Browning Arms, Lousy Triggers, and Weird Theories of “Liability”

Stanley M. writes:


First, thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with all of us in your writings.  Yesterday, I picked up my new Browning Maxus shotgun.  The reason I bought a Maxus is first, because of brand loyalty and second, because I shot one and liked it.  As I expected, based on your articles, the trigger was heavy.  In fact, it was unreasonable, measuring over 7 lbs with my RCBS trigger pull scale.  I called Browning and Val (not Val Browning!) told me in an apologetic fashion that they have to ship them that way for liability reasons.  I asked him if they would at least bring it down to between 5 and 6 lbs and he told me I would have to find a competent gunsmith.  Thanks to you, I know about Bill Springfield.

However, I am a little reluctant to have trigger work done on a new gun.  My fear is that I might have problems with the gun that Browning might not take care of because it has been altered.  So, I took some abrasive compound and put it where the parts (trigger and sear?) rub together.  I dry fired it hundreds of times while not allowing the hammer to completely fall by blocking it with my finger.  Then, I cleaned and lubed it and now I have a 6 lb trigger.  Certainly, that's still not ideal but it is an improvement.  My Beretta autos have triggers in the 4-5 lb range.  I'm not sure why they get away with a decent trigger while Browning does not.  I've got a set of Carlson waterfowl tubes and I'm going to pattern my gun with the steel shot I intend to use in the duck blind. 

I'm going to practice and practice some more before I get in the blind.  My hunting friends mostly use Benellis and I've got to be able to shoot well with my Browning or they're going to give me hell! Thanks for taking the time to read my email.  Again, I appreciate you sharing your experiences for the benefit of the public.

Hello Stanley,
Yes, it is a puzzling situation. For many years now, Browning has had horribly heavy triggers on their autoloading and pump shotguns. For example, this Gold 20 Gauge was tested eight years ago: . Its only problem was an unacceptably heavy 6-1/2 pound trigger. You might think this would be an embarrassment to a brand that claims to be “The Best There Is.” It should be, but they are apparently immune from it. It is hard to believe that Browning triggers remain so very poor, when far more economical guns (Mossberg 930, Weatherby SA-08, Franchi Affinity) have remarkably better triggers out of the box virtually every time.

The horse manure you have been told about “liability” is ridiculous. When you pull a trigger, it is supposed to fire the gun. Now, really, where is the liability? How is it that Browning spouts “liability” as a lame excuse for their poor triggers? Are Mossberg, Franchi, Weatherby somehow immune from the special liability that Browning has dreamed up for themselves?

The advice to just go to a gunsmith is beyond odd, as well. By what theory could Browning be liable, but a good local gunsmith is not? It must be truly embarrassing for a major brand name of firearms to admit that their customer service department really has no "qualified gunsmiths," so they are forced to tell you to just go find one on your own.

The recent Browning Citori 725s (at least the three that I've tested) have all had excellent, crisp, light triggers. It normally is the work of an intoxicated legal staff to claim a proper trigger on a pump or an autoloader mysteriously creates liability, but 725 Citori's are somehow immune from this mysterious liability malady as are Browning X-Bolt rifles that have light triggers. Browning (like many major manufacturers, including Ruger) has no written warranty. It would be another strange invention to claim that trigger work would void a non-existent warranty from Browning, even if it existed, on an unrelated part of the gun. They have already told you “too bad, so sad” on your defectively heavy trigger (over 7 lbs.) on your Maxus, so it can't get much worse than that.

To be fair about this, the recently tested Benelli Ethos has a sub-standard trigger. And, two Benellis that are often used by me (Vinci and an M2 20 gauge), both went back to Benelli to have their triggers lightened, which Benelli did with no charge or hassle.

I don't expect a competition-grade trigger on a hunting autoloading shotgun, like you get with a Fabarm XLR-5 Velocity for example. But, a reasonable trigger in the 4 – 4-1/2 lb. area is only reasonable, and every factory Browning Auto-Five and Double Auto I've had has had a factory trigger at least that good. Browning has no problem with triggers 60 years ago, but they do today. Beretta's logo could be “500 Years Unmarred By Progress,” but Browning is trying their best to catch up, at least with their autoloaders.

Apparently, many folks do not consider triggers to be a priority, or, liking the basic gun are resigned to sending out their trigger guards to Cole Gunsmithing, Art's Gun Shop, and so forth as just part of the purchase price of a Browning autoloader.

Only when enough consumers take the time to write to Browning and letting them know they lost a sale due to their obnoxiously heavy, sub-standard, cheesy approach to triggers will that ever change. Companies have been forced to upgrade their standards before, though.

Savage Arms embarrassed the rifle industry with the Accu-Trigger, and it changed. Glock embarrassed the autoloading pistol market, and it changed. Browning can certainly do better with their shotgun triggers, they did just that with the 725 Citori triggers. They just haven't gotten the message on their autoloading and slide-action shotguns just yet. Once Browning finally understands that the only thing liable going on is that consumers are liable to buy something else, it will change . . . but not before then.

Copyright 2014 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.



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