We will take a bit of a meandering path in this Browning BPS 16 gauge Review, but hang in there.
First we begin with Chukar hunting, the glory of hiking 6+ miles on jagged, uneven and steep terrain with the hope of watching a dogs tail speed up as they become birdy and ultimately rigid. The majestic view once those birds are found and pinned, this is the sight every upland bird hunter craves, the beauty of a dog on point.
I was noticing a lot of this pattern: The point, the flush, the shot and then a winged but not downed bird. Winged birds are devastating for two reasons, first it is not a clean kill and would frustrate any sportsman. The second is you just walked for hours, and blew the only opportunity you may get all day!
I am not a bad marksman, and have been hunting a 20 gauge for years and within range, I would down the birds cleanly more often than not. What I needed was to reach out a bit further on the double or triple shots with a bit more knock down power. I have heard all the hype, 16 gauge is the best! I am a natural skeptic, but hunting with two friends who run 16’s convinced me it may be worth a shot. They were just consistently harvesting and making those longer shots, when I was not.
To 16G or not to 16G, that is the question:
Quite an intro for a gun review, I know. I started doing my 16 gauge research and decided that most 16’s are built on 12G frames. This means they have extra heft and bulk, everything but the Browning that is.
I had a hunting buddy who was selling a 20G BPS, so I asked if I could borrow it and took it out to the range, and ultimately on a dove hunt. It was love at first shot. It was the draw I came to love about my Mossberg 500‘s, but with a bit nicer finish. We purchased that 20G BPS and kept it in the family, maybe Nemo can write you a review about his time with it.
So that settled it, and it was decided. I ordered a Browning BPS 16g Field before the 2017 season, and I am now two seasons into hunting exclusively with the Browning 16G BPS on various types of upland game.
In the field:
The 2017-2018 season, I hunted pretty hard with good bird numbers in Oregon and Idaho, even sneaking a trip down to NV for their season closer. What a year I had. I felt invigorated and that I could do no wrong with that 16G BPS shouldered.
The 2018-2019 season was again well hunted, but I observed that I did have a few more misses than I am accustomed to. The difference was these were just flat misses, not winged birds or dropped legs. I feel confident when saying that my reach had increased, and if I was connecting with a bird at all, it was dropping them cleanly more often than not.
The fit and finish on the currently offered BPS’ is more of a satin \ matte type, without the high gloss on the 20G we purchased second hand, on both the wood or the bluing.
Pros and Cons of the BPS:
I would describe the furniture on the Browning as sturdy, and the matte finish showing the abuse of chukar seasons by having scuffs and dents rather than scrapes and gouges.
The bottom eject functions flawlessly, and I have never had an issue with it. You need to get used to how you check the chamber, but beyond that it was a seamless transition. The tang safety also makes me feel right at home after so many years with a double barrel and the Mossbergs.
My complaints are few, but somewhat significant. The first is about the bluing on the rib. I hunt from a Honda Pioneer 700 UTV about 1/4 of the time and to my fascination, the rib is rubbed raw where it contacts the Big Sky gun rack in the UTV, and I even used it in a gun sock. In fairness, this is consistent with what can be seen on my Ruger American barrel on the parkerized finish. Perhaps it is more a commentary on the rack than the gun, but it is noteworthy.
The second complaint is a bit more serious. This gun will just not eject certain types of shells. What I cannot decide is why, nor who is to blame. I had a running theory about the tolerances on 16G ammunition, but this was shut down however by the news that the 20G suffers the same problem.
If I keep the chamber squeaky clean, and avoid low base Estate shells, the problem rarely occurs. As the action becomes a bit less tidy, the offenders went from low base Estate and began to include high base estate and high base Winchester rounds.
I have zero regrets about my purchase, but wish that they offered the hunter line in a premium finish, which they look to do every few years.
8/10 on the gun, 10/10 on the round.