Testfire by Gary Girvan
Make & Model:
Browning B725 S1 Sporter o/u shotgun
32-inch (81cm); weight 1.579kg.
76mm chromed chamber; 18.7mm bore; extended forcing cone.
Multichoke: 5 Invector DS choke tubes.
Ribs & Sights
10mm Broadway-style ventilated top rib; ventilated side ribs.
Single white sighting bead at muzzle.
Steel with satin silver nitride finish.
Single selective mechanical-set. Adjustable for length of pull. Gold finish.
Non-automatic. Tang-mounted. Incorporates barrel selector.
Walnut with pistol grip and Schnabel fore-end tip.
Length of pull: 375mm; drop at comb: 35mm; drop at heel: 55mm. Small amount of cast for right-hander. 12mm Inflex recoil pad.
ABS case; handbook and proof sheet;, 5 choke tubes, case and wrench;
Allen key for trigger; trigger lock.
Cameron Sports Imports Ltd
Reviewed by Gary Girvan
A New-Look Browning
What gun was John Moses Browning’s greatest design? A question like that would provoke some heated debate; Browning was such a prolific genius in in so many fields of firearms design - rifles, pistols, machine guns, and of course, shotguns - that any number of his creations could lay claim to the title.
However, one that surely must be a strong contender is the very last product of his creative genius: the B25 Superposed shotgun.
It is possible that a new generation of shotgunners doesn’t realise just how iconic and influential this shotgun was. In the 1920’s when double-barrel shotgunning was dominated by side-by-side guns and the only over/unders were expensive hand-made models, Browning set out to design an affordable stack barrel gun. First produced in 1931 and manufactured in Liege, Belgium, the Superposed was an immediate and influential success. Shotguns such as the Winchester 101 series and the Miroku were based firmly on Browning’s original design with some modifications to simplify some aspects such as the B25’s non-detachable fore-end.
In the 1970s, rising manufacturing costs in Belgium forced Browning to look abroad for more reasonably-priced production and in 1973, production was handed to Miroku of Japan. The resulting gun was marketed as the Citori with designations such as the B125, B325, right through to today’s B625, the last of this line, now replaced by the new model B725.
The original B25 continued in production in Liege as a more expensive version until 1976 when regular production ceased. The B25 is still produced in limited quantities by FN in Belgium, but the gun has become a very expensive item, usually obtained by special order.
What's New? - New Look
First impressions are that this new model has quite a different look from that of its predecessors. The 725’s receiver is significantly trimmer, its receiver height having been reduced by 4mm. That’s not a huge amount, but it’s enough to eliminate the slab-sided look that characterised the earlier Browning-style over/unders. To complement this trimmer look, the gun has re-shaped shoulders, fences, and top-lever, which combine to give the 725 a much sleeker appearance.
This new low-profile action has been given a satin silver nitride finish and the walls have a minimum of decoration – just a few curving lines and the name and model number highlighted in orange. It’s tastefully done.
New Mechanical Trigger
Cosmetics aside, the other changes are significant. A new mechanical-set trigger replaces the older-style in which the trigger was set for the second shot by the inertia of the first. The mechanical trigger has the advantage that should the first cartridge fail to fire for any reason, you can still fire the second barrel. This new trigger has crisp, light pulls with a minimum of take-up. According to my Lyman electronic trigger-pull gauge, the first barrel let off at an average of 4lb 8oz, the second at 4lb 12oz – a good performance.
The trigger has a gold finish and is adjustable to three positions so that you can modify its reach to quite a degree, using the Allen key provided.
New Barrel & Choke Design
The weight of the barrels has been reduced from that in the older-model Brownings; on our testfire gun, the long 32-inch barrels weighed only 1.579kg. Internally, the barrels feature Browning’s new-style Vector-Pro bore which is back-bored out to 18.7mm and has lengthened forcing cones. This new barrel geometry is completed by newly-designed, internal choke tubes. These Invector-DS choke tubes are 80mm long with threading at the muzzle and expanding brass sealing rings at the base, to prevent the seepage of gas and debris from the propellant – hence the DS label. The muzzle threads and the brass rings provide a double seal.
