BSS Best Affordable SxS (Part 2)

February 16, 2012 | By | 1 Reply More

Here's the gun Dana shot. (DanaFarrell photo, click to see bigger.)

by Dana Farrell

“A gun like this, from a gun dealer’s standpoint, has always been a sleeper,” Bryan says. “The BSS has been a tremendously good value, right along with guns like the Winchester 23 – boxlocks made for the American market before SxSs took off. And that’s one of the reasons they never really generated enough sales – they came before their time.

“At one time everybody thought an American needed a beavertail, pistol grip and a single trigger. Once that renaissance hit, that was no longer the case, yet there’s still always some portion of the market that wants a single trigger,” he notes.

He compared the reliability of the BSS to that of arguably America’s most famous double, the Winchester Model 21. “They’re both very reliable. In all the years I’ve been in the business, I’ve never heard of people having issues with something breaking internally or a flaw in the mechanical design of the gun. They just go on and on and on. They’re workhorses.”

Plus, whether or not you subscribe to “magnum-itis,” as Bilinski refers to it, the BSS was made with 3” chambers and “are little heavier, so they’ll absorb a heavy load,” Bryan notes. That’s because back then 3” magnum loads were touted as the best thing since indoor plumbing.

Test Fire

I borrowed a sweet little Grade 1 20ga from Bryan’s inventory to see what the BSS was all about. Sitting on Fieldsport’s shelf with a price tag of $1895, my test gun was the Grade 1 Standard model, with 28″ Mod and Full barrels.

I like pistol-grip stocks and single triggers, so this gun met my personal preference for a good upland gun, and at 6 lbs 12 oz, it had just enough heft to keep it from feeling whippy. The serial number indicated a 1974 manufacture date (translated with the help of Matt Eastman’s definitive book “Browning: Sporting Arms of Distinction 1903-1992.”

The glossy French walnut stock was straight-grained, but wasn’t unattractive. The wood was accented tastefully with 18 lines/inch checkering on the grip and forend.

Since bird season is several months away, I took the gun to my local five-stand range and shot a couple of boxes of Winchester 2 1/2 dram, 7/8-oz #8s through it. I was pleasantly surprised at the lack of felt recoil and the ease with which it handled. The gun crushed targets with authority, even out to 40-45 yards.

If I Owned It…

What surprised me most was how quickly I felt at home with this BSS. My squad mates even remarked several times on how well I shot it. Because the safety is automatic, I deliberately told myself to disengage the safety each time before calling for a bird: If I owned the gun, the first thing I’d do is have a qualified gunsmith convert the safety to manual, a simple and quick procedure.

Although I didn’t feel handicapped by the choke combination, since most of my upland hunting is done in the tight northern Michigan grouse woods, I’d consider having the left barrel opened up to Mod, giving me Mod/Mod which would work well in various upland and even clay shooting scenarios.

Good, Dependable Gun for the Money

After shooting the gun, I wouldn’t hesitate for a moment to recommend the BSS to anyone looking for a dependable, mid-range SxS. You could do a whole lot worse than one of these little gems.

Grade 1s can be found on the used gun market in the neighborhood of $2,000 for the 20ga and $1,500 for the 12ga.

Because they’re a reasonably priced and a reliable shooting iron, you can put your kid through that expensive Ivy League school with the money you’ll save – and, have a nice gun to hand down to him or her after he/she graduates.

[Dana Farrell is a Serious birder who writes about bird hunting, guns and sporting clays from the liberal bastion of Ann Arbor, MI. He spends each autumn in northern Michigan grouse hunting with his Brittany, Woodrow. Email him at tamaracksporting AT comcast DOT net.]

– End of part 2 of 2 –


Category: Browning, Shotguns

Comments (1)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Joe Bastien says:

    Agree 1000% with you about the BSS 20ga. I’ve owned 2 but it was, unfortunately, during the days I suffered from ‘want-THAT-gunosis” and traded them both away. I’ve finally settled on a sweet little 20ga Miroku-built version of the Ithaca m100 with 26″ IC/MOD bbls, only it tends to want to double-fire occasionally. That never happened with the BSS and its mechanical single trigger set. – See more at:

Leave a Reply