Vic Harker is impressed with the Browning 725 Pro Trap, which provides gun fit options for both stock fit and pattern placement
Model: 725 Pro Trap
Bore size: 12
Barrel Length: 32” (81cm)
Action: Coil spring boxlock
Chokes: 8 DS Invector
Rib: Ramped and adjustable, tapered 10mm – 6mm
Weight: 8lb 11oz (3.941kg)
Stock: Adjustable Comb, Pistol Grip
Price: From £3,817 inc VAT
The Browning over-and-under was the first gun of its kind to sell in volume. Designed by John Browning, it represented his very last work, was manufactured by Fabrique Nationale in Herstal, Belgium, and was an immediate success. Previously, the over and under was considered an oddity by many, or a very expensive luxury for the few. In the United States, however, the Browning Superposed, as it was called, was an immediate success. To a nation of rifle shooters, an over-and-under shotgun with a single line of sight was reassuringly familiar. The production of the Browning by FN in Belgium has continued in limited numbers, but a vast number of guns to a similar design are now made by Miroku in Japan. I’ve been looking at the new Pro Trap, which as its name suggests, is built exclusively for Trap shooting.
Thankfully, in all its fundamentals the modern Browning remains unchanged. A few millimetres have been skimmed off the action’s height, but not sufficiently to compromise Browning’s original masterpiece. The gun is under-bolted, which is to say the jointing of the Browning’s barrels incorporate extensions to the monobloc, which gunmakers describe as ‘lumps’ and are so made as to locate through the bottom of the action body.
The rear lump incorporates a bite or slot, which on closure of the gun engages with a substantial full-width locking bolt, coming forward under the breech face. The front lump, which also acts as the barrel hook, pivots the barrels on a full width cross-pin, and also locates through the Browning’s bottom plate. As millions of shooters have found, the arrangement is both fascinating and entirely satisfactory. What John Browning had done was turn a double-barrelled shotgun on its side, and using under-bolting similar to that of a side-by-side, made a system that was already tried and tested long before he created his own superposed (as he always called it). The Pro Trap is in the best tradition of John Browning’s original creation, and all the better for it. I should add, with its silver polished action and cleverly created logo, it also adds a touch of art deco design similar to that seen in the 1920s, when the first Browning was introduced.
As to the trigger mechanism, the inertia system has been replaced and the number of moving parts reduced to create a crisper pull and a much faster second shot. For the first time, the Browning trigger, which was always reliable, now rivals other leading target gun manufacturers in terms of lock-time and mechanical function.
The stock is well designed ergonomically, and also blends with the lines of the action body, creating a purposeful look. The grip is deep with a generous radius, but is not too thick in the hand. It also incorporates a carefully positioned palm swell, and this, together with an adjustable trigger blade, provides the shooter with consistent trigger pulls and a feeling of control. Most importantly, the comb can be adjusted for both height and cast.
The next best thing to having a custom-made stock, used correctly it makes a huge contribution to accurate shooting. Browning has also made every effort to provide the shooter with options as to tuning the gun’s balance to personal requirements. The Pro-Balance system comprises weights that can be fitted into the stock, and others that can be positioned between the barrels under the forearm. These well-designed devices can be easily and quickly installed or removed. All this provides the shooter with the opportunity to experiment without committing to expensive alterations that are permanent. For this, Browning is to be commended for creating a flexibility, which if used correctly, is possibly the best, and certainly the least expensive option towards achieving a gun that really fits the owner.
With a bore size of 18.7mm, combined with long forcing cones and a set of eight long Invector chokes, the makers are following modern thinking as to shotgun ballistics, without resorting to full over-boring. I pattern-tested the Pro Trap with a number of premium quality cartridges through ¾ and Full chokes, and the results were satisfactory, but inevitably some patterned better than others.
I am still amazed at the number of shooters who don’t pattern their guns, and can only advise them to do so, as it is the only conclusive way of determining whether or not your gun/cartridge combination is providing the best possible results. As to where the Browning was placing the patterns it threw with its adjustable rib, I easily achieved the 70 per cent/30 per cent pellet distribution above and below the point of aim, which I prefer for Trap shooting.
With its barrel length and weight, though by no means excessive, I felt the Pro Trap to be best suited to DTL targets. In part this is because on faster targets with a greater variety of height and angle, I find a high rib distracting, whereas on DTL targets that all rise to the same height, the Pro Trap provides the heads-up posture best suited to their regular flight. The same principle applies to Double Trap.
On Ian Coley’s excellent DTL layout, it was the perfect place to give the Browning its first trial. I didn’t hit every target, but over the week on other ranges, I came to terms with the Browning to the extent I could make a reasonable score. The ‘user-friendly’ label has long been attached to the Browning shotgun in all its forms and after a week or so with the Pro Trap, for me at least, it was as true as ever.