Rebuilding An O/U

Dear Technoid,

I recently purchased a Browning 325 European model. I am very happy with the gun even though it has seen quite a bit of use over the last seven years. My question is in regard to the way the gun falls open when released to eject and reload.

Newer over-unders seem to be a great deal more difficult to open and close. As there has been other custom work done, could it be that a procedure was done to assist in the opening (something like what is done as an option to SxS doubles) or is this just a good deal of usage.

If from excessive wear can you point me to someone who can tighten up or rebuild a Euro Browning 325?

Thank you for improving my shotgunning.



Dear F.B.,

The Miroku designed Browning 325, as well as virtually every other standard type of O/U with which I am familiar, are strictly manual openers. There may be exceptions to this, but they do not come readily to mind. Most SxS guns are also manual openers, with some notable exceptions based on the early Beesley assist open design and other fully self opening designs. Some of the London side lock makers incorporated the action leaf springs to assist opening or added a separate set of springs in the forend area. While possible in the O/U, the basic trigger plate action of the O/U does not readily lend itself to this.

Your gun probably just has a little age on it. When makers are setting up the specifications for mass produced guns, they want them to start off just a little bit tight and “sticky” so that they will break in. Like a favorite pair of jeans (the old kind that actually started out dark blue, not “pre worn”), a gun goes through stages of life. Mass produced guns ideally should start a bit tight, spend most of the time “just right” and end up loose before a trip back to the gunsmith.

The fact that your 325 opens easily does not necessarily mean that it is loose enough to merit a trip back to the gunsmith. There is good looseness and bad looseness. A good way to test for inappropriate looseness is to close the (empty) gun and then take the forend off. Now hold the gun with both hands by the stock and wiggle it. If you can feel the barrel move against the receiver the gun may be “off the face” a bit and have excess headspace (barrels not closing tightly against the standing breech). I once had a Perazzi I shot until it would close on a business card, but that was carrying it too far.

If the monobloc/standing breech joint is a bit loose, it is probably time for a new locking tongue and/or to get the hinge pin rolled or replaced. This is pretty standard stuff and just about any gun shop should be able to do it for you. Art’s Gun Shop (314-944-3630) in Missouri specializes in Brownings and has an excellent track record. I highly recommend them. It is not an overly expensive operation and they will give you a quote once they have looked at the gun.

One thing to watch for in the older Citoris is a weak opening lever spring. As the spring weakens (and it started life a little too weak in those guns) the gun may develop the tendency to open when you fire it. This will definitely get your attention the first time it happens. A new $5 spring solves it. I strongly recommend that this spring be replaced as a matter of course during any maintenance on a heavily used Citori.

As a matter of fact, when I send a gun back for a little tightening session, I usually have them also replace the firing pins and related action springs. I leave the ejector springs alone as I like “soft” ejectors, especially on Belgian B-25s which tend to eat them. The Japanese guns are more reliable in this area, less so in others.

Your Citori/325 is a well designed gun and should have many rebuilds in it. Sporting clays champion Andy Duffy shot a 325 for quite a few years and had his gun rebuilt three or four times. Each time it came back from the shop good as new. There is just about nothing in there that you cannot fix or replace forever.

Best regards,
Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid
(Often in error, but never in doubt.)

An alert reader read the above and mentioned that he thought that the Ruger O/U design incorporated an assist opening via the ejector springs in the forend. This weekend I borrowed one and, although the owner was not anxious for me to disassemble his gun right there on the FITASC course, the gun certainly did seem to have an assisted opening.
Score: Readers 1, Technoid 0.
See, you shouldn’t believe everything you read. – BCB

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1 Response to Rebuilding An O/U

  1. Mark Britton says:

    I agree with what you are saying! As for Arts gun shop years ago he fixed a Browning BSS that three other gunsmiths didn’t have a clue about. Laughed out loud to me over the phone about it before I sent it too him. And didn’t charge me a dime to fix it ! Yea he knows Brownings.


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