With this superb 20-bore you get top Browning quality, exceptional value for money and a gun that handles like a dream, says Matt Hunt
Our verdict on the Browning B15 Beauchamp
In the world of gunmaking, you have to accept that the breechloading shotgun design was perfected at the turn of the past century. Very little is new or groundbreaking in mechanical design. The biggest change has been the way in which guns are produced; machines replacing men and accountants making guns to a price rather than artisans making to a quality.
This mechanised revolution has allowed the mass production of quality guns at affordable prices. One of the architects of this revolution was John Moses Browning. The strength and reliability of his final design, the B25 Superposed over-and-under shotgun, has never been improved upon. Production of the B25 continues at the J M Browning Collection, previously the Browning Custom Shop, based in Liège, Belgium.
Today, this department is headed up by Lionel Neuville, a time-served gunmaker, project manager and the design engineer of the new 20-bore Browning Beauchamp B15 D Grade.
The aim of the B15 project is to achieve the gunmaking holy grail, the marriage of modern machining and production techniques with artisan gunmaking skills.
The moment you pick up the B15 you feel its integrity to the principle of being a hand-finished product. Yes, the action and barrels are made in Japan and based on the B725 design but the gun is honest. It’s not simply another mass-produced gun with nice wood and different engraving being sold as hand-finished. The barrels are monobloc in construction and back-bored (15.9) with 3in chambers, steel proof and the superb Browning DS (double seal) multichoke system.
But it’s the quality of finish that is so striking. The top rib is a solid 4-6mm tapered solid game rib, fitted perfectly to the barrel profile with a pleasing, finely stippled finish.
The barrel blacking is deep and glossy and engraving is executed with the flourish of a hand rather than a laser. The extractors are jewelled and highly polished and every metal edge has a sharp and crisp file finish.
The sideplates, too, have a long, slender profile, ascetically a great improvement on previous Browning sideplate models that looked big and clumsy.
The deep relief Arts & Craft-style engraving, with the addition of fine game scenes, gives the gun a striking appearance. The cuts have a three-dimensional sparkle in different lights that only hand engraving gives.
The action is colour case hardened with a brushed coin finish and top lacquer, usually only available for B25 models. This process has transformed the feel and appearance and gives the gun that bespoke, handmade feel.
The factory stock measurements are familiar with no surprises, 147/8in length of pull with 11/2 drop at comb and 21/4 drop at heel, with custom option available.
Hand-finished stocking gives the overall stock shape a refined look and feel, the chequering is superb and the shape of drop points and fitting of the furniture is faultless. The addition of a steel-capped grip, full-length tang and skeleton butt-plate with dummy three-piece fore-end show the heritage and quality of the B25 running throughout the design.
Need to know
- Manufacturer Browning
- Model B15
- Action Boxlock over-and-under with side-plates
- Calibre 20-bore
- Barrel 30in with 3in (76mm) chambers and Invector DS multichokes
- Weight 2.9kg
- Price £16,389 RRP
I had a day’s partridge shooting in Lincolnshire in the diary but COVID-19 put paid to that so we went to our grouse butts at Atkin Grant & Lang in Hertfordshire.
Taking the gun from the slip, the operation of the top-lever happens with no bite or resistance, the gun opens to its full gate with no graunch or friction. The gape is superb and top and bottom barrels are loaded with ease. The gun gives a solid close as the bolt and action engage.
On shouldering the gun, the grip feels thin and refined; the same is true of the forearm with the hand fitting well around the fore-end. At 2.9kg this gun is not heavy and, though barrel weight is slightly forward it handled steadily on fast, simulated grouse. We used a 28g No 6 shot fibre wad game cartridge and kills were spectacular.
The recoil was light and the gun was solid in the shoulder. Even with a fast follow-up shot there was no need to adjust the mount.
We shot 100 targets without pausing and the gun’s performance did not alter. Poor extraction, which is a common issue due to plastic expansion on modern 20-bore loads, was not a problem.
The B15 has that special appeal only handmade guns usually have.
But the B15 has achieved that unique balance of delivering a new gun with all the benefits of modern machining techniques, modern steel proof and exceptional hand-finishing all married with the heritage of Browning. With only 100 guns a year destined for the UK market, I’m confident that demand will outstrip supply for this model.
- Handling This gun’s handling is reminiscent of a B25 18/20
- Trigger Lighter and crisper than some models 17/20
- Stocking Exceptional feel and aesthetics 19/20
- Value Hours of bench work and engraving show 18/20
- Action/barrels Good looking and well balanced 19/20
- Overall Score The B15 is in a class of its own 91/100
Handles like a dream