Below is my review of the Browning BT-99, a break open single shot trapshooting shotgun.
Until recently, a Remington 11-87 served as my trapshooting shotgun, and I was quite happy with it. Then, my fiancé started going trapshooting with me, and ended up really liking my 11-87 (due in part to the recoil-dampening effect of the gas piston system). So I decided to give it to her, and bought myself a BT-99. With that background information out of the way, here are my thoughts on the BT-99:
The Browning BT-99 is a single shot break open trapshooting shotgun, which comes in a few different models. Some have an adjustable stock and/or adjustable comb, and buyers can choose a 30″, 32″, or 34″ barrel. Weight will vary based upon the exact model, but my 34″ BT-99 with an adjustable comb tips the scales at 8 pounds 5 ounces, and has an overall length of 51 inches. Since the BT-99 is a trapshooting shotgun, and trapshooters don’t load or close their shotguns until seconds before they fire, the BT-99 neither has nor needs an external safety. Again, since this is a trap shotgun, the sights are set up so that the point of aim is just above the front sight, allowing the shooter to clearly see the clay target.
The BT-99 is one of the more expensive guns I own, and the quality seems to match the price. The break open action is smooth yet snug, and the trigger is crisp. Every piece fits where it should, and disassembly/reassembly requires little effort. The only thing I don’t like is that the wood on my BT-99 doesn’t seem to look quite as good as the wood on my previous 11-87. That really don’t matter much to me, and I fully recognize that the aesthetic properties of a gun’s stock are highly subjective. I also believe that I really lucked out on the food that came with my 11-87, since it looks far better than many other 11-87s I’ve seen. But, since the BT-99 did cost $500 more than the 11-87, I still think some slightly nicer wood should have been used. Leaving that aside, I’m quite happy with the build quality of the BT-99.
The adjustable comb allows the stock to precisely fit against the shooter’s face, while providing an optimal sighting picture. Some of the more experienced trapshooters that I’ve spoken with find the adjustable comb to be one of the most important features of a trapshooting shotgun, and I’m now inclined to agree with that statement. The BT-99‘s comb is adjusted by inserting a 7/64″ Allen wrench into the stock, turning the key to loosen the comb, moving the comb into the desired position, and then locking it in place by again twisting the Allen wrench. This provides an easy yet secure system for adjusting the comb, and I appreciate that Browning used a standard Allen wrench (once of which is provided with the shotgun) for this adjustment. Should a shooter lose this Allen wrench, a trip to the local hardware store can replace it, without the need to order an expensive proprietary key and wait for it to arrive in the mail.
Break open shotguns like the Browning BT-99 are known for their reliability, since there is simply less that can go wrong with them, compared to gas operated or even pump action shotguns. Although I bought the BT-99 rather recently, and haven’t fired that many shells through it yet, I can say that I experienced no problems thus far.
The first time I took my BT-99 trapshooting, I hit 22 out of 25 of the clay targets. This is better than I usually average, and especially pleasing since I managed to do pretty well while getting accustomed to a new shotgun. So far, I’m using the full Invector Plus choke that came with the BT-99, although I am considering switching to a modified choke.
The Browning BT-99 is a great trapshooting shotgun, and I highly recommend it. The break open action is simple and reliable, while the adjustable comb really help the gun to fit perfectly against the shooter’s face. For the price, I think the wood could look a little better, but that is not to say there is anything wrong with its appearance. All in all, there is no trapshooting shotgun in the BT-99′s price range which I would rather own.