Browning Brings Back the A5 and Introduces the Citori 725

Browning uses a "Lady of the Lake" Excalibur moment to introduce the new A5.

Two new 2012 shotgun offerings have been announced from Browning Arms, the Citori 725 and the “A5.” Both introduce a new screw-choke system from Browning, the Invector DS meaning “double-seal.” A long choke tube, it has threads at the muzzle and a brass seal on the opposite end, promising cleaner tubes and easier removal. "Better patterns" are of course promised as well, as you might expect with something Browning calls the "biggest leap forward in design since interchangeable choke tubes were introduced." Based on the performance of factory Invector Plus tubes, it can't hurt. While much of the marketing of the "DS" doesn't make a lot of sense, the friction of the brass eliminating screw-choke loosening may well be its best practical feature.

The 725 is presented as a lower-profile, better triggered Citori. According to Browning, “The 725 showcases an all-new mechanical trigger (FireLite) that offers unmatched feel and lighter pull weights than ever before. Inflex Technology has also been added to make shooting more comfortable. And the new Invector-DS choke system moves to a new level of performance.”

The new A5 is an A-5 in name only, as the short-recoil action is called the kinematic drive system. Browning has this to say, “The all new Browning A5 is built to be the most reliable, fastest cycling, best performing and softest shooting recoil-operated (yes, recoil-operated) autoloader on the planet. And we are so confident in the A5, we are standing behind it with a 100,000 round or five year guarantee that this shotgun will work, come hell or high water. Standing firmly behind this claim is the ultra-reliable, honed to perfection Kinematic Drive System.” With a mainspring behind the breechblock, many will feel that this new action is a Browning re-engineering of the Benelli so-called inertia action. It has already been dubbed the "Brownelli."

It all looks like fun. Somehow, it isn't exactly the first time we have heard "most reliable, fastest cycling, and softest-shooting" though. Most autoloading shotguns made today are presented as coming with this, by now, fundamental and very basic feature set. That would include whatever Beretta, Benelli, Remington, Winchester brand, and Browning happen to have for sale at the moment. Actually, the original Auto-Five was and is perfectly reliable, and remains faster-cycling than most autoloaders made today. The new A5 is said to come with a "100,000 shot, 5 year warranty." This is embarassingly bad hyperbole, a hollow "feel-good" type of thing. No one I know puts 20,000 rounds a year through a hunting gun, so the round count is pretty goofy . . . should you send in the 100,000 hulls with your request for repair? Target loads at $65 / case means your ammo tab is $26,000 plus tax, but you can double that figure for many hunting loads. Browning firearms generally come with no written warranty at all, hardly a reason not to buy them. Their customer service is better than most and it needs no silly "five year" hype to be competent. It is a completely meaningless warranty bluster. As for "recoil," there is nothing present in the design of the A5 that reasonably does much of anything except the recoil pad.

Naturally, it is far too early to tell what exactly will be the case in terms of real-world performance of either model. The Citori, the most popular O/U ever made, has long been in need of losing some weight for upland hunting, and better triggers would naturally be an appreciated, and very much needed addition. The release from Browning suggests availability as "Fall 2011" so if that holds, they should be appearing soon.

If you've heard the A-5 is back, well-- it isn't. For the "A5," the use of the model number is a huge mistake, as it has nothing in common with J.M.B.'s Automatic-Five. It is confusing to consumers to hang that designation on a new model, just as the "A500 / A500R / A500G" was presented as the successor to the long-recoil A-5, which it clearly wasn't. Calling it the K-1, K-5, or K-9 would have made more sense. The K-5, or KD-5 for "Kinematic-Five," would at least allow the gun to have its own identity.

To be fair, though, Herstal Group has relied on one basic autoloader (the "Gold family") since 1993, with countless variations. After nearly twenty years, it is likely past time to offer more than just a gas autoloader. Certainly the "Beretta Group" has had little trouble populating it offering with far more variety over the same time frame. The new A5's logical competitor is the Benelli M2. The promise of being able to cycle 7/8 oz. loads holds great appeal for many shooters in the new A5, and I'm glad to see that it retains the Browning Speed-loading as well. While part of me laments the lack of attention to the 20 gauge as of late from Browning, it is good to see that "A5 Hunter" model offers polished blue and walnut. Availability is "Summer 2012." Weight estimates vary, as I've seen 6 lbs. 13 oz. bandied about . . . and also 7-1/4 lb. estimates as well.


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Copyright 2011 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.

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