The Real Belgian Browning

Dear Technoid;

I want to get my hands on a Browning Superposed/B-25, however, I want to make sure that I don’t get hold on a B-125. How can you tell the difference (between a true custom gun and a fancy B-425/Citori)?

Hans Denmark

Dear Hans,

You are really talking about three guns here: B25, B125 and Citori (325, 425 etc). The B25 is the classic Belgian O/U that started it all. Many knowledgable shooters still feel that it is the best O/U ever made. After wading my way through a bunch of B25s, Krieghoffs, Perazzis and Berettas, I kept only the B25s. Obviously opinions vary, but the Belgian gun is my favorite O/U.

It is easy to tell the difference between the Belgian B-25 and the Japanese Citoris. The Belgian gun says “Made in Belgium” and the Japanese guns say “Made in Japan”. Simple enough. There are obviously a ton of mechanical and cosmetic differences, but a quick glance at the “Made in…” on the barrel will save you some time.

The problem comes when you get into the B125. This was a sneaky play by Browning and they ought to be ashamed of it. It isn’t a bad gun, but was sold for big dollars as sort of a Belgian gun and it really isn’t.

The B125 is 98% parts interchangeable with the Japanese Citori, but it is assembled from those parts in Belgium so that it carries the Belgian Browning cachet. The only real Belgian Browning B25 part on the gun is the forend latch. The B125 was intentionally given the B25 forend latch because that single part is the most noticeable exterior difference between the Belgian and Japanese guns. The Belgian forend latch goes all the way down the the action shoulders. The Japanese forend latch forms a little island surrounded by wood in the forend.

Browning gave the basically Japanese B125 the B25 forend latch because they knew that was what showed up the most when the gun was in a dealer’s gun rack. Other than that forend latch, everything else that I have been able to see on the gun is 100% Citori as made by Miroku in Japan.

How do you tell the B125 from the B25? The easiest way is that if the gun has screw chokes, it is the B125. The B25s don’t have screw chokes because the barrels are too thin. That’s what makes the B25s feel so good and what makes the Japanese guns feel so clunky if you get them in the longer versions.

I don’t know if ALL B125s came with screw chokes. Miroku makes barrels both ways and may have made some solid choke B125 barrels. In that case, you will have to inspect the ejectors. I forget the name of the part, but there is one on each side of the breech end of the barrel. It has a hook on the bottom and engages the ejector proper which holds the rim of the shell. The Japanese guns and the B125s have an oval hole in this part. The real Belgian B25s have a round hole, not an oval one. This is a sure sign of whether your gun is a real Belgian B25 or a 125.

Although I am quick to admit that I prefer the real Belgian B25s, I should also add that the B125 is an excellent gun, as is the Citori. The Japanese guns don’t shoot their ribs loose or break ejectors as often as the Belgian guns. Still, the B25s have a better feel to me.

There is a little difference in prices too. Over here in the US, the Citori/Mirokus cost the least the B-125s are in the middle and the B-25s are the most for new ones. They may look about the same, but the difference shows up in the price tag.

Best regards,

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

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