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