I've had several B-80s over the years. Currently, my high-mileage B-80 example is a steel receiver 12 gauge. With a date code of PX, it was made in 1983. My other remaining B-80 is an alloy 20 gauge, date code PV, which makes it 1985 production. It gets hunted every single year, including 2020 and 2021. The B-80 was offered from 1981 – 1988. When the B-80 was introduced, Browning and Beretta shared some of the same ownership.
Related to the Beretta 302 / 303 series, only the Browning was offered with a steel receiver as well as alloy. Where the Beretta models had a couple of different magazine cut-offs, the B-80 did not. The stock styles are different as well, as the Beretta's had captured forearms where the B-80 forearms slide over the receiver. B-80's and Beretta 303s use the same stock shims that offer drop adjustment.
My 1983 B-80 12 gauge has been to Argentina (above), Canada, and has been used for trap, skeet, and sporting clays as well. It has well over 200,000 rounds through it. The only part that ever broke was the pot-metal charging handle. I noticed blood all over the receiver and it was the remaining part of the charging handle that sliced open my right hand. Browning was kind enough to send me a bag of four or five replacement charging handles, and of course the next one refused to break. Thinking that Argentina was going to break a shotgun, I actually brought two B-80's with me, the steel and an alloy. The alloy B-80 was never fired. The steel B-80 12 gauge is fun to shoot, but at 8 lbs. 2 oz. not all that fun to carry.
alloy B-80 20 gauge (above) at
6-1/4 lbs. is fun to carry, though. It is still one of my favorite
wild pheasant shotguns and it has not broken anything. Aside from
periodic mainspring replacements, both B-80's are original, expect
for that replacement charging handle on the steel 12 gauge.
Many older guns are not all that desirable or durable, but B-80's sure are. If you like the way they fit you, they are worth hunting for. Maybe you'll be able to break one or wear one out, but I've not been able to in the first 41 years of using them vigorously. The B-80 and the Automatic-Five are the two best shotguns to ever wear the Browning nameplate, as far as I'm concerned.
Copyright 2022 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.