Preview:The Browning Maxus Semi-Auto Shotgun

There has been a lot of attention surrounding Browning's new semi-auto gas gun; deservedly so. The Browning Gold / Silver line of repeaters has been extraordinarily successful for the Browning brand, certainly the most successful gas-operated shotguns in their history, and their most popular semi-auto's since the Auto-Five. I've has universally excellent luck with Browning Gold's, and the basic action sounds like it will be around for a long, long while. I'm happy for that, to be sure.

Shotgunners can be a somewhat fickle lot; we long for the "new" as we simultaneously lament the traditional styling, and our sometimes hopeful (if not mythical) view of what craftsmanship used to be. We say we 'need' 3-1/2 in. chambered 12 gauges, then we carp a bit when those same 12 gauges don't cycle 20 gauge (or even 28 gauge) payloads. No wonder gunmakers seem to have a rough time deciding what we really want: we don't seem to know ourselves one hundred percent of the time.

I had the opportunity to run half of a case of AA's through a Browning Maxus 3-1/2 inch chambered model in Orlando, and I was favorably impressed. I found the gun to be light, well-balanced, and responsive . . . as well as soft-shooting. Despite shooting target loads (on a gun that was shot very, very hard all day) there was no hint of any cycling issues.

Whenever a pre-production firearm is given a quick once-over, it is bound to be someone inaccurate compared to the finished, general production run article. So, I can make only a few general comments. The Maxus answers a lot of questions, whether people really asked them or not.

For starters, the Maxus retains the speed loading and magazine cut-off associated with Browning since the two-piece shell carrier was added to the A-5. The Maxus has "Speed Load Plus," which means speed unloading as well that reminds me how quick the B2000 was/is to unload. While it is hard to say if the Inflex recoil pad completely lives up to the hype, it has been favorably received on the Cynergy, and it does a fine job on a recently tested X-bolt .270 Winchester. In any case, it is a far better pad than the vinyl crucifix generic vented pads too often found.

Some folks have found the Browning Golds to feel a "bit heavy up front." This is certainly not the case with the Maxus, that has the slimmest forearm that I recall ever being on a Browning gas auto. Rather than a forearm cap, the forearm latch is similar to O/U treatments meaning it is effortless and quick to remove. Golds have always been very, very easy to maintain-- the Maxus appears to be faster and easier yet to give the magazine tube and gas system a quick clean after heavy shooting.

As a pre-production shotgun, the forearm on the gun I was shooting seemed slightly loose-- something I was assured will not be the case with regular production. The trigger was crisp and clean, if not especially light. I'd expect production models to fall within the current Browning trigger specification of five pounds plus for their field autoloading shotguns.

It's not hard to see where Browning is targeting the Maxus: the Maxus is actually a bit lighter than the comparably harsh-shooting Benelli Super Black Eagle II, a modified blow-back repeater both loved and hated. The Benelli is also notoriously harsh on the wallet as well. The Maxus is noticeable quicker than the comparably ponderous Beretta Xtrema II and easier to clean as well. Better-handling than both Italian offerings, dramatically more affordable than the Benelli and far more at home serving dual-duty for upland use than the Xtrema II . . . it looks like Browning is going to be a real headache for the Beretta Holdings group with this model. Clearly softer shooting than a SBE, my impression is that it is a bit softer and smoother than the heavier Xtrema II as well. The Maxus is easier and faster to load and unload than both of them to boot.

It is of course premature to conclude that the Maxus has obsoleted both the Benelli SBE II and the Beretta Xtrema II in one fell swoop, but this appears to be a very good possibility. Expect a full review of the production Browning Maxus as soon as it becomes available later this year.

Copyright 2009 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.



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