deal, at least it would be in my neck of the woods. For $450, in that condition I would have bought with no grips at all. These are fantastic and underrated pistols. I had one on my list for years but they are very scarce in my area. I finally broke down and bought a minty Challenger on line. I was hooked, bought a Nomad at a gun show a few months later. All steel (some alloy framed Nomads) beautiful craftsmanship, great trigger, what's not to like? I wish the Nomad had a slide lock but I can live with it. I'm pretty sure there is another in my future.
Thank you my friend! I can say already that I’m definitely hooked. I’ll probably wind up selling my challenger ii, and keeping my eyes open for a nice, 6 1/2” Belgian challenger. Either that, or I’ll just keep my eyes open for a longer barrel. The quality of these Belgium guns is just miles beyond the American versions.

By the way: I’m a bit of a tinkerer, and one of the first things I did was modify a buck mark recoil buffer and install it in my new challenger. I had to remove some material from the buffer and reshape it a bit, but if seems to fit great now. It’ll help give me piece of mind if I wind up shooting high velocity ammo out of this pistol. The slide still has enough travel to lock back, and has enough addition travel so that I can easily slingshot it.
Has anyone else tried this?
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Old 03-02-2021, 09:17 PM
losrobles
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I suppose anything's possible. Personally, I've put Nomad grips on two Challengers since I like their feel on my shooters. When looking at the Nomad grips, I found that there are very faint lines molded into the plastic that delineate where the slide lock cutout WOULD be. Very careful application of the infamous Dremel tool followed by careful buffing of the cut edges worked very well. When molding the grips perhaps some of them were destined to be cut out for the Challenger instead of the Nomad, but as others have noted, I don't think I've ever seen a factory original version. But there are others here much more knowledgeable than I on the subject of the numerous variations out in the world.
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Old 03-02-2021, 10:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by losrobles View Post
I suppose anything's possible. Personally, I've put Nomad grips on two Challengers since I like their feel on my shooters. When looking at the Nomad grips, I found that there are very faint lines molded into the plastic that delineate where the slide lock cutout WOULD be. Very careful application of the infamous Dremel tool followed by careful buffing of the cut edges worked very well. When molding the grips perhaps some of them were destined to be cut out for the Challenger instead of the Nomad, but as others have noted, I don't think I've ever seen a factory original version. But there are others here much more knowledgeable than I on the subject of the numerous variations out in the world.
Most of the Nomad grips I have, dont have the mark for the slide release, but I have seen them before.
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Old 03-11-2021, 11:26 PM
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OP here with a quick update:

