Beginning with the butt, we find Browning’s excellent Inflex Technology recoil pad. Made of a soft, recoil-absorbing material, the top of the pad at the stock’s heel is nicely rounded and made smooth for snag-free mounting. The semi-pistol grip stock is attractively shaped and of well-figured walnut. The laser-cut checkering appears to be about 20 l.p.i., a bit too fine for a field gun where grip in poor conditions is essential, but it is well-executed and attractive. The wood is uniformly proud of the metal, and perhaps the only complaint is that the grain is not fully filled, but sufficiently finished to ensure that the wood is sealed. The Schnabel-style fore-end is slim and covered with the same checkering found on the stock. The Schnabel flare at the tip of the fore-end is a reinforcement allowing the hands-on part to be thinner and slimmer.
The 725 Field’s low-profile action is finished in Browning’s silver nitride, which sets off the laser engraving. The right side of the action sports two jumping ducks and the left a pair of flushing cock pheasants. The action bottom carries the name 725 and the head of a sporting dog, and all are framed with traditional scroll engraving.
Unique to the 725 is a mechanical trigger that Browning calls the Fire Lite. Traditionally, Browning has stayed with the original single inertia-set trigger designed by Val Browning for the Superposed. To prevent doubling, when the gun is fired the sears are disengaged for an instant while the barrel selector moves to the unfired sear. An excellent system with one major flaw, if the first barrel fails to fire, there is no recoil to set the inertia block to fire the second shot. With a mechanical trigger, both triggers are independent, and will fire each time the trigger is pulled. In testing, we found the pulls to be very similar, and while not as light as they might be, at 5 pounds, 13 ounces for the bottom barrel’s trigger and 5 pounds, 8 ounces for the top’s, they were fairly crisp. They did exhibit a slight amount of preliminary take up that was unnoticeable in the field. The barrel selector is incorporated in the traditional Browning tang-mounted safety.
The barrels are very uniform internally. Checked with a digital barrel micrometer, they measured 0.735 inches throughout for both tubes. There is a slight flare about 4 1/2 inches from the muzzle to accommodate the screw-in choke tubes. From the standpoint of design, the interior of the barrels is strictly 21st Century. From the chamber mouth Browning’s 3-inch-long Vector-Pro forcing cones ease the shot charge into the barrel proper. Perhaps the most unique area of the 725’s barrels are the newly designed Invector-DS choke tubes.
Browning has attacked the typical choke tubes’ tendency to shoot loose, rust in place and/or bulge with a new 5/16-inch-wide flexible brass skirt that is compressed as the choke tube is screwed into the muzzle. It does an excellent job of blocking the entry of debris from the combustion of propellant, but the tubes are a little more difficult to install and remove. We needed to turn the tube to nearly a quarter inch before it was sufficiently loose to spin out. The tubes measure 3 1/8 inches in length, providing another shot-easing trip through the choke’s constriction. The threads are at the muzzle end of the choke and measure 3/8 inches in length. When reinserting Invector-DS tubes the user must make certain that the tubes fully seat and bottom out, as the last quarter-inch or so is deceptive and might give the idea that the tube is seated when it is not. The tubes in the test gun actually set into the muzzle a slight distance rather than being exactly flush. In firing a number of test rounds, the Invector-DS tubes were extremely clean with no smoking of the tube at its base.
In the field, the 725 shot very well. We took it to the local sporting clays range where we and our shooting companions had the opportunity to shoot it at various targets. The 28-inch barrels would not have been the choice of hard-core sporting clays competitors, but one of them summed it up best by saying, “I shoot a Browning, and save being lighter, in truth, it shoots like a Browning.” We found that it broke clays with excellent consistency and over the afternoon’s shooting and later pattern testing had no malfunctions or problems.
At the patterning board, two chokes were tested, one marked “Improved Cylinder 1/4 lead, Modified 1/2 steel" that actually measured 0.001 inches larger than the 0.735-inch cylinder bore of the 725, the other marked “Modified 1/2 lead, Improved Modified 3/4 steel.” That tube measured 0.0065 inches, or about skeet. However, one can never rely on the exterior marking and/or measured dimensions of choke tubes, the only true test is at the patterning board. There, shooting Federal Paper Extra-Lite Target Loads with 1 1/8 ounces of hard lead No. 7 1/2 shot, the very open choke threw 43-percent patterns at 40 yards, exactly in the range of improved cylinder, and the tighter modified choke shot in the top barrel delivered 63-percent patterns, showing near improved-modified patterns. The Federal Extra-Lite’s velocities were quite uniform with an average velocity of 1,124 fps over a 10-shot string with the lowest velocity recorded at 1,106 fps and the highest at 1,157 fps.
Overall the Browning 725 is a shotgun of which John Moses would be proud: It handles “just like a Browning,” with some improvements. Those who prefer mechanical triggers would call that an improvement, and at the $2,470 suggested retail price—the over-the-counter price probably being less—it is a shotgun that will last for years and years and provide satisfaction every time it is taken afield.
Manufacturer: B.C. Miroku, Kochi, Japan
Importer: Browning USA; (801) 876-2711; www.browning.com
Action type: break-action over-under shotgun; silver nitride finish
Gauge: 12, 3"
Trigger: single-selective mechanical; 5-lb., 13-oz. pull (bottom barrel), 5-lb., 8-oz. pull (top barrel)
Safety: tang-mounted incorporating the barrel selector
Barrels: 28" highly polished blue steel with screw-in chokes; also available with 26" barrels
Sights: ventilated rib with center steel bead and small white Bradley-style front bead
Stock: buttstock figured walnut: Length of pull, 14¼"; drop at comb, 1"; drop at heel, 2½"; cast, 0"; laser-checkered Schnabel-style fore-end
Overall length: 44¾"
Weight: 7 lbs., 6 ozs.
Accessories: three choke tubes: improved cylinder, modified and full, choke tube wrench, owner’s manual, safety lock
Suggested Retail Price: $2,470