Last year Elliot Roberts looked at the limited edition Browning Maxus. Now he rates the brand new Maxus II
The Browning Maxus was released in its original form in 2009 and we have seen a number of variations to the cosmetics of that model over the years but no major changes in design or build. The Browning Maxus II however is a completely new look, new feel semi-auto with a sleek modern design and improved ergonomics. The fundamental internals remain in the most part unchanged, but you will find some great refinements to the appearance and handling of the Maxus II.
I tested the Browning Maxus II Composite Carbon Fibre in 12-bore. The available models at the moment are not as wide ranging as its predecessor, although there is sure to be something for everyone. On offer currently is this carbon-fibre model, a plain black composite model or the camouflage models in either Realtree Max 5 or Mossy Oak (MOBUC). If you visit www.browning.eu, however, a couple of limited edition models such as the Composite Brown or Black Gold are available. There are no wooden stock variants at the time of writing but perhaps these will be added by Browning to the catalogue in due course.
Testing the Browning Maxus II
This particular variant is equipped with 28in blued barrels, a red fibre-optic sight, composite carbon fibre stock and forearm, Inflex recoil pad, SoftFlex cheek pad, over-moulded rubber grips, oversized bolt handle and bolt release, reworked trigger-guard with loading ramp and a screw-on end cap. Along with the familiar features such as the magazine cut off switch, speed load plus system and Power Drive Gas system. It was also supplied with five Invector Plus chokes, a set of shims for stock adjustment, extra stock spacers, a trigger lock and a choke key all packaged in a Browning branded ABS case. The gun is still operated by the same Power Drive gas system and rightly so. Why fix something that isn’t broken? The gas system offers 18% less recoil, 44% less muzzle jump, 19% faster bolt speed and 24% faster lock times than the nearest competitor. The internals remain on the whole unchanged with the most noticeable differences being on the exterior of the new Maxus II.
A closer look
So what has changed? To start with the forearm, gone is the Speed Lock Forearm found on the previous models. In its place, a conventional yet stylish screw cap with an integrated, free moving sling swivel. The fore-end itself is sleeker with a more ergonomic feel, slightly less square in shape than on the original Maxus with a more streamlined stylish appearance, which fits into the hand nicely.
Both the fore-end and pistol grip feature over moulded soft rubber padding for additional comfort and grip in wet weather. The stock also features a SoftFlex Reactar gel cheek pad to help reduce felt recoil and offer increased face protection with those heavier load cartridges.
Also, the much-loved Inflex recoil pad can be still be found on the end of the stock measuring at 32mm, directing the force of the recoil down and away from the shooters cheek but the length of pull and cast can be altered with the provided stock spacers and shims supplied with the gun.
A noticeable difference on the Browning Maxus II is the oversized bolt handle and bolt release button, which makes operating it easier and faster, even with gloves. The trigger-guard has been redesigned and improved to aid speed of reloading with a ramped front leading into the magazine port. Coupled with the familiar Speed Load Plus system, chambering the first round straight from the magazine without having to manipulate the bolt manually, speedy reloading has never been easier than on the Maxus II.
The action also features the same magazine cut-off switch as on the original, allowing you to stop the cycling of rounds from the magazine tube into the chamber or to empty your chamber without loading in a new round. Great for making your gun safe or for changing loads quickly.
This model is chambered in 3in with a 6mm top rib finished with a red fibre optic sight and Invector Plus chokes. The action frame is aluminium and the 28in back bored vector pro barrels have a blued matt finish. Standard capacity is two plus one with the option for four plus one on a Section 1 certificate.
As previously mentioned, the Maxus operates with the Power Drive Gas system, so you can still expect high performance rapid cycling of a variety of loads through the Maxus II. The system uses larger escape valves to remove gas more quickly with heavy loads. An integrated valve keeps residue outside the mechanism for cleaner functioning and a 20% increase in the piston run makes it more reliable with lighter loads. Browning quotes the system works with loads from 24g up to 64g. That said, it does require a little bit more cleaning and maintenance compared with an inertia action but the gas system is tried and tested, and gives the Maxus the reputation for reliability it rightly deserves.
Although Browning has just announced the release of a true left-handed model in the 525 and 725 range of over-and-under shotguns, it is unfortunate to see that the Maxus is still not available in a true left-handed configuration. But as a ‘leftie’ myself, I have never found any issue shooting the standard right-handed model, especially with it offering such positive and fast ejection of spent shells.
Depending on the model you go for prices currently range from around £1,200 to £1,400, which as with the previous Maxus is fantastic value for money given the features you get as standard on this gun.