Browning 525 Sporter
- 4 Comments
- Last updated: 03/08/2017
This 525 is a Grade I gun with 30” long Invector Plus, multi-choked, back-bored, barrels (28” is also an option, but not a 32), a single-selective trigger and a 10mm sighting rib. It’s a classic looking, yet subtly refined design, built around the mechanically familiar, but cosmetically improved action. There appear to be some very significant barrel changes to the 525 model apparent in this gun too.
The game scene and scroll engraving is a little thin (go for the Elite or Prestige model if you prefer deeper embellishment), but it is tasteful nevertheless. The wood is not hugely figured, but shows decent, practical chequering, and a very acceptable oil finish. A small criticism concerns the curved borders to the chequering panels. I prefer a more traditional layout. Thankfully the timber was not too light. Lighter wood can spoil the appearance of some less expensive guns.
The 525 has been with us for a few years with Browning constantly evolving the design; a 625 model is already available in the States – but offers few changes. The 525 is significantly better looking than the old 425 (a few of which are still being made). The action body has been re-sculptured – the top of the walls and fences have been reshaped to reduce apparent action height to give a sleeker look.
There are practical modifications too – including chromed chambers and bores. These deal with one common problem of older Brownings – internal rusting. Are there any other significant changes? Yes. The test gun has monobloc barrels, a form of construction common to most manufacturers today that came in half way through 425. Most interestingly, though - and a change to previous 525s – the barrel geometry has also been changed with wider bored (18.7mm as seen in some other Brownings) and longer forcing cones. For these reasons alone, the test gun might be described as a MKII 525 Model.
The trigger mechanism has been slightly re-engineered, which doesn’t amount to much – with apparent changes to the sear angles. I did not notice much practical difference, although the pulls were reasonable, not too heavy and with little creep. The trigger blade itself is adjustable.
The basic Browning/Miroku O/U is well known. In fairness to the new gun I must note that it does look significantly more refined! The details are right; it feels good in the hands as well with a notable reduction in frontal weight. The changes to its barrel spec in particular make a good gun better. The bottom line is that machine-made Brownings are getting less clunky. The 30” tubes were not too heavy; the long Invector Plus multi-chokes are another plus, along with it being proofed for steel shot.
The barrels are of monobloc construction. Previously, they were of demi-bloc (chopper-lump type) and you could argue about the relative merits of both. Monobloc, now almost universal, is certainly strong if well done (as it is here). Indeed, you will have to go a long way to find a better set than these. You can’t see the joins between tubes and block without really looking hard and are much better than on some Italian guns!
The tubes are nicely struck with the usual deep, lustrous, bluing. The barrels have vented joining ribs and a well-machined ventilated sighting rib with a white bead at the muzzles and small mid bead. There is nothing wrong with this at all, but another option would be a taper design, or, a plain 8mm or 6mm (standard on the game version). Internally, the bores are mirror finished without rivelling or imperfections. The new long cones are very well machined and polished up.
It’s suggested that long cones reduce felt recoil and pellet deformation. Browning tested their barrel geometry some years back and concluded then that there was no real advantage; but appear to have changed their minds. Whether this is for commercial reasons, I don’t know. Frankly, I have never been able to feel much difference between short and long cones! But I do note a reduction in felt recoil when a gun has wide bores like this one (18.7mm top and bottom compared to the old standard of 18.3 or 4) and long cones. It seems only logical that smoothing the passage of shot and wad must be a good thing provided pressure is not compromised.
The mechanics of the test gun are not novel, with no significant changes, but as well proven as any could be. The usual Browning/Miroku modification of the B25 Superposed action is combined with reliable and effective hammer ejectors in the forend. The Superposed has been in production for 80 years, and Miroku must have been copying it for at least 50! Browning puts the lumps beneath the barrel and includes a full width cross pin for hinging. The design locks up by means of a wide, flat, bolt which comes out of the bottom of the action faces and meets a slot beneath the bottom chamber. Coil springs power the hammers. You know the deal!
The butt measures a fraction under 15” and was finished with a black plastic plate as is usual. Drop was 2 3/16” at heel and 1 7/16” at the front of the comb – good standard game gun measurements. The trend towards longer stocks, led by Browning, moreover, is a sensible one. We are all getting taller, and, it is easier to take wood away than put it on. The full-pistol grip fills the hand well and is nicely proportioned. It is notable for a relatively even depth throughout its length, which keeps the rear hand in place when the gun is fired and maximises purchase and control. The comb is well proportioned and not excessively thick. The Schnable forend is classic Browning too, though my preference is for a rounded field design.
This was a gun which pointed and handled nicely. It shot extremely well. Felt recoil was softer than on previous models and trigger pulls were OK. All mechanical functioning was good. Out-of-the-box, though, it was a little stiff to open and close, which only takes a few hundred cartridges to ease. As for the barrel specification, it is the best yet! Weight, bore and forcing cones are all changed for the better. This 525 is significantly improved on previous models and offers excellent value for money. You will be hard pressed to find more gun from a top maker for less money.
• Best 525 Sporter ever
• Steel proofed as standard
• Subtle visual and mechanical improvements
PRICE: £1500 (Elite model £2500, Prestige £3500)