A Browning BPS shotgun lying on a white, brick surface with empty shells nearby.

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This year, Browning announced the sad news that their BPS shotgun has been discontinued. A staple in the Browning lineup for over 40 years, the BPS first appeared in 1977.  It was a well-made, well-fit-and-finished pump gun. It looked like a Browning, with deep, rich blue and glossy walnut. Its all-steel receiver gave it a solid heft. And it had a Browning pedigree. Inspired by the John Browning-designed Remington 17 and Ithaca 37, it was a bottom-ejecting pump. You loaded it through the port in the bottom, and the shells ejected out the bottom, too, not into the face of the person sitting to your right in the duck blind. It also had a top safety, making it a genuinely ambidextrous gun.

The BPS came in all the gauges, from the massive 10 to the .410. Sixteens were made occasionally as special runs. There were field guns, a trap gun, slug models, and a short-barreled, straight-stocked upland gun. As a left-handed shooter, I had to have one as soon as I realized they existed. A 20-gauge BPS with a 26-inch barrel and Modified choke was one of the first guns I ever bought. To this day, it remains my favorite BPS, although I have bought and sold several over the years. I shot ducks, pheasants, and woodcock with that gun. I loaned it to my friend Jay when I took him hunting, then, to my almost immediate regret, I allowed him to talk me out of it for all of $250. I still miss it.

A young girl weather a hunter orange cap shoots a Browning BPS shotgun
The BPS came in all sub-gauges and was ideal for lefty shooters, with it’s bottom-eject and top-tang safety. Browning

I shot my first 25-straight at skeet with a 28-gauge BPS I had on loan from Browning. For a few days, I was afraid I would have to get rid of all my other guns and shoot it exclusively. The 28- and .410 BPS models were built on the 20-gauge frame, which made them a bit heavy for the uplands but especially shootable for clays and doves. Sweet as that 28 was, it wasn’t magic. At the next outing to the gun club with it, my scores fell heavily back to earth. That was a relief, honestly, as I liked my other guns, too.

Related: The 50 Best Guns of All Time

My next BPS was a 12, made during the BPS’s unfortunate engraved phase. It is true that the BPS receiver, with no ejection port to get in the way of engraving patterns, begged for decoration. What it needed was a sparse design like the one on the Auto 5, not a full coverage of scroll and game scenes so faintly executed that it disappeared if viewed at more than arm’s length. I covered the engraving with camo tape in the springtime, and mounted iron sights on the rib. I shot turkeys at home with it for a few years, and took it Missouri and Mississippi and shot turkeys there, too.

I eventually got rid of the engraved gun and found a used post-engraving BPS. I took it on duck hunting trips. Once, on my way to Arkansas, the guy at the airline check-in counter in Memphis told me what a nice gun I had when I took it out of the hard case to show him it was unloaded. That was the BPS in a nutshell: It was a pump gun that owners were proud of and others admired.

A Browning BPS shotgun lying on a glossy black surface.
The BPS was a well-made, well-fit-and-finished shotgun you could always rely on. Browning

And, the BPS worked. I once tripped on a steep bank and accidentally flung my BPS into a muddy creek. It went in barrel first and stuck, standing out of the water for an instant then listing like the Titanic to slide under the murky water. I fished it out—I hadn’t loaded it yet—and rinsed all the gritty mud out of it as best I could. It sounded like a coffee grinder when I shucked a slug into the chamber, but I killed a buck with it half an hour later.

My last BPS was a 10-gauge. At 10-plus pounds, it pointed surely. All that weight soaked up recoil, too, making it surprisingly pleasant so shoot. It was a great goose gun, although the forend of a bottom-eject pump has to be set well forward, especially with a 3 ½-inch action. I never got completely comfortable cycling that gun. It made me feel as if my arms were short. When the chance came to trade it for a Gold 10, I did.

A hunter in a waterfowl blind waits for ducks while holding a Browning BPS shotgun at the ready
The BPS was as well-suited to the duck blind as it was to the uplands. Browning

So, what happened to the BPS? Times changed. Semiautos were still called jam-a-matics in 1977, and many hunters back then preferred to shoot pumps even if they could afford a semiauto. As semiautos got better, the reliability gap between pumps and autoloaders shrank. Costs rose. The real advantage between pump and semiauto shotguns became price. The pump market adjusted. Remington responded with the Express in the 1990s, a cheaper version of the Wingmaster. Benelli introduced the very affordable Nova around 2000. Mossberg kept cranking out the same humble, durable Model 500 it has always made.

Related: The Best Cheap Pump Shotguns

The BPS wasn’t intended to be a cheap pump, and Browning stuck by its gun for a long time. While it’s too bad the BPS was discontinued, honestly, it stayed around a little too long. In the last years of the BPS, it was readily apparent that costs had to be cut to keep the price down, and the gun no longer looked like the glossy 20-gauge that I bought so many years ago. But that can hardly be counted against it in the big picture. For nearly 50 years, the BPS was a refined and reliable pump gun that any hunter could be proud to uncase. It may no longer be in production, but Browning made a lot of BPSs in 47 years. If you want one, both as a great hunting gun and as a relic of time that has just recently passed, you can find one used with plenty of shooting left in it.

The post Farewell to the Browning BPS appeared first on Field & Stream.

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