Browning Gold 3-1/2″ Problems

Dear Technoid:

Some time ago, I purchased the new Browning Gold 3 1/2 Hunter and have been less than satisfied with the gun. I’ve hunted ducks and geese, and on every hunt it has failed to eject the hulls at the worst time. This happens whether I fire 2 3/4, 3″, or 3 1/2″ shells.

I’ve talked to Browning and they recommended keeping the rails wet with lubricant. I tried Breakfree CLP and Breakfree LP with no success.

I’ve taken it apart and cleaned it many times, thinking this would help. After every cleaning, I lubricate all of the parts very well, but on the very next hunt the gun will fail to eject the shells at one time or another. The local Browning factory authorized gunsmith gave me a new plug that he said Browning said would fix the problem (it’s about 1/4 inch longer than the original), but that didn’t help either.

Since I shoot sporting clays also, I can confidently say that the gun has had at least 1000 rounds fired though it, so it should be broken in. I like the versatility of the gun, but you can imagine my frustration. Do you have any other suggestions short of sending the gun to Browning? What do you know about the reliability of the new Gold 3 1/2 Hunter? Would you keep the gun, or would you get rid of it? If you got rid of it, would you get, the Browning Gold Hunter (3″), or would you get the Beretta? Any suggestion is appreciated.


Dear Jim,

The Browning Gold was supposed to compete and beat the 3-1/2″ Benelli. Yours is the first real report I have had on the gun, so I really don’t have any specific fixes for you.

It was interesting to note that when Browning came out with the 3″ Gold, they said that it would shoot ALL 2-3/4″ and 3″ shells. Remington said exactly the same thing about their 11-87. Both manufacturers now make clay target versions of those guns with 2-3/4″ only barrels. Why would they do this if their 3″ chambered barrels handled light target loads?

The fact that your 3-1/2″ Gold doesn’t like “anything” indicates that there is another problem though. Since I haven’t spent any real time with the design and you don’t really describe the exact nature of the malfunction all that I can suggest is that you slowly cycle dummy blank shells through the gun and look for burrs. Over the years when one of my gas guns goes sour I run dummys through it in the shop and can often pick up where it is hanging up and what is causing it. If you can borrow another 3-1/2″ Gold and work the two side by side, you can often spot a problem.

Browning has pretty good service, better than Beretta, Benelli or Remington, but sending it back will always take a looong time and is never a guarantee that they will catch the problem. When you send any gun back for factory servicing, the only thing that you can be certain of is that you won’t get it back for a while.

Buy another gun? Up to you. If you really like the feel of the gun, it might make sense to hang on to it until (and if) you can work the problems out. That gun ought to work properly with at least one type of shell. Since it jams with everything, it makes me think that there is a small manufacturing flaw, burr or broken part somewhere, rather than a design flaw. These “do everything” guns usually don’t shoot everything equally well, but they generally do handle the heavier shells properly.

I will post this message in the hope that some of our other readers may be able to shed some light on the 3-1/2″ Browning Gold and tell us if they have had any problems or fixes.

Best regards,

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

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6 Responses to Browning Gold 3-1/2″ Problems

  1. Russell Wadsworth says:

    I own 2 3 1/2″ gold hunters and both of mine do the same thing. 10-20 shots and neither will completely eject the spent shell. Feel like I wasted a lot of money.


  2. OldRandy says:

    Browning Gold 3 1/2 has a two-stage ejection system to handle the long shells. It must be firm-shouldered, not soft-shouldered, to work correctly. Keep your shoulder hard in there behind the gun and it should work ok. And keep it clean, as always. Ammo can make a difference; one popular brand of dirty, stinky, smoky American-made shells requires a lot more cleaning of my Browning Gold 3 1/2. It’s still the best of my three semis. Browning…the best there is!


  3. Mike j Lanska says:

    Great information. I WAS interested in the Browning Gold Hunter 12 gauge. I think, I’m leaning toward the Winchester RX4 instead


  4. Jeff Akers says:

    I have a Browning Gold 3 1/2. I mostly use in for ducks and doves.

    The early Browning Gold 3 1/2’s (First year or two) seemingly all had a problem with reliably cycling 3 1/2 inch shells. This was fixed on the later versions, at least so says Browning.

    My Browning Gold 3 1/2 is a early version. I really like the shotgun. It is very reliably and cycles 2 3/4 and 3 inch shells without issues. It will even cycle my 7/8 oz. reloads at 1200 FPS. I have never tried a 3 1/2 shell in the gun so I am not sure what it would do. I am told that it will stove pipe!

    Browning is aware of the problems with the early Gold 3 1/2 and the gun has to be sent into them for repair/retrofit.


  5. S. says:

    I have owned a 3 1/2 gold hunter since they came out 20 yrs. ago or so. When I first got it I took it to the skeet range and it worked great until about the 50th shell when it began to “stovepipe” the 2 3/4″ shells I was using. This repeated itself after I cleaned it thoroughly (after another 50 shots or so). I learned to spray a lubricant in the action and chamber to keep it going. I noted after hunting with it that if it wasn’t cleaned after the hunt ,even after just a few shots, It would quickly start hanging up the next day. I’ve never ran 50 3″ or 3 1″2 shells through it so I don’t know if the same thing would happen.

    I now know what has to be done to keep the gun working and I consider it a specialty gun for waterfowl that points and swings well for me with mild recoil. I have seen similar problems with other Gold’s including the sporting clays models. I wonder if Browning just got in a rush to get these out on the market before more thorough testing. I know the jamming or stove piping is not uncommon with this model.


  6. jon bastable says:

    I have a Gold Hunter, bought in 2002 with lots of shells through the gun – sporting clay’s and hunting. Have had the gun stovepipe during the eject cycle; often it’s a bad shell. Have sent the gun to Browning for firing pin issues, but not for ejection problems.

    Some of the issues that could cause a misfire: action spring, gas piston, plastic build-up in the chamber and weak magazine spring, burr on one of the ejectors… I’m sure there’s more!

    Sending the gun to Browning might be the best solution…


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