Browning 28b Lightweight
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- Last updated: 15/12/2016
I came across the little 28 bore featured here – a Browning 525 Hunter Light - on a gun testing day with Andy Norris of Browning International (often a partner in crime in these pages) and a man who has kindly facilitated many a test for Gunmart. It was not one of the official test guns for the day, but caught my interest just because it was Andy’s own shooting tool. “I bought it for my son,” he told me, “but I liked it so much I kept it for myself… I let him use it occasionally!”
A Versatile Small Bore
Andy is full of the virtues of this model –which is available in 12 and 20 bore form as well as a 28 as tested – and of the bore size itself. I am a fan of the 28 bore as well; it does almost all a 12 bore will do, and a lot more than a .410. This 525, meantime, looks typical of a modern Browning over and under, but has dainty proportions as well as low all-up weight – only a fraction over 6lbs.
The action is alloy with a titanium reinforcing strip running vertically down the action face (a plan adopted by several makers on their alloy actioned guns). The key features of the generic action design, which is, of course, based on John Moses Browning’s last creation, the B25 Superposed, as modified by Miroku, is a full width hinge pin and a full width bolt beneath the bottom chamber mouth.
The test gun has a single selective trigger which is well shaped and gold plated (but not too brightly). It’s a 28in ‘Invector’ multi-choked gun available in 26in form as well (but there is no 30” version sadly). First impressions are certainly positive. You would not call it cheap, though, with an RRP of £1,600 (likely to be discounted a bit at most dealers). This Browning scores fairly well on the aesthetic front, but it is in its build quality and handling that it really impresses.
This model is light, but it not ultra-light. There is enough heft there, even with the ally action, to give it some steadiness as you bring the gun to face and shoulder. The stock shapes are good too, promoting good control and easy, natural, handling. The balance point is quite close to the hinge pin with the 28bore tubes (which would definitely be my preference over the 26” option).
The barrels are made on the monobloc plan. They are chambered for 2 ¾” (70mm) cartridges (there being no 3in – 76mm – 28 bore yet as far as I am aware, though someone in the states is bound to have experimented with one).
The gun is proofed in Belgium as are most modern Brownings, including both those guns made in the Custom shop and those of Japanese origin from the Miroku factory which are now so deeply associated with the Browning marque. The sighting rib is 6mm – a game type ideally suited to the gun with a plain metal bead. Joining ribs are solid as this is officially a game gun (though it might be ideal for clays in young hands – or, mum or dad’s, if they are just out for fun.
The simple, narrow rib gets a thumbs up, though my preference is for solid types usually (most of which are hollowed internally). This style keeps the weight down, however. It is well suited to the gun with good machining to the top surface and offers a good, but obtrusive subliminal picture to the eye. The brass bead at the muzzles is quite dumpy but certainly preferable to some bright, translucent bit of plastic. It is likely to stand up to the ravages of time better than a day-glo type.
The external and internal finish of the barrels is first class. Browning really have mastered the manufacture of monobloc barrels now (joins between the barrels and monobloc are virtually invisible). The forcing cones are fairly short (no issue in a 28 bore game gun) and the bores are now chrome-plated too. This is a definite plus, Brownings could have problems with rusting before this modification was introduced quite recently. You can forget to clean the gun and no great harm will be done (which is not to say that I suggest you do).
Engraving and Fitting
The silver polished action is decorated with scroll and game scenes. These are adequate and evidently machine applied but the birds – partridges on one side, pheasants on the other – are well proportioned. The Browning name may be seen in neat black letters to the bottom rear of both action walls. There is scroll to the belly of the action too. As well as the usual Browning trap-door arrangement, the figures and letter ‘B525L’ appear on the bottom just above the flush fitting but visible lumps (a feature of all B25s and most of their clones). It is all very inoffensive, very Browning. Metal to metal and wood metal fit are good.
The stock on the test gun is made from fairly plain walnut. It measures 14 ¾” from the middle of the trigger to the middle of the thin but typical black plastic butt plate. The ‘micro stock’ version of this gun has a 14 ¼” length of pull. Measurements to heel and toe are 1/8” and 3/8” extra respectively which is fine. Drop dimensions are adequate at 1 3/8” at the front of the comb and 2 1/4” at the heel. Only very slight cast for a right hander is evident. There is a well proportioned full pistol grip and a Schnabel forend – both are well chequered though my preference would be for straight rather than curved borders to the chequering. There is also a slight mismatch in the colour between forend and butt, which is no big deal.
This was a fun little gun to shoot, but, more than that, it was a very efficient - if light-weight - shooting tool. It was natural to use, did not recoil noticeably, and shot where one was looking with its standard dimensions. I can see why Andy has become so smitten with it. I thought it better than a Browning 20 we shot the same day. The gun could be useful in lots of different situations too. It could, quite happily, hold its own on a normal driven day. It would be ideal for walking up or rough shooting. It would also be great in a hide (if you can afford the cartridges which are not cheap these days). In the short stock version, and perhaps with a comb raiser added, it could be an ideal gun for young shooter or a lady. I liked the 525 Light as will be evident – it works and that is my ultimate endorsement of any gun in these pages.