Browning’s B525 Heritage Hunter
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- Last updated: 14/12/2016
Since the Heritage Hunter is a high-grade gun, as you’d expect it comes complete with a custom fit Negrini case along with the usual accessories; the gun and case package guaranteed to impress from the off. Next step is to put it together and you’ll be hooked, the Heritage Hunter exuding some serious class and style, the oiled finish of the selected high – grade walnut positively glowing, the deep extended sideplates alive with Italian designed pheasants, partridge and deep scroll engraving, every aspect positively inspirational.
Setting it apart from its lesser brethren is the rounded semi-pistol grip and fine rolled chequering; the selected walnut is attractively grained yet obviously robust. Finished with a traditional smooth black butt-plate, the sporter stock and grip flow trimly and fit effortlessly around the sideplates, neat drop points adding to the Heritage’s modish objectives. Although well sized and of a good, sensible length, my only personal preference would have been for Browning to adopt a London – style forend over the Schnabel as fitted.
Back To Front
The muzzles boast an almost imperceptible flare, each one regulated by one of Browning’s short Invector multi-chokes. A proven design the set of five provides the shooter with sufficient restrictions to suit all circumstances. Crowned with a low vented 7mm rib complete with a squat silvered bead, the 28” solid mid-rib barrels boast a ‘best blacked’ look finish. They are attached to the action courtesy of Browning’s familiar 3” chambered monobloc, the whole - like the action – being fully hand fitted and assembled, so adding to the Heritage Hunter’s unique status within the Browning range.
The action itself remains Browning’s easily recognisable and exceptionally durable 525 ‘trap – door’ design that’s stood both the test of time and untold abuse from shooters throughout the world. Where it differs on the Heritage is in the finish, the satin greyed sideplates allowing a far larger canvas on which to display the engraver’s art. Taken from a Cesare Giovanelli design, game scenes intertwine with arabesque and scroll that extend over the base of the action, forend irons, trigger guard, fences, top-tang and top-lever. If there is a downside it’s that the sideplates rather emphasize the depth of the 525 action.
Chalk and Cheese
Compared to its clay breaking equivalent the Heritage Hunter couldn’t be more different. Unusual in weighing 3oz more than the competition version, the Hunter tipping the scales at 8lbs 3oz, the additional ounces plus a balance point no more than a quarter inch beyond the hinges has resulted in a shotgun that reacts to the shooter’s inputs. In other words it moves and responds like a quality game gun should do, whilst the narrowed radius and lightened dimension of the forend and semi-pistol grip give this Heritage a tangible fluidity, the angle and drop of the stock head one of the best I’ve encountered.
Measurement wise drops, comb and heel are 17/16” and 23/16” respectively with a 14 13/16” length of pull. Add to this a predictive 5lbs 1oz trigger weight from the non – adjustable gold plated blade plus the traditional game gun’s propensity to shoot slightly high and you have a 12 – bore ideally suited to any form of driven game, the interchangeable chokes allowing for instant ‘cock boring’, the perfect format for grouse.
On the Shooting Ground
Now all shotguns take a little getting used to, and the Heritage Hunter was no different. Loaded up with 28g Express Supremes, Rishton SG’s first five stands were a mixed affair, the driven and going away targets no problem whatsoever, the crossers a different tale, once again confirming the gun’s driven game orientations. Flatter than might be anticipated, by the time the last five stands were shot, the Heritage Hunter’s foibles had been overcome, the gun quickly becoming a pleasure to shoot, emphasizing the point that although based on what is now quite an old design, irrespective of aesthetics Browning’s 525 is still one of the best guns on the market. Similarly, the well timed ejectors throw the empties high and wide whilst I’m delighted to say that even though it’s a game gun Browning have elected to retain a manual safety – catch, my own personal preference.
Add to this the fine tuning Browning have carried out on the Heritage Hunter, the handling, balance and compliant yet active attitude between the hands, and not only do you have a class act shotgun when it comes to looks, fit and finish you also have a 12 bore that’ll hold its own in any situation. Similarly, even when loaded up with some serious 36g pheasant stoppers, it’s still comfortable to shoot over extended periods, something not every game gun can lay claim to.
You really can’t knock anything about the Heritage Hunter, Browning putting some serious effort into this gun’s fit, finish, presentation and performance. Whilst I’d be more than delighted to have this gun ready and waiting for the next game season to get underway, I’d still be sensitive about the cost. As the euro exchange rate drives the price tag higher, the end result is that for £4,947 you can just about start to knock on the door of a used, lower grade B25. And whilst the Heritage is a tremendous gun a used example of its big brother would be a seriously tempting alternative.