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Browning B525 Hunter shotgun review

Bruce Potts is impressed


Browning B525 Hunter

Overall Rating: 80%

Manufacturer: Browning

Price as reviewed: £1,200

  • Barrels: 28in
  • Weight: Just over 6.1/2lb.
  • Reasons to buy: First class for walking-up and normal driven days
  • Reasons to avoid: Not ideal for high birds

The Browning B525 Hunter is a predominantly machine-made gun. First impressions are good. The quality of finish is especially impressive – metal to metal and wood to metal fit are excellent, as are the lustrous blacking and well-cut chequering. (Read our list of the best gun slips.)


Dry mounting the Hunter made me think even better of it. The balance is slightly forward of the full-width hinge-pin but not excessively so. The 28in barrels suit the gun well (there is a 30in version too, not to mention 12 and 28-bore versions).

Generally, this gun feels and looks solid and well made. It is no lightweight, but 6.1/2lb to 6.3/4lb is ideal for a modern 20-bore that may fire heavier payload cartridges (and also equates to the ideal for a London 12-bore side-by-side).

Browning B525 Hunter.

The fore-end is of the Schnabel pattern (and excellent of its type), the butt shapes are better than average, too, and the stock is a good length (longer than the average 20-bore and better for it at a whisker over 14.3/4in).

Proofed for steel shot

The internally plated barrels are chambered for 3in (76mm) cartridges and bear fleur-de-lis proof marks for steel shot. The barrels are monobloc and the barrels are exceptionally straight. (Read will my shotgun be safe with steel shot cartridges?

Internal and external finish inspires real confidence; like Beretta, Browning has mastered the barrel-making art.

I liked the solid joining ribs and 6mm ventilated sighting rib. The barrels have short forcing cones (the funnel-like constriction that lies between the chamber and the main bore). This is no bad thing in a game gun that may use fibre or felt-wadded cartridges.

The gun is nominally a 20 but the bore diameters are quite tight at 15.7mm. The received wisdom – supported by my own experience – is that felt recoil may be reduced in a more open-bored gun (although recoil was not an issue in this gun).

The three Invector chokes were well machined. The action is of classic Browning B25/Superposed style. The design is notable in that it requires more hand fitting than many more modern designs, and may appeal to those who want a gun not entirely made by robots.

B525 hunter engraving.

As noted, it has a full-width hinge-pin and there’s a full-width bolt beneath the bottom chamber mouth. Mind you, I wasn’t that keen on the engraving or the gold-plated trigger.

The form of the fixed blade was reasonable and the trigger mechanism itself is recoil operated with a barrel selector in the usual place on the top strap combined with the safety. This design is practical and allows for near-instant choke selection without too much fiddling.

I also liked the top lever and the style of its thumbpiece, which was nicely chequered. The stock, made of fairly plain, grained walnut, was of generally good design with straight grain going through the grip.

The butt is attached to the action by means of a stock bolt running lengthways, as on most modern over-unders, rather than the breech pin seen on most bench-made side-by- side guns running vertically through the narrow front part of the stock with a screw head under the top lever.

Stock dimensions

Stock dimensions on the B525 Hunter were good. My ideal would have been to raise the heel 1/8in or so. At the moment the dimensions are a quite useable 1.1/2in (from the rib axis to the nose of the comb) and 2.1/4in (from the rib axis to the heel).

My advice on a mass-produced over-and-under would be 1.3/8in, 2.1/8in. I liked the little extra length to heel on this gun, however. Most guns are 1/8in longer to the heel than to the centre of the butt sole (as measured from the trigger); this one had 1/4in extra, which made it feel very secure at the shoulder and prevented it slipping down the shoulder in recoil (making second shot recovery easier).

B525 hunter trigger guard.

The comb shape was good, too, save perhaps for the rather obvious flutes to either side beneath the nose (what Purdey calls the thumb holes). The full pistol grip was not bad at all but would have been even better if it were not quite so narrow to its front.

There was a slight tendency for the hand to move forward upon it – more noticeable in recoil than when dry mounting. Nevertheless, this is a well-designed and attractive stock. If I owned the gun I would strip off the gloss finish and replace it with traditional oil.

I might also remove the lip of the Schnabel fore-end and round it off. The Schnabel is very good of its type but I still prefer a ‘field’ fore-end without any frontal protrusion.

B525 hunter action.

The Browning B525 Hunter out in the field

I took the gun on a late season walk and stand day. I must confess to missing the first two birds shot at – the first in front and the second behind. After that the fast-handling Browning and I acquitted ourselves well together, accounting for a fair share of the bag (a dozen birds), including a memorable penultimate drive when two cock pheasants and several partridges fell to the diminutive Browning.

It was a very satisfying gun to use, swinging easily and inspiring confidence. The Superposed action suits a 20 especially well. The B525 Hunter had no real vices and many virtues. Recoil control was good even using 30g and 32g cartridges (all I could find in the gunroom).

I would rate it as an excellent gun for a very modest price. This B525 Hunter is very good.

It would be first class for walking-up and normal driven days. It could also be recommended as an inexpensive introduction to the delights of 20-bores for anyone who wanted to experiment. All things considered, a very good gun for the money. (Read how to choose the best load for a 20-bore.) 

This article was first published in 2008 and has been updated. 


A very good gun for the money.