I finally got to the range again yesterday, and I was able to put a couple hundred rounds through both my Belgium challenger (the subject of this thread), and my American made challenger ii that I picked up a couple weeks ago. Both these guns are absolutely fantastic shooters! Flawless function with multiple types of ammo, and I was able to shoot 1.5” groups at 15 yards with both of them, which is close to the limit of my capabilities at this point.
I was really impressed with the challenger ii. The fit and finish on this gun is way below the Belgium challenger, and the trigger pull is extremely “mushy” compared to the perfectly crisp trigger of Belgium gun (but it is still quite light). In fact, I’d already put up a classified ad to resell this pistol before my range trip. But man am I glad I gave it a chance! It functioned perfectly, and the “mushy” trigger actually lends itself to accurate and precise shooting. Combined with its 6.75” barrel, it was shockingly easy to shoot teeny tiny groups with this pistol.
However, the Belgium pistol is REALLY something else. Even with the much shorter barrel and reduced sight radius, I was immediately shooting this pistol as well as the challenger ii. This is, hands down, my favorite 22 pistol of all time.
Here’s the real shocker: I shot both these pistols MUCH better than I shot my new-to-me 1964 S&W model 41! Granted, it was my first time shooting a m41, and the challengers are much more familiar to me in feel and function, but still...that was quite a shocker to me. Go figure!
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Old 04-08-2021, 02:23 PM
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OP Update
So I sold off my challenger ii at a profit, and proceeded to get a great deal on a big brother for my Belgium challenger: I got a 6.75” model in like-new condition. Plus it came both with a presentation case AND the standard leather case. Cost me just under $600 out-the-door.
The quality of this pistol is every bit as fantastic as the 4.5”, and the trigger pull on this one is, shockingly, just a little bit better than that of the 4.5” (i didn’t even think that was possible). It has almost no pre-travel whatsoever, a slightly lighter and cleaner break (maybe 2 pounds?), the perfect amount iv over travel (didn’t even have to adjust this), and a more audible/tactile reset than the 4.5”.
I have XL hands, so I absolutely love the larger wood grips. They allow me to use a typical “thumbs forward” grip on this pistol, whereas with the thinner, nomad-style grips on the 4.5” challenger, I needed to curl my thumbs downwards in order to avoid the edge of the slide slicing the skin on my strong hand thumb knuckle! The thumbs forward grip I’m able to use with this pistol definitely seems to provide more stability (at least from what I’ve seen during dry fire practice).
The bluing is in absolutely fantastic condition, and the grips are perfect; frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if this pistol was bought and never shot. I treated the grips to a couple applications of “bore doctor” oil, which I use both on my guitars and my guns (I highly recommend this product btw). This really helped bring out the natural grain of the wood.
As with the 4.5” version, I also modified a buck mark recoil buffer and put it in the 6.75”. This didn’t seem to cause any problems whatsoever.
I’m gonna take both these challengers to the range within the next few days, and I’ll make sure to provide an update on how this one shoots. Given how accurately I was able to shoot the 4.5” version, I’ve got incredibly high expectations for this one!!
The only complaint I have about this fantastic pistol is that the included magazine doesn’t lock the slide back. I’m certain that the magazine is the problem, because the mag from the 4.5” pistol works perfectly in both pistols, and the mag from the 6.75” pistol doesn’t work in either. To me, it seems that the magazine spring is too weak (there’s significantly less upwards force being applied on the follower when the mag is empty). Does anyone know where I could find a suitable replacement spring? Any other ideas about how to fix the mag?
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File Type: jpg F4E92C0D-DEB0-4E3B-AF47-5F1AFBC57CF8_1617912553880.jpg (477.6 KB, 8 views)

Last edited by taters613; 04-08-2021 at 03:09 PM. Reason: Adding pic back in
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  #12  
Old 04-08-2021, 02:45 PM
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I have several Belgium Browning Challengers. In fact, I have one that was well used when I bought it. After I put about 80,000 rounds through it, there was very little bluing left where it was regularly handled. I then had it hard chromed. I also had a custom rail made for it so I could use a red dot sight. I also had the barrel threaded for a suppressor. It now has over 250,000 rounds through it. I shoot this pistol more than all my other firearms combined.

I do run a trimmed down Buck Mark buffer in it.

They are one of the best 22 pistols out there.
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Old 04-08-2021, 03:11 PM
taters613

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Originally Posted by M2HB View Post
I have several Belgium Browning Challengers. In fact, I have one that was well used when I bought it. After I put about 80,000 rounds through it, there was very little bluing left where it was regularly handled. I then had it hard chromed. I also had a custom rail made for it so I could use a red dot sight. I also had the barrel threaded for a suppressor. It now has over 250,000 rounds through it. I shoot this pistol more than all my other firearms combined.

I do run a trimmed down Buck Mark buffer in it.

They are one of the best 22 pistols out there.
Yep, I’m definitely hooked!

I edited my post above to include some details about my only problem: the mag that came with the 6.75” pistol doesn’t hold the slide back on either pistol. I’m fairly sure it’s due to a weak mag spring. I’ve taken the mag apart and cleaned it throughly, but the problem persists. Any ideas?
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Old 04-08-2021, 05:43 PM
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For a magazine spring you might contact Westerngunparts.com. They had some for sale on Gunbroker in the past.

Does the magazine say, "Browning 22 LR" on the bottom? If not in may be a Triple K mag. Their older mags would not hold the slide open when the mag is empty. Reports are this is not a problem with their newer mags.

Also may take the mag apart and stretch the "Z" spring a bit.
Hope this helps.
SO
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Old 04-08-2021, 08:07 PM
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Yeah I agree with the Otter on this one. That magazine sounds it is not OEM to me. A pistol as pristine as you describe if it has the original magazine should run without a hitch. Those magazines are quite pricey 125-150 dollars. Do some research here and there is info on modifying beretta neos magazines. Just takes a little time but they work great and are a cheaper option than OEM magazines.
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