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Old 05-06-2021, 11:32 PM
taters613

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Browning Medalist- Best Vintage?



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Hi all!
So: I’ve recently fallen completely in love with the old Belgian Browning 22 pistols. I’ve already acquired two beautiful challengers at incredible prices: a 4.5” and a 6 3/4”. They are, hands down, my absolute favorite 22 pistols!
As a result, Ive decided to sell my vintage S&w m41 and replace it with a browning medalist. Lucky for me, there just so happen to be two medalists up for sale on my local gun forum!
But here’s my conundrum: both pistols are in near mint shape, for similar prices, and come with exactly the same extras (box, weights, and all that stuff). So how should I choose between the two?!
From what I can tell, there’s no difference in terms of quality between my 1967 challenger and my 1974 challenger...but is there a preferable production range for medalists? Is there anything else I should be looking at to help me choose between the two??
Unfortunately I likely won’t be able to inspect the pistols in person prior to purchasing.
Any and all advice is welcome!
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Old 05-07-2021, 04:37 AM
Camster

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A 74 Challenger would have come with plastic grips, so there is a quality difference in that regard.
While there may not be a discernable difference, condition being equal, I would always opt for a 60s production over a gun made after 1970.
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Old 05-07-2021, 10:47 AM
taters613

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Originally Posted by Camster View Post
A 74 Challenger would have come with plastic grips, so there is a quality difference in that regard. I actually like the plastic grips quite a bit and they fit my wife’s hands much better than the wood grips...but obviously the wood grips are in a whole different league in terms of looks and class (plus they fit my XL hands much better),
While there may not be a discernable difference, condition being equal, I would always opt for a 60s production over a gun made after 1970.
Yep you’re right: my 1974 challenger came with black novadur (nomad style) grips. However, besides that, it seems to be every bit as high-quality as the 1967 pistol.
Is there any other basis for your pre-1970 preference, or is it just a hunch? One of the two pistols I’m looking at is a 1970 production, and it’s actually the one I was leaning towards because the color and condition of the grips is very slightly better. I’m not sure about the production year of the other pistol, but I just sent a message to the seller to ask.

Last edited by taters613; 05-07-2021 at 10:50 AM. Reason: Adding details
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Old 05-07-2021, 01:00 PM
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Just buy both. Problem solved.

There is not a lot of difference in Medalist production from 1962 to 1974. Rear sight had sides "cut out" from start of production 1962 to mid-1963. Slight modification on the bottom of the grip frame about the end of 1963 or early 1964. This on all three models - N/C/M. Front sight chanced on Medalist about mid 1968. Blade is slightly longer front to back after mid i968. 1971 and early are C&R eligible.

Without personal inspection ask for lots of pictures. Show case interior empty to see if there is fabric wear or staining. Are both keys there in cellophane wrap? If possible get pics of breech face and front of slide as indication of use. Also pics of front grip strap which may show amount of use. Check condition of magazine for indication of use.

Hope this helps.
SO
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Old 05-07-2021, 01:17 PM
taters613

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Just buy both. Problem solved. <img src="https://www.rimfirecentral.com/forums/images/smilies/biggrin.gif" border="0" alt="" title="Big Grin" class="inlineimg" />

There is not a lot of difference in Medalist production from 1962 to 1974. Rear sight had sides "cut out" from start of production 1962 to mid-1963. Slight modification on the bottom of the grip frame about the end of 1963 or early 1964. This on all three models - N/C/M. Front sight chanced on Medalist about mid 1968. Blade is slightly longer front to back after mid i968. 1971 and early are C&R eligible.

Without personal inspection ask for lots of pictures. Show case interior empty to see if there is fabric wear or staining. Are both keys there in cellophane wrap? If possible get pics of breech face and front of slide as indication of use. Also pics of front grip strap which may show amount of use. Check condition of magazine for indication of use.

Hope this helps.
SO
Thanks for the advice!
It looks like one pistol is a 1964 production, while the other is a 1970 production. From the pics (which are quite detailed), they both look to be around 95-98% in terms of wear; basically mint condition, possibly unfired. The grips on the 1964 pistol seem to have more superficial scratches (just in the finish, not the wood), whereas on the 1970 pistol, the grips look literally brand new. They don’t even have scratches on the bottom, which is where you typically see them.
I just got a pic of the chamber mouth for the ‘64, and it MIGHT have a firing pin ding, which would probably be a tie breaker. However, I’ve requested a higher resolution pic of the chamber because i could just be seeing pixelation.
The price tag on the 1970 version is also a tiny bit lower (-$75), but that’s not very significant.
Anyway, the one advantage of the ‘64 is that I’d be able to inspect it before buying, which is a big plus. But it’s a 1 hour drive round-trip for me to visit the pistol, so I don’t want to do it unless I’m fairly sure it’s the one I’ll take home.
Anyway, does anyone else have concrete reasons why I might go for one over the other? 1964 vs 1970? Something else?
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Old 05-07-2021, 07:14 PM
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I would pick the one in the best condition.

Camster and Seaotter gave you some good info.

I always check the breech face and slide face. They were blued and that is where the pistol will show wear first. I would be concerned with the one with stock damage.

