I bought my first Browning last year from Swillington Shooting Supplies near Leeds. At the time, I was actually interested in both Browning and Beretta, but like many before me, I found the brand and the gun that I wanted to go for and can't see myself moving away from Browning now.
The Browning 525 is available in a number of variants from the game model and sporter, to the premium 525 Heritage. The model I got in the end was the 525 Sporter One in 30" (Left handed) for around £1,300. The sporter came with ventilated top and mid rib, scroll engraving, Walnut stock (Grade 2), adjustable trigger, Inflex 2 recoil pad, a mid bead, 3" chamber and a 10mm rib. Weighing in at 3.5Kg. This is the entry level model on the range but you wouldn't think it when you pick it up, it feels premium, it feels solid. This model sits in the market to compete against the Beretta Silver pigeon, both are priced similarly and offer similar specs. It mounts very well compared to my previous Franchi Alcione and comes up to the shoulder really well. I don't really know much about gun fit, but when I picked up the 525 it just felt right. You see so many people online asking for advice on what gun they should go for - listen to what everyone says, go and pick a few up and you will soon find the gun that naturally feels right like this did for me.
The Sporter model comes with some nice scroll engraving. Although it is not the deepest engraving and I would like to see it a little more distinguished, for the price range it is really good and looks great. It also features a gold adjustable trigger which may or may not be to some peoples taste. Personally I love gold triggers on a shotgun, my only gripe being that the gold plating does tend to wear off most guns after some time until you are left with a slightly offish colour. The Browning just felt more substantial and solid than the Berettas. When you close the action you get the most beautiful dull clunk (the browning sound), it secures really well and much more positively than most over and under shotguns do due to the closing mechanism. Brownings also boast a full cross pin to secure the barrels to the action rather than the more common sight of small studs. I am sure that it wont make huge amount of difference in the first few decades, but it is nice knowing that your Browning Shotgun has been made to last, and your action is unlikely to loosen. The gun comes with a three year warranty and the action comes with Brownings 10 year warranty which is testament to the reliability you can expect from this manufacturer.
Barrels are available in 28, 30 and 32" and are all three inch chambered with the Back bored system to reduce recoil. The blueing finish is great and i am a fan of having a bead not only at the muzzle but also mid way down the barrels as is provided on the sporter variant. The gun is also provided with a set of four chokes. The Inflex 2 recoil pad is one of my preferred features also, compared with most off the shelf pads provided on the likes of a Beretta Silver Pigeon, the Inflex pad does an amazing job of reducing recoil and in such a way that it diverts the recoil away from your cheek making for a more comfortable shot.
I have put Hull 21g CompX loads through this gun up to Eley 35g loads and it shoots beautifully with crisp trigger pulls and little recoil. It swings well and I feel at one with this gun when I'm on the stand. One feature I do miss that you get on some of the other variants is the word 'Browning' engraved in to the side of the action. Maybe that is just me, but I love the Browning brand and would have the logo plastered everywhere if I could.
People tend to ask what gun should I get for clays, or game etc. The 525 Sporter really is an great all rounder. You can use this shotgun for everything and anything, it will dust the clays and bring down the trickiest of birds if you point it in the right direction. It is a workhorse, rarely faulting. The appeal of a Browning 525 in my eyes is its diversity and adaptability; suitable for posh days out on the peg game shooting, in the hands of top competition shooters and also for the game keeper as an every day working gun. This is the everyman's gun for every occasion. It won't turn heads and doesn't try to show off, but boy it will never let you down.
The perfect combination of refinement, reliability and functionality... Well done Browning.