Discussion in 'Browning Gold Shotgun' started by Billythekid, Mar 20, 2011.
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Browning Gold Semi-Auto Shotguns
By Randy Wakeman
Gold Hunter. Illustration courtesy of Browning Arms.
The name Browning has always meant shotguns and pheasant hunting to me. It has taken a long time for Browning to replace the Auto-5 with a worthy successor, and I've gone through the previous attempts: the gas-operated B-2000 (a sales flop, but I really enjoy my 20 gauge), the B-80 (essentially a Beretta 302-1/2), the A500R nee A500 recoil operated disaster (initially recalled), and the A500G gas-operated version offered only briefly. Though reliable it was one of the strangest fitting shotguns I've ever owned. Meaning, I really didn't understand how it could possibly fit any human being.
After all this, at long last came the Browning Gold. (The Browning Gold is also marketed as the Winchester Super X2 in a somewhat plainer configuration.) I've owned, and extensively hunted with, at least five Browning Golds. These include a pair of 12 gauge 3" chambered models, one 12 gauge 3-1/2" version, and (at least) a couple of 20 gauge Golds. All have been outstanding performers, providing a couple of tweaks are made.
Here are the basic specifications for the Gold Hunter, what you might call the standard model:
Gauges - 12 and 20
Supplied choke tubes - Full, modified, improved cylinder
Magazine capacity- five 2 3/4" shells; three-shot magazine adapter included.
Barrel lengths - 26" and 28"
Chamber - 12 gauge 3 1/2", 12 gauge 3", 20 gauge 3"
Average weight - 7 lbs. 6 oz. (12 ga, 28" brl.); 6 lbs. 14 oz. (20 ga, 28" brl.)
Overall length - 48 1/2" (12 ga, 28" brl.); 48 1/4" (20 ga, 28" brl.)
Drop at comb - 1 3/4"
Drop at heel - 2" (12 ga.); 2 1/4" (20 ga.)
Length of pull - 14 1/4"
Rib width - 1/4"
2005 MSRP - $1190 (12 ga. 3 1/2"); $1025 (12 and 20 ga. 3")
Fit and finish are what you would expect from Browning, with cut checkering on the pistol grip and forend. The speed loading has functioned without a hitch, and the longer tube "Invector Plus" chokes have generally patterned well, but not remarkably better than the older Invector (Win-Choke copy) non-back bored barrels.
The self-regulating gas system handles a wide range of shells, from magnum to standard, interchangeably. The gas piston design is a good one, and has done a good job handling a huge variety of loads in all the models I've owned. The Gold 3-1/2 is helping to re-obsolete the 10 gauge again, handling 1-1/8 oz. 1200 fps loads all the way up the ladder to 3-1/2 inch Mags, which is a lot to ask of any semi-auto action. All have been soft shooters.
Every Gold I've owned has had a heavy trigger, heavier than the gun itself, so a trigger job has always been the first order of business. The oversized triangular trigger-guard safety is one of the best ever, hard to miss even with gloved, frozen hands. However, more often than not, it had been very hard to get off due to stiffness. An eight pound trigger and a fourteen pound safety has been the norm. Both are taken care of in the same one-time trip to the gunsmith.
After the initial trigger and safety attention, you have one of the very finest semi-autos on the market. As time has gone on, more and more models have been introduced, to the point whether you are a clays enthusiast, male, female, youth, Browning has enough breadth in their product line to satisfy.
The 20 gauge, in particular, is just an amazingly soft shooter. Not a flyweight in standard configuration, with 7/8 oz. dove loads the recoil is exceedingly mild; you can barely feel the gun working.
My Golds were standard models, the stocks not shim adjustable, but the semi-hump "Classic" versions are shim adjustable, so most can be fit without any stock work. The "Fusion" models are lighter, and for 2006 the Super Light series in being introduced, losing weight from its magazine tube, an approach I prefer over lightening the action.
Whether skeet, sporting clays, dove, pheasant, or in the goose blind, the Golds that have been rode hard and put away wet have never hiccuped for me. I convinced my friend, Dave Metcalf, an expert gunsmith and shootist to try scattergun sports for a while. Well, Dave can take a dare. Many shotguns came and went, but his 12 ga. Gold stuck around, and he's done great with it.