Good luck with your purchase.

My Belgium Browning 22 pistols are my favorites.
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Old 05-07-2021, 07:46 PM
taters613

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I would pick the one in the best condition.

Camster and Seaotter gave you some good info.

I always check the breech face and slide face. They were blued and that is where the pistol will show wear first. I would be concerned with the one with stock damage.

Good luck with your purchase.

My Belgium Browning 22 pistols are my favorites.
Sounds like good advice.
Just to clarify: neither pistol has “damage” to the stocks, but the ‘64 has more of the small scratches you would expect to see from typical handling. The ‘70 has stocks that look completely brand new.
I was ALMOST 100% decided on the 1970 model, but then the owner sent me some more detailed pics which revealed the tiniest amount of rust speckles on one of the slide serrations. The affected area is no more than 1 mm in size, and the rust is no longer “active”, but it still threw me off. Now I’m leaning back towards the ‘64 model, which has absolutely no rust that I can see.
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Old 05-07-2021, 08:23 PM
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Here’s the “rust damage” I mentioned. As you can see, it’s incredibly small (I wouldn’t have noticed if the seller hadn’t pointed it out for me). Hint: look at the fifth serration down from the top.
Anyway, I’ve always had a vague impression that rust is like cancer for guns: once you’ve gotten it, there’s a very high chance it’ll come back eventually. But honestly I have no idea if this vague impression has any scientific basis &#x1f602;.
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Old 05-07-2021, 09:00 PM
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That rust is barely noticeable. But it is true that once it has existed it takes attention to make certain that it doesn't return.

Last edited by wproct; 05-07-2021 at 09:07 PM.
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Old 05-08-2021, 12:15 AM
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Only you can make the call as to which one you want.
You have already gotten good advice.

Deciding factors for me (if I was in your position) would include price and intent.
What are you looking for?
A safe queen or a shooter?

If a shooter, the spot of rust (scratch?) that you pictured would not bother me and perhaps you could use it to haggle a discount off the asking price.
If that is the only flaw, it's still a nice example.

If looking for a safe queen, pick the nicest one you can find without breaking the bank.
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Old 05-08-2021, 12:15 AM
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Removed duplicate message.

Last edited by Tlnorwood; 05-08-2021 at 12:20 AM.
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Old 05-08-2021, 02:14 AM
taters613

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Originally Posted by Tlnorwood View Post
Only you can make the call as to which one you want.
You have already gotten good advice.

Deciding factors for me (if I was in your position) would include price and intent.
What are you looking for?
A safe queen or a shooter?

If a shooter, the spot of rust (scratch?) that you pictured would not bother me and perhaps you could use it to haggle a discount off the asking price.
If that is the only flaw, it's still a nice example.

If looking for a safe queen, pick the nicest one you can find without breaking the bank.
Good points...I’m definitely looking for a ‘shooter’. I do take meticulous care of my more collectible firearms, but none of them would qualify as a “safe Queen”. Also, I’ve always had a particular dislike of rust blemishes.
At this point, my plan is to make the drive on Monday to take a look at the ‘64 pistol. If it looks as good in person as it does in the pics, and it it’s got the same functional quality I’ve come to expect from these Belgium pistols, I’ll probably just buy that one.
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Old 05-08-2021, 02:22 AM
taters613

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Just realized one more thing: the 1964 pistol seems to be missing the deflector rod (at least in the pics he sent), whereas the 1970 pistol does have if installed. Is the deflector rod removable? Was it included on all medalists, or only on some?
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Old 05-08-2021, 04:42 AM
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Originally Posted by taters613 View Post
Just realized one more thing: the 1964 pistol seems to be missing the deflector rod (at least in the pics he sent), whereas the 1970 pistol does have if installed. Is the deflector rod removable? Was it included on all medalists, or only on some?
The deflector pin came with all of them and is removable. A drop in part. (I'd want an original but replacements have been made for the proper size drill bit shank.)

Many a time I invested far more than an hour of driving time to inspect a gun. That shouldn't be a deterrent. Just part of the deal to get exactly what you want, even if you come back empty handed.

Of all the Belgian Browning guns, I think quality remained the most consistent over the production run of Challengers, whereas I noted some slippage on other models circa 1973 and later, hence my statement about the earlier the better.
I'd feel perfectly fine with a 1970 if that one is the highest condition.
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Old 05-08-2021, 08:53 AM
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I would have no issue with the 1970 example; my preference would be to avoid anything 1973 or later as that is when the OPEC "oil embargo" disrupted industry and forced quick changes that ended up being the end of the Belgium guns.

As the pistol is going to be a shooter, I would use the small amount fo rust to negotiate the price lower, deal with it once home with some "0000" steel wool and oil, and use the savings to buy a box of good ammo once it can be found. It will be better looking than any mass-produced target pistol made today and provide hours of enjoyment on the range with the added satisfaction of saving it for the next generation.

I enjoy finding finish-challenged firearms, purchasing them for a discount, and doing a bit of work to salvage them. My project this year is a 1969 Nomad that has extensive finish wear with no real rust or pitting. I am debating having it refinished with IonBond DLC if I can get the surfaces properly prepped.
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