BC Miroku Model 700, 20 gauge over and under. 26-inch vent ribbed bbl. Left barrel marked 20g 3". Right barrel marked BC Miroku Arms Kochi Japan. Chokes full and improved modified. Serial number 333210. Recoil pad. Gun is in excellent condition. Perfect upland gun for someone who doesn't want to break the bank on a Citori.
When is a Browning not a Browning?
A slick answer would be "when it's a Miroku". In fact, so close is the relationship between the two companies that you can often wonder just what it is you're looking at. When examining new guns you come across this identity problem with the Browning 325, and with older guns you find it with the Browning Citori, which was produced in Mk1 and Mk2 versions as the years went by.
Miroku built both in Japan, and the stripped action of the Mk2 - the subject of this test - looks for the entire world like a 600-series Miroku. On the other hand, it looks mighty like a Browning 325 as well, and that again is hardly surprising, because it was the 325, which replaced Citori in the Browning range
The gun on test is a Trap version with 30-inch barrels the then-standard feature of multi choke tube in the bottom barrel only. In recent years Browning have abandoned this feature, and all trap guns have fixed chokes
The famous Belgian gun maker's answer to the price challenge was to move some production away from its Herstal headquarters into the cheaper manufacturing areas of the East, forming a strong alliance with Miroku of Japan.
Through this policy two new guns evolved the B125 and the B325. The B325 is a purely Japanese-made Browning, now selling in its cheapest multi choke version for well less than the company's advertised £1,280 if you go to the right gunsmith. The B125 has a recommended retail price of £3,240 for its cheapest multi choke version - again with some handsome discounts if you shop around. So why the price difference for two very similar gun?
The B125 is made of parts from the Far East, but is put together in Belgium. What you're really paying the extra for is the European craftsmanship, which goes into the assembly. You get a "Belgian-made" Browning rather than a Far Eastern gun bearing the famous maker's logo, and many shooters are prepared to pay the price.
The B125 was introduced in 1985 at a price of £1,495, and Sporting Gun commented at the time that we were "delighted that Browning had recognized the needs of the current market without sacrificing the quality." That's still true today: a B125 is a very well made gun.
Miroku 700 Series
Every Miroku gun sold in Europe will not only have passed a rigorous check - including an accuracy and pattern test - but will also have passed the uncompromisingly thorough CIP test of an European Proof House.
A Miroku for Every Shooter
Through thorough evaluation and discussion with Hunters and Shooters throughout Europe we have carefully developed a comprehensive range of Guns designed to meet all the needs of the Clay Layout and Hunting alike. These Guns combine long-standing Traditional Gun Making techniques with the most advanced manufacturing technology.
Miroku guns also have the addition of a chromed layer extending the full length of the barrels up to the choking area. All guns are beautifully engraved and finished in an aged silver or blued finish whilst high-grade guns receive the personal attention of a skilled engraver in a tradition that goes back centuries.
On the Stock and Fore ends the pitch of the chequering is set at a pitch of 1.25mm on standard models and 1.10mm on Higher Grade Guns which is both attractive and highly practical. Once more the chequering on much of the range is entirely hand crafted.
A Miroku for every Occasion
Whatever the Clay Shooting event MIROKU has an ideal Gun in its range be it Trap, Skeet, Double Trap Sporting Clays or Helices the range caters for a wide choice of barrel lengths, choking or over boring across a number of different Guns and engraving and wood qualities. New with this catalogue is the inclusion in the Trap range of a number of Guns featuring adjustable stacks and quick access stock bolts.
For the dedicated Hunter the choice is no less wide with a choice of Guns, barrel lengths and engravings. New with this Catalogue is the inclusion in the range of guns with 76mm (3") chambers to suit Magnum loads primarily for Non Toxic shot.
In devising and developing our Clay shooting Guns we have paid particular attention to developing Guns with Stock dimensions that have been proven successful in Competitions at the highest level. Additionally in response to a demand from many countries the majority of Miroku now have stock that measure 375mm (143/4") overall.
Whilst with our Hunting Guns a rigorous test and development program has lead us to talk with Hunters from a number of countries to assess requirements and make guns with the perfect combination of weight and strength to suit all needs for a wide range of differing quarries.
The quality of Miroku Guns never waivers: sturdiness, smooth action, safety balance and impeccable finish. Miroku has done its utmost to help you maximize your shooting skills in all conditions. When you choose a Miroku your shooting pleasure will not diminish over the coming years.
The Miroku manufacturing Plant in Kochi is one of the finest and most up to date (if not the finest) in the World. Employing almost 1,000 Trained and Skilled Technicians the Miroku Group brings an experience and capability with modern technology which is second to none in the World.
