Browning's Liberty Light is aimed at female shooters, but will it find favour with Becky McKenzie?
My shooting career started way back in 2005 and I have always shot ‘off the shelf’ guns, although these days they have a custom fit stock. These guns are designed largely for male shooters, so getting the chance to try the Browning 525 Liberty Light, which has been designed specifically for female Guns, was of great interest to me.
Browning 525 Liberty Light – a pretty addition
Many of you will know that the company is no stranger to lightweight shotguns and Browning has added some new and exciting developments with this particular gun. On paper, the Browning 525 Liberty Light weighs in at 6lb. The one I tested, with 30in barrels, was 6lb 15oz, as weighed on my kitchen scales. It has new machine engraving on the lightweight aluminium action and to a high standard. The engraving scroll is duplicated on the trigger-guard, top lever and the manual safety catch. This looks rather classy.
In addition to this there is a new Monte Carlo style ladies stock, in American grade 2-3 walnut, finished off with an Inflex Recoil pad. The gun is fitted with Diana extended chokes, with a nice gold finish at the end. The back-bored barrels are available in either 28 or 30in. The barrels are deeply blued and have a nice slim 8mm ventilated rib. I am not a fan of a wide top rib and on this gun it looked just right – not that I spend too much time admiring a top rib.
The lady stock is oil finished, and is 342mm long using the 12mm recoil pad, 350mm using the 20mm pad, and 355mm using the 25mm pad, drop at comb 32mm, drop at heel 42mm, length of pull is adjustable from 13 7⁄16in to 13¾in to 14in.
Get a grip
The pistol grip on the Liberty is 85mm, 10mm shorter than standard. This is important for lady shooters, as it allows us to reach the trigger blade easily rather than forcing our hand up the pistol grip. The pistol grip is well defined but with no discernible palm swell. It feels quite full in the hand, like a lot of Brownings, giving better control.
The stock has some right-hand cast, with a cheekpiece to the top, not on the right, so you are even less likely to feel any recoil on your face. The gun is also available with a left-handed bias on the stock.
The Liberty also comes with two spare recoil pads (12mm and a 25mm) with a 20mm one fitted as standard. This means you really can get the correct length of pull. To be honest, I have never been that interested in the actual measurements, but more on how the gun feels in my shoulder. Gun fit is very important and everyone is different. Browning has managed to create a gun with a stock that fits the average woman well, enabling me to look straight down the top of the barrel.
I was impressed by the gun’s quality and looks. The wood on the gun I tested was not the prettiest. It exhibited straight-grained walnut, which equals strength and longevity. Picking it up after three months of lockdown it felt light and well balanced. There was also a feeling of quality. Coming from my 32in Perazzi, which weighs in at nearly 9lb, this little lady felt cracking in my shoulder, much lighter, and didn’t make my arms ache. You would have thought that after months and months of weight training in my home gym I’d be as strong as an ox, but shooting uses different muscles in different ways, and just posing with the heavier guns for these photos made me sweat a little. So it was very refreshing to pick up the Liberty Light.
Generally, I’ve never been fond of lightweight guns; I tend to over muscle them around, push too hard and find I am way in front of the clay. However, the Browning 525 Liberty Light felt controllable and very pointable, coming to the kill point with relative ease.
My initial concern with shooting such a lightweight gun was the recoil. Having used an old Miroku with 26in barrels back when I first started shooting it knocked ten bells out of me because it was relatively light. Even though I was very proud of my war wounds and bruises at the time, I was concerned that the Liberty Light would do the same because it doesn’t have the heft to soak up the recoil.
I need not have worried. With the Liberty’s back-bored barrels the felt recoil was down to a minimum and I’m sure if I had used lighter weight cartridges, the recoil would have been reduced even further. The Liberty is primarily aimed at the lady shooter, but could also be used for some of my male clients, as well as younger shooters. \
The Browning Liberty Light is made in the Miroku factory in Japan and is really good value for money. A new one will set you back around £2,000, and a good second-hand one will be between £1,600 and £1,700; but for the extra £300 why not buy new and get the warranty on it too?
Shooting the Liberty Light was a pleasure. With its 8mm slim rib and single white bead at the end of the barrels, the gun requires a rather more ‘heads up’ stance – not hunched up over your stock. It lends itself to a more relaxed stance, which I prefer, and the single bead makes tracking a clay easy. You can see the bead in your peripheral vision clearly while you concentrate on the speed of the clay, and the balance of the barrels makes this gun a treat to shoot.
Pleasure to shoot
The dimension of the stock allowed the gun to sit comfortably in my shoulder, giving me plenty of time to pick up the clay early and get the relevant lead to smash the clay. Shooting gun down, or FITASC style, the gun was well balanced straight out of the box. To shoot this style can lead to the gun coming up too quickly and bruising my cheek because I have struggled to balance the gun, but the Liberty Light came up just right. I have to say that I was impressed with the overall package of the Liberty Light and would like to spend more time with it.