Browning Citori O/U Shotguns

By Chuck Hawks

Citori Lightning Grade I
Illustration courtesy of Browning Arms.

The Citori was introduced in 1973 to a somewhat skeptical shooting public. Firearms made in Japan were not common at that time. But the Citori's obvious quality carried the day and it soon became the best selling O/U shotgun in the world.

The Citori is available in a number of models and grades. The Browning Catalog shows Citoris under the following general headings of Field (6 models), Target (6 models), and High-Grade (4 models).

Under the classification of Field there is the 525, Lightning (Grade I), White Lightning, Superlght Feather, Lightning Feather, and Lightning Feather Combo (a two gauge set in 20 and 28). As you can see, most of these are variations on the Lightning theme.

The Target classification includes the Citori Sporting, Lightning Sporting, XS Sporting, XT Trap, XS Pro-Comp, and XS Skeet. And the High Grade Models include the Citori Gran Lightning, Grade III Lightning, Grade VI Lightning, and Privilege (not a Lightning model, but 100% engraved with false sideplates).

The most famous Citori is probably the Lightning field gun. The standard Grade I Lightning comes with a select, checkered, American walnut stock and forend and light scroll engraving on the receiver. The stock has a durable glossy finish and the metal finish is a high luster blue.

The Grade IV (formerly Grade III) Lightning comes with a nicely checkered, highly figured American walnut stock and forearm. The stock finish is Browning's usual impeccable high gloss. The grayed receiver is covered with scroll engraving as are the trigger guard and tang screws. The rest of the metal receives a high luster blue finish.

The Grade VII (formerly GradeVI) Lightning comes with a very highly figured American walnut stock and forend and fine line checkering. There is 100% coverage relief engraving on the receiver plus gold birds on both sides (pheasants on the left and ducks on the right). The top tang, trigger guard, takedown lever and bracket are also engraved. The receiver can be ordered grayed or blued, and the rest of the metal receives a high luster blue finish. The Grade VI is a very fancy shotgun!

All Citori actions are hand fitted and come standard with selective hammer ejectors and a single selective single trigger. Like the Superposed, the barrels of Citori shotguns pivot on a full-length hinge pin that can be replaced should it ever wear. The chambers are chrome-plated to resist wear and corrosion. The wood is carefully hand fitted to the metal.

Also like the Superposed, the barrels are locked closed by means of a traditional underlug and bolt. The locking bolt is tapered, as is the locking lug recess. This means that as wear occurs over the years the action stays tight.

The barrels are struck full length as with traditional high quality doubles. The barrels are fitted with Browning's Invector Plus choke tubes.

Lightning models are distinguished by their rounded semi-pistol grip buttstock and slender, rounded forend. The comb is fluted and the checkering pattern generous on both the grip and forend. To me, the Lighting is the definition of how an O/U shotgun should look.

The Citori swings a little smoother and kicks a little less than many similar O/U guns because it weighs a little more, which is a good thing. The Citori will break clays and kill birds with the best of them if it fits the shooter and the shooter knows how to get the job done. In summation I can only say that I regard the Browning Citori to be an excellent O/U shotgun and a good value.

Note: A complete review of the Browning Citori Lightning shotgun can be found on the Product Review Page.

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Copyright 2004, 2012 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.