What’s this? Mr Wildcat and Long Range testing a shotgun... Bruce Potts takes a look at Browning’s Maxus auto-loader
Yes automatics, semis, call them what you will, are shunned by the game shooting world but a good repeating shotgun is a real asset for rough shooters. The ability to take a second and third shot is a bonus over corn for pigeon or as a squirrel bolts along a branch above you. Manufacturers have noticed that semis are more PC these days and have produced many new or updated models of late. The Browning Maxus is one such beast, certainly showing its origins from the older Fusion design and newer Winchester SX3.
There are six models to choose from to date. The Premium Grade 3 is top with brushed nickled action with animal engravings and oiled Grade 3 Walnut stock. More practical is the standard model with blacked action and grade 2 stock, also with a Super Magnum version available in this guise. For rough use my choice would be the Composite with dulled action finish and synthetic furniture. A new option is the eye catching Carbon Fibre model, with this finish applied to stock and receiver surfaces. Finally the Camo Duck Blind, as the name suggests, is clad in Mossy Oak Camo for days on the marshes.
SLEEK AND ERGONOMIC
Common to all is the sleek ergonomic design with many an adjustable feature and unique cartridge manipulation system. What you have is a family of semis designed for all British sporting scenarios backed by Browning`s long pedigree.
The black synthetic stock is moulded in two halves and does feel a little ‘hollow’ but its textured finish helps in grip and to stop refl ections. There are twin panels for stippling to pistol grip and forend and grip is further aided by the upright grip shape and the scalloped forend that seems to dip and lower itself away from the barrel. If the drop and cast to the butt is not to your liking then a series of thicker and angled inserts are supplied with every Maxus that can be dropped in between stock and receiver so you can fit to suit. This is further enhanced by the length of pull being able to be lengthened again by plastic extension inserts. The Infl ex butt pad lowers the recoil and angles the stock away from the face so a second shot is easier.
The speed lock is fast to remove, no unscrewing a locking nut just flip up the lever at the front and pull it off. You can attach a sling to this catch and also to the butt via a moulded in swivel recess.
The alloy action is super strong and has a matt/satin black finish with twin scope recesses cut for mounts. It’s a nice looker, well proportioned with an articulated bolt head and bolt system that does not use a firing pin spring. The single claw extractor coped with all empties launching them at speed away from you. Bolt operation is smooth and fast and not laboured in any way!
The Lightning trigger is a new design and offers a smooth 5.75 lb release with minimal creep and is rated as being 24 % faster than its nearest competitor! The bolt can be locked back as normal and then released by a button on the right of the receiver but the Maxus has a few other options.
There is a magazine cut-off lever on the bottom left action side. This allows you to cut off the feed so the bolt can be retracted and a cartridge removed from the chamber. This can be a safety feature for climbing over fences or when a fox turns up and you can exchange a No 6 for a BB load. There is also the Speed Load Plus system where the first shell is pushed into the magazine (bolt open) and automatically feeds and shuts the action.
Action time is fast due to the Power drive gas operated system. This will work with loads from 24 to 64 grams because the pistons travel has been increased by 20% for more reliability, particularly with the light loads. The valving is also redesigned to keep crud outside the functioning parts for a cleaner operation and the larger bleed valves vent gas more efficient with heavy loads. With the lack of connecting rods from piston to bolt carrier, instead twin short stroke pushers, literally knock the bolt carrier open and rearward. This and the lightened bolt carrier helps with the Maxus`s fast action /reloading sequence. This Synthetic came with a 26” barrel supplied with five, Invector Plus chokes and a key. This is further enhanced by the extended Vector Pro forcing cone that effectively elongates the forcing cone dimensions and also with the back bored barrel cuts out a lot of pellet deformation by friction on the barrels walls and stops a lot of recoil which is why the Maxus is so sweet to shoot. There is a redesigned flatter 6mm rib and simple, long front bead that’s interchangeable with different colours.
PATTERNING AND FIELD TESTS
You often hear that a shotgun shoots good patterns, well me being me I have to see it for myself, so I tested the Maxus with different loads on pattern plates and simulated rabbit targets out in the field. In this way we can see actually how it copes with different loads. I chronographed it too!
The pattern plates were set up at 30 yards and a Modified choke installed. First up 70mm Remington, Shur Shot, Field at 34 grams of No 4 Shot gave a mean velocity of 1308 fps. The pattern was well distributed for a larger shot size and centrally placed with 70 pellets within the inner 15” inch circle.
Second Gamebore Clear Pigeon with 30 grams of No 6 shot in a 70mm length. These gave 1121 fps with very consistent velocities with only 32 fps difference. They showed dense and even patterns, with an incredible 92 shots centrally placed. Gamebore Pure Golds also shot consistent patterns but its fibre wad construction gave a few problems in getting a clear chrono reading, with only a couple of readings of 1171 and 1143 fps. Also eight out of a box of 25 failed to eject properly.
Lyalvale Express Pigeon Special 65mm with 29 grams of No 6 shot gave good 1243 fps velocity and functioned fl awlessly throughout the tests. The patterns were wider but were very evenly spread. There were 67 shot within the central kill zone.
The Lyalvale Express Supreme Game 65mm with 30grams of No 5 shot is reputed to achieve 1400 fps velocity and looked good but again the wadding caused serious chrono reading problems although the patterns were very good with 63 pellets within the inner circle.
I placed various rabbit-sized cardboard cut outs in the fields and had several people walk past at 30 yards and then engage as you would in the field. The Gamebore Clear Pigeon load was really good and very soft on recoil also and yielded 31 pellets to the top half i.e. heart /lung and head - that’s dead!
I took the Maxus out pigeon roosting, rabbit shooting and squirrel ambushing with great success. Its light and fast handling and the speed load certainly helped as pigeons fl ighted into the tree tops one after the other. The recoil was noticeably lighter than other semis I have tested allowing a fast second shot when required, quite often actually! The synthetic stock to me is the most practical for a working gun especially as you tend to lay it in the grass as you gut a rabbit or retrieve a downed pigeon. It certainly preferred plastic to fibre wads in terms of relaibilty and although I did not use the magazine cut off I think it’s a good idea.
Great looking semi at a good price in my book, the Maxus is a great all-rounder in terms of field use or rough shooting in this guise but wood stocks and camo are available for other tastes. When I sorted a load it liked its light weight and fast action made it very instinctive to shoot i.e. forget about the gun and keep your eye on the game and lead! Patterns were very good but stick to plastic wadding for best results. I like the adjustable stock features as these are important (especially on a shotgun) to get it to fit you properly.
|Model||Browning Maxus Composite|
|Action||Semi auto gas operation|
|Chokes||Multi choke 5 Invector Plus|
|Barrel||26 and 28h|
|Stock||Synthetic matt black finish|
|Trigger||Lightning Trigger system|
|Magazine||2 +1 (FAC is 4+1)|
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates