Browning's latest game gun, the Crown, is given the once-over by the editor of Sporting Gun magazine
Launched at the British Shooting Show in 2018, the Browning Crown (or Royal as the prototype was called) uses the renowned 525 action and is designed specifically as a game gun. It replaces the Grade 6, which was decorated with gold inlaid game birds on the action, which some thought too “blingy”.
The Crown takes a rather more subtle approach to decoration and the game scenes are silver on silver. In case you are wondering what silver on silver means, the birds on the side of the receiver are picked out in bright silverwork, which has the effect of making them look almost holographic.
This rather tasteful addition to the Browning gun family will turn a few heads, not just for the engraving, but for the beautiful wood too. The gun we tested had a well-figured dark walnut, which set off the coin finished action to a treat.
There are teardrops on the side of the stock, a nod to tradition, and the chequering is nicely executed: not too sharp, yet deep enough to give some purchase and control. There is also a vacant oval on the stock, typical of a traditional game gun.
The forend is of a rounded English style, as you would expect on game gun and the barrels are deeply blued, giving them a dark lustrous finish.
Many readers will be glad to know that the trigger blade was plain steel, so there’s no gold plate to wear. Also, the finish matches the rest of the gun, making it subtle, understated, yet rather distinctive.
However, the gun is not just meant to look good, it is designed to perform. An interesting thing to note is that the barrels are a nominal bore, which gives a better shot pattern with fibre wads. This is important in this day and age, where we are conscious of the harm plastic is doing to our environment.
The chokes are fixed and the gun we tested had ¾ choke in both barrels. It’s slightly unusual to have the chokes exactly the same in both barrels as usually game shooters want a choice of choke for birds that are near or far. Still, you can order the gun with the chokes of your choice.
- Weight: 7.28lbs
- Overall length: 47in
- Barrel: 28in, 3in (tested), 32in
- Length of pull: 14¾
- Drop at comb: 1 3/8in and 2in
- Rib: 6mm solid
Fixed chokes usually make for lighter, better handling guns because you don’t have the extra weight of the threaded removable chokes. However, these days many gunmakers make multi-choke guns that don’t affect the balance of the gun and they still handle well. For a game gun I prefer fixed chokes. You are highly unlikely to want to change your chokes for game shooting, apart from the rare occasion when you go high bird shooting. I also like a lighter gun because it’s less burdensome when in the field.
At just over 7lb, the Crown isn’t particularly heavy for an over-and-under game gun, so all was good on that front. Another thing that helps prevent fatigue, the enemy of good shooting, is balance.
With a centre of balance around the hinge pin, the Browning was perfectly balanced for me. Not too barrel heavy, making you feel overbalanced, and not too much weight towards the stock, which can make the barrels wander all over the place. So a big thumbs up for weight distribution.
The lock-up of the Browning five series has not changed for many years, with a full width bolt running along the floor of the action that engages with the barrel lumps when the gun is closed. Some engineers might argue that low-profile counterparts have stronger lock-ups, but this set-up has lasted for over 80 years and Brownings and Mirokus rarely shoot loose – believe me. I have guns from the early 1980s that are still tight after a lot of use.
With the deeper action comes the advantage of a better gape, meaning cartridges can be loaded in the gun with ease, ideal on a busy drive when you need to reload quickly.
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What you get when you shoot the Crown is typical Browning fare and that’s a good thing. It felt solid and dependable. I could swing the barrels easily on target and the gun felt light and controllable on aim. The sight picture was good for me and the stock length, although normally a bit short at 14 3/4 in long of pull, felt pretty good because I was wearing a thick shooting coat.
The trigger blade came to my finger nicely and there was a crisp break to the trigger-pull. As on most over-and-unders the barrel selector and safety are found on the top strap. On the gun I was testing there was an auto-safety, which is usual for game guns, but you can have it changed to manual by a competent gunsmith.
As you would expect from a Browning, it felt very well put together. The action closed with a solid “thunk”, no jangles from the mechanism. All this made you have complete confidence that the gun would do what you asked it to do.
The Crown is a robust and modern over-and-under that should stand years of use in the field. Not only that, it is a handsome gun that will age well because good taste always ages gracefully. If you are looking for a solid and dependable midd of the range modern game gun, then the Crown fits the bill.
Scores on the doors
- Build quality: 25/25/
- Handling: 23/25
- Styling: 25/25
- Value for money: 23/25
Solid and dependable