Browning B525 Super Sport Prestige
The latest in Browning's upmarket clay breakers, Mark Stone tries his hand with the new B525 Super Sport Prestige.
Guess what? There’s another version of Browning B525 just hit the shelves this time called the Super Sport Prestige. An upmarket clay breaker that fits somewhere in Browning’s higher echelons with all the inherent looks of a B25 at a reduced price or alternatively a basic Browning competition 12 bore with high-class aspirations. Whichever it is you’ll have to part with £3,550 to own it which, given the current climate could well be something of an achievement for all parties concerned.
In the box
Like most Brownings the Super Sport Prestige comes complete with everything the shooter could possibly desire but this time in a classy case. The velvet lined, combination snap-lock custom attaché style case contains the gun, a full set of extended Titanium multi-chokes, key, gun lock and easily switched alternative trigger-blades in addition to the broad checkered example as fit by the factory. What is slightly unusual for a competition 12 bore is that the initial look of the engraving is more akin to a game gun whilst the solid plastic butt plate and trap style forend hint at this shotgun’s abilities to serve as a worth companion irrespective of the target.
Point of order
You instantly know you’re looking at one of Browning’s more exclusive shotguns the moment you see the drop-points adorning the head of the stock just above the two panels of chequering on either side of the gently radiused semi-pistol grip. This in turn flows into one of the best proportioned sporter style stocks I’ve yet encountered whilst for those who wish to add that touch of personality, a silver escutcheon is inlaid into the base of the stock three inches or so in front of the toe.
Running around the entirety of the lower portion of the forend, matching chequering offers a flexible degree of hold whilst the Beaver design means two large grooves provide a comfortable resting place for the shooter’s thumb and index finger. Not a style normally associated with a sporter, once you’ve shot sporting targets using a shotgun with this type of forend you’ll soon become aware of the increased control this configuration offers and as to why many top shooters prefer the trap layout. Both stock and forend are semi-oiled finished, reasonably well grained although the mid-tan colouration would be improved by a darker, richer colour, a visual that would in my opinion emphasise the Prestige aspect of the gun’s aspirations.
Heart of the matter
No matter how you view the Super Sport, at heart its still the deep, trapdoor actioned B525 although there’s nothing at all wrong with that, the design’s reliability and longevity proven way beyond what would normally be required, the configuration still the basis of the majority of Browning and nearly all Miroku models. One point that really sets it apart is its adaptability, the application of varying ornamentation seeing it transform easily into a variety of purposes, each one noticeably distinctive.
In the case of the Super Sport Prestige the accentuated scroll like engraving positively proliferates, the entirety of the action, along with the surfaces of the fences, top – lever, safety and trigger – guard, forend latch and irons all luxuriating in the all – enveloping artistic expression of ‘Arts & Crafts’ inspired relief. And once again the effect of the two would considerably enhanced if it was offset against darker furniture, richer woodwork allowing both walnut and metal to exist in a state of true, aesthetic harmony. That said, you could darken the woodwork yourself but at this price why should you?
Shifting to the 30” barrels, as usual these monobloc tubes sweat into 3” chambers that incorporate Browning’s familiar lower bite locking system. The ejectors as usual are well timed and strong, the fit and gloss black finish of the tubes themselves to Browning’s usual high standards. Both are joined together with vented mid-ribs whilst the stippled 7mm stippled top-rib comes complete with large white bead and smaller pip at half distance, a configuration I personally am fond of, an occasional glance down the rib confirming your mount is correct when the pair form a visual inverted number ‘8’.
The instant you hold and mount the new Super Sport you instantly feel at one with the gun, Browning having got the measurements and dynamics exactly right. As with any B525 it’s physically a large 12 bore, the dimensions and 7lbs 6oz weight confirming this fact. Equally with the extended chokes in place the barrels gain just short of an additional inch in length, the whole amalgam being of size and a shotgun you’ll have to drive to get it to perform.
Measurement wise the 14 7/8” length of pull mated to a 4lbs 10oz release weight and an adjustable trigger makes for an open style of shooting, the drops at comb and heel of 1 7/16” and 2 3/16” complimenting the gun’s physical proportions. My only basic complaint was that for a brand new shotgun the 1/8” creep in the trigger was a cause for concern since creep usually only gets worse until a suitable gunsmith has made the necessary adjustments. Uptake aside the release was light enough, crisp once the slack was taken up and predictable, the mechanical regulation over the release of each inertia driven transfer more than up to the mark on even the most demanding targets.
Shot as always using 28g Express World Cups over fifty or so of Bond & Bywater’s summer evening birds, the Super Sport’s flat shooting traits meant birds were breaking from the off. Balancing an inch in front of the hinges and with the mass distribution centring in the leading hand Browning’s continued improvement and fine tuning of their B525 shone through. The large forend is immeasurably more comfortable than the more familiar Schnabel type and fills the hand giving an immediately increase sense of control. Likewise the overall weight, the inherent dynamics slowing the shooter, the Super Sport almost demanding that the user refines their shooting style. Gun up or down, combined with the slight overbored barrel internals and a noticeable quality of patterning, the Prestige looks where you do and hits what ever it is you both see, a fact accentuated when the gun was shot in a 100 Bird competition three days later and went on to card an 80+ score on only the second outing.
There’s no denying that Browning’s Super Sport Prestige is a good quality 12 bore that does exactly what it’s meant to with unfailing ability. Likewise the quality, build and every other aspect is more or less as it’s meant to be. However, the creeping trigger would have to be sorted, whilst the overall finish of the walnut needs to be better especially on a competition shotgun costing over £3,000. Reason being that whilst it’s well figured and nice to look at, the B525’s sister gun in the shape of the Grade 5 Miroku MK38 looks better and costs less.
It’s also worth remembering that inherently they are the same shotgun although in Browning guise it’ll always remain more prestigious. A couple of almost insignificant tweaks and the Super Sport Prestige will be just as it should be and more or less worth its asking price. The gun shoots extremely well, promotes a smooth, measured style and handles just as you’d expect from a quality Browning. To that end if you’re a Browning fan and can afford it then you won’t be disappointed with the B525 Super Sport Prestige, looks alone elevating it to one of Browning’s must have competition 12 – bores.
|Name||Browning B525 Super Sport Prestige
|Calibre||12 – bore|
|Action||Over – Under|
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