Browning Liberty Steel B525
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- Last updated: 28/11/2019
Since its introduction last year, the Liberty Light with its lighter alloy action and steel inserts and shorter length of pull/stock design really appealed to the smaller stature shooter. This was Browning’s intended audience, but the redesigned Monte Carlo stock and great handling saw people asking for a steel version of the same gun. Guess what, here it is! As with the Liberty Light the Liberty Steel is not just a shortened gun for smaller or younger shooters or people who like smaller guns. It’s still a 12-gauge but being a shotgun designed around making a lighter gun and yet still giving great handling, like a normal Browning.
The Light version had a re-design of the B525 action to alloy with load-bearing areas made of steel this new version, the Steel has an all-steel action but still with the lighter barrels, profile stock and pistol grip areas. You now have a very sweet longlasting and great shooting Liberty shotgun that smaller or younger shooters can enjoy or add the extra recoil pads and length the stock for regular shooters.
First of all, the stock really catches the eye, not necessary for the re-profiled design but the grade of walnut on these Liberty`s is American grade 5/6. This makes an enormous difference when you come to buy a shotgun, at this price point, a couple of grand, then you want to feel like you are buying a bit of luxury. High-grade walnut especially with a very nice rubbed oil finish will achieve this.
You have that quite reddish walnut appearance customary of American walnut and this really complements the lovely grain patterns and swirling figure combined to lots of fiddle back patterning. Really nice stock that being oiled will enhance with age and is easier to touch in if scratched.
The re-design also incorporates an upright with no palm swell pistol grip that feels full and quite a good cast right and semi raised comb section with cheekpiece to the top. These Monte Carlo-style dimensions common on a rifle look good and assist the smaller frame to have a better hold and handling. There are good sized cut checkered panels to this and the tapered forend which is 10.5-inches long and 1.75-inches wide at the fattest point and has a rounded angled tip for a comfortable hold.
Overall length of pull can be adjusted by the Inflex recoil pad which is very good. Fitted to the Liberty Steel was the 20mm pad making for a length of pull of 14-inches. Add the 12 or 25mm pads to decrease or increase the length of pull accordingly. Combined with the sliding trigger blade a comfortable trigger position is easy to set up for your stature.
This Inflex pad is a directional recoil pad system which means that recoil is directed away from the face and down, further reducing the felt recoil. This gives an upright position to see the rib clearly and the pistol grip is also shorter to the trigger to reduce finger stretch. The pitch i.e. the angle of the recoil pad is angled more at 5-degrees, the pistol grip to trigger is now only 85mm instead of 95mm on normal Browning’s and the pitch, cast and drop have all been altered to suit a smaller frame.
You have a choice of 28-inch or 30-inch barrels but only 12-gauge calibre at present a 20-gauge would be really nice too. They have a lighter feel to them continuing the lightweight ethos.
Being Browning you also have the really good back bored technology inside with the barrel internal dimensions being slightly oversized. This gives the smoother passage of the wadded shot column that has two effects. Velocity is increased due to reduced friction and recoil is also reduced due to the smoother wider bore surfaces. Being the 30- inch barrel lengths and being a lighter weight gun that extra length added little perceived weight and had the nice feeling of a bit of added swing.
The finish has Browning’s typical rich bluing with real depth and shine to it and with vented top rib and separating rib between the barrels to save a bit more weight, hence the light feel. Top rib is 8mm and has 15 vents that are small and close to the barrels circumference and a mid rib has larger longer vents of six then solid section at forend and then one long vent to the monobloc. There is a single white bead at the muzzle which is all you need as this Browning has a more heads up stance on firing any way and that single bead is instantly tracking that game instinctively. These are still steel proofed barrels with the Fleur de Lys proof marks so it’s capable of shooting a good variety of shotgun ammunition types.
Ejectors too were strong and well timed with all the ammunition tested. The multi chokes are the Invector Plus system and the Steel comes with the extended Diana type screw in choke arrangement. You are supplied with four chokes 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 and Full and a choke key, but the large knurled ends of the choke allow speedy and tight hand use. The outer ring to the tip is blued and has the choke size clearly marked on it and they stick out of the muzzle by 2cm. The rest of the 6cm length is screwed into the barrels and have an overall gold anodised finish for their 8cm length.
The B525 action design is familiar to all by now and this Steel version of the Liberty is, as it suggests, all steel in construction. You have, and what I really like as it looks and feels confidently safe and solid, are the action locking arrangements. The steel locking lugs protrude through from barrel lumps and relatively deep action profile remains 65mm depth and 40mm wide and the coin finished alloy action is elegant.
The engraving is so much better on any steel action as the cuts are much more defined than an alloy version. This Liberty Steel had some really lovely engraving, and just the right amount. It was very well executed with deep cut scroll types in the central panels and finer scrolls accented arranged around this. This scroll work is duplicated on the trigger guard, underneath, barrel to action plates and on the top lever and safety too.
You have a non-auto safety and the barrel selector is left for top barrel (3/4 choke) and right for bottom barrel (1/4 choke) as fitted.
The trigger is typically gold washed and adjustable for length of pull by sliding it along its retaining rail and locking with the grub screw. Again, handy for fine tuning your hold and positioning.
This Liberty Steel came fitted with a top barrel of 3/4 choke and 1/4 bottom, so I actually left as is instead of changing to 1/2 choke for the pattern board tests. Yes, the stock is short for me and my eye line was looking down on the rib so high patterns but I soon readjusted to suit this style.
First tested were the Eley Titanium 28-gram No8 shot with fibre wadding. Slight upward bias as discussed but a whopping 340 pellets at 30-yards on the board and distributed 116 inner and 224 outer strikes. Nice to shoot and very manageable recoil.
Next were the Eley VIP Sporting with No 7.5 shot and 28-gram loading and fibre wad. A nice tight pattern from the 3/4 choking with a total of 278 pellet strikes and 90 very even inner 15-inch hits and the remaining 188 pellets spread nicely around. Really nice clay load this one.
Browning’s Liberty Steel version will appeal to people wanting a full blown 12g but in a reconfigured format. Again, like the Light version, it is good for smaller shooters, younger and starter shooters at clay grounds.
Great handling, very well-made, some really nice quality walnut, and actually well executed engraving, what’s not to like?