Browning Citori 725 Sporting O/U Shotgun
The most exciting news for 2012 in Over/Under shotgun land is the new Browning 725 Citori series. This review covers the 12 gauge 725 Sporting, which shares the new mechanical triggers, Inflex II recoil pad, Vector-Pro forcing cones, well-figured wood and Invector DS (Double Seal) choke tubes offered on the 725 Field, previously reviewed.
What the 725 Sporting adds is a lighter trigger, five extended Invector-DS tubes, as opposed to three flush tubes, a palm swell on the pistol grip, green light-pipe front bead (Hi-Viz), plainer engraving style (but with gold accents), Browning Triple Trigger System, factory ported barrels and a wider tapered ventilated rib.
· Caliber / Gauge 12
· Item Number 0135313010
· Barrel Length 30"
· Nominal Overall Length 48"
· Nominal Length of Pull 14 3/4"
· Nominal Drop at Comb 1 9/16"
· Nominal Drop at Heel 2 1/2"
· Nominal Weight 7 lbs. 8 oz. (7-3/4 lbs. as tested)
· Chokes Included Full, IC, Modified (Skeet and Cylinder also included)
· Chamber Size 3"
· Rib Width 5/16"-7/16"
· Metal Finish Silver Nitride
· Stock / Grip Gloss oil Grade III/IV walnut with close radius pistol grip
· U.S. 2012 Suggested Retail $3,139.99
As is the case with the entire Browning Citori 725 line, the receiver is reprofiled, offering lighter weight and more compact dimensions overall. The weight of this 30 inch barreled 725 Sporting comes in at about 7-3/4 pounds, compared to the approximate 7 pound weight of the 28 inch barreled 725 Field model. The extra weight comes primarily from the additional barrel length, more wood (longer length of pull and palm swell) and the wider rib.
The lower barrel of the 725 Sporting measures .739 inch, the upper barrel .738 inch. The inside diameters of the choke tubes are SK = .742 inch IC = .739 inch, MOD = .732 inch, IM = .726 inch, and Full at .701 inch. The Full is designated as a lead-only choke tube. The Skeet tube is actually a reverse constriction choke, while the IC tube is either no constriction, or a .001 inch constriction, depending on what barrel you screw it into. By normal standards, the Modified and the Improved Modified are actually nominally IC and Mod tubes, while the Full at .037 - .038 actual constriction really is a Full. For comparison, the flush DS tubes of the 725 Field came in at IC = .739 inch, the Mod at .731 inch and the Full at .702 inch, essentially the same nominal dimensions at the extended tubes either the same (IC) or within one thousandth of an inch (Mod and Full).
With the exception of the "Full" factory tube, they all pattern at a lower density (more open) then marked. It is no surprise why: in the case of the "Skeet" and "Cylinder" supplied extended chokes for example, there is no constriction at all. The Invector DS barrel system offers relatively light, responsive barrels: a very good thing. The Invector DS tubes do what they promise, preventing any chance of choke tube loosening and keeping the choke tubes themselves far cleaner than conventional chokes. Only two of the five chokes pattern as marked: the "Skeet" and the "Full." Good news for aftermarket choke manufacturers, perhaps, but not particularly good news for anyone else.
The lower trigger breaks at about 3-1/4 pounds, the upper barrel breaks at 4-1/4 pounds. They both have no grit and little creep, so they rate as the best triggers in a Browning shotgun in recent memory. The ported barrels on the 725 Sporting are the source of some conversation. Personally, I don't care for them, as they do very little for muzzle flip. A target shell doesn't have nearly the crack of a heavy payload heavy hunting shell, so while some feel porting is a “feature,” it is a feature I'd rather do without. Porting increases noise and it is noticeable to me despite wearing electronic hearinng protection. Not to the level of hunting loads, but obnoxious and unnecessary. The 725 Sporting is a noticeably softer shooting shotgun than the already comfortable 725 Field, directly attributable to its increased weight compared to the field version.
As far as MSRP, which don't always mean much, the 725 Field is $2469.99, the 725 Sporting is $3139.99 and the 725 Sporting Adjustable Comb model is $3529.99. Actual retail prices are less at somewhere around $1950 for field models and $2550 for the Sporting. Local prices vary, of course.
Like the 725 Field, the 725 Sporting has well-figured wood with the forearm and buttstock properly balanced in hue, mineral streaks and tone. This is refreshing to see, as too often there seems to be an inclination to add EE's and LL's after a model designation just to get wood worth having. The new "Inflex II" recoil pad is extremely effective.
The Browning 725 O/U series is the best vertical doubles Browning has ever released, based on handling, trigger quality, responsiveness, wood and overall build quality. It may well be the best O/U on the market for the dollar right now, particularly in Field trim. The sole area of consternation is the Invector DS factory choke tubes.
If I had my way, Browning would get rid of the barrel porting. The 725 Field, despite its lighter weight and no ports, is very soft shooting and has scant muzzle rise. The Sporting version, with its longer overall length and additional weight is going to have less recoil and muzzle rise, regardless. You could shoot the field model all day with popular 1 ounce 1200 fps target loads and the new Inflex II pad is as good as any pad I've used in recent memory, so porting the Sporting offers no advantage whatsoever. Somebody must like it or think that it does something meaningful, but I'm not that somebody.
I have owned countless Citori's over the years, having shot competively with Browning 425 for some time. The 725 Citori is a big advance in the Citori line, an exceptionally good handling shotgun with good triggers. Browning should sell a bunch of these and they should sell even more when they get around to applying the "725 treatment" to the sub-gauges. As far as I'm concerned, the Citori 725 series is the most desirable O/U shotgun line introduced in 2012 and they are are going to make a lot of satisfied customers.
Copyright 2012 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.