Category Archives: Shotgun Reviews

Winchester 12g O/U Select Sporter Shotgun

When you hear people talk about a Winchester gun you automatically think of the classic Winchester lever action rifle of the Old West and the cowboy jacking rounds into the chamber to ward off attacking Indians. Whilst these rifles are very fine guns indeed (I have fired an original Winchester Model 1873 whilst on holiday in Tombstone Arizona in 2008) Winchester also makes shotguns and I am a proud owner of one these guns.

Nowadays the Herstal Group own the Winchester brand along with Browning and FN. The Winchester I now own was made in the FN factory in Liege, Belgium but is still a very good gun indeed. When I went shopping for my first shotgun I was originally looking at some guns around £600-£700 mark but then I spotted a legendary name nestling amongst the Browning’s and Berretta’s. Winchester. Now as a former Old West re-enactor I do admit to having a soft spot for Winchester so I was immediately drawn to them. I asked if I could have a closer look at one so the gun shop owner unlocked one and handed it to me. Immediately I was struck by how nice it felt in my hand and at £1300 was within my budget for a shotgun. But, unusually for me, I held back as we were due to visit another gun shop the next day and I had the FEO coming round to check my security for my change of address on my certificate.

Picking up the new Winchester shotgun

The next day on a whim, we decided to visit another shop we’ve been recommended; Malmo Guns. They had only one O/U Winchester and I immediately fell in love with it. It had 30” barrels, adjustable chokes, adjustable stock, came in a abs case and with a combination trigger lock. But that is not what made this gun stand out from the rest. It was the furniture. The stock and fore grip were made from a grey laminate and it looked beautiful. The scroll work was just as nice but also subtle (I don’t like in your face engraving as to me a gun is there to used on the range rather than stuck in a cabinet to be admired). It was also £200 cheaper than the Winchesters I saw the previous day. I was cursing the FEO as he took my certificate away to be updated but the gun shop came to my rescue and said I could reserve the gun with a small deposit. The gun was mine. I paid for the gun in full and then waited for my certificate to be returned. A week later I had the certificate and the gun.

This particular gun is a Winchester Select Sporter 12 Gauge in Over/Under format. It comes in a red ABS case with the Winchester horse and rider logo emblazoned on it. When you open the case you are presented with the gun sitting in its foamed lined compartments with the tools, spare choke and trigger lock in a separate compartment. I found putting the gun together a bit tricky at first but that was probably due to my lack of experience and it has become easier as I have gotten used to it. The gun itself weighs a hefty 3.45 kilos (7.6 lbs) (hefty for me that is) but when you are shooting the gun it doesn’t feel like it is that heavy. The chokes supplied are Imp. Mod or ¾ choke, Mod or ½ choke and Skeet.

Winchester Select Sporter 12G

I first used the gun on a Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club day just 8 days after I picked the gun up. The recoil wasn’t as hefty as I expected. In fact, I found I had to really pull the stock into my shoulder to make the second barrel fire. Pointing the gun and tracking the clays was really easy with the Winchester. I needed to adjust the comb to make the gun fit to me but once it was properly set up and fitted my target hit rate shot up.

Close up of scroll work on Winchester Select Sporter

The trigger action is just right for me straight out of the box and has a good solid feel plus plenty of room inside the trigger guard for gloved hands on a cold winters day.

Would I recommend this gun as a novice clay shooter. The simple answer is yes i would. it feels like a much more expensive gun and is well presented both as a package in the case and as a working gun. It handles well and is very comfortable to shoot. It deserves the Winchester name.

Review: Browning 525

Browning 525

My Browning 525 was the first gun I bought (followed swiftly by my Browning Maxus already reviewed)

Having a love and interest in Browning firearms I was naturally drawn towards this brand for choosing my first guns. There were two 525s in the shop, one brand new and one second hand. I decided to purchase the second hand gun as it was a significant difference in price and was practically new. It also seemed to fit me slightly better.

Browning 525

I was permitted to try it on the clay ground next to the shops premises and I smashed every bird(although I admit they were not super challenging.)

The gun itself balances very well on me and fits superbly. I have noticed it can have quite a hard kick if not mounted correctly especially when using 3” magnum cartridges, a friend of mine also found this out due to repeatedly going into a terrible stance.

It is a very attractive gun with excellent artwork featuring Pheasants on one side and a Duck scene on the other. The birds themselves are gold coloured against a black background and really adds to the look and stands out against the dark wood and metal.

I use this gun both for rough shooting and clay target shooting and it performs very well for both tasks. Although I do prefer using my Maxus this is just down to personal preference and not a slight on the 525.

The gun itself is very easy to maintain and strip. As seen below it breaks down into three main parts allowing access for cleaning and general maintenance. I generally clean out the barrel with a brush and then wipe it through with a light oil or WD40. I add a light oil to the ejectors and other moving parts or a touch of grease where oil is not suitable.

Stripped down Browning 525 shotgun

I would certainly recommend the Browning 525 to anyone as it is a very solid gun and has never let me down.

