Browning Ultra XS Prestige
Now one of Browning’s slightly older shotguns, Browning’s Ultra XS Prestige is still a 12g well worth owning. Well that’s according to Mark Stone…
This is far from being the first time a Browning Ultra XS Prestige has been on test and not the first time this reviewer has had the pleasure of shooting with one. In fact, it was over nine years ago that an Ultra XS Prestige passed through his hands and it had been around for quite a while back then. So why take another look? It’s because when it comes to all-round clay breakers, this Browning is still up there with the best of them; the new 2016 version exemplifying everything that’s right about this gun.
Complete with a Negrini travelling case, the grade four oiled woodwork, satin finished action, superbly blacked barrels and a small box of tuning and adjusting accessories all lie in wait. Now one of the deepest actions, the virtually indestructible B525 inertia boxlock is finished with a silver satin finish with gold edging and subtle scroll work, along with the famous trap-door mechanism.
The action locks the barrels into battery courtesy of the familiar underbolt that engages with the lumps underneath the lower of the two 3-inch chambers, whilst the 30-inch barrels are of the usual high standards of fit and finish, not surprising since they’re struck by Miroku. And should you so desire, 32-inch barrels are also available, both sizes featuring Browning’s recoil reducing back boring system and vented 10mm centre grooved ‘motorway’ rib.
Pride of purpose
From the moment you assemble the Ultra and bring it to your shoulder, the gun has a purposeful feeling about it. Similarly, although this particular gun is a sporter, Browning have been able to build in certain Trap format aspects, traits that most definitely add to the gun’s sense of intent and multi-discipline abilities.
In Prestige guise, like the gun on test, the adjustable comb alterations are achieved by inserting a hex key into the hole on the outer edge of the solid plastic butt-plate. This means, that although the comb can be very easily repositioned either up and down or left and right by over half an inch, the factory setting should suit most shooters. Likewise, the cross-cut trigger blade was left intact and in position at a pull length of 14¾-inches although it to can be quickly altered by +/- ½-inches or exchanged with either of the two alternatively profiled blades as supplied, the pull weight remaining at an average of 4lbs 10oz over both barrels, irrespective of firing order.
The stock itself is more than ample for a sporter, as are the hand-filling dimensions of the semi-pistol grip, palm swell, Schnabel forend and the fine cut panels of chequering. Likewise, the nicely blacked barrels echo the Trap connotations, with white beads at the muzzle and at mid-distance, whilst the bronze tipped Briley ‘Titane’ multi chokes add to this top spec Ultra’s overall stylish appearance. Even the balancing point of this 8lb gun, an inch or so in front of the hinges, positions the bulk of the Ultra in the leading hand enhancing the gun’s control and handling.
Shot over Malmo Gun’s small sporting layout using the new 28g Cheddite Smart Strike T3 cartridges, the Ultra XS still impresses. Like all weightier sporters, the Ultra XS smoothes out the swing, whilst still switching rapidly between fast opposing targets, all the while the Ultra’s mass noticeably eliminating a significant amount of felt recoil, the refinement of this old-style Browning manifesting itself every time you mount and shoot the gun. Although a sporter by definition the Ultra is a genuine pleasure to shoot, displaying true efficiency irrespective of the targets or discipline.
The prospect of buying a new competition gun that’s based around one of the older actions at times doesn’t appeal to many shooters. What I will say, is that if you choose to dismiss Browning’s Ultra XS especially in Prestige guise in either 12- or 20-bore, you’re missing out on a proven, well built, classic competition gun, that’s the equal of any of the modern offerings including Browning’s new B725 models. But you only have to pick up this latest incarnation of the Ultra to feel the gun’s almost conscious sense of balance, quality of construction and componentry. From the moment you handle the Ultra XS it nigh on inspires you to head down to the layouts, the great thing being that once there, this Browning unfailingly delivers time and time again.
Price-wise, Browning’s Ultra XS Prestige, that comes complete with adjustable stock, will set you back £3209 or if you prefer the fixed stock version, £2625. Given the disparity of cost, could I suggest you try the fixed stock model first since if you’re like me, the adjustable comb is all well and good but of no particular use if you shoot the gun without any form of comb alteration.
With thanks to Malmo Guns, (www.malmoguns. com), for the provision of the Browning Ultra XS Prestige where this gun is currently for sale, the 28g Cheddite Smart Striker T3 cartridges and their private layout.
|Name||Browning Ultra XS Prestige|
|Barrels||30¾-inches, inc. extended chokes|
|Action||Boxlock - Inertia|
|Stock||Adjustable walnut sporter with Schnabel forend – Grade 4|
|Chokes||Briley ‘Titane’ multi - chokes|
|Price||SRP £3209 (as tested)|
|Contact||International Sport Brands 01235 514 550, www.browningint.com|
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates