by B.B. Pelletier

With the assistance of Earl “Mac” McDonald

Part 1

Browning’s Gold breakbarrel is a beautiful new spring-piston rifle.

Today, we’ll test the velocity of the Browning Gold. Mac is here and did the shooting for today’s test. He was surprised by the 45 lbs. of force needed to cock the rifle, just as I was; but by the time he finished the test, things were moving right along. So, you do get used to it.

Firing behavior
Mac notes that the rifle fires briskly, which means with noticeable recoil but without excess vibration. It’s a solid feel. You could say it feels much like the old British-made Webley Patriot, though not as intense.

The trigger was a problem on the first gun that Mac tested, but in this rifle it’s fine. Of course, we’ll find out more when I test the rifle for accuracy because that’s when the shooter is forced into a close relationship with the gun. The trigger on this rifle breaks uniformly at 3.5 lbs.

Browning advertises the rifle at 800 f.p.s. in .22, which is stout and also right where you want it to be for hunting. I asked Mac to test it with three popular pellets, and I shot a couple rounds with a fourth just to see for myself how the rifle behaves.

The first pellet tested was the 14.3-grain Crosman Premier. Based on the advertised velocity, I expected to see something around 750 f.p.s. from this pellet, but the average was actually 729 f.p.s. That gives us a muzzle energy of 16.88 foot-pounds. Velocities varied from a low of 724 f.p.s. to a high of 733 f.p.s., so the total spread was just nine f.p.s. For a brand-new gun that hasn’t been broken in yet, that’s very consistent.

Next up was the JSB Exact Express 14.3-grain dome. Because this pellet is pure lead, I would expect it to go slightly faster than the hard-alloy Premier, but it actually went a little slower. They averaged 721 f.p.s. for 10, with a spread from 716 f.p.s. to a high of 731 f.p.s. The total spread was 15 f.p.s. At the average velocity, they generate 16.51 foot-pounds at the muzzle.

The last pellet tested was the old standard H&N Baracuda Match, which most of you know is the same as the Beeman Kodiak Match. In the Gold, they averaged 594 f.p.s., which generates a muzzle energy of 16.57 foot-pounds. The spread went from a low of 586 f.p.s to a high of 600 f.p.s., so the total spread was 14 f.p.s. Because the Baracuda/Kodiak is such a great hunting pellet, I’ll be sure to test it for accuracy.

And, lest you lament that an 800 f.p.s. rifle is shooting at under 600 f.p.s., welcome to reality. This has been going on for as long as there have been pellet rifles and it in no way disparages the Browning Gold.

But I know human nature, and there will be some readers who fixate on that 800 f.p.s. number, so I also tested it for a couple shots with .22 RWS Hobby pellets. At 11.9 grains, Hobbys are the lightest lead pellets around, and I always use them to test top velocities.

I fired three rounds that went 788, 778 and 783 f.p.s. So the rifle is spot-on where it is advertised to be; because, with a thousand-shot break-in, we expect it to increase by 20-30 f.p.s., at least.

Like Mac, I also found the gun to be authoritative but not overbearing. It’s not one bit like a long-stroke Chinese spring rifle that is shooting for the sound barrier. I noted that stage two of the trigger is long and a little creepy; but as I said in the beginning, the accuracy test will bring that out all the way.

Impressions thus far
At this point, I still think the Gold is a rifle that needs a proper break-in and will last. I wish I could say that cocking has become easier in the few shots we’ve fired thus far, but it hasn’t. However, the barrel lock is definitely smoother and lighter after these few shots. So the break-in continues.