It took a lot of convincing to get my father to shoot a gas gun, but after eleven shots fired and eleven Illinois roosters picked up during his "test," his 20 gauge Gold has become one of his favorites. For flushing birds, the 26 inch barreled versions come up better for me; for clays work the longer sighting plane of the 28" barrel seems more appropriate, but that's just personal taste.
As it is today, the Browning Gold in 12 or 20 gauge is one of the most competent, fun-to-shoot, hassle free semi-autos you can buy. The available configurations are increasing every year, so if you are in the market for a semi-auto it should be on your short list. They are wonderfully reliable, soft shooting, smooth swinging shotguns that by now are extremely well-proven performers. Regardless of your shotgunning needs you owe it to yourself to spend some time with one of them, if not two or three.
http://www.gun-tests.com/issues/18_8/fe ... 351-1.html
Semi-Auto Shotguns: Browning Gold Sporting Beats Benelli
By all measures, Benelli’s new SuperSport is a fine shotgun, but when we compared it shot for shot against the stalwart Browning, the Italian’s higher price knocked it out.
Browning's Gold Sporting 12 gauge (top) and the Benelli SuperSport (bottom).
As the average age of clay-target shooters continues to inch higher, many veterans are turning to less expensive, lighter, softer-shooting semiautomatics as substitutes for their over-unders. The common objective is to find a firearm that doesn’t strain the pocketbook; is easy on the arm muscles; and doesn’t send the shooter into shoulder shock from recoil.
However, because the single-barrel shotguns are lighter and quicker to get on a target, all of them require a little more finesse if a shooter is intent on being competitive or filling a game bag. This means there is more need for a little extra push or pull by the shooter, rather than relying on the glide of a heavier stackbarrel.
The Browning Gold Sporting Semiautomatic 12 gauge, $1105, has earned a good reputation as a moderately priced shooting tool at clay target courses across the country, despite some travails. The initial burst of enthusiasm for the shotgun when it first entered the market was slightly deflated by problems with broken firing pins and other mechanical failures with early models. However, those failures seem to have subsided with the more recent production runs.
Following the pattern of the legendary Remington 1100 semiautomatic that once dominated the skeet shooting community (and also suffered some early mechanical problems); the Browning Gold Sporting has become one of those shotguns that nearly everyone gives the old college try.
But there are plenty of challengers out there vying for the Browning’s sporting-clays spot, one of which is the other semi-auto in our test, the Benelli SuperSport. The model we tested is the latest version of another veteran line that has been favored by both bird and clay target shooters. With its space-age looks and feel, the Benelli SuperSport Semiautomatic 12 gauge, $1735, is one of those love it or hate it shotguns.
The sharp angle of the trigger guard and the Comfortech stock’s synthetic design, plus the two-toned receiver, are all striking innovations that make the Benelli stand out in a gun rack. We found that most of these innovations earned high marks in both function and appearance for testers who like an updated look.
To put our test shotguns through their paces on the sporting clays course, our shooting crew fired a variety of ammunition, including Remington Premier STS Low Recoil 2.75-inch, 2.5-dram shells. We fired two versions of this loading, one which had 1.125 ounces of No. 8s, and the other with same payload, but in No. 7 1/2s. Both shells are low recoil, with an average muzzle velocity ranging from 1100 to 1145 fps. Because the Browning would only handle 2.75-inch shells, no 3-inch shells were used in our test sessions. Here’s our test report:
Browning Gold Sporting No. 011103403, $1105
Our test firearm was the latest version of the shotgun to be marketed by Browning (readers will note that Gun Tests reviewed a 28-inch-barrel model in 2003). Like the earlier model, two of the shotgun’s features are a shim-adjustable stock that allows the comb to be raised or lowered up to one-eighth of an inch; and two separate gas pistons to be used depending upon whether the shooter is firing shot charges of 1.125-ounce or less, or heavier loads of 1.25 ounce or greater.
