This striking semi-auto is not only one of the fastest-shooting on the market - it is also reliable with a wide range of ammo, says Matt Hunt
The latest Browning semi-auto is the Browning Maxus II Max-5 Camo. A gas-operated three or five shot with 89mm (31/2in) chambers and superior steel shot proof, it is only available as a 12-bore but with models to cover every possible use, including a traditional wood finish, synthetic and the latest Max-5 Camo option. These guns are made in northern Portugal at the Browning factory based in Viana.
Biggest change with the Browning Maxus II Max-5 Camo
The gas-operated mechanism has not changed a great deal from the earlier Fusion and Gold Fusion models. Probably the biggest change is the simplification of the firing-pin return system. This is now mechanical rather than a return spring. Browning has reduced the lock time to five milliseconds, making this gun one of the fastest-shooting semi-autos on the market.
The subtle changes on the Maxus II don’t end there. The barrels have the Vector Pro back-bore and extended forcing cone system. This will have a positive effect on patterns and felt recoil and will be a game-changer when it comes to using large steel shot loads through its 89mm chamber.
All models of the Maxus II are multichoked and use the Invector-Plus system. The gun is supplied with five choke tubes and should cover all requirements, but if you need a more open choke than quarter, you will need to buy these tubes separately. The receiver is made from a very high-grade aluminium and has rails machined into the top, allowing for a scope or projected red-dot sight to be fitted if using the gun for larger game.
I was pleased to see the return to a more traditional screw cap on the Maxus II. This allows the magazine tube to be fitted with an extension, taking its capacity up to 10 shots. It also boosts the aesthetics of the gun. In fact, the Maxus II has a pleasing look and, with the addition of black rubber inserts to the fore-end, grip and comb, along with the larger cocking handle and bolt release button, its ergonomics are superb.
The overall finish on the gun is of a high standard. The Max-5 Camo pattern has been applied perfectly, and assembly and disassembly of all parts is smooth. The stock dimensions are standard and will fit most straight from the box. The stock is finished with an Inflex 2 recoil pad, and two spacers are supplied to extend length of pull by 2cm if required. The drop and cast of the stock can also be adjusted by shims fitted to the head of the stock.
The Browning Maxus II Max-5 Camo has retained the speed-loading function that allows the gun to load a cartridge through the magazine floor-plate rather than directly into the chamber. I couldn’t get used to this system and loaded the gun in the traditional way. That said, the system worked flawlessly and I can see its advantages. Loading and unloading the gun is easy and, with the larger bolt release button and cocking handle, you’re never fumbling about.
The Maxus II has a magazine cut-off, which allows a cartridge to be extracted from the chamber without another following from the magazine. The idea is to allow a different size or type of cartridge to be loaded with ease . This is more suited to hunting in the US or on the Continent, where you have the opportunity to shoot a larger range of quarry.
Need to know
- Manufacturer Browning
- Model Browning Maxus II Max-5 Camo
- Calibre 12-bore
- Barrels 28in
- Chamber 89mm
- Chokes Invector-Plus
- Rib 6mm raised but dropping to muzzle
- Grip Pistol
- Weight 3.3kg
- Importer ISB Brands
I tested the gun with a number of cartridges and was impressed with its reliability. The Maxus II cycled a 24g 65mm cartridge with ease; no mean feat for a semi-auto with a 31/2in chamber and something most of its competitors would struggle to do. The gun operated most smoothly with a 28g 70mm load. Lock time was impressive and felt recoil was negligible.
The gun shot with ease on a range of clay targets and gave confidence to approach harder and more distant targets as you got used to it. Due to the incredible lock-time speed and low recoil, fast follow-up shots could be taken without the gun jumping around and taking you away from the line of a target.
Overall, the Maxus II is possibly the most advanced semi-auto on the market and should appeal to the majority of people looking for a quality semi-auto capable of shooting a wide range of ammunition in a variety of situations. In my opinion, it’s not going to be as robust or as strong as a Benelli M2 if used hard, but its quality, superb ergonomics, fast handling and good value for money will make this a popular choice for a range of uses.
- Action and barrels 18/20 Would love to see a 26in option
- Handling 18/20 Front heavy when fully loaded
- Trigger 19/20 Exceptional quality
- Stock 18/20 Comfortable and easily adjusted
- Value 19/20 A well-priced, quality gun
Since childhood I have been an unashamed gun enthusiast, but there is one type of shotgun that’s fascinated me more than any other. The semi-automatic, now entering its second century, is beloved by sportsmen, hunters, police and armies around the globe. This easy to use, cheap to make and, above all, practical gun has a plethora of uses.
My semi-autos have accompanied me on wild excursions into forests, up moors and mountain, to tidal estuaries,along peaceful Cotswold hedges and from Argentina to Hebridean islands.
Not much has changed over the years. The biggest differences are in materials used. Wooden stocks have been swapped for synthetics and steel actions for aluminium ones.
The undisputed godfather of the semi-auto is John Moses Browning. His recoil-operated A5 semi-auto was destined for the Winchester Repeating Arms Company but, after a dispute over royalty payments, a relationship was struck up with FN in Belgium to make it and the rest is history.
A market-leading semi-automatic