Browning B725 Sporter Black Edition
In a recent test for Sporting Gun, Becky McKenzie loved the Browning B525. Here she tets its stablemate, the B725, but how will it compare to the other Sporter?
Browning B725 Sporter Black Edition
Price as reviewed: £2,549
After shooting the B525 Sporter 1, which I absolutely loved, I was keen to get my hands on a 725 Sporter. The Browning B725 Black Edition is aesthetically pleasing, with its all-black action frame and B725 designation engraved in gold. It is based on the B25 and is innovative while retaining some of the design features of the B525.
To avoid confusion, I must point out that the B725 pictures are of an older model I borrowed from J F Neville of Alfreton because the one I borrowed to test from Browning UK was being used elsewhere. So the model pictured was a little worn, but well-loved. The newer one I received was pristine.
Browning B725 Black Edition on test
The Browning I tested had an adjustable comb, which lets you fit the gun pretty well to yourself. The B725 has the Inflex 2 recoil pad on it. This exclusive design and the material used helps to promote a downwards movement of the recoil when you shoot, pulling the stock slightly away from your face in order to reduce felt recoil and upward movement of the barrels, or ‘muzzle flip’ as it is commonly known. (Read more on recoil here.)
I have to say when I was reading about the technology behind this pad design, then started shooting the B725, I didn’t notice anything different at the time. However, on reflection I don’t recall the stock slapping my cheek, or much felt recoil, for that matter, when I fired the gun, so it must have worked.
The B725 has a high-performance trigger system. The firing system itself is shorter, faster and lighter, which gives the shooter much more control over the shot. It also gives ease of use, guaranteeing that a second shot can be fired whenever you want. This is a good system and it works well.
Line of sight
As mentioned, the B725 has a low action and that provides the benefit of better vision of the target because nothing gets in the way of your line of sight. I find that on some higher-framed shotguns that you don’t get a good sight picture. The action-frame design, because it is low, helps reduce recoil and muzzle flip. This makes for a much more comfortable shooting experience and I am all for that.
The barrels are Browning’s back-bored Vector Pro design, which have an increased internal bore size and longer forcing cones. This is designed to have three main benefits: greater velocity, better penetration/shot grouping, and a reduction in recoil. The top rib is ventilated parallel 10mm and it has a vented mid rib too.
And, of course, the gun comes with Browning Invector DS multichokes too, meaning you can change your choke to whatever suits you. (Read more on chokes here.)
This B725 comes in various guises. The Black edition I had on test; a silver action, which has delicate engraving and is hand-finished with Grade 5 wood; standard stock; or adjustable stock. There is also a silver action with lower-grade wood and a Trap version with standard or adjustable stock. Lengths of barrel available are 71cm, 76cm and 81cm (28in, 30in and 32in).
The stocks are all of similar measurements. The one I tested later had 32in barrels, which weighed 3lb. The total weight of the gun was 8lb 8oz and length of pull 14¾in. The Sporter version has a tulip design fore-end and the Trap version has a Trap fore-end. Both are oil-finished wood and five extended Invector chokes are supplied with every gun. The chokes that came with the gun I tested were cylinder, ¼, ½, ¾ and full.
How did it shoot?
So that’s the tech stuff out of the way, but what did I think of the B725, I hear you ask. When getting it out of its ABS case I noticed chokes: lots of them. There were different sized butt pads to tailor the gun’s fit to you and the barrel and action were in gun socks. It was all nicely presented.
Putting the gun together was easy enough and, as it felt rather new, I popped into the kitchen to retrieve some gun grease for the knuckle and so on. I know it’s not mine, but I do like to look after what I’ve been lent. And yes, I clean them up after use, so it goes back the way it came to me. Wafting the unloaded gun around the kitchen, it felt OK. I made a slight tweak to the adjustment of the comb raiser and off I went to test it.
I met Mike, a client, up at Pinewood Shooting Ground, near Gainsborough, Lincolnshire. He fancied testing the Browning with me as well as one of the other guns I had on demo that day. If you’ve never been to Pinewood Shooting Ground, it’s worth the trip. The people who run it are lovely and the targets are excellent.
Stand one was a dreaded one for me – yes, a bogey bird. Not really a fair start for the Browning I was testing, but we had to start somewhere.
What really challenged me about this stand was that the targets were at an angle I dislike. I can never quite get comfortable with them and when I push through the driven bird I feel like I am turning myself inside out. It doesn’t matter how I stand, I just feel awkward. Oh well. For me this was a hit-and-miss stand.
Some of the stands at Pinewood have four traps. So I had a good go at the quartering-away targets and I put my experience on the other stand behind me.
Stand two had a couple of tasty crossers. I missed the first one – mainly due to holding the barrels in the incorrect place – then hit the next two pairs. Stand three had a simple going-away target and simple incomer. However, when you decide to take them as a sim pair and shoot them the wrong way it makes for entertaining shooting. This is where I found I didn’t quite gel as well with the B725 as I had with the B525. This is difficult to explain, but I will have a go: I found the B525 very easy to shoot, very pointable, easy to control, which made it easy to put the barrels where I wanted, without really having to try. It felt subtly different from the B725.
My client and I shot the incomer first and then the going away second. I have to say the second target was screaming away. I could hit the incomer at distance no problem. The Vector barrels patterned very well indeed, but I struggled to get the barrels back down and in line to take on the flat going-away target. I found it easier with the B525 and the Zoli I tested a few months previously. (Read Becky’s Zoli review here.)
I put this down to two things. One was my style of shooting – if I have a ‘style’. Second was the fact that having shot a Zoli for seven years, it felt like a favourite old glove I had found and put back on.
Mike and I shared the Browning B725 Black Edition when we shot the other stands. Some targets suited the Browning and me and others suited Mike. The gun performed well. It felt lovely to shoot because of the relatively low recoil. It patterned well and smashed clays convincingly. But if I have to be honest, I do actually prefer the B525. I know, I know, there are many top shooters who have won championships with the B725 because it is a superb gun and is extremely well made. But I felt more at home with the B525 and that currently has my vote.
The wonderful thing about Browning is that it has guns to suit nearly everyone.
- Model Browning B725 Sporter Black edition
- Bore 12-bore
- Action Low profile
- Barrel length 32in
- Chamber 3in
- Chokes Invector DS multichoke
- Rib 10mm Sporting rib, vented
- Fore-end Tulip style
- Weight 8lb 8oz
- Price From £2,549 for the basic model to £4,949 for the Sporter Grade 5