Michael Yardley shot a Browning B725 at the model’s launch in Hungary to great effect. So how will the maker’s limited edition Medallion Silver over-and-under measure up?
This month’s test gun is a Browning B725 over-and-under weighing in at 7lb 6oz. It’s a new, limited edition model called the Medallion Silver, available in both field and clay target versions – ours is the former – with upgraded wood and unusual silver inlaid decoration. It comes with a single (mechanical) trigger, full pistol-grip stock, flush-fit, DS (Double Seal) multichokes and has a fleur-de-lys steel shot proof mark. The RRP is £4,750 as tested (£5,150 for the Sporter).
First impressions are of a smart, traditional- looking gun. Look a little deeper and an interesting and evolved specification becomes apparent. The aesthetics are clean yet classic. The wood (oil finished) is better than average with good colour, side panels featuring carved drop points and crisp chequering. The deep scroll and acanthus engraving – hand-cut over laser outlines – is accented with subtle inlay work, as noted. It might verge on too much bling, but it’s not overdone. The silver blends well with the scroll. The gun achieves an elegant and modern look, well matched to the sleeker 725 action profile.
The 725 has been out for a little over 10 years. It is essentially an improved 525, with a lowered profile, improved trigger mechanism and clever chokes incorporating a brass-alloy sealing band to the rear. I attended the original launch in Hungary, which included a spectacular ‘grand battue’ in old continental style. There was a rack of guns to choose from in the hunting lodge, all 30in. I opted for a 12-bore Sporter because it also had a slightly higher stock and a bit more weight (around 8lb). With that gun, I shot embarrassingly well and bought a similar 725 some years later. I approached this test with special interest because the test gun is similar to my own but a little lighter (both sharing 30in barrels).
That has become my go-to length on a machine-made 12-bore gun (30in or 32in on a 20-bore). The reason for this is essentially weight. The 32in, multichoked guns can feel ponderous if you are not ‘muscled up’. Those who use them all the time do develop musculature to match, but my comparative testing suggests the long, heavy tubes may induce a tendency – often undetected – to shoot slightly behind the mark. Some mass or semi-mass-produced 12-bores are ‘light for length’ barrel-wise and these are the ones that usually work best for normal shots who prefer extra length.
Back to the test gun. The stock on the 725 is well conceived and made from Turkish walnut, showing good figure. The length of pull is 14¾in with a fixed (gold-plated) trigger. Length may be adjusted by using different Inflex II pads without gunsmithing to achieve ¼in less or more. The comb here was a fraction low with drop at heel measuring 2¼in – typical of a Browning but just a little lower than my preference ‘for the shelf’.
The general form of the butt is excellent, with an outstanding classic Browning-style grip. There is no palm swell. You may grip the gun especially well because the basic shape is so good; it is not too small nor too big, and even in depth throughout its length. This has long been my favoured pattern for ergonomic efficiency and control. The rounded fore-end is almost ideal, too. It keeps the hand close to the barrels and does not restrict front hand position as a schnabel may. So it’s almost 10 points in the stocking department.
The 725 has now had time to prove itself reliable and efficient. It was not radical inside or out but significantly and cleverly improved on the still-current 525. The 725 has proved a commercial success. Browning did not fare quite so well with the modernistic Cynergy, as Beretta may have regretted its Prevail and Perennia models, which nevertheless led the way for the excellent 690 series guns, which are mechanically quite similar.
Browning designers have managed to keep the best features of the 525/ B25 while making some subtle yet significant mechanical changes. The redesign did not look radical. The hinging and bolting on the Browning B725 remains essentially the same as the 525/B25. A full width cross pin and traditional Browning bolting are retained and with bearing surfaces unchanged. The action has been lowered 4mm and streamlined (most obvious at the fences and with the modernised top-lever). The internal mechanism has been refined, too. The single trigger on the 725 is mechanical and offers noticeably improved pulls over 525s. The DS chokes are longer than average at 80mm (even longer in the claybusting 725s with protruding knurled sections). They have a copper band to the rear that prevents gas escaping from the choke to the rear and getting between the choke and the wall of the barrel.
I have found Browning B725 models usually shoot well. This is not to sideline the 525s – they are excellent, competitively priced guns, but they are not quite as good to shoot as 725s. The 725 handles better with less weight towards the muzzles thanks to its DS chokes. The trigger pulls (breaking at just over 3½lb) seem crisper. The model tested is a game gun with a 6mm sighting rib, hence lighter than the 10mm rib Sporter. For me, the heavier gun intended for clays seems to work well in the field. Has the test gun changed my prejudice? Probably not, but it still impresses. Handling was good with lively, but not too lively, dynamics. The stock form was exceptional and presentation and craftsmanship could not be faulted. If I was buying one, it would be a hard call between this and its Sporter stablemate.
KEY INFORMATION FOR BROWNING B725 MEDALLION SILVER
♦ RRP: from £4,750 (including VAT)
♦ International Sports Brands, Unit 2, Moorbrook Park, Didcot, Oxfordshire OX11 7HP
♦ 01491 681830