Browning Cynergy Classic Field 20 Gauge O/U Shotgun

The Browning Cynergy was introduced around 2004, and caused instant reaction. It is a truly innovative over/under shotgun; one of the few truly “new” approaches in many years. Brand new from the ground up, many of the earlier models featured stock styles and general cosmetic features that only geometry students could warm up to. Not as peculiar as the Ljutic “Space Gun” that I used to shoot (nothing is), not as extreme as the Browning “Recoiless” that remains in my family, but enough unusual stylistic attributes to quickly evoke a negative reaction. Chuck Hawks has opined a bit about “Euro-trash” styling. Well, Cynergys had the harsh lines and “polygonal” overall looks to make a strong statement. It took innovation perhaps a bit too far in my view, as it obfuscated the fundamental greatness of the platform. I will note that “harsh lines” and “crisp lines” can be the very same thing, all depending on our tastes.

Perhaps you have heard the expression, “No one ever got fired for buying IBM computers?” IBM was long considered the safe choice against young upstart companies like Compaq, Dell, Gateway and the like. After all, what could be truly “IBM-compatible”? We know better now, of course, but rather than risk a mistake many bought IBM computers. Seldom the best value, but a choice that was safe in the job-protection department. IBM sold a lot of computers to businesses as a result.

Browning has been a victim of their own success in the O/U marketplace. After all, Browning was “O/U” when O/U was not in vogue. This was long before Beretta could so much as spell the term, much less manufacture it. Stackbarrels were very, very slow to catch on compared to other action styles. Browning, through their long, relentless Superposed marketing and manufacturing did more to popularize and portray the O/U as an elegant, aristocratic masterpiece than any other manufacturer; perhaps more than all of them combined. The Browning mystique trickled through to the Miroku manufactured Citori line, a simplified Superposed, which brings us up to the present.

A single platform has been the basis for Browning O/U shotguns for some eighty years. The Citori has been so popular, so well-respected, and so generally well-regarded that seldom do Citori owners feel “buyer’s remorse.” The Citori has long been a completely reliable, well-made, fundamentally sound shotgun now offered in an unequalled variety of configurations that it is very hard to replace, or displace. It was, and is, an excellent shotgun of recognized value.

The Citori has been so good for so long that when Browning again released a true “all Belgian” O/U made by FN it received little fanfare. Not helped by Olin’s trademark wrangling, the current production Winchester Select is what many have been seeking for years: an FN Herstal O/U updated with a lower barrel stack and a stronger version of the “Italian-style” action. It is available, although most seem to have ignored it.

Browning Cynergy Classic Field above, Citori 28 gauge below.

The Browning Cynergy is an O/U that glistens beneath the hood with fresh thinking. It is based on a striker fired design (no hammers). The chambers are chrome plated. The Cynergy Classic Field 20 gauge with 28 inch, ventilated top and side rib barrels weighs in at a light and lively 6 pounds, 3.5 ounces. In what is perhaps an industry first, the sample Cynergy actually weighs less than the catalog weight of 6 pounds, 6 ounces. It is a fast-handling gun that flies to the shoulder and is strikingly well-balanced. It also is a smooth-swinger, far better than I expected for a gun this light.

Here are some basic catalog specifications for our Cynergy Classic Field test gun:

Item Number - 013244604
Gauge - 20
Chamber - 3"
Barrel Length - 28"
Overall Length - 45"
Length of Pull - 14-1/4"
Drop at Comb - 1-1/2"
Drop at Heel - 2-3/8"
Average Weight - 6 pounds, 6 ounces
2007 MSRP - $2200

I felt, as did everyone that has seen this model, that this is one beautiful gun. The Browning Grade I satin finished walnut is evenly matched in color and tone and might be designated “semi-fancy” by some manufacturers. The steel receiver wears a silver-nitride finish and has some tasteful engraving. The light Schnabel fore-end gives the gun a casually appealing appearance. 20 gauge Cynergy field guns are supplied with three Invector-Plus choke tubes.

Browning delivers on the promise of setting the barrels low into the action, far lower than the trusty Citori, by means of a new MonoLock hinge. They are also lower than the Beretta 686/687/682 series over/unders. As a result, this Browning has marked less muzzle flip than any O/U of similar weight that I’ve ever fired. This is accomplished without barrel porting or other gimmicks of dubious value. Though a lightweight, fixed breech gun has little hope of being truly soft-shooting, this 20 gauge shooting standard 7/8 ounce factory loads has less felt recoil than a heavier Citori 28 gauge with ¾ ounce loads. Both guns have a hard plastic buttplate.

Pleasant enough to shoot with 7/8 ounce loads at doves, a steady diet of 1 ounce loads is too much jolt without a recoil pad. Though this gun has the best recoil pulse of any O/U tested at the same or similar weight, physics still seems to work. It should be supplied with a conventional recoil pad like its 12 gauge big brother.

You can forget about the typical spring fired selective ejectors in the Cynergy; it does not have them. Instead, there are two massive springs mounted on the sides of the barrels that power new impact ejectors. These automatic, selective ejectors are positive and work superbly. This approach eliminates the wimpy ejection experienced on some O/U models.

I consider the new fast-locktime, single selective, mechanical trigger to be a superb design. What I don’t appreciate in this otherwise innovative O/U is the trigger pull weight of just under 6 pounds. The trigger is crisp and otherwise satisfactory, but too darn heavy. I understand that this is a sign of the times in which some empty-headed folks attempt to affix attributes to inanimate devices that do absolutely nothing without human action. Despite our bone-headed legal system that helps perpetrate heavy triggers, I don’t don’t have to like it. Triggers that break at the shotgun’s weight offend me. You’ll need to immediately send a new Cynergy to your gunsmith for trigger work. I’m carping a bit more than usual here for two reasons: (1) I expect a decent trigger on a quality shotgun, (2) the rest of the gun is so good that the trigger stands out as a nasty distraction. The barrel selector is integrated into the top-tang safety.

I consider the Cynergy action to be the best available on a production O/U shotgun today. This is an action that will eventually make more conventional O/U actions obsolete. To my way of thinking, it already has. Previous Cynergy models were obscured by Chuck Hawks' "pointless Euro-trash styling" and most Cynergy models still are. I’m trying to think of an O/U in the price range of the Cynergy Classic Field that compares favorably to it in design, workmanship and materials, and I’ve come up empty. Build quality is present in many shotguns, not the least of which is the Browning Citori. Nothing touches this action, though.

Copyright 2007 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.



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