The Specifications

Cartridge sizes: 2 ¾” – 3”
Proofed for Steel: Yes
Barrel length: 30”
Ejectors: Yes
Safety: Manual
Chokes: Yes(Came with full selection of extended chokes)

Review: Browning Maxus

I have always had a love of Browning firearms. I’m not sure where this interest has come from perhaps just from the ergonomics and aesthetics of the firearms or perhaps it is the fantastic reputation and innovation that has been shown by John M Browning and the company over the centuries. Unfortunately due to the sad state of affairs of UK firearms law I have thus far never been able to own or fire many of the firearms from this legendary name. It was with my interest in Browning firearms that  I was drawn towards choosing Browning Shotguns for my first purchase.I had shot clays for a few years but only fairly recently did I apply for my SGC.

I can remember being in the shop looking at all the guns when I picked up a Browning 525 O/U(which I will talk about in another article). The length and balance of the gun was perfect for me so I decided to purchase it. However I was also very keen to purchase a semi automatic shotgun and that is when the Maxus caught my eye. It stood apart from the others in the shop due to the eye catching finish and of course the “quick release” fore end.

I picked it up and again was amazed at how well it seemed to fit my frame as well as how light it was.  I left that day £2,500 lighter with 1 almost new 525 and a brand new Maxus  and I will never look back.

My particular model is the Maxus Sporting Carbon Fiber (pictured) which features a synthetic stock and forearms, aluminium receiver and coated steel barrel with a ventilated rib. It is chambered for 2 3/4″ -3″ magnum and is proofed for steel shot. In all it weighs in around 7lbs

Maxus Sporting Carbon Fiber

Browning Maxus Sporting Carbon Fiber

This was a favourite when participating in my first rough shoot as I felt it would be more forgiving of the wet(although with good maintenance this shouldn’t be an issue). The Dura-Touch® coating on the stock and fore end is also designed to aid in stopping heat loss as well as improving grip in wet conditions. Very much appreciated I can tell you!

The Maxus has many excellent features such as the quick release fore end which I have already mentioned but also a speed loader and a magazine empty.

The quick release is quite an innovative feature that aids in stripping down the gun for cleaning and maintenance. It functions similarly to the fore end on a traditional over under. You simply push a small button in and flick a lever up and the fore end simply slides off. This allows the rest of the gun to be stripped down.

Quick release mechanism for Browning Maxus

Quick Release Mechanism

To remove stock press button

To remove fore end press button

Pull lever out and slide fore end off

Pull lever out and slide fore end off

The speed loader is simple in operation and an excellent feature.  It allows you to leave the gun and magazine empty whilst walking but allows you to be ready to fire almost immediately if quarry presents itself unexpectedly. The principle of operation is simple. You leave the breech locked open and the magazine empty, when you load the first shot into the magazine it is immediately feed into the chamber and the breech block closes over ready to fire thus saving vital seconds fumbling to load directly into the breech.

The only down side to this feature is you cannot have 2 rounds in the magazine with the breech left open as they automatically feed into the chamber. Some models do feature a magazine disconnect which allows you to leave the breech open and have cartridges in the magazine.

The magazine discharge is another handy little feature on the Maxus which saves a bit of time and messing about. Just inside the magazine feed there is a little spring tab sticking out. If you wish to empty your gun you simply push this tab in and the cartridges will automatically feed  out of the magazine into your hand.

Browning Maxus Magazine Discharge

Magazine discharge tab (arrowed)

The Maxus also features Browning’s Power Drive Gas System. According to Browning this system ” has been designed to be more reliable in all conditions, fire a wider selection of loads, reduce recoil and cycle shells faster. The new Power Drive gas piston features large exhaust ports that effectively dump gases faster on heavy loads, while the piston has an approximately 20% longer stroke for superior reliability with light loads.”

Maintenance

Maintenance of the Maxus is very easy. The entire gun can be stripped down in less than 20 seconds(Faster with practice) after removing the quick release fore end the barrel, piston,spring and breech block to be removed.  I lubricate all moving parts with a light oil. Grease has been recommended to me for the breech block but I am going to monitor the effectiveness of this as I am wary of any grease getting turned into grinding paste.

Disassembled Browning Maxus

Disassembled Maxus showing barrel, magazine tube, gas piston and forend. Breech block is still in receiver

Browning Maxus Breech Block

Breech Block. To remove, cocking handle must be pulled out and breech closing button must be pressed to let breech slide out

After a lot of shooting you may also wish to clean the inside of the magazine tube out and lubricate it. This is fairly simple to do but if unsure you should always go to a professional gunsmith. To open up the magazine tube there is a little spring pin that must be pressed in whilst applying torque to the end cap. Once the pin is pressed in the cap should screw off as normal. Be careful when nearing the end of the thread as there is a very long spring inside under tension. When doing this I place a rag over the end cap and wear a pair of safety glasses.

Re-assembly is simply the reverse process. When putting the spring and end cap back on you may need assistance. Also the spring pin will need to be pressed in to allow it to screw in correctly.

Although I am a relatively new shooter I can say I am very happy with my choice(s) for my first shotguns and can see many years of happy reliable use ahead of me. The Maxus is ideal for new and experienced shooters alike. It is light, low recoil, accurate, reliable, easy to look after and most of all FUN!