We had tested this Vector-Pro system in our recent testfire of the Browning A5 autoloader and were impressed with its performance. Testing on the B725 only confirmed this opinion. One of the benefits the combination of back-boring, extended forcing cones, and long choke tubes is intended to produce is to reduce pellet deformation and thus improve pattern performance. What this means in practical terms is that there will be more pellets on the target. Pattern testing using Rio target ammunition – 28 grams #7½ - bore out these claims. At 40 yards, the 725 consistently threw evenly-distributed patterns that averaged 66% through the Modified tube. This is a worthwhile improvement on the industry standard of 60% for Modified at this range.
New Recoil Pad
Browning’s new Inflex recoil pads are a thoughtful and effective design. Constructed from hi-tech polymer, they are very soft, lightweight, and non-stick. To ensure a snag-free mount, the top edge has a smooth surface. To enable length of pull to be tailored to suit the shooter, these pads are available in three thicknesses: 12, 20, and 25mm.
Our testfire gun was a Grade 1 model and was stocked in a good quality, straight-grained walnut. There was no fancy figuring in the timber but there was a pleasing amount of contrast in the grain – a good honest grade of walnut. The pistol grip had a comfortably open radius with a slight right-hand palm swell; the fore-end was suitably slim with just the trace of a Schnabel tip. Both featured well-executed chequering, running at around 20 lines per inch. The quality of the woodwork was enhanced with a durable, low-sheen oil finish.
Despite its many new features, the 725 retains most of the features that have made the preceding Browning/Miroku models so durable and popular. The barrels swivel open on a full-width hinge pin; lock-up is still achieved by a full-width tapered locking bolt that engages a bite beneath the monobloc; and the floor of the receiver still has the distinctive swivelling plates that seal the action floor to prevent debris getting in through the cut-outs that the bottom-locking lugs engage.
In designing this new gun, Browning have been very careful to retain the essential features that have ensured the marque’s success and popularity.
The B725 is manufactured in several versions. The model currently being offered here is the Sporter. As this designation suggests, it’s designed to sit midway between a field gun and a dedicated competition gun. Although our testing was done on the range at sporting clays and five-stand, its performance there showed that this gun would be as efficient in the field as it proved to be on the range.
The model is offered in two barrel lengths: 30 and 32 inches. Our 32-inch-barrelled gun had a neutral balance: its balance point was right on the hinge-pin, resulting in a smooth and steady swing, and it proved to be very effective in dealing to the variety of targets presented on the five-stand field. At a subsequent sporting clays event, by chance I happened to be in the same squad as a father-and-son pair who were both shooting B725’s. Rob Edwards was using the 32-inch version; his son, 14-year old Max, had the 30-inch. Both were smoking clays in grand style and it was interesting to be able to compare the two barrel lengths. As you would expect, the 30-inch version had a livelier feel which was better suited to Max’s smaller frame.
Which version would you choose? A lot depends on your build. A smaller person would probably find the shorter barrels more comfortable; a taller, the longer version. But, for a one-gun shooter, it also depends on the relative emphasis of your activities. If I were mainly a game shooter who shot the occasional round of clay targets, I would opt for the 30-inch length. It’s a lively, well-balanced shotgun which is very responsive and easy to carry in the field.
If I used the gun during the off-game season in serious clay target competition, I would select the longer barrelled version. In competitive clay target shooting, longer barrels are very much the current fashion and the 32-inch length is very popular. It also finds favour with those shooters who are privileged enough to be able to enjoy driven pheasant shooting – particularly at “archangels”, those very challenging high birds that demand a smooth, controlled swing.
No matter which version you choose, you can be confident that you are purchasing a well-featured, thoroughly dependable shotgun with an impeccable pedigree. The more I shot this gun, the more I liked it. And, it’s very good value: compare its RRP of $3949 with the cost of shotguns of comparable quality and specifications and you will see that it is very attractively priced - and it comes with an ABS case. I’m sure that John Moses Browning would approve of the way his original intention of providing an affordable o/u shotgun has been maintained. I imagine he’d applaud, as worthwhile improvements, the changes that have been made to his original Superposed.