Browning's newest autoloader, the Maxus, promises to deliver more speed and less recoil. It just might be the fastest, most comfortable-shooting 7-pound shotgun you've ever fired.

If you have been putting off buying a Browning Gold shotgun, you'd best act quickly; its replacement may be sitting on the shelf of your favorite gunshop at this very moment. But then, since the designers of the new Maxus claim the level of perceived recoil is considerably less than for the Gold, your procrastinating may have worked to your advantage.

Browning's new Maxus is a gas-operated autoloader with a few features that are a bit outside of the norm. One is quite noticeable at first glance, the others are hidden away inside.

Taking the more obvious first, its forearm is not held in place by the ever-familiar screw-on magazine cap. Instead, a latch described as the Speed Lock located at the front end of the forearm holds it in place. And it's quick to remove or replace, too. Simply push on the release button while lifting the lever, and the forearm is free to be pushed forward and off the magazine tube. The front of the latch also accepts an Uncle Mike's quick-detach carrying sling swivel. Disadvantage? The fit of the forearm on the gun I hunted with was a bit loose, and on several occasions, I found myself--due to several decades of habit formed while shooting other autoloaders--attempting to tighten a magazine cap that was not there.

The Maxus is quick and easy to take down and reassemble. The fire-control system is easily removed for cleaning by pushing out two pins in the receiver.

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Browning Maxus:

Purpose: Hunting
Manufacturer:Browning Firearms
1 Browning Place
Morgan, UT 84050
Action type: Autoloader
Operation: Gas
Magazine: Five rounds (2 with plug installed)
Reciever material: Aluminum
Barrel length: 26, 28 inches
Chamber length:3, 3 1/2 inches
Bore length:0.742 inch
Barrel rib:.25-inch-wide ventilation
Sights:Metal bead at muzzle
Chokes: Invector-plus, IC, Mod, Full
Metal finish: Nonreflective blue, Mossy Oak Duck Blind camo
Safety: Transverse (reversible for lefty)
Trigger:Single-stage with 5.2 milliseconds locktime
Stock:Over-molded synthetic
Recoil Pad: Inflex Technology
Stock finish: Black, Mossy Oak Duck Blind camo
Drop at heel:2 inches (shim-adjustable)
Drop at comb: 1.75 inches (shim adjustable)
Length of pull:14.25 inches (shim adjustable)
Weight, empty:6 lbs, 15 oz.
Overall length: 49.25 inches (28-inch barrel)
MSRP: $1,199- $1,499

Many years ago, I spent days afield with a Browning Auto-5, and one of the features I really liked about it was its magazine cut-off; this is a feature brought back in the new Maxus. In addition to allowing the hunter to quickly switch loads in the chamber, it is an excellent way to make the gun safe by unloading the chamber during a fence crossing without having to empty the magazine. Another useful feature, and one patented by Browning, is the Turnkey magazine plug that reduces capacity to three rounds with one in the chamber. With the forearm removed, the plug is easily removed or installed by simply inserting the ignition or door key from your hunting vehicle into the end of the plug and giving it a twist.

I also like the Speed Load Plus system. With the bolt locked back, the first shell pushed into the magazine is immediately gobbled up and fed directly into the chamber as the bolt moves forward. At that point, the bolt is free to travel forward to its locked position. And the gun is about as quick to unload. Simply reach inside the loading port with a finger, push against the side of the feed latch, and a shell pops out into your hand. Continue on until all shells are removed from the magazine, retract the bolt to empty the chamber, and you have an empty gun.

The new Power Drive gas-handling system is also something to take note of. Due to the relatively long stroke of the gas piston, the gun will function with a variety of ammunition power levels, ranging from the heaviest field loads to 11/8-ounce target loads. Regardless of the power level of the ammo being used, a wide automatic adjustment range for the size of exhaust port dumps the correct amount of gas. Just as important, a rubber seal inside the piston does a good job of preventing propellant fouling from migrating back into the receiver. The gun I tested digested about 150 rounds of ammunition in the field and at the clay target range, and the inside of its action stayed quite clean.

The receiver is made of aluminum, and it is currently available in nonreflective blue or Mossy Oak Duck Blind camo.
A magazine cut-off allows a shell in the chamber to be removed or switched without unloading the magazine. The Speed Lock forearm is held in place with a latch rather than the customary screw-on cap.

With a pull weight of about 51/2 pounds and the absence of either take-up, creep, or overtravel, the trigger of the Maxus is one of the best I have tried on any autoloading shotgun. In fact, it is so good I almost had to keep reminding myself that I was not shooting a target-grade over-under. Called the Lightning Trigger System, it has a locktime of 5.2 milliseconds, which is extremely fast for an autoloading shotgun and only a couple of milliseconds slower than for the Browning A-Bolt rifle. A transverse safety button located in the rear of the trigger guard is set up at the factory for a right-handed shooter but is rather easily reversed for those who shoot from the other side of the gun.

The Maxus can be field-stripped for cleaning about as quickly as I can write about it. Remove the forearm, pull the barrel and gas-handling unit from the receiver, pull the operating handle from the bolt, push the bolt forward and out of the receiver, punch out two pins from the sides of its receiver, and remove the fire-control system.

If you have assembled a few autoloaders, you know how difficult it can be to align the bolt link with the action-spring tube in the buttstock. Designers solved that problem in the Maxus with the installation of a spring in the link that holds it in proper alignment as the bolt is installed in the receiver. That one small and long-overlooked detail makes putting the gun back together about as fast as taking it apart.

A shell pushed into the loading port while the bolt is locked back is automatically fed into the chamber, followed by the closing of the bolt.

For now, the Maxus is offered in only 12 gauge with 3- or 3½-inch chambers. Finish options for the over-molded synthetic stock and forearm are black or Mossy Oak's Duck Blind camo. Included with the gun are a set of stock shims that allow drop, cast, and pull length to be adjusted to the preferences of the individual shooter.

Barrel lengths are 26 and 28 inches with Browning's Invector-Plus screw-in chokes in IC, Mod, and Full. The barrel has an oversized bore diameter of 0.742 inch and a forcing cone length of 2.5 inches. According to what I was told, after 500 rounds of steel shot were fired in each of several test guns, there was no evidence of peening or scoring in the forcing cone, main bore, or choke of their barrels. The ventilated rib is made of steel and brazed to the barrel.

Other Maxus variations you are likely to eventually see are a deer gun with a cantilever scope mount, a turkey gun with adjustable open sights, and walnut-stocked guns for hunting the uplands and for shooting sporting clays. A 20-gauge ver- sion may take awhile, but it should prove to be well worth the wait.

The Maxus comes with IC, Mod, and Full chokes. Also provided are a set of shims to adjust the stock's length of pull, drop, and cant.
Layne says the Maxus is comfortable to shoot even with heavy pheasant loads containing 13/8 ounces of shot.

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