Although a 20-bore, the Hunter Light is an elegant gun that handles well and can cope with anything you put in it
The B725 is a continually evolving platform that Browning is using to develop an ever increasing range of guns with. The 20-bore version has come out of the last two to three seasons. One of the later editions is the new Hunter Light.
The 725 is the natural successor to the 525 series, which itself was preceded by the 425, the 325 before that and the Citori before that.
The 525 remains in the range, and I hope it does for many years because it still has a place for those looking for a value-for-money Browning. However, the 725 is where all of the new development work is going.
One of the major features of the 725 is that it has a shallower action frame than the 525 – giving a more contemporary look to the gun. This has been achieved by effectively squashing the action flatter – putting in a smaller diameter hinge pin and a bottom locking bolt. Although smaller diameter, the hinge pin is wider with a noticeably wider hook on the barrel lumps or monoblock.
The way the action works has so much heritage from earlier generations of Browning O/Us, and is exactly the same in its working principle. From the firing pins to the way it cocks and ejects. That said, the 725 has been made a mechanical re-set for the second shot. In other words, it doesn’t rely on recoil from the first shot to set up the mechanism for the second shot.
The advantage here is that very light cartridges, such as 21gram loads, can be used with confidence that the mechanism will perform faultlessly, selecting from one side to the other.
Engraving on the Browning B725 Hunter 20-bore
The action frame has engraving of partridges in flight on either side with some scrollwork. The model name is etched on the underside of the action and the Browning buck’s head logo is highlighted in gold in the bow of the trigger guard. The trigger is gold-plated, which adds to the quality look of the gun.
The safe thumbpiece is also the selector: push it right and forward for under barrel first or left and forwards for top barrel first. Traditionally, Browning shotguns have always been manual safe – to make the gun safe, the safe thumbpiece must be physically pulled back by the user. In the UK, many gameshooters prefer an auto return safe, where it returns back to the safe position by pushing the top lever across to open the gun.
These days the guns for the most part come with manual safe, although they can be ordered from Browning at a small additional cost with auto safe fitted. Alternatively, if manual safe, the parts to convert to auto safe are supplied with the gun and can be fitted by any gunsmith familiar with Browning shotguns.
Although it’s made from aluminium alloy, the action frame is finished with a nickel plating. It does looks more satin than the usual plating used on the steel actions, but it doesn’t look to be made from aluminium, so it can be a surprise to pick one of these guns up. This one weighs in at just over 5lb 10oz, I reckon this is nearly 2lb lighter than many steel-actioned O/U guns. I sometimes wonder if these guns will float – don’t try it, the warranty won’t cover it!
The obvious thought this brings is that the gun may recoil more than a heavier equivalent, and maybe it will a little. It certainly will if relatively heavier loaded cartridges are used, but if used with most 24g cartridges it shouldn’t be a problem. Recoil means di erent things to di erent people, but I don’t find it to be a general problem with light-actioned guns.
I sold one of these light 725s a few months ago to a customer of mine, now in his early 80 but as active as he can be – shooting game and clays.
He clay shoots with friends regularly and this gun has given him a new lease of shooting life because he simply couldn’t lift his 12-bore 525 as much as needed. So it’s a case of horses for courses.
Barrels on this gun are 28in. The chambers are 76mm or 3in with special steel shot magnum proofing.
The barrels are back bored with Browning’s Vector pro system: basically this is a longer forcing cone between the chamber and the bore itself to keep more pellets in the central part of the pattern. This is then finished with the DS multichoke system. The 80mm long flush fit choke tubes are made of stainless steel and fitted with a bronze gas ring system at the bottom to protect the tube from corrosive gases and fouling from the fired cartridges. Bores are chrome-lined for maximum protection and the top rib is ventilated, 6mm wide and matted to reduce glare from the bright light. There is a silver foresight at the muzzle end.
Why use a 20-bore?
One of the snags with O/U guns, opposed to side-by-side guns, is that they generally have inherently more weight to them. There can be advantages to having more weight in a gun. The converse is that it can be fatiguing to carry a heavier gun all day; particularly when game or rough shooting.
The only way to make a gun substantially lighter is to use lighter materials; easier said than done as shotguns are subject to the enormous shock of a cartridge being fired – literally trying to force the gun apart. So, obviously, very strong materials need to be used.
The use of non-ferrous materials – non-steel materials – can be the answer. I am not sure of the exact specification of the material used for the 725, but aluminium alloys tend to be the preferred alternative for use in light-actioned guns.
Like steel, there are many grades of aluminium alloy and you can be sure that this stuff will be of the highest quality and most suitable for the job in hand.
It’s nothing that’s radically new to gun design. Aluminium alloys have been used for many years in O/U guns to good effect. And if we look at semi-auto shotguns, almost all now have their action frames made from alloy.
Dovetailed into the action frame, usually the breech faces – where the firing pins protrude – often have a steel or titanium insert in them to provide added strength and resistance to swaging around the firing pin hole caused by back pressure from the primer. Even steel actioned guns can suffer from this in some circumstances.
Along with this, the hinge pin or cross pin on which the barrels hinge is also made of steel to give the greatest wear resistance and provide maximum longevity. So it is only the frame itself that is aluminium alloy.
Inside the action frame it’s business as usual with all the parts made of steel as per any other 725 20-bore.
- A 375mm or 14in length of pull.
- Cast is for right hand with approximately 1mm at heel and 3mm at toe.
- Drops at comb and heel are 36mm and 56mm respectively.
- The stock length includes a 20mm inflex recoil pad. These pads were launched with the 725 range. They have good recoil reduction qualities and are also smooth going into the shoulder, so not inclined to snag during mounting.
- These pads can also be bought in other sizes; 12mm and 25mm. Additional to this are stock spacers that are available in two thicknesses – 6mm and 12mm, which means there are many stock length permutations possible to fine tune length of pull.
All things considered, I think Browning has a very nice gun here – good looking and elegant. It handles and points well and can cope with any cartridge you can find to put in it. The gun comes in a smart ABS case. There are five choke tubes in total. Also included is a trigger lock, which is handy for travelling.
Price: RRP £2,500
Full details of new guns are available on Browning’s European website, www.browning.eu.
Build Quality 24 / 25
Handling 23 / 25
Styling 23 / 25
Value for money 24 / 25
TOTAL 94 /100
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