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Browning B525 Game shotgun review

So is the B525 everything it's cracked up to be? Well yes... in parts.

Browning B525 Game shotgun

Browning B525 Game shotgun

Manufacturer: Browning

Price as reviewed: £2,000

So is the B525 everything it’s cracked up to be? Well yes… in parts.

What it ISN’T is a replacement for the best-selling 425 that’s taken the market by storm in recent years.

No doubt Browning bosses have discussed the possibility of letting the new 525 carry the flag as its mainstream gun, but that accolade is still some way off.

Until they decide otherwise the 425 will continue to hold sway in the clay shooting market, and the 525 will instead cater for the needs of the field and game shooter.

I’ve got to say this gun is quite a bit different to the 425 we all know and love. In fact the design team at Browning has clearly worked a little harder than it did when improving the 425 as a replacement for the 325.

The only significant difference then was the 425 came with monobloc barrels rather than the chopper lump tubes fitted to its predecessor.

Right now the 525 is available as a game or hunting gun available in three grades:

– Classic (Grade 1)

– Elite (Grade 3)

– Prestige (grade 5)

The test gun comprised an Elite model with 28in barrels fitted with Invector chokes. Obviously the engraving and wood quality differs between the grades, but the mechanics are the same for all of them.

However the 525 does come available in a wide variety of specifications. You can choose from fixed chokes in 28in barrels and Invector configurations in 28in and 30in across all grades.

There’s even a 26in Invector model in more limited grades along with a number of lightweight alloy actions and a 20-bore model, too.

In short, something for everyone.

If we look a little closer at this 525 there are a number of new features to take into account. In fact no part of the gun has been left untouched.

The sears and hammers still follow the Browning ethic of the hammers pivoting from the bottom of the action and the sears suspended from above.

The main drawback with the 525 action is they have done away with any provision for the auto return safety mechanism.

And the reason for this is driven by the American market where litigation problems dictate that a gun cannot be fitted with an auto safe.

If a potential customer digs his toes in and says the gun must have a mechanism that returns to safety mode each times he opens the gun then fine, it can be done.

The 525 however retains a number of other proven features including the full width hinge pin and bottom locking bolt which have proved able to withstand many years of wear and tear before needing replacement.

And as with its predecessors the selection for the second shot is made by inertia from the first shot.

Needless to say the first barrel shot is determined by moving the safety catch button from one side or the other.

Ejection is achieved through the conventional Browning design of hammers held within the fore-end.

These are powered by heavy duty coil springs, held on guide rods.

The hammers are tripped by rods that come through the side wall of the action and are pushed forwards to engage the hammers as the gun is opened. The hammers in the gun cam these trip rods forward.

This gun’s most noticeable physical change is in how the action frame has been sculpted to add to its looks.

The fences of the action have been carved and a bead has been taken along the fences of the gun, giving it a slimmer and more elegant look.

The engraving on the new Elite is much better than the 425 Elite in that the game scene is better and there is much more scroll work to enjoy looking at.

On the Prestige version the engraving is even better whereas the 525’s Grade one is more in keeping with the 425, being a coarser scroll incorporating the buck’s head that forms the Browning logo.

And that brings us neatly on to the barrels…

Sculptured fences aside, the barrels on this 525 are where the bulk of the re-thinking has been focussed by the makers.

To start with the gun has been chambered for 3in magnum cartridges capable of firing steel loads, and proofed accordingly.

It isn’t capable of firing super magnum steel cartridges but it still allows the owner to shoot almost everything else.

The barrels are also chrome lined, so the gun has a great inherent resistance to corrosion both in the bores, and chambers.

To be fair this is a feature that some shooters have been looking for in a Browning gun for a long time.

The company has made a number of guns with chromed bores, but there has never been a pattern to it before across all the models.

Another feature of the 525 is the Invector choke tubes which, for the first time, have been made from stainless steel.

Three tubes are supplied with the gun: quarter, half and full – and these will cater for most eventualities in the field.

My own view is that it would’ve been nice to see this new model come supplied with a full set of chokes to really make the package complete.

The chequering patterns chosen for this model are quite different to anything we have seen before on a Browning.

And they are growing on me.

At first I thought the pattern looked a little odd in how it met at the top of the hand, but I have become more used to it. Browning has designed it this way to create a wider area of chequer under the hand for maximum grip.

Browning B525 Game shotgun

The stock dimensions remain pretty much classic Browning in that length of pull is 375mm with a drop of 36mm at comb and 56mm at the heel to give a good sight picture for the majority of buyers.

The cast is straight along the comb to the heel with a little cast off at the toe.

The butt is finished with a polymer butt plate that’s comfortable in the shoulder and easily replaced with a number of different options should the customer wish.

Stock finish is a satin varnish which does look good, and is similar to an oil finish.

That said, many shooters will prefer the latter because this is generally better looking once the woodwork has suffered the obligatory knocks and bruises that come through normal use.

Total weight of the gun is just over 7lb depending on barrel length and whether it’s fixed or Invector choke.

Overall, this is a very good range of guns from Browning, well thought out and with some features which sportsmen will appreciate.

One nice touch is that the range has been magnum proofed to give maximum versatility… even with steel loads.

Alternative buys would be various Beretta 687s and also Browning’s own Prestige range.

Browning B525 Game shotgun

Around £2000

Build quality: 8

Handling: 8

Styling: 8

Value for money: 8


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Overall, this is a very good range of guns from Browning, well thought out and with some features which sportsmen will appreciate.