John Moses Browning stormed the world back in 1900 with a ground-breaking shotgun called the Auto 5, a recoil operated semi-auto that went on to sell millions worldwide.
Since then the company he created has designed, built and launched numerous other best semi-autos that have also become best-sellers in their own right.
And I reckon he would be well pleased with Browning’s latest baby, the Maxus – a shotgun featuring an all-new action, gas feed system and loading sequence.
It’s a sweet shooting, low recoil, lightweight gun that sports a faster lock time than any previous model.
What’s more it’s really easy to re-load and features three separate safety systems within the mechanism.
The new design features a free-sliding firing pin that’s activated purely by the hammer and doesn’t require a spring to make things work.
Browning claim that fewer moving parts make the system safer and simpler and, because the pin remains retracted throughout the loading cycle, the possibility of a misfire due to a non-fully retracted firing pin is eliminated.
The gas management has also been improved: the Maxus now has much larger ports on the gas ram and a longer piston with better sealing properties which means the system needs much less gas to complete the cycle.
In tests I proved to myself that it works faultlessly on everything from light 24g loads right up to the mighty 61g cartridges used for turkeys and geese in America.
Having a lightweight gun capable of firing 2.1/4 ounces is a recipe for a sore shoulder so the designers have pitted their wits to beat the laws of physics.
With this gun felt recoil has been reduced to the point where the 61g load generates no more kick than a normal wildfowling load through my game gun.
Recoil reduction is impressive: shooting 34g loads at driven duck was like using a lightweight game load.
The lightweight of the Maxus makes it easy to keep in contact with fast moving birds and the new flat rib creates an ideal line of sight.
You can easily adjust the stock’s length and drop by fitting different spacers between the back of the action and the head of the stock.
Furthermore the pad has been carefully designed with internal baffles to reduce not just the recoil but to direct it in such a way that muzzle flip is dampened at the same time.
As pigeon shooters know already, one benefit of using a semi-auto is the ease and speed it can be loaded and unloaded within the confines of a net hide.
The Maxus is now even quicker in this department thanks to a new Speed Loading system that lets you load the first cartridge straight into the breech with the firing pin, slide and trigger all locked back for added safety.
And the system allows for a different load to be put into the breech for an unexpected shot.
For instance, imagine you are out on the marsh shooting duck and a skein of geese approaches.
With this new Speed Loading system only the breech cartridge is emptied which can then be replaced immediately with a big load for the geese.
Gamekeepers will love it for those times they happen upon a fox.
Keep a big cartridge ready in a pocket for such an occasion, pull back the bolt and stuff the cartridge in. You are ready to go.
I was impressed with the ease of use of the new Maxus and its comfort aspects. Without a doubt its lightweight and minimal recoil will appeal to those who find recoil uncomfortable.
The gun is more reliable, safer and easier to live with than the previous generation of semi-automatic shotguns and has pleasing lines in either wetland camouflage, plain black composite or traditional wooden stock in two grades.
Progress has definitely been made and it has changed my otherwise discriminatory feelings towards this type of gun to the point where I would happily use one for pigeon shooting or wildfowling.
NEW TRIGGER SYSTEM
The completely new trigger system has reduced the delay between trigger pull and the firing pin striking the primer by nearly 50% – the fastest lock time of any semi-automatic shotgun says Browning at just 5.2 millisecs.
The crisp, light trigger pull is instinctive and the trigger itself is nicely shaped to the finger but large enough to be easily used while wearing gloves, something that will be music to the ears of foreshore wildfowlers.