Weighing 7.9 pounds, slightly heavy for a semiautomatic, we found that the Browning was both comfortable to shoot and quick on targets. One of the common comments about the Gold Sporting is that is has the best pointing ability that can be found in any out-of-the-box shotgun. With a longish 14.25-inch length of pull, a drop at comb of 1.5 inches, and a drop at heel of 1.75 inches, the Gold providing a very straight stock and a comb similar to high-dollar over-and-unders with parallel combs. With its 30-inch barrel, the Gold measured 50.5 inches in overall length,
A common complaint about most shotgun manufacturers is that the factory-set trigger pull is much heavier than required. The Browning trigger broke at an acceptable 6 pounds; however, we would prefer something in the range of 3 to 5 pounds.
With its gas-operated system, the Browning is well-known as a soft-shooting shotgun. Even after firing several hundred rounds, there was no shoulder shock from recoil. Also, we continue to be impressed with the speed-loading function unique to the Browning that automatically feeds a shell into the open chamber when it is loaded into the magazine. Quick and easy loading of a semiautomatic is always a plus.
Although several different colors for the HiViz Pro-Comp front sight are provided with the test shotgun (white, red and chartreuse), our pick for best visibility was the chartreuse-colored light pipe. The white center-sight bead on top of the tapered, ventilated rib gave us the best view to form the recommended figure-8 picture (front bead on top of the mid-bead to make sure the shooter is looking straight down the rib).
The oversized, cross-bolt safety on the back of the trigger guard (which can be reversed by a gunsmith for left-handed use) was simple to operate and easy to determine if the shotgun was ready to fire.
Benelli SuperSport No. 10635, $1735
There are two sporting guns in the Benelli lineup: The SuperSport in 28- and 30-inch barrel lengths and the Sport II, a gun similar to the SuperSport except that it has wood stocks. And the Sport II is $200 cheaper ($1515 MSRP). As we noted above, we tested the 30-inch-barrel, carbon-fiber-stocked SuperSport.
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Naturally, the furniture is the biggest difference in the two guns. Although the Benelli is slightly longer (51.6 inches) than the Browning, it tips the scale at 7.2 pounds and feels much lighter than its counterpart with a wooden stock and forearm.
As advertised, the Comfortech stock that incorporates chevron-shaped cut outs filled with recoil-absorbing synthetic material handled our light loads with ease. Still, there was no appreciable difference between the recoil of the Benelli and the Browning, despite claims that the SuperSport’s stock and porting reduced felt recoil by 48 percent.
The Benelli offers an adjustable comb in the ComforTech stock, which arrived with a drop at the comb of 1.5 inches and drop at the heel at 2 inches, with a 14.4-inch length of pull. In addition, shims are included to adjust the drop.
We were satisfied with the configuration out of the box and would recommend a visit to a professional gun fitter if adjustments are required.
We thought the feel of the both the double palm swell in the grip and the grooved forearm was slim and comfortable. There were some original concerns about potential recoil because of the Benelli’s light weight, but these concerns proved to be unfounded.
Just like the Browning, the trigger pull on the Benelli was heavier than we would have liked — breaking at 6.5 pounds. While shotgun shooters tend to slap a trigger rather than use a rifle-shooter’s squeeze, a lighter break point would have been appreciated by our test group.
While the Benelli was quick handling, there was a tendency for the shotgun to be a little whippy. As noted earlier, semiautomatics of all types tend to require a little more push or pull than heavier over and unders to swing through targets. A conscious effort was required to keep from blowing through targets with this light and quick Benelli.
The Benelli’s simple inertia-driven recoil system, which requires few moving parts, cycled shells in a smooth, reliable manner. Some of our veteran shooters with hunting time behind the legendary recoil-operated Browning A-5 were pleasantly surprised with the quick cycling and lack of "double punch" from the mechanism.
Unlike the A-5, the Benelli’s recoil system does not require the movement of the barrel, and only the bolt is driven back by the firing of a shell. We found this system quick and satisfactory. We encountered no problems with the function and performance of the Benelli.
