Second-hand Browning B525: all-round excellence
Charles Smith-Jones on the Browning B525, a shotgun that has stood the test of time and sets the standard in its class
Pros: A good selection of variants to choose from
Price as reviewed: £658
Cons: None listed here
The B525 made its first appearance in 2003, representing the latest in the range of shotguns built for Browning by Miroku and succeeding the highly popular B425 model.
It is not, however, simply an updated version of its predecessor and Browning took pains to stress that it was never intended as a replacement. The first B525s were game models but more followed and there are now a wide variety of styles and grades intended to appeal to all shotgun users including clay discipline enthusiasts.
A second-hand Browning B525?
You might expect a shotgun in this price range to be the product of an assembly line, but not so the B525. At various stages of manufacturing, an individual gun is moved between gunsmiths for hand finishing of the barrels, action frame and fore-end. It is this kind of attention to detail that ensures this model has a degree of refinement that belies its price tag. The woodwork and levels of engraving will vary according to the grade of gun chosen but are always superbly executed, even in the more basic models. There may be prettier guns out there in terms of bling, but the B525 is still aesthetically pleasing. Importantly, it handles well and is a joy to shoot with. Some later versions are offered with a laminated stock.
Unlike Belgian-made Brownings, which employ a mechanical trigger mechanism, these guns have an inertia single-trigger operation. Like most Brownings, though, the action body is quite deep and has a full-width cross-pin for jointing, just as John Moses Browning intended when he designed his groundbreaking B25. The design features of the latter have stood the test of time and still reflect in Browning guns almost a century after the B25 entered production. Browning has always worked on the principle of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ and this has proved to be a wise philosophy. Its guns enjoy a special reputation for durability and, importantly for guns that receive heavy usage, not shooting themselves loose over time. Which makes a second-hand Browning B525 well worth considering.
The mechanism is concisely stacked within the action with a full-width bolt running along the action floor to engage with the barrel lumps when the gun is closed. Above this lie the pivots for the hammers, which are driven by coil springs running on guide rods. As the hammers fall, they drive forward rods that work the ejector system when the gun is opened. Although somewhat more complicated than many ejector systems, this is positive, reliable and works well. The sears are suspended from the top strap and are lifted each in turn by the single selective trigger. The safety thumbpiece has the barrel selector built into it. Unusually, game versions do not come with an automatic safety catch that resets itself on breaking the gun, reflecting a preference for manual safeties prevalent in the US market that this gun is primarily aimed at.
The monobloc barrels are internally chromed, increasing their corrosion resistance. Those on game versions of the B525 come with 6mm parallel and ventilated ribs, while Sporters have 10mm ribs (13mm on Trap versions). There may be fixed or multichokes depending on the version, and Trap guns come supplied with Briley chokes. They are back-bored and so are slightly wider in diameter than usual, also having longer forcing cones that combine with well-conceived stock shapes to ensure the shooter feels rather less recoil. This is a positive advantage to anyone spending a protracted session on clays. More controlled recoil also means that recovery for a second shot is quicker, a very real benefit.
At around half the price of its successor, the B725, the B525 represents one of the best shotguns available in its class and comes with an enviable reputation for build quality and handling. As the B525 has now been around for two decades, there should be one on the used racks in the specifications you are looking for. It’s hard not to like this gun. A Sporter version with 30in barrels is probably as close to an all-rounder as you are likely to find and will be equally at home shooting Trap or Skeet, in the pigeon hide or on the foreshore or a walked-up day. Provided it has been looked after, it will represent fantastic value for money and give a lifetime of reliable service.
Second-hand Browning B525 tech specs
- Configuration Over-and-under
- Action Boxlock
- Choke Fixed and multichoke
- Chamber 3in
- Barrel length 28in to 32in
- Ejector/non-ejector Ejector
- Safety catch Manual
- Weight (12-bore) 7lb 4oz (standard Game, 28in barrels), 8lb 5oz (Sporter, 30in barrels)
- Available calibres 12 and 20-bore
- Cost new From around £1,560 (Game 1)
- Cost used Upwards of £700 depending on specification, age and condition
Many second-hand models which are well worth a look