Browning Maxus Sporting Black Carbon Fibre
PUBLISHED: 12:40 12 September 2019
The new and improved Browning Maxus offers soft shooting, speed loading and updated mechanics. Mike Yardley reviews this stylish semi-auto
Browning Maxus Sporting Black Carbon Fibre - brief overview
We like: The soft recoil; The ideal 7 pound weight; The intuitive handling
We are not sure about: The 'carbon' finish (it looks good, just hope it's durable).
Rib: 8-6mm ventilated
Choke: Multi - Vector Plus - 4 supplied.
RRP.: £1,290 with the a range available from £999 to 1,500
Browning Maxus Sporting Black Carbon Fibre - in depth review
This month, we are looking at a new Browning semi-automatic dedicated to Sporting clays - the Maxus Black Carbon Fibre. It is a smart-looking beast with a carbon fibre wrap to barrel, action and stockwork. The name is a little misleading as no part of the gun is actually made of carbon fibre (the finish is a superficial coating), but it is attractive nevertheless - and looks a bit different.
I came across the gun in Slovenia, and it was one of a number of guns that I put a great many rounds though and which particularly impressed me when tested comparatively (and very hard). We looked at another last month - the little but excellent Winchester SX4 20-bore.
First impressions are very good, assuming you like the go-faster stripes. The Maxus is a well-proven and well-liked model. This one weighs a shade over 7lb (relatively light for a semi-auto with a 30" barrel) and has some new features worthy of note other than its distinct decoration. There is an enlarged cocking handle on the bolt, an enlarged bolt-release, and an Inflex Pad II recoil pad with three length options (including interchangeable rear pads at 12, 20 and 25mm as well as the possibility of using up to three 6mm spacers).
The clever, short-impulse gas system is still there - it boasts larger exhaust ports than earlier models. Waste gases are dumped faster with heavy loads to control recoil and there is a 20% longer stroke travel to increase reliability with light loads. An enclosed seal design keeps residue out of the action for cleaner operation too.
The 3" (76mm) chambered, steel shot-proofed barrel, is over-bored (18.8mm) and made from solid bar (there is a 3½" version of the Maxus too). It is equipped with a ventilated, 8-6mm tapered sighting rib and a high-visibility front sight of good size (my preference is usually for plain metal beads for durability but this is good for its type).
The gun is supplied with four Invector Plus flush-fitting chokes: Full, Improved Modified (Three-quarters), Modified (Half), Improved Cylinder and Skeet. Not only is the barrel back-bored, but there is an extended forcing cone, known as the 'Vector Pro' system.
The action on this version dedicated to clay shooting does not have the mag cut-off usually seen in the Maxus, but it does offer a speed-loading feature. Drop a round in the chamber and just push the bolt-release button as usual to chamber a shell. Or, if you load a shell straight into the mag tube, the gun will automatically feed it into the chamber. It takes a little getting used to, but once familiar, it speeds loading significantly.
The gas mechanism - and this is a gas-operated gun (if you want inertia, the firm offer the new A5) - has been redesigned with a larger piston too. It remains attached to operating sleeve and cocking bar on disassembly and does not need to be taken apart for cleaning. According to Browning's original promotional material, the Maxus delivers "18% less felt recoil, 44% less muzzle jump, and 19% faster bolt speed with a 24% faster lock time". The latter is thanks to a redesigned trigger, which is notably better than some on semi-automatic shotguns.
The test Maxus also has the clever new fore-end, which has a quick-release lever much like the sort seen on many over-and-unders. The Maxus comes up to face and shoulder smoothly with comfortable shapes and good weight and balance. Many repeaters are just a bit too heavy. This one, which is designed to be soft recoiling, can afford to be lighter. The stock has a fairly tight, full but nice, pistol grip, and an equally good comb shape.
My only significant criticism of the stock is that it is a bit short out of the box (just over 14¼"), but it comes with the means to rectify this (and a shim kit to alter cast and drop) as well as the highly efficient Inflex pads which take recoil away from the face.
About 20 years ago, Browning Winchester created a new gas system - which has been marketed both as the Winchester X series and the Browning Gold/Hunter/Fusion/Phoenix (with an A5-like square pack in some incarnations) - and in recent years as the highly successful, Maxus. Like the Winchester Super X of a generation ago, these guns all operate on a short-impulse gas system. The latest guns, however, can not only handle a wide range of cartridges but need less cleaning with a slight reduction in parts.
The newer Maxus guns have a bigger, one-piece gas valve as noted (older versions had a two-piece system where you put the shroud/sleeve with cocking rod over the mag tube connecting to the receiver and then a separate gas valve would slip on behind before replacing the fore-end). Browning have modified it to a (very neatly machined) one-piece valve, which is easier to clean and more efficient. You only need to wipe the exterior of the gas mechanism now, there is no need for disassembly. Combined with the lever release fore-end, the latest Maxus guns are especially user-friendly.
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Soft! I have always liked the way the pleasant way the Maxus shoots and this one was no exception. Felt recoil was low and the gun was intuitive and easy to use with its 30" barrel. The out of the box dimensions, though not perfect for me, still allowed me to connect with everything I pointed it at (an indication of sound basic design). Had I the time, I would have jacked up the butt a little higher using the shim kit. I put a vast number of shells through the test gun (as I did the Winchester SX4). I shot over 1,000 cartridges without a malfunction, or cleaning the gun, which is quite an endorsement. The improved trigger pull was better than the semi-auto average but still not as good as a fine double gun. Overall, though, a stylish and well presented modern gun that worked very well. It was particularly comfortable in use, and is offered at a price that doesn't make the eyes water too much.