Browning Citori 725 O/U Shotgun

By Randy Wakeman

Citori 725
Photo by Randy Wakeman.

New from Browning Arms comes the redesigned Citori 725 Over/Under shotgun, designated as a 2012 model. Far from just a cosmetic variation, the 725 is a completely redesigned Citori. It is like no other Citori I've ever used before.


The Browning Citori is the heir to John M. Browning's Superposed, the first commercially successful vertical double. It was one of J.M.B.'s final designs, in fact work on the Superposed was finished posthumously, the design brought to to completion by son Val Browning. John Browning saw the double barreled shotgun as the last firearm that tyrannical governments would seek to steal from their citizens.


John Browning, who died in 1926, never lived to see a production Superposed. Superposed production began in 1931. Comparative newcomers to modern O/U shotguns, like Beretta, didn't have any product until the late 1940's, with the Silver Snipe appearing around 1955.


Eighty years later, the Superposed (B-25) is still available from the Browning Custom Shop. An upscale shotgun, it was released during the Great Depression, just a couple of years after Black Tuesday. The Superposed, the “Aristocrat of Shotguns,” wasn't exactly an overnight sensation. However, Browning persevered and by the late 1950's and early 1960's, the Superposed was a solid success story.


In 1973, the B.C. Miroku manufactured Browning Citori was introduced and has gone on to become the most popular O/U in history. The 1,000,000th Citori was sold on May 20, 2008. Over the last thirty-eight years, the Citori has been offered in countless configurations and trim levels, but the basic action has been unchanged, rooted in the Superposed design of 1925. That brings us to present day, more or less.


The 725 carries on the classic look of the Superposed / Citori, but the action has been redesigned. The 725 retains the basic Citori attributes of hard-chrome plated chambers, the transverse mounted tapered locking lug, coil-spring powered hammers and full width hinge pin. It also has the, by now, standard Browning overbored barrels along with the latest Vector Pro forcing cones.


The differences and improvements are considerable. The receiver has a lower profile, suggesting less muzzle jump and a faster second shot. While I've owned and used numerous Citori's over the years, they have been too heavy to be pleasurable twelve gauge carry guns. Browning catalogs the previous Citori 625 Field 12 gauge with 26 inch barrels as weighing 7 lbs., 12 oz. Most of my prior Citoris, including a Citori Grade II 12 gauge custom model I hunted with for a few years, were essentially eight pound guns. This new Citori 725 is much lighter, weighing in at just over 7 lbs. with 26" barrels, shaving almost three-quarters of a pound off of previous steel-receiver Citori incarnations.


Browning has introduced a new single selective trigger in the 725, the mechanical “Fire Lite” trigger. The trigger on the tested 725 field model breaks at four pounds and change for both barrels, easily the best factory Citori trigger I've ever used and very good for a field shotgun. The sporting version of the 725 is rumored to have a somewhat lighter trigger. Barrel selection is via the tang mounted safety, in typical Browning pattern.


Another innovation present in the Citori 725 is the new Invector DS choke system, the DS meaning double seal. The unthreaded end of the choke tubes features a brass alloy band that prevents any choke tube loosening and keeps the outer wall of the choke tubes cleaner from blow-around. You can feel the additional torque needed when you screw in these tubes.


The lower barrel measures .738 in. via Skeets bore gauge, the upper barrel at .739. The exit diameters of the Invector DS choke tubes were a bit puzzling. The IC tube measures .739, the Mod .731, and the Full at .702 inch. Yes, you read that correctly: the choke tube etched “Imp. Cylinder – Lead / Mod. Steel” has essentially no constriction at all. At best, in the lower (slightly tighter) barrel, you have .001 in., .007 in. and .036 in. constrictions, the “Full” choke designated as a lead-only choke. Mis-marked factory choke tubes are a common issue and unfortunately this Citori 725 did not come with a useable pair of hunting chokes, a glaring oversight. As to what choke tubes are supposed to be, refer to "Shotgun Chokes" on the Tables, Charts and Lists page. Only the lead-only "Full" choke supplied comes anywhere close, the Modified choke does not even offer Improved Cylinder constriction parameters.


Browning refers to the gloss oil finish walnut on the 725 as “Grade II / Grade III.” The tested gun has nice wood, a well-figured buttstock and the forearm and buttstock are nicely matched in color. A plain pistol grip is used instead of the elegant Prince of Wales grip used on many previous Browning O/U guns. The silver-nitrided receiver has tasteful game-scene engraving. The checkering is cleanly and crisply done, with wrap-around checkering behind the tang.


Perhaps the only component that is a bit nontraditional is the latest Browning In-Flex II recoil pad. While nicley rounded and properly fitted, it isn't flush with the stock like most pads, having a proud ridge of elastomer where this black, non-vented pad meets the buttstock. The recoil pad is the only visual area where technology is given a slight nod over tradition.


The features and specifications are as follows:

    ·        Type: Over/Under shotgun

    ·        Caliber: 12 Gauge

    ·        Chamber: 3"

    ·        Receiver: Steel. Low-profile.

    ·        Receiver finish: Silver nitride with engraving

    ·        Barrel: Blued with ventilated top rib

    ·        Rib width: 1/4"

    ·        Barrel length: 28"

    ·        Trigger: Mechanical, single selective

    ·        Ejectors: Selective hammer ejectors

    ·        Safety: Top-tang mounted barrel selector/safety

    ·        Stock: Grade II/III black walnut with close radius pistol grip and gloss oil finish

    ·        Features: Vector Pro lengthened forcing cones; three Invector-DS choke tubes; ivory front and mid-rib bead sights.

    ·        Chokes tubes included: Full, Modified, Improved Cylinder

    ·        Weight as tested: 7 lbs. 1 oz.

    ·        Overall length: 43-3/4"

    ·        Drop at comb: 1-5/8"

    ·        Drop at heel: 2-1/2"

    ·        Length of pull: 14-1/4"

    ·        2012 MSRP: $2469

I've never considered a steel receiver Citori 12 gauge a particularly pleasant shotgun to carry for wild pheasants, until now. The Citori 725 is smooth, quick, responsive and faster than a speeding Illinois rooster. This gun fit me superbly.


It cried out to be shot, so naturally I didn't delay. Although no shotgun is going to be everyones' perfect all-around shotgun, the Citori 725 comes about as close as possible. It is light enough to carry in pursuit of wild pheasants and the recoil is easily controlled with the 1-1/4 oz. B&P MB Long Range (1330 fps) shells I was using; certainly nothing that interfered with a fast second shot.


Citori and pheasant in flight
Photo by Randy Wakeman.


Later, I put a higher volume of B&P F2 Mach 1 oz. (1300 fps) loads through it. I found the Citori 725 comfortable to shoot, surprisingly so for such a nimble, responsive, seven pound and change stackbarrel. The new InFlex II pad does its job quite well.


The Citori 725 embodies all the reasons you might want an O/U in the first place: trim forearm, crisp trigger, excellent balance and responsiveness. It is a gorgeous shotgun, as well. It is light enough to carry, yet soft enough shooting to have a blast on the dove field, or to have some fun on the skeet range. The 2012 MSRP is $2469 on this model, while the street price seems to be around $2000.


I have no trouble saying that the Citori 725 is the best Browning Citori ever, on the basis of the lighter barrels, lighter weight, lower profile, an improved trigger system and overall build quality: Yet, it retains the basic attributes that made the Citori the most popular O/U shotgun ever. It is one of the most thoroughly satisfying O/U shotguns I've ever reviewed.

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Copyright 2012 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.