By The Field
Monday, 17 September 2012
Gun reviews: Browning B25 C2s sideplate shotgun: Ideal for walked-up grouse or early partridges, this longer-barrelled 28-bore offers a challenge that might bring the fun back into a jaded shooting life.
Browning B25 C2s sideplate shotgun.
As the game season gets underway, it seems appropriate to review a gun that one might use for walking-up the wee grouse (as I hope to do shortly).
I usually use a 20-bore over-under for this purpose but sometimes use a 28 loaded with 25g or 28g of no 5 shot.
However, the test gun is a sideplated Browning B25 C2S 28-bore made in that firm’s “custom shop” at its FN factory at Liege.
With a single trigger, 30in barrels and sideplates, it weighs
a shade over 6lb.
First reactions to this modern specification 28-bore are good.
It has elegance of form, pleasing stock shapes and desirable longer barrels.
I especially like the semi-pistol grip. The wood – walnut – was beautifully figured.
If I were nit-picking I would note that the wonderful grain might have been straighter through the hand; and the flutes beneath the nose of the comb are rather sharply defined and might have been blended in a little more.
The stock, which has a length of pull of about 14.3⁄4in (though you may order to suit yourself), is oil finished and well chequered by hand.
The Schnabel fore-end suits the gun and the comb is well proportioned with some taper.
General finish is good as well.
The wood-to-metal fit is impressive, the bluing expert, the classic, reduced-scale B25 Superposed action (a reinforced rifle type as used in the 16- and 20-bore shotgun models) is well presented.
I also like the delicate 4mm to 6mm vented sighting rib, though a solid version might be less prone to denting and would not add much to barrel weight.
On the decorative front, although the game scenes were not inspiring – pheasants on one side, duck on t’other – they were competent.
My preference would have been for scrollwork alone. Game-scene engraving appeals only when it is breathtaking.
Average scrollwork, on the other hand, can look good and is practical (engraving is not just for embellishment; it serves to disguise future wear. Full-coverage scroll is especially good at this).
Once considered a boy’s or lady’s gun, a 28-bore with longer barrels and modern cartridges is now seen as a serious tool by a dedicated and enthusiastic band of game-shots (myself included).
It presents a challenge and can bring the fun back into jaded shooting lives.
A 28-bore is one way of getting some good sport from average birds.
Joe Nickerson famously used a trio of Purdey 28s to good effect.
I have two: a Beretta EELL and a Fausti side-by-side, both with 30in barrels.
Both make me smile as well as being ballistically efficient hunting tools when matched to the right cartridges and choke (my preference is for heavier loads and tighter chokes in a 28-bore to ensure clean-hit-or-miss despatch).
The B25, Belgian-made Superposed remains Browning’s flagship gun.
It was the final creation of design genius John Moses Browning, who died in the FN factory finishing it in 1926.
His son, Val, who had been working by his side, completed the project and came up with a single-trigger mechanism. The B25 has since been offered with various trigger systems (that on the test gun is recoil activated).
The B25 is distinguished by its full-width cross pin and strong bolting, which involves a wide, flat bolt emerging from the bottom of the action face and engaging a slot bite below the bottom chamber mouth.
It results in quite a high action profile in 12-bore but in 20- and 28-bore it is near ideal in my opinion.
The barrels are demi-bloc, involving only two primary parts (excluding ribs).
These barrels have fixed chokes of quarter and three-quarters (although you may specify what you want).
Handling qualities were first class, the barrels were not too heavy, nor were they so light as to be uncontrollable.
The good grip shape helped a lot.
The problem, such as it is, is that a lighter weight small-bore needs to be “driven” more when you shoot it or it will stop prematurely, though it may have started to move quickly at the beginning of the swing.
This Browning would be an excellent choice for any game-shot who wants to take on the challenge of a 28-bore with something stylish and reliable.
Though not cheap at £21,000, it is within the realms of possibility.
Delivery time is about 18 months, though some guns are made for the shelf.
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