Browning B725 Sporter
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- Last updated: 25/10/2017
Browning are one of the ‘Big Two’; Beretta being the other premium and well-trusted shotgun manufacturer that we Brits aspire too.
Browning though, always seem to get it just right, their shotguns always seem to have that inherited knack of great handling, balance and shoulder correctly for a fluid swing at game. Small improvements to existing lines or models, to tweak more performance is always beneficial but the new Browning B725 takes it further, with a redesigned action, barrels and trigger.
This model on test is the Sporter 30-inch model, aimed at the sporting clay crowd but also ideally suited to the pigeon shooter, due to its excellent handling and performance. The B725 comes with silvered, black, grade five wood, trap or adjustable stock options.
All steel construction with this brushed steel finish is attractive and practical, with the accented red bordering and plain etched browning buck logo and name/ model. Despite taking its form from the vaulted earlier B25 actions, the new B725 lines are slimmer and low profiled. This has the benefit of a better and faster aiming on target, as well as allowing that natural eye to rib alignment for an instinctive smooth swing.
You also lower the point that recoil is felt at the shoulder, as the B725`s lower design lowers the centre of mass and recoil is absorbed lower down and not on your cheek! This has the benefit that muzzle flip is reduced, so a second shot is easily taken and you can change swing without suffering from recoil. This is also a benefit on a sporting gun, as this allows more shots to be fired in a day.
Cosmetic changes are made to the action scallops, fences and top lever all being remodelled with a good degree of deep chequering. The large hinge pin remains and the locking bolt system is still here, so you still have that reassurance of a strong action that in this case has a 10-year guarantee for the action against defect. Overall, a simple, strong but elegant action design that holds all the rest of the B725 together.
I had the 30-inch barrel length, although you can opt for a 28- or 32-inch barrels, as your style of shooting dictates. These have the deep blued barrels as expected on all Brownings and have that nice lustre that gives a bit of class to the Browning shotguns. The tubes are well separated, with five vents between the two giving a 3mm gap to allow air to circulate and thus cool the barrel quicker.
The top rib is 10mm wide, with a centre grooved and bordered with serrated edge design, to stop reflected light but also to lead the eye straight down the rib. You also have a white bead at 13.75-inches from the action that lines up with the larger white bead at the muzzle. You will find your eye just naturally lines them up, so good is the B725`s handling.
The barrels are chambered for 3-inch (76mm) cartridges and proofed for magnum and steel shot i.e. fleur de lis proof marks up to 1320bar pressure. So, good for all types of cartridge, clay and hunting uses. The chambers also have a longer forcing cone and the barrels are back bored.
On the B725 this is termed Vector Pro and this means that barrel performance is enhanced.
You now have the benefit of increased speed and thus better down-range ballistics, as pellets penetrate better. You also have a better shot pattern down range, due to less clumping or damage to shot. Finally, you have the benefit of less recoil; so win, win.
At the other end, the B725 utilises the equally good Invector DS choke system. These are no ordinary chokes, as they are extended to 100mm length for the best potential to form excellent patterns. I do not personally like extended chokes, purely aesthetically but the very visible copper ring has the choke size clearly marked.
You also have a unique internal surface for the same reason and gas sealing has been improved with a very good split copper sealing ring. You get five chokes to cover all shooting encounters and an easy to use choke key. They are also very clearly marked for diameter, and also, importantly, if they are suitable for lead or steel use. Remember, a ½ choke with lead gives a ¾ choke with steel, so a fitment of a ¾ or full choke is not for steel use.
With the Sporter, you can also fit weights to the central rib section, to balance the B725 to your own preference. Also, the fact that the barrels are reprofiled on this model gives the Browning a better balance anyway, due to the weight being more towards the hinge pin and thus alleviating that top, or front heavy, sea-saw effect. I had the 1.3oz weights fitted, which were perfect, set at 8.5-inches from the muzzles.
The trigger is a mechanical design and therefore reliable and well refined in this model, as when you cock the action, each pull of the trigger fires the separate firing pins and does not rely on recoil from the first barrel to set the sear on the second, I much prefer this. You have a faster, shorter and lighter trigger for better feel to the firer; so, as soon as you think about shooting you do, so no delay and lost lead on a clay or on game.
The gold trigger blade is well curved and is also adjustable on its dovetailed railed so you can alter the length of pull to suit you. The safety is your standard Browning with non-auto function (an option) with an up position to fire and down for safe, with also left to shoot top barrel and right to shoot bottom barrel first.
Made from dark walnut with a good oiled finish to make the most of the grain, which was a bit plain on this model, you also have a palm swell. I am used to palm swells on rifles but some may find it not to their liking. The chequering is laser cut and a little shallow but fine but the forend is full and has a slim Schnabel forend tip. The rear butt section has a small degree of cast but good comb height, again for perfect eye alignment and a natural hold. The Inflex recoil pad, despite being slim, is very good at absorbing recoil and also allows a good degree of slide into the shoulder and then hold when there.
Very nice, in a word, well actually, two. I love Brownings, they always shoot well and handle so nicely straight from the box. They have that feel of good workmanship and have all the right features in the right places, if that makes sense. This B725, despite its quite plain stock, was fantastic in the shoulder, with perfect eye down the rib pointability and those 30-inch tubes and weights really do help you swing through and on through the clay or pigeon.
The trigger is excellent and the twin ejectors very forceful and positive. I selected a range of cartridges for the patterns and here’s how the B725 performed with the ½ choke fitted and boards shot at 30-yards.
Hull Special Pigeon uses a fibre wadded load and in this case had a payload of 32 grams of No. 6 shot. This is a great pigeon load with a good-sized gram weight and the Browning shot a total of 256 pellets on target. The Invector DS chokes spread the pattern evenly, with an inner circle 15-inch count of 104 pellets and an outer sector count of 152 pellets. No pigeon would get through that!
In keeping with the sporter name, I next tested some Eley VIP Sporting loads. These too use a fibre wad and I had the 28 gram, 7.5 shot size loads. Through the ½ choke, I had a total of 330 pellets on target, of which 110 were in the inner sectors and 220 were in the outer regions. Blimey that’s a perfect split between the two and the pattern board proved the superb even and total coverage, no clay would escape that onslaught.
In a similar vein, the Eley Superb lived up to their name. This 28 gram load held No. 7.5 shot in a plastic wadding this time and when shot from the B725, achieved a total 385 pellets of target. There was again a very good density to this load and also showed the tighter pattern from the plastic wad load. Now I had a total even spread i.e. 194 pellets in the inner 15-inches and 191 to the outer 30-inches, you cannot get better than that!
Superb cartridge, matched to a superb patterning shotgun. Finally, the good old Eley Grand Prix HV load. This uses a large 32 gram No. 6 shot size load, with a fibre wadding. A total of 244 pellets struck home with 137 in the outer portion and 107 in the inner circle. Again, evenly spread and good density.
Browning have a winner on their hands here, as the B725 is built to last, achieve excellent handling and shoot really superb patterns down range. That’s all you need in truth and Browning have achieved it.
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