Mike is shaken, but not entirely stirred, by the new Browning 725 Black Edition, which features some clever and impressive mechanical changes

We have the perfect gun to cut a dash with on the clay layouts this month: the stylish new Black Edition Browning 725. If James Bond were searching for a clay busting machine this might well fit the bill. A 30” designated sporter, it doesn’t come with spare mags, telescopic sight or sound moderator, but it is packed in a tough gunmetal grey ABS travel case – perfect for the boot of the “Ashton” Martin – and comes fully equipped with five advanced Invector DS chokes and two spare gold-plated trigger blades. Balkan Sobranie eat your heart out!

As the name suggests, the thing that sets this gun apart from its more pedestrian stablemates is the deep, dark and dangerous matt black action finish. The engraving, such as it is, consists of four intersecting wavy lines and a ‘007’, correction, ‘B725’ logo set in gold. Thus the action is very similar to that on the standard silver-actioned sporter. For my money, however, the aesthetics are much improved in black which also highlights the gold detailing well. Standard of finish – as one expects from Brownings made in Japan (as this one is) or, indeed, Belgium – is first class. All metal work is especially well presented. The woodwork is nicely oiled and (laser) chequered. Metal-to-metal and wood-to-metal fit are all excellent. This is a lot of gun for the money when compared to some today with less respected pedigrees.

Bringing the 725 to face and shoulder does not dispel the good first impressions. It feels quite solid at about 8lbs – but it’s an ideal weight for a serious 30” sporter. There is a slightly forward heavy balance, but not excessively so. The only significant negative for me was that I did not especially like the form of the fairly pronounced palm swell. It seemed to force my hand into a cramped position. Were I to buy this model, I might be tempted to have it removed – there is plenty of wood there.

Anything else? Not much – the tulip fore-end (as Browning refer to a schnabel) was well proportioned practically speaking, but has a rather odd modernistic shape to its front. I would have preferred a rounded pattern as it does not restrict hand position and usually works aesthetically, too. Comments on the palm swell notwithstanding, the gun certainly feels comfortable and secure when mounted. The gripping surfaces offer plenty of purchase, and the 12mm Inflex recoil pad was well shaped without the vice of being too flat (20 and 25mm options are available). It is made from a high-tech polymer that is highly efficient at absorbing recoil.

Mechanically, the gun impresses. Like other 725s, it is, of course, inspired by the ever popular B25 Superposed, but the Browning designers made some clever changes in the new, much modernised model. Although a full width cross pin and traditional Browning bolting have been retained (in fact, hinging bearing surface has been increased), the action has been lowered and generally streamlined. The works have been refined, too. The single trigger on the 725 is mechanical and seems to offer improved pulls compared to earlier generic B25-style guns.

Bores of the 3” chambered, monobloc, and fleur-de-lys proofed for steel barrels are back-bored, like most modern Brownings. They also boast extended forcing cones and a good 10mm sighting rib. At the muzzle end, the clever DS chokes are unconventional in two respects: they are threaded at the front – unlike most interchangeable chokes – and have a clever copper ring gas seal to their rear. This is a real improvement on most other designs and largely avoids the leak of gas into the threads and between choke and barrel walls.

The stock of this 725 is made from American walnut of good quality, which is well coloured and pleasantly ‘fiddleback’ figured on the test gun. It has a full pistol grip with palm swell, as noted. 
The fore-end looks a little different from most, with a less pronounced schnabel effect, as well as the slightly unusual front form, as noted. The Deeley fore-end fastener is good.

I also liked the measurements. Length of pull was a whisker over 14¾”, drop was 1½” at the nose of the comb and 2¼” to the rear, which I might have raised slightly as 21/8” is my usual recommendation.

Tech Spec

n Make: Browning

n Model: 725 Black Edition

n Bore: 12

n Barrels: 30”

n Chamber: 3” with fleur-de-lys steel shot proof

n rib: 10

n weight: 8lbs approx.

n RRP: £2,544 (£2,052 for standard sporter)

We like

n The black action finish

n The DS chokes

n The quality of manufacture

We dislike

n The palm swell

n The front design of the fore-end