We had three areas of concern about the Benelli. First was the small mid-bead and front bead, which were hard to see by some of our older test members. Aligning the mid-bead and front bead allows a shooter to determine if he or she is properly looking down the rib. Second, we did not like the recoil pad on the Benelli. Its unique shape and design to help reduce recoil are fine ideas, but the lopsided gel pad was slick and came out of our shooters’ shoulders several times between shots. Third, we think Benelli should improve the choke-tube designations. The etched markings explaining the constrictions on the front band of the chokes were hard to read.
Gun Tests Recommends
Browning Gold Sporting 12 Gauge No. 011103403, $1105. Our Pick. The simple fact that this moderately priced, smooth-handling semiautomatic fits just about every shooter right out of the box and allows for easy target acquisition gave the Browning the edge in our test.
Benelli SuperSport 12 Gauge No. 10635, $1735. Don’t Buy. Many GT readers, and certainly Benelli, will think this is an unfair recommendation for this gun. And we recognize there is a legitimate case for this gun to carry a Conditional Buy or Buy It recommendation, because the Benelli handled well and showed reduced recoil and easy, reliable functioning. But the hard-to-read choke-tube designations and a slick recoil pad concerned our testers enough that they could not justify a circumstance in which they would eat the higher price tag of the Benelli when the Gold was the SuperSport’s match at every turn.
2006 Browning Gold 20 gauge Superlight Hunter
Browning has always defined "shotgun" to me. I've always loved to hunt with A-5's; and I still do. I've also spent many pleasant hours afield with B2000's. Double Autos, and many Browning B-80's. It took Browning a long time to come up with a semi-auto to displace the A-5, and they finally scored a home run with their ever-expanding "Gold" series of semi-autos. The gas system is superior to most, if not all current production semi-automatic shotguns. I've owned at least seven Browning Golds by now-- all have been decidedly unfussy in what you feed them, performing flawlessly. They are also among the softest shooting, if not the softest shooting semi-autos you can buy. Fit is critical with any shotgun, which is why I had requested a "Browning Superlight Field Hunter" to review. The semi-squared receiver Field Hunter version is shim adjustable. Not having the opportunity to pre-mount this gun; that was the logical choice-- but a Superlight Hunter (round receiver) was what came in. My initial concern proved unnecessary, as this gun fit me spectacularly well right out of the box.
The Gold 20 Superlight Hunter with a 26 inch barrel as supplied weighs 6 lbs. 10 oz. with the factory Invector Plus 'Full' choke installed. Instantly, I was impressed by the superb balance and handling. It just flies up to the shoulder, effortlessly, and displays perfectly neutral balance. Frankly, I was surprised the Browning could find 7 oz. or so to shave off of the gun, but find it they did-- in exactly the right place: the magazine tube. Apparently, the new titanium alloy magazine tube offers the weight savings-- and gives this gun its exceptional balance and handling at the same time.
The trigger breaks right at a bit heavy 6-1/2 pounds out of the box, hardly unusual in these litigious days-- but I'll take care of that in short order. What I've long felt was the world's best semi-auto safety is even better: now the "can't miss" triangular safety is contoured into the side of the receiver, for lack of a better word. It functions just the same (this one is a dream to get off, as supplied) and makes an attractive gun look even better. Like most Golds, this model has both a full 5-shot capacity (one in the chamber, four in the magazine) and the speed-loading that my A-5's and B2000's have. Speed-loading is a far more valuable feature than you might think in the middle of a busy dove field. You just keep feeding in shells into the bottom of the receiver, while other guns leave you breaking them open and closed, or hunting for buttons or other slide releases instead of what is flying. It is a high volume dove or waterfowl hunter's dream come true.
I directly compared this Gold SL to a standard 20 ga. Gold Hunter, same 26 inch barrel length. On a digital scale that reads out in 1/10th of a pound, the original Gold read 7.0 pounds, the Superlight Hunter 6.5 pounds. So, Browning has certainly delivered on the half-pound weight savings-- with some variance in individual guns possible due to wood density. Aside from the lighter weight, the SL Hunter features a magazine cut-off not available on the first Golds. Here's how they look, side by side:
I was anxious to hit the dove field to give this Gold Superlight a live test as soon as possible. After an abbreviated patterning session, I decided that the Invector Plus modified tube gave the best 40 yard patterns with the 1 oz., 1280 fps loads I was shooting-- the full choke was a bit splotchy. The gun handled like a dream, and shot where I looked. A limit of doves was quickly snagged, most between 45 and 60 yards. It is easy to appreciate the safety, right where I think it should be-- behind the trigger guard, and the speed-loading was immediately put into play. The recoil was mild, yet slightly more than the standard Gold Hunter due to physics-- lighter weight means more recoil. A fixed breech shotgun of this weight would pound you into the ground like a tent stake in no time. After shooting the gas-actioned Gold both for patterning and for doves, it felt like I hadn't been shooting at all. Here's a picture after the first group of doves had been recovered:
There are a few fine points to the feel and balance of a gun; sometimes we wonder why things "just aren't the same" in the field as in the gun-shop. Naturally, it is important to test the fit of a shotgun with the type of clothing we intend to shoot and hunt in. Also, the balance is not exactly the same in a pro shop, as the gun is not in the same condition we use it in: it isn't loaded. A shell in the chamber and a pair of shells in the magazine tube can change things in a small, but tangible way.
Browning got this one just about perfect-- it is the best handling 20 gauge semi-auto on the market today, as far as I'm concerned. It allowed me to do what I want to do: ignore the gun, and shoot with my eyes. It is a joy to carry and smooth to swing. In fact, if the gun was any lighter it would likely tend to get a bit whippy. Normally, I'm not a big fan of adding big red gaudy lettering to a gun-- it looks tacky, and just plain cheesy in many cases. The style of the Superlight Hunter is anything but that-- the two-tone black anodizing on the receiver is striking, and the "Gold SL" is tastefully done. In this age of crate-wood and "Xtra Wood" (that really means extra plastic), I found the standard Browning walnut to be a breath of fresh air. The wood is perfectly matched in color and tone; it is an attractive dark stain with some mineral streaks and character. It may be "Grade I" to Browning, but it is far better than the straight grained canoe paddle stuff seen more and more often. I'll call it "Grade I Plus-Plus." The wood to metal fit is well done, as is the rubber butt pad-- just as I'd expect from Browning.
The gun functioned flawlessly out of the box, ejecting the spent hulls strongly some 10 - 12 feet way. There was not so much as a suspicion of a failure to eject, or a failure to feed. If you can't tell by now, I am just thrilled with this scattergun. Add the requisite trigger job to get the break down to a clean 4 pounds or so (that's off to Allen Timney right now), and you have a sweet handling, soft shooting, quick shouldering upland semi-auto that will happily digest 3/4 oz. promo loads to 1-5/16 oz. three inch shells and everything in between. For dove, quail, partridge, grouse, pheasant, and turkey with the right choke-- this is a gun I'll be proud to hunt with for a very, very long time. I'd be less than candid if I said that my A-5's are going to be retired from the field anytime soon-- you can bet they are not. But, at the end of a long muddy or snowy day through Illinois ditches-- there isn't a shotgun I'd rather be carrying than this one: the 2006 Browning Superlight Hunter 20 gauge. In a short while, that's exactly what I'll be doing.
There never will be a perfect "all-around shotgun," horses for courses and all that. But this gun comes as close to anything I've ever experienced in recent memory. Hat's off to Browning for this beautiful refinement of what has long been one of the best performing semi-autos that can be had today.
http://www.gunmart.net/gun_review/brown ... d_sporter/
Browning Premium Gold Sporter
Mike Yardley tests the Browning Premium Gold Sporter and finds a gun that you’ll either love… or not – see for yourself!
The Browning Premium Gold Sporter is made for the famous company by B.C.Miroku of Japan. First impressions are reasonable. With its black action and gold inlays, I think this is a bit of a Marmite gun. I am not a great fan of gold on guns, but some people love it. The form of the inlaid birds is very good, they’re just not my thing. I’m too much of a puritan stylistically – I like Georgian furniture and Joe Manton inspired guns.