Miroku will show the full extent of their abilities by allowing a strictly limited number of these fine hand made Guns to be offered for sale outside their home market. Available with or without Side Plates these Guns ably illustrate the ability of Miroku's craftsman to compete with the finest Gun-makers in the World.
Miroku's factory in Kochi is the world's largest producer of sporting guns. David Grant tests its MK6O 12-bore to see whether Japan is the land of the rising gun.
Despite only having been introduced to this country in the mid-l960s by Parker-Hale, the Miroku Firearms Manufacturing Company has been in existence since 1893. The first shotguns imported by Parker-Hale were straight copies of John Moses Browning's classic over-and-under box lock design. With Browning taking over the distribution of the Japanese guns in 1980, the Kochi factory has become the world's largest producer of sporting guns, counting for 95 per cent of Browning 5 sales. Apart from its own comprehensive range of guns, Miroku builds the new Browning 425.
What, some may ask, is the difference between the MK60 and the B425? Very little, in fact, and those differences seem to be purely cosmetic. The Miroku differs from the Browning in its engraving, stock measurements, packaging and the box it comes in. Both guns share the same monobloc barrels, the same receiver, and the same Invector chokes -if fitted- and both are built with fore-end and stock of American walnut.
The gun under test was a grade 3 MK60 12-bore game gun with fixed chokes. I believe that the first areas a shooter examines when picking up a gun are the engraving and the quality of the wood - and there can be no fears on either count with the MK60. The wood on this gun was very smoothly finished with no blemishes. It had received a minimum amount of oil treatment and the grain was still open. I would recommend doing a bit of work on it, not only to protect it from the weather, but also to bring out the beauty of the excellent figuring and contrast.
Given that the fore-end and stock are formed by machine, the metal-to-wood fit is pretty good - not perfect, but nothing to affect ingress of water. I feel that tear drops or dropper points, as Browning describes them - carving the wood near the action - are an excellent feature. They don't affect the working of the gun but they do add to the looks. The ones on this gun are raised in the center and chamfered to the edges - much more attractive than the flat English version. The chequering has been hand-worked with a pitch of 1.1mm without a sign of overrun.
The distance from the center of the trigger to the middle of the polyamide butt-plate is 14 and a half inches. The pistol grip has no discernible palm swell, making it suitable for right-handed or left-handed shooters. The drop at the comb is 1 and a half inches and the drop at the heel is 2 and a half. There is no cast off. The fore-end is tulip shaped - in line with current fashion - and is totally removable from the barrels, released by a lever catch on the underside. The powerful coil springs for the ejectors are housed at the knuckle end of the fore-end.
The receiver is machined from a solid steel forging and brightly finished with a very attractive hand-finished engraving. The action is pure Browning, with wide sidewalls supporting breech and barrels and helping to reduce stress on the full-width hinge pin. The single trigger, trigger-guard and top-lever are polished, un-blacked steel.
Barrel selection is made with the normal knob on the safety catch, which, unfortunately for a game gun, is not automatic. With the B425 you get a choice, as the bits and pieces to make the safety come with the gun hut Miroku has not chosen to do this. The barrels, now 10 per cent lighter than previous models, are of monobloc construction, which allows harder steel to be used at the breech end and steel with more elasticity to be used in the tubes. Internally, the barrels are brightly polished and they are deeply blued on the outside. The reduction in weight gives the MK6O handling characteristics remarkably similar to the B25. The chambers are 2 and a half inches long and the barrels are capable of withstanding the pressures that steel shot creates. The top rib is narrow - 6.2mm - with gray beads at the end and middle of the rib. The gun was proofed in London at 900bar. I used to own a Miroku - a custom-finished Model 800 and it has been interesting to compare it with the latest version, now built with Browning's blessing and advice. The newer version is a much better gun to handle, with superior balance and, at 6 and a half lb., is ideal for both game and clays.
Now the dilemma - which to choose, the B425 or the MK6O? They are almost identical guns, both built in the same factory to the same standards. It is a very subjective decision. I like the dropper points and I prefer the Miroku engraving, but I do prefer the name "Browning". In boxing terms, it is a point's decision to the Miroku. A few rounds at sporting clays with the Miroku showed that it shot to point of aim, trigger pulls were crisp and the coil-spring ejectors consistently fired spent cartridges 1 and a half meters behind. The lighter barrels have improved its handling enormously. Miroku should have a winner on its hands. Having virtually identical measurements to my B25, it fitted me like a glove and, despite being new, felt like an old friend.
Prices range from £1,215 for a grade 1, £1,850 for a grade 3 to £2,230 for a grade 5. And for further information contact Browning telephone (01235) 833939.