Browning 525 Sporter One
Bruce Potts looks at the very appealing Browning 525 Sporter One…
You are either a Beretta or Browning person and Browning is really giving the competition a run for its money these days. The B525 Sporter One is the starter or basic model but you would not think it was when you pick it up, and the price is only £1338.00. It has all you would expect from a Sporter and is at home potting a few pigeons for supper, as it is breaking clays at the local range.
It’s basically designed to compete with the Beretta Silver Pigeon class of shotguns but is the only shotgun in this price range that is hand-fitted during the production procedure. You have the fitting of the barrel, action and forend done using old Gunsmithing techniques, like the red ochre methods for checking the correct mating between surfaces for a perfect fit.
The 30-inch barrels are also Back-Bored Vector Pro and have a ventilated 10mm rib with four Invector Plus chokes and an auto safety system. Styling is also not compromised by the price, as the Sporter One has a pistol grip walnut stock possessing an oil-finished grade two walnut.
In essence you have reliability, function, styling and practicality all at a very reasonable price point.
Action and barrels
First released in 2015, the new B525, successor to the 425 or running concurrently has Browning’s three-year warranty and an action warranty of 10-years. That’s Browning’s pledge towards a reliable shotgun that can be used at a sustained level with total reliability. That’s the difference between a £1300 gun and a cheap £600 one. These Japanese, i.e. Miroku-built shotguns, like their centrefire rifles, are terrific value for money.
The action has a typically Browning full-bodied action design, unlike more slimlined competitor’s actions and uses the old fashioned straight through cross pin as the pivot point. This has served Browning well and it is unlikely to lead to a loose action. The hammers have had a redesign; the way the hammers operate resulting in crisper trigger pulls from the sear engagements. These sears hang from the top tang and are operated one after the other by the single select trigger, gold washed in typical Browning style. It’s not too heavy to pull and there is no creep at all. Each barrel is selected by the usual thumb operated insert lever, set into the safety.
The ejector mechanism is built into the forend section with two spring-powered hammers that, when the action is fully opened, spring into action and eject the spent cases rearward. Ejectors are the usual two-piece affairs, laying flat into the action dovetail channels side by side on the barrels. The whole action is grey finished, with a nice tasteful but shallow scroll and leaf engraving.
Barrels are of Monobloc construction that fit well to the redesigned and sculptured action frame with its lowered side walls, to give a lowerprofile look, yet keeping the strong lock up integrity.
The barrels are all three-inch (76mm) chambered that are chrome lined for less corrosion and easier cleaning, and made to handle the steel loads, indicated by the fleur de leys proof mark. Barrels are available in 71, 76 or 81cm lengths, all with a 10mm ventilated rib that has a single white bead set at the muzzles. 12-gauge only though. The finish is the usual deep lustrous blue that Browning is known for.
This gun comes with the Back Bored Vector Pro system and comes with four stainless steel Invector Plus chokes, of ¼, ½, ¾ and full.
There are longer forcing cones too, Vector Pro from the chambers to lessen felt recoil, true or not they seem to complement the back-bored tubes well. Standard barrels have 18.4mm internal diameter barrels, whilst Browning have 18.8mm bores. This is said to lessen deformation of the passing lead shot in the barrel and thus provide a better, more even shot pattern at any range. It allows a better passing of the shot in the wad, yet still maintains the correct seal and thus no pressure loss, for good velocities.
The Invector Plus chokes are designed to work in conjunction with the backbored tubes and to give a consistent target pattern. This means the minimal ‘holes’ in the lead shot pattern, with at least an 80% shot hit on a 75cm target. Changing ranges and chokes differ but a ½ choke at 25-meters will deliver 80% and a full choke similarly at 35-metres.
The Sporter One comes in three guises: ‘regular’ as this example, with a length of pull of 375mm, a drop from front of comb of 36mm and 56mm drop at heel.
There is a Micro stock, also suited to the smaller shooter with shorter stock and a lower pitch with the grip further forward. Left hookers too are catered for with a lefty-biased stock.
The walnut stock is Grade Two, so has a nice dark colour with some figuring, albeit quite straight, but the oil rubbed exterior gives a nice lustre and is very practical in use and will improve over time. The pistol grip is nicely raked and full and the slim tulip forend has ample chequering. There is the new Inflex 2 recoil pad that really does a good job of grip but lessens the 12 bores kick, especially with stout loads. You can also adjust the length of pull with spacers, so good for any stature of shooter, or just adjustment for comfort.
With the better sculptured, but still tall, action, the Browning Sporter One really does come up nicely and points naturally and for me the length of pull and stock configuration put my eye directly looking along the rib, centrally. You are half way there with that fit. Triggers were fine with strong ejectors too.
I shot the usual pattern boards at 30-yards, to see the shot densities. I used my set cartridge loads, which actually I do need to update a bit, as they are a bit samey now. Eley Pigeon Select 70mm case that shoots a 30g load of No 6 shot with a plastic wad system. I had a total of 203 pellet strikes at 30-yards, with the ½ choke with 137 pellets in the outer zone and 66 in the inner 15-inch circle.
Overall density as the picture shows is very uniform and no pigeon will escape that shot pattern! Lyalvale Express 65mm case holding 30g of No 5 shot and a fibre wad. These were a speedy little load that shot a total of 208 pellets onto the pattern target, with 142 pellets in the outer circle and 66 in the inner sector. Again very good density and spread, even and no holes, another great load and pattern from the uniform Sporter One barrels. Finally, Game Bore Clear Pigeon, a good shotgun shell with 30g of no 6 shot in a 70mm case, gav a total of 197 pellets on target with 146 pellets in the outer 32-inch board, with 51 covering the inner sectors. There were a few more holes with this load but none that I could see a pigeon slipping through though.
I like Brownings – yes, a bit heavier than some opposition and a bit taller in the action but this Sporter One has trimmed it all down a bit. To me it comes up naturally and gives a wellbalanced swing and lighter recoil for an easy second shot.
The patterns thrown were excellent in truth and whether for clays or rough shooting this Browning will get the job done.
Good price too, at a point that makes it a very appealing entry and then keep it shotgun for most sporting duties.
|Model||Browning 525 Sporter One|
|Barrel||30-inch, Back Bored|
|Chokes||4x Invector Plus (1/4, 1/2, 3/4, Full)|
|Top rib width||10mm|
|Type||Over and Under|
|Stock||Walnut, Oil finished|
|Length of pull||14¾-inches|
|Recoil Pad||Inflex II|
|Contact||Browning International, www.browning.eu|
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates