Browning 525 Supersport
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- Last updated: 14/12/2016
The test gun is a Japanese made Browning Supersport. It is most attractive - superficially at least - with excellent scroll engraving. It comes with an interesting mechanical/barrel specification too. The Supersport is a mixture of a conventional 525 sporter action with XS style back-bored barrels. It made its debut last year as an IWA special (and, I believe, only 50 are available – which is not many at all by the standards of a firm like Browning). There are other interesting features, it comes with a narrow 8mm rib (helping to reduce barrel weight), a beaver-tail forend, and titanium ‘Invector Plus’ extended long chokes to make it a bit sexier and reduce muzzle weight further. Up until now 525s have not been back-bored save for the GP clay buster.
“The idea was to make a clay busting gun that was slightly nicer with some attractive engraving on it”, Andy Norris of Browning International told me, “it was designed to appeal both to clay shooters and those who might want a gun for high birds as well – the MK38 Grade V, of course, is already popular as high bird gun. With the Supersport, you can use the same gun for clays, pheasant, and duck as well – it boasts 3” chambers too and has Fleurs de Lys steel shot proof.”
Looking at the barrels more closely, one notes the usual, first class, Browning/Miroku build quality. Browning went over to mononbloc construction midway through 425 production. Since then, their monobloc barrels have been some of the finest in the business with near invisible joining lines between the tubes and monobloc – no need with this marque to use engraving lines to disguise the joins – you can barely see them with the naked eye. The engineering is great. The sighting rib is vented of course, and has a white front bead of good size. There is also a white mid-bead which is normally an unnecessary adornment on a sporter, but typically Browning.
Much the same may be said of the short forcing cones that lead from the chambers to the main bores on the test gun, but I must also report that Browning have just announced a new 100mm+ pattern forcing cone having resisted this trend for some years. It will appear on 525 guns shortly. One useful newish feature of the test gun though, is chrome-plated chambers and bores. Internal rusting used to be a bit of an issue on these otherwise excellent guns. Returning to the news front, I am told that Browning will soon introduce 100 gram lighter barrels across the range as well - another useful change, as Japanese made Brownings can feel a bit heavy forward sometimes compared to their bespoke Belgian B25 cousins.
The action on the test gun, as one would expect, is the usual Browning/Miroku modification of the famous Superposed B25. It is in essence a slightly simplified B25 retaining the same lock up system and full width crosspin and bolt. The original was the last design of gunmaking genius John Moses Browning who was working on his over and under at the time of his death in Belgium in the 1920s leaving his son Val to perfect a single trigger (though the inertia block trigger on the test gun is several generations down the line). The basic action design is an enduring classic. It has been in production in original or nearly original form for eighty years now. I have little doubt that we will celebrate its hundredth birthday soon.
Unlike some modern over and unders, the Browning OU puts the barrel lumps under the barrels. This means that Brownings can look a little deeper in the action than some so called ‘bifurcated’ designs like the Woodward, Beretta and Perazzi where the lumps are machined into the sides of the barrels/monobloc (if applicable). Nevertheless, the Browning design, unlike some which have since adopted this arrangement, still manages to look quite compact. It certainly looks attractive in this case because of the open scroll, almost Holland style engraving - exactly to my own taste. I also like the symmetry of the engraving layout, when you look at the action walls, it is almost as if someone placed a mirror in the middle.
Mechanically speaking, we have mentioned the traditional, full-width, cross pin, lock up is achieved by a wide, flat, bolt which comes out of the bottom of the action faces and meets a slot bite beneath the bottom chamber mouth. The trigger is adjustable and gold plated (which seems a feature of many Brownings). The trigger selector is the usual Browning style on the top strap, and, it is less fiddly in use than many.
Well Figured Wood
The stock is made from well figured wood with a good grain structure which is straight through the hand and then swirls towards the rear end of the butt. It was a good length too, 14 7/8” finished with a black plastic plate of classic Browning style. It was exactly the right length of pull for me out of the box. For those needing less, it might be shortened quite simply. Similarly, length might be added with a pad. So, you could accommodate the vast majority of people with the wood that is there. It seems we are all getting taller, because many manufacturers are now making their guns a bit longer.
The shape of the grip is excellent, but I am biased, I have always thought that this Browning shape should stand as the model for others. The notable features are a good size - not too small or too big, and, it is the even depth throughout the length of the grip. This improves purchase and muzzle control and allows the hands to absorb recoil efficiently. I would also give the thumbs up to the comb shape – which could not much be improved upon save, perhaps, for the obvious fluting at the nose. Drop was 1 3/8” at the front of the comb and 2 ¼” to the rear. Hammer ejectors are carried in the forend which is, as noted, of beaver-tail type. Chequering on the gun was reasonably well executed, but not especially fine. It offered good purchase (especially when combined with the excellent grip shape). But, I thought the border lines were a little deep and might be improved upon – they looked hand cut though.
Well, I always tell it as it is. This was an attractive, well made, gun without doubt. The styling, specs, and finish are all A1. It’s mechanical functioning was faultless too, but it did not really suit me when I shot it. I don’t know precisely why - it is possible there was a little too much weight in the barrels - an issue soon to be addressed by Browning across the line. I am a fan of longer barrels. I noticed that the recoil was a little more than I was expecting, considering the back-bored barrels and good stock shapes. I don’t want to knock an excellent product though, as guns are singular things. We get on with some, we don’t with others (which is why you should always try before you buy if possible). You cannot predict how your body will interact with a shotgun just by looking at it and dry-mounting.
Now, if you had given me this in a 30” or 32” 20 bore version I might have been really excited (I am especially fond of Browning 30” 20 bores and the Miroku MK 38 style 32” 12s and the bespoke 32” guns out of Belgium). I must applaud Browning here, nevertheless. The consistent quality of their production is evident, and, the form and spec of this gun is very good. It does not look expensive at £3.5K RRP either. If you want something that can do double or triple service on clay and game, and do it with a bit a style, this may be just the thing for you.