Browning Fit And Longevity

Dear Technoid:

I have some questions revolving around the Browning 325 that I have not been able to get answers to.

First, I have a 12 gauge 325 with 30″ barrels that I absolutely love – I am able to shoot it very well and it seems to fit (I do have to make an effort to keep my head down to keep both beads lined up) but if I keep my head down on the stock like I am supposed to, it tends to beat me up pretty bad on my cheek and after two rounds of skeet or sporting clays I tend start flinching pretty bad with an inevitable corresponding decline in my scores. I have even come away from a long day of shooting with a slightly black eye.

I have considered having an adjustable comb installed but after reading one of the articles in your fine report, it appears that I might be able to have the stock bent?? Have you seen this problem with Brownings before?

I know that the subject of gun fit is not something you can diagnose over the Internet but I would appreciate any input that you might have.

My next question is about the 325 in 20 gauge – I have only seen one and I would have bought it if it would have had screw in chokes.

Did Browning make the 325 in 20 gauge with screw in chokes and with porting/back boring like my 12 gauge? The thought of a matching pair of 325s is very appealing to me.

What is/are the difference(s) between the Browning 425 and the 325 ?? I have been told that the 325 has lighter (thinner) barrels and is a “European style” shotgun but I have not been able to confirm this.

And finally, as to the longevity of these guns, how many rounds should a 325 be able to with stand in its useful life – I have had people tell me that they are rather delicate and can only be expected to last for approximately 12 to 15 thousand rounds and I have also been told that they should last at least 2 to 3 times as long as that or more.

This is why I seek your wisdom

Any Help on the above will be greatly appreciated.

Best Regards, Lyle

Dear Lyle,

If you haven’t been able to get answers elsewhere, I’m not sure how much help I can be. Most of the stuff I write is just stolen from people who actually know what they are talking about. My major contribution to shotgunning science is that I have made most of the mistakes possible. What ever is left has to be right.

Getting whacked in the chops by your gun has little to do with the brand of gun and everything to do with how it fits you. It might also have something to do with your particular shooting style. The gun fit and shooting style are so intertwined that it is hard to separate them.

Face slap (which is what you describe is happening to you) can be a function of stock height, but it is probably a combination of stock length, cast, and slope of comb more than height. If you go the adjustable comb route, make sure that the comb is adjustable laterally for cast and for rake angle as well as height. The most comfortable stocks to shoot are always those that are longest, have the least cast, the most parallel (or even reverse) comb and the least pitch. Unfortunately, comfort does not always jibe with eye alignment so compromises must be made. The more compromises, the more pain. There it is.

Shooting style has much to do with gun fit. If you stand square to your gun, you will need a bunch of cast off. If you shoot across your body more like a rifle shooter, you will need little or none. If you shoot heads up, you need cast. If you crawl your stock, you can live with less. If you have a “good” firm left hand, you won’t need as much pitch. Ditto if you lean into your gun or mount outside the shoulder pocket. If you stand up straight and mount in the pocket, you’ll need more pitch. There is a ton of other stuff, but any decent fitter can take you through it.

A good stock bender can twist that walnut around like a pretzel. Check Black’s “Wing & Clay” book for a fitter in your area. The fitter will know a bender. Fitting is a dynamic process which involves actually shooting the gun. Don’t settle for one of these gunshop jobs where the guy looks at your eye over the rib of the gun.

An adjustable comb will do some of the things that a bending will do, but not all of them. Of course, with an adjustable comb, you can experiment and self-fit. If you are an experienced shooter, you can always fit yourself better than someone else can because you can take more time doing it.

I don’t go the adjustable route myself. Since most of the O/U and SxS guns I own came with too much cast, too little height and too little length, I simply taped junk onto the wood to get the right fit. Tape, shoot, retape, shoot, ad nauseam. When it is finally right, I lug it off to the bender with all the tape, recoil pad and stock shims dripping out of it and have it bent permanently. The gas guns are a piece of cake because you can adjust those with shims between the stock and receiver- factory shims if Beretta/Benelli or home made shims if the others.

One final thing about adjustable stocks: find out how much weight they will add. This could be important. Also, make sure that they have a secure method of holding their adjustments. Some of them work loose at the worst possible time.

Browning/Miroku 325 (the Japanese Brownings are made in a plant in Japan by Miroku, not by Browning) came both in a solid choke, lighter barrel model and also, I believe, in a screw choke heavier barrel model. I don’t think that it ever came backbored/ported in the screw choke model. The lighter barreled solid choke gun was usually an English grey-market import, though some of the may have come into the US via Browning.

The 425 is basically the same gun as the 325, with the exception of the manufacturing technique used in the monobloc area. The engraving pattern is slightly different, but other than that you will be hard pressed to tell any difference between a screw choke 325 and 425 20 gauge with screw chokes.

The useful life of any Japanese Browning Citori (all the models of the same gauge share the same action) is considerably in excess of the 10 to 15 K one of your sources claims. The longevity of particular guns varies because of the way the owner may handle the gun and also due to the kind of shell used. A hunter wears his gun out from the outside with falls, rust, dings and general exterior wear and tear. It doesn’t have much to do with the interior mechanics. A target shooter wears his gun out from the inside by shooting a ton of rounds, though the outside of the gun generally is less abused.

I think that any Citori ought to hold up for about 50,000 rounds of target loads before loosening up enough to merit a trip back to Art’s Gun Shop for a rebuild. The early Citoris had some trouble with the spring which operates the opening lever, but I haven’t seen that recently. A rebuild on either the Japanese or Belgian Brownings isn’t a big deal and shouldn’t cost too much. Andy Duffy had his 325 competition gun rebuilt a couple of times and each time it came back just like new. There is nothing on most modern O/Us that you can’t repair or replace when it wears out. I have never seen a Japanese or Belgian Browning that could not be rebuilt back to like new, other than ones which have been abused.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC

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