Finish, wood to metal, and metal to metal fit are all excellent, meantime, on to the Gold. The gun weighs in at seven three quarter pounds, just about right for a modern 30” sporter. It come to face and shoulder nicely too with good stock shapes but feels a smidgen muzzle heavy. Speaking of muzzles, one notes that they have extended, Briley-made, stainless steel, Invector chokes. Five come with the gun which also comes packed in a useful plastic case with its various bits and manuals.
The well made barrels have ventilated joining ribs and a 10mm sighting rib with shallow centre channel and twin beads (as Brownings tend to have, though many remove the middle bead as an unnecessary distraction). The barrels are mononbloc, of course, and have been since midway through production on the 425 (previous Japanese made Brownings were demi-lump as Belgian made Superposed guns still are).
Monobloc barrels - as made by Browning - are probably some of the best available today. I would not like to make a call between the two Big B’s – Browning and Beretta - who both make superb barrels. Perhaps, in the past, Beretta had the edge because of the durability of their chromed ultra tough tubes. But 525s now have chromed tubes and chambers too, a big practical improvement (no more rusty chambers). The joining of the barrels to monobloc is especially good, moreover, almost invisible. All things considered, I do not think you will find a better pair of monobloc barrels anywhere (with the possible exception of the screwed in tubes on the new Purdey Sporter).
These barrels have short forcing cones as Browning still prefer 0.4” as opposed to the 1.5 - 2” which I would prefer, and bores are a standard 18.4mm in diameter (although many other Browning models are back-bored a few millimetres wider these days). I would favour a longer cone and broader bores, but the practical effects are slight. My impression is that the bigger bores reduce felt recoil, they are meant to do this by reducing friction (in fact, I wonder sometimes if longer cones and bigger bores just reduce operating pressures). Benefits of both modifications are most noticeable when using large pellets and heavy payloads. In these cases, there can be some significant improvement to patterns as well.
The action of the Premium Gold is the usual Miroku style modification of the Browning Superposed, slightly simplified by dispensing with an attached forend and associated lever work which requires not only a more complex forend design, but an extended keyway in the action. It is a great design though, a little higher than some with a full width hinge pin, but tough as hell. The trigger is inertia operated, the blade is adjustable, and pulls are adequate. There are conventional under barrel lumps and everything is well engineered. The Browning design, much copied, also uses a full width bolt which comes out of the bottom of the action face and engages a slot beneath the bottom chamber. It all adds up to a very strong design.
The Gold functioned perfectly when dry tested. The top lever, safety and barrel selector cum safety were all good (as one expects with this manufacturer who have built their reputation on consistent quality in all departments). Hammer ejectors (contained in the forend) were efficient and well timed, the strikers – struck by coil spring powered hammers – were powerful, and the trigger pulls not too heavy, although not quite as crisp as they might have been. No ‘boxlock’, using helical springs can match a leaf sprung gun in this respect. Most people would call this gun a boxlock because of the short action style, though, technically, a boxlock must have the springs contained with the box of the action body.
The stock of the test gun was of typical Browning pattern. The basic design is sound and there is a Schnabel forend of classic type. I was not especially fond of the rounded borders to the chequering panels – but that was a personal thing again. The stock was a good shape as noted, and very nicely finished. I did not take the measurements because I knew what they were as soon as I mounted the gun – length of pull 14 7/8” (with black plastic butt plate). Drop 1 3/8” and 2 ¼” and very slight right-hand cast. What else is there left to say. The chequering was very good. The grip filled the hand well, though I thought the comb might have had a little more taper.
The Premium Gold shot predictably but did not float my boat to the degree that some Brownings and Mirukes do. I am very picky, however. Felt recoil was a little above the average. There was a little vibration on firing. Pointing qualities were nothing special, but many like neutral handling in a competition gun. However, the gun was very well put together, and some people will love the inlays. I also note that standard grade 525s now offer splendid value when compared to other guns (as do Mirokus – the Grade 5 qualifying as my best buy – a fabulous gun for the money).
At an RRP of £1,700 this gun does not look expensive either. It could easily do double service in a pigeon hide, or indeed, on the driven game field. It might also make a useful skeet gun.
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