Browning 525 Advance Sporter
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- Last updated: 13/12/2016
The Browning Advance may have (rather good) game scene engraving but it is intended primarily as a sporter. First impressions are of a solid, well-finished gun; nice wood, nice machine engraving, and lustrous blacking. The new 525s all seem significantly prettier than the 325s and Citoris. I will not include the 425s in the ugly ducking list (a few of which are still made). They are excellent guns, but the 525s have been significantly revamped and have also been improved mechanically (with subtle changes to the trigger mechanism). Most significantly, however, the 525s now have chromed chambers and barrels (eliminating a problem with some previous Browning models – chamber rusting). The 525 Advancealso comes equipped with 5 extended Briley X2 chokes. Briley and Teague lead the world in choke technology - so this is a useful bonus.
So What's the Difference with the Older Guns?
Compared to the 425, the action fences on the 525 have been reshaped, and some of the other action shapes changed (the essential mechanics are still based on the famous Superposed as modified in Japan). When one looks at the 525 and compares it to older guns, it looks sleeker. Moreover, on the handling and balance front, the test 525, comes to face and shoulder especially well.
As with the 425s, the 525 is available in 28”, 30” and 32” form. The test 525, however, has 30" tubes - an ideal all-round length for most people as far as clay shooting is concerned. If you intend to shoot more game than clays I usually advise 28" tubes because they swing more easily (but point less well and are less easily controlled - more significant issues in competition).
The barrels on the test 525 are put together using the monobloc system like the majority of 425s. The earlier 325s (and some 425s) were of the desirable demi-bloc (chopper-lump type construction) where the barrel and breech are formed from one piece of bored steel rather than a tube inserted into a block. One could argue about the relative merits of both systems. The late Gough Thomas, one of this country's most famousgun gurus,always argued that Monobloc barrels were especially strong. Most best quality over and unders, however, use demi-bloc barrels.
Nevertheless, monobloc constructionis nownear universal as far as mass producers of guns are concerned. It has economic advantages but is extremely strong if well executed (as it is in the case of the Advance). Indeed, the joints between barrel tubes and monobloc on our 525 are perfect - as good as any that I have seen. If I had the choice of chromed monobloc versus unchromed demi-lump, I would definitely opt for the former.
The barrels bear steel shot proof marks for 3” (76mm) cartridges. The tubes themselves are well struck up with Browning's trademark deep andshiny blueing (it is not unlike the finish on a London best gun in appearance). Barrel weight - always a critical consideration in how a gun handles - seems good too. Not too heavy. The barrels have ventilated joining and a well-machined ventilated 10mm sighting rib equipped with a traditional white bead (which I prefer as a standard fitting to bright types).
Internally, the barrels passed muster well.The bores - not back-bored as some current Browning models - are mirror finished without rivelling or imperfection. Apart from the practical chroming as noted earlier, Browning continues to opt for a shorter style of forcing cone. Some say that long cones reduce felt recoil, but Browning made extended tests of their barrel geometry some years back and concluded that there was no advantage to the long cones. I used to sit on the fence on this issue, but I have been convinced by some of my side by sides - where recoil may be more of an issue - that lengthening the forcing cones can smooth out the pressure wave and therefore reduce felt recoil. I am also of the opinion that a long cone makes sense as far as pellet deformation is concerned. Whether one is talking of the forcing cone leading into the bore, or the one leading into the choke, it seems to make sense to keep things smooth and gradual.
Good Old John Moses!
The action is of course closely related to the famous Browning superposed design. This was the last creation of gunmaking genius John Moses Browning. It is one of the enduring classics and has been in production for three quarters of a century. Superposed guns and their clones (of which this is one) have traditional lumps beneath the barrel and a full width hinge pin. They still manage to look quite compact. Lock up is achieved by a full width bolt that comes out of the bottom of the action faces and meets a long slot bite beneath the bottom chamber mouth. It is an excellent system, but, not, in my opinion, quite as neat as the bifurcated lumps and conical bolts of some later designs.
The test gun has the usual Browning safety and combined barrel selector (the best of all the designs around in my opinion). The trigger operates on the inertia principal. The blade is well shaped, and, gold plated (but not too brightly). The quality of pulls was fine but I could not notegreat difference to previous guns. Aesthetically, the game scene engraving was attractive and coverage was good too. My only comment is that it is a little thin. But this is not a high grade gun - somewhere between a grade 2 and 3. At that level, it is very good.
The stock on this test 525 was made from surprisingly nice timber (better than the average 425). Length originally was about 14 3/4" (but I have fitted a1” pad which brings itto about15 ½” gun having removed a black plastic butt-plate). Drop was about 1 3/8” at comb and about to 2 1/8" at heel (the modern standard). The tightly radiused full pistol grip felt comfortable. I liked the new chequering, which was well cut, but was not quite sure about the rounding of the panels. The schnabel forend was a typical, traditional, Browning shape and the comb profile too – none of which is criticism, other manufacturers could do far worse than copy them.
This 525 is well made and well designed. The reworking of the action shape and the chroming of the barrels aremajor improvements. Steel shot proof may be useful to some people too. All things considered, this is one of the most attractive Japanese made Brownings that I have yet seen (hand engraved models excluded). It shot well too - a solid gun in every respect. Browning over and under shotguns are predictably good, that is why they have become so popular in this country over the last three-quarters of a century. This one does not let the side down in any way and represents great value as well.
PRICE: £1,500 approx.