Browning BPS 16 Gauge Pump-action Shotgun

By Randy Wakeman

Browning BPS
Browning BPS Hunter. Illustration courtesy of Browning.

Earlier this year, I was impressed with the “Shot Special” Browning BPS 16 gauges on hand in the Browning booth in Orlando. At last, what we have always wanted: a current production, affordable, yet well-built 16 gauge shotgun built to similar weight and general dimensions as its 20 gauge little brother, as opposed to a 12 gauge model with a smaller hole in the barrel. By most standards, the Browning is the best built pump-action shotgun made today .

The Browning Pump Shotgun was introduced in 1977; this year marking its 30th year in production. Its parentage can be traced back to the Ithaca Model 37, which was Ithaca’s production of the Remington Model 17. The fundamental design was by John M. Browning and John Douglas Pederson. Pederson was a prolific firearms designer in his own right, working for Remington and later the United States Government: John Pederson was awarded some sixty-nine patents; the once “ultra top secret” Pederson device was set to change the course of WWI had it been produced in time, in quantity.

The Browning BPS is unusual in pump-action shotgun lore: it has never been offered as an economy, poorly finished, crude shotgun. The BPS is made the way I think hunting guns should be made. The receiver being machined from a solid block of steel. The BPS is a refreshing delight for those who appreciate pump shotguns built more like lifetime equipment and less like tinker-toys. Highly polished plastic made by “old world craftsmen” does not leave a great deal of satisfaction or utility as time goes by. The BPS does.

I’m thrilled to see a new 16 gauge on the market, so let’s get down to business. The BPS 16 “Hunter Model” highly polished blued steel and walnut 26 inch barreled shotgun as supplied weighs 7.5 pounds. It is noticeably lighter than the BPS 12 gauge, and very close to the BPS 28 gauge and 20 gauge versions. It also shaves a half pound off of my Wingmaster 870 16 gauge’s weight; the Remington 16 gauges being cursed with 12 gauge receivers.

Here are some basic catalog specifications for our 16 gauge Browning BPS:

  • Magazine Capacity - 4
  • Chamber - 2-34"
  • Barrel Length - 26" (with 5/16" wide ventilated rib)
  • Choke Tubes - Full, Mod., I.C.
  • Overall Length - 46-3/4"
  • Length of Pull - 14-1/4"
  • Drop at Comb - 1-5/8"
  • Drop at Heel - 1-7/8"
  • Average Weight - 7 pounds, 2 ounces
  • 2007 MSRP - $555

The trigger on the BPS breaks at a repeatable 6 pounds, 13 ounces, which is far too heavy. It is the sole irritation on this gun. The BPS needs a trigger job in the very worst way. Surprisingly, I had no problem piling up the doves with this gun as supplied. The trigger has a very wide face on it, which combined with my inclination to focus more on the doves than the trigger made it work better in the field than I would have thought. Still, a 7 pound trigger on a gun otherwise so well-refined is a darn shame.

The ambidextrous tang safety on the BPS is another matter. It is effortless and silent to switch off, the best safety I’ve ever tested on a pump shotgun. It puts many O/U shotgun safeties to shame. Browning did a great job on this one. It is fast, intuitive, and effortless.

The advantage of bottom ejection is fairly straight-forward: no hulls ever go flying into someone’s face and left hand shooters don’t have to be bothered with them. As long as gravity continues to work any debris, whether from weather or foliage, will fall around your BPS’ action, not into it.

The BPS is very well-balanced. Lacking the improperly profiled barrels found on most 16 gauge guns and not cursed with a hollow Tupperware stock, this substantial pumper swings smoothly without the opossum on a rake balance that plagues so many "el cheapo" pumps. The good balance and smooth swing combine to make this an easy pump to shoot well.

In several days of limit-out dove hunting, the BPS performed as you might expect: without a hitch or glitch. The vast majority of my dove-whacking was performed with what I found to be an ideal combination: a George Trulock modified “Precision Hunter” choke tube coupled with 1-1/16 oz. B & P F2 Classic shotshells filled with #7 shot. Though no fixed breech gun without a recoil pad can lay claim to be the world’s softest shooting, recoil was surprisingly mild with the BPS. Perhaps a better option yet for higher volume work is the 1 oz. Fiocchi GT16 shotshells in #7-1/2 shot. They are both a pleasure to shoot and ideal dove medicine.

Dove taken using Browning BPS
Dove taken using Browning BPS 16 gauge gun.

So, to sum it up, Browning has done a fine job here. My sole complaint is the trigger that breaks at almost the weight of the entire gun. This is a pity in a shotgun that otherwise approaches pump perfection. A trigger job is definitely required.

There is no pump action shotgun I’m aware of that currently approaches the build quality, build materials and overall workmanship present in the Browning BPS. There has been no 16 gauge repeater since Browning’s own A-5 Sweet Sixteen that does justice to the gauge until this BPS. Offered initially as a “Shot Show" special special order item, this shotgun richly deserves to be a standard catalog item. The flexibility of standard Invector screw chokes comes with the gun and those looking for a bit more pattern quality can easily go with some of George Trulock’s Precision Hunter extended tubes. Congratulations to Browning Arms Company for offering us a new 16 gauge pump gun that we can take pride in owning.

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Copyright 2007 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.