Is Browning’s shiny new-for-2022 penny, when combined with Boss Shotshells, the best feet-down shooter the author has ever shouldered? Read the entire field test and find out.
I cut my hunting teeth chasing waterfowl in the ag fields and creek bottoms near my Colorado home. The first gun I ever fired was a shotgun, and to this day, when I press a butt-pad firm to my shoulder and see a pair of beads jump into my sight picture, I get excited. I love everything about shotguns — how they feel, shoot, and carry — the smell of spent powder rolling out the barrel’s end.
A serious waterfowl hunter, I’m particular about what shotgun I tote afield. For the past five years, it’s been Browning’s A5, but when the opportunity arrived to give the new-for-2022 Maxus II Vintage Tan shooter a whirl, I didn’t hesitate.
Fit and finish were remarkable, as one would expect from a Browning-labeled firearm. There were no dings, scratches, pits, or other eyesores. The new Vintage Tan Camo is flat sexy and adds to the shotgun’s already racy eye appeal. Other features that jumped out at me during assembly, which takes about two minutes, by the way, were the SoftFlex Cheekpad and Rubber Overmolding in the pistol grip and forearm. The Rubberized Overmold promoted great fit and feel, and I couldn’t wait to see how it boosted shot-to-shot repeatability in foul, wet weather. The SoftFlex Cheekpad is flat comfortable. I demand a stock that promotes an excellent cheek weld, and initial signs with the Maxus II pointed to perfection.
Another big noticing, I instantly doted on was the oversized bolt handle and enlarged bolt release. You can’t kill geese and ducks if you’re fumbling around with the bolt handle. Whether you’re trying to load a round or clear a jam, functionality in the waterfowl woods is essential, and this design significantly boosts ease of operation.
Other features that show how far Browning went to create a near-perfect waterfowl wrecker include the sloped, Browning calls it “Ramped,” trigger guard. Users can expect more effortless loading into the magazine with the guard sloped. Of course, the barrel accepts Browning’s Invector-Plus choke system, and I applaud the extended tube design that comes standard with the Maxus II. The extended port design and gnarled texture make it easy to swap chokes in and out, and I appreciate that each choke (Full, Modified, Improved Cylinder) is labeled with large white lettering.
A waterfowl-specific gun, the Maxus II’s primary purpose is reliability. Waterfowl hunting is often a cold, wet, and dirty affair, and a shotgun that won’t cycle shotshells when the Mercury drops or when covered in snow and ice is worth nothing. If you visit this gunmakers website, you will read that the Power Drive Gas System was designed to be an industry leader — that it should reduce recoil and keep powder residue out of the action — cycle heavy and light loads with ease. The question is: Does the Power Drive Gas System work in concert with the Maxus’ many other features to give you a great all-around waterfowl shooter?
I’m a trial by fire guy. Sure, I fired a few low-brass #7 1/2 shotshells through the Maxus II to get a feel for it, and I tested a single Boss 3-inch #3/#5 at a distance of 50 yards with the Invector-Plus Modified choke to check the gun’s pattern, but that was it. The pattern, as expected, was money.
A cold front had blown in, and morning temperatures would be in the single digits. We had an X — a cut grain field full of lessers and cacklers ‚— and the action was sure to be hot.
By 8:30 a.m., when the first group of Canada geese swung into the northwest wind and dropped their feet, the Mercury had fallen well below 0 degrees, and icy snow was blowing sideways. When the stock came to my shoulder and my cheek welded to the pad, I acquired the bright ivory mid-bead and red fiber-optic front sight. The geese were backpedaling in the flakes, and when I squeezed the crisp Lightning Trigger, the 1 1/2-ounce #3/#5 Copper-Plated Boss Bismuth crushed a 25-yard goose. The recoil was extremely light, which allowed me to get right back on target and pull a double. Why not a triple? Remember me telling you I get excited sometimes? Well, I got a little excited, lifted my head off the SoftFlex Cheekpad, and didn’t swing the 28-inch barrel through.
When the smoke had cleared, my buddy yelled, “Dude, look how far your gun blew the spent casing.” I looked, and the distance was impressive. The ejection port was covered in ice, temps were in the negative digits with the windchill, and still, the Maxus II sprayed plastic a great distance. I love this. I’m not too fond of jams, and when a shotgun blows spent shells a reasonable distance, it makes me smile.
During the morning, geese fell into our Avian imposters, and each time, the Maxus II answered the call. The more times I squeezed the trigger, the more I appreciated the shotgun’s build. The 28-inch barrel (26-inch is available), married with the feels-great-in-the-hand forearm, promotes an excellent swing. The forearm is trim, which, when blended with the weight distribution of the all-steel barrel and composite stock, promises a sense of balance you must feel to appreciate fully.
The shotgun performed as advertised, and to date, it has accompanied me on six goose shoots. The gun has cycled 2 3/4-, 3-, and 3-1/2-inch shotshells with ease, and I’ve yet to experience any issues. I love the oversized bolt handle, and it is highly functional and a breeze to operate when wearing bulky gloves. I also tip a hat to the Nickel Teflon Coating on the bolt, bolt slide, shell carrier, bolt release handle, and cocking handle. Not only does the coating resist corrosion, but it also makes cleaning quick and effortless.
The Boss Experience
My reason for shooting Boss Shotshells on this hunt was simple: I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Typically, I’m a 3 1/2-inch BB shooter when it comes to geese, and I was hesitant to not only drop in shotshell length but in shot size. I shouldn’t have been. Not only do these Copper-Plated Bismuth loads pattern exceptionally well, but Boss’ dedication to premium powder selection, a proper six-petal fold crimp, and a load of devastating Bismuth proved excellent. The blend of #3/#5 shot put lots of pellets into the air, and moving at a muzzle speed of 1,350 fps, allowed those belts to hit with brute force. The Copper-over-Bismuth build keeps the Bismuth uniformed and prevents it from coming apart too quickly. Wound channels were defined and deep. Out to 50 yards, this load was devastating on lesser and cackler Canada geese, and I’m excited to try the 3-inch #2 shot in the future when some larger birds arrive.
The bottom line is this: If you’re in the market for a new waterfowl shotgun and are looking for an excellent load to compliment it, the Maxus II paired with BOSS ammo is tough to beat.
For more information, visit browning.com or bossshotshells.com.