New Browning B725 Sporter - test & review
- Credit: Archant
Browning’s re-vamped B725 Sporter gets the once over from Vic Harker in this test and review
It is with almost a feeling of reverence nowadays that I pick up any new Browning B25 shotgun. Of course, the design cannot be really new as it was introduced nearly a century ago, yet the rightness of it remains as self-evident as ever.
The latest B725S is no exception, but time does not stand still, and the makers continue to finetune a design that each generation has pronounced cannot be improved upon. That said, both the manufacturers and their customers have consistently agonised over the depth of the action body, although they have not ever been able to convincingly describe how it hampers the shooter in any visual way – or in any aspect that can be demonstrated.
When the Browning was last revised, it took the form of the B725, first introduced in 2011. This incorporated the DS double-seal interchangeable chokes, with a copper-banded seal and a forward thread. Thankfully, the new Browning B725 retains all its most important design features, most especially the full-width underbolting. Some clever cosmetic work has reduced the depth of the action by a fraction, but thankfully the B725, as it is designated, is still very much a classic Browning.
Nevertheless, the Browning company felt obliged to tinker, while Browning enthusiasts held their breath. Again, it was the action body that got the attention with some skilful sculpturing that visually creates an attractive streamlined look, but that thankfully retains the action body’s dimensions and its weight.
One of the most important features of any shotgun is the stock, which has the closest contact with the shooter’s shoulder and the face. Its dimensions must conform to the shooter’s physical characteristics sufficiently well for him/her to mount the gun naturally and point it accurately, or changes must be made. The Browning B725 stock has a length of 38cm.
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Drop at comb (which determines the elevation of the aiming eye above the rib and is by far the most crucial dimension of all) is adjustable, as is the cast, which accommodates the shooter’s width of shoulder and facial characteristics. The benefits these facilities provide cannot be overstated, and an hour or so with a knowledgeable gun fitter can make the difference between shooting to your best ability... or not.
As to the B725 stock configuration, I can only congratulate the makers for a return to a hand-filling full pistol grip and a tulip fore-end wood. Not only do these bold shapes complement the Browning B725 but they also show that, rather than resorting to gimmickry, Browning has returned to a simplicity that emphasises the genius of the original design.
With the 30” (76cm) barrels come a set of five 10cm hand-detachable chokes and, with two in situ, the barrel assembly weighs 1.552kg (3lb 6oz). Once again, simplicity provides the best results. The rib has no ramps or steps, but rather an unobtrusive machined edge border and parallel lines that guide the eye without being a distraction.
As to shooting the gun, much has been made of the Browning’s balance and this latest 725 lives up to the legend. To achieve this, the current makers had only to repeat what has gone before, but that’s not entirely fair. In the case of the B725, this gun incorporates a set of five hand-detachable chokes that puts only 81g on the barrels’ muzzle ends.
One of the most attractive aspects of the B725 in terms of stock configuration, weight balance and not to mention the excellent mechanical function in all departments, is its originality. For example, the stock’s slim, adjustable comb comes to the shoulder and face naturally without recourse to any contortions. The Browning 725 has all the basics in terms of balance and weight distribution to provide a first-rate shotgun for Sporting clays. The key to this quality is careful weight distribution that must be determined before the major component parts of the gun are assembled. There must, of course, be fixed parameters.
At the North Oxfordshire Shooting School, the B725 looked and felt impressive and certainly fulfilled my expectations. It was very much a back to the future moment when I lifted and shouldered the B725.
In recent years, Browning has experimented with a number of stock configurations much influenced by the Europeans, i.e. Perazzi and Beretta - both makers incorporate low profile actions which demand, or at least look better with, a close radius grip. Browning followed this trend, but in terms of appearance and practicality the guns did not look or work as well with too close a grip.
In contrast, this Browning’s deep action demands something different, and the B725 provides it, most importantly with a hand-filling pistol grip featuring a more open radius. With this recent development, the B725 handles superbly.
Model: Browning B725 Sport Adjustable
Barrel Length: 30” 76cm / 32” 81cm
Chamber: 2 3/4”
Chokes: 5 Hand-detachable
Stock: Full Pistol Grip Adjustable
Weight: 3.685kg (8lbs 2oz)
SRP: £2,500 inc. VAT
UK Distributor: International Sports Brands Ltd.