Browning B-80


Dear Technoid,

I often have seen references to the Browning B-80 in discussions of Beretta gas guns. But I seemed to have missed the relationship. Is the B-80 a copy of a particular Beretta, a separate model built by Beretta for Browning or just a wantabe type copy incorporating some Beretta like features.

It seems I run across a lot of used B-80’s but never any gas Beretta’s is this telling me something ?

Enlighten me with truth or a reasonable facsimile there of Oh Great Technoid

Bub

Dear Bub,

What follows is indeed a reasonable fax of the truth about the sainted Browning B-80.

Browning was “between” gas gun designs in 1980 after the B-2000 failure and cut a deal with Beretta to have Beretta sell them the parts to the Beretta 302. Browning designed a mini-hump back receiver ( a bit like the A-5, but also a good bit like the current square back 390 field gun) and assembled everything at FN’s plant in Portugal. Browning also put a stupid stock on the gun just to make sure that it wasn’t a sales success- as they have done with every gas gun that they have ever manufactured, including the current Gold.

The resulting Beretta patent B-80 was manufactured from 1981 through 1988 and came with either an alloy or steel receiver, depending on model. The first guns were solid choke, but half way through the run Browning introduced the short Invectors. These were the ones whose marking bore absolutely no relationship to their actual constrictions- just like the current Invector Plus of today.

The B-80 had all the same problems in the American market as the Beretta 302 did. Advertised to “shoot everything” the 3″ chambered guns would not handle target loads. You either had to drill the gas ports out to .125″ or live with heavy loads. The average guy didn’t know about this and the B-80s suffered exactly the same fate as every other gas operated semi-auto Browning has made before or since. (Note: the successful A-5 is recoil operated.)

I ended up buying four B-80s, three for friends and one for myself. Once you drilled the ports out, did something about the stock and miked the chokes to find out what you really had, it was a really good gun. The steel receiver on my model makes the gun shoot smoother and slicker than my 303s. I really wish that Beretta would make some of their 390s with a steel receiver option for target shooters. It isn’t a strength thing (the Beretta alloy receivers hold up exceptionally well and don’t seem to get “eaten up” the way the Browning Golds do), but the steel puts weight in the center of the gun and really smooths it out.

I still have my B-80 lurking in the back of the gun cabinet ready to donate body parts to my 303s. Everything is interchangeable except the chokes. In my opinion the B-80 with the steel receiver was in many ways a better gun than the 302, except that Beretta got the stock and the receiver profile right and Browning didn’t.

In 1988 Browning gave up on the B-80 because their A-500 was ready for the market. Of course the A-500, soon to become the G-500 (gas) and R-500 (recoil) was a total disaster with an even stupider stock and, if possible, uglier receiver. The entire American market heard that bomb go off. At least three people bought them. Merciful death for the 500 line came in ’93.

It has taken Browning quite a while to recover from the 500 series debacle and come up with the current Gold. Did I mention that Browning puts stupid stocks on their semis? Go try a Gold and tell me if they have learned anything. Uh huh. All this is even stranger when you realize just how good the stock configurations on their O/Us are. Dumb ‘n dumber.

The B-80 steel receivered gas gun was the best gas gun Browning has ever produced. That is because it was made by Beretta.

Best regards,

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

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