Review: Browning 725 Citori Sporting O/U
The most exciting news in Over / Under shotgun land, as far as I'm concerned, is the new Browning 725 Citori series. This review covers the 30 inch 12 gauge 725 Sporting, which shares the superb new mechanical triggers, in Inflex II recoil pad, the Vector-Pro forcing cones, the well-figured wood, and the Invector DS (Double Seal) choke tube array all as offered on the 725 Field, previously reviewed.
What the 725 Sporting adds is a lighter trigger set yet, five extended Invector-DS tubes as opposed to three flush tubes, a palm swell on the pistol grip, a green light-pipe front bead (Hi-Viz), a plainer engraving style but with gold accents, the Browning Triple Trigger System, factory ported barrels, and a wider tapered ventilated rib.
Factory Published Specifications
As is the case with the entire Browning Citori 725 line, the receiver is reprofiled, offering lighter weight, and more compact envelope dimensions overall.
The weight of this 30 in. 725 Sporting comes in at about 7-3/4 lbs. as supplied, compared to the approximate 7 lb. weight of the 28 inch 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. Onto an area of interest, the choke tubes.
The lower barrel of the 725 Sporting measures .739 in., the upper barrel .738 inches. The inside diameters of the choke tubes are SK = .742 in. IC = .739 in., MOD = .732, IM = .726, and Full at .701 inches. Only the Full is designated as a lead-only choke tube. The Skeet tube is no constriction, actually a reverse constriction choke, while the IC tube is either no constriction, or a .001 in. constriction contingent on what barrel you screw it in to. By common standards, the Mod 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 in., the Mod at .731, 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).
The lower trigger breaks at about 3-1/4 lbs., the upper barrel tested concurrently breaks at 4-1/4 lbs. They both have no grit or substantial creep, so they rate as the best triggers put on a Browning shotgun in recent memory, the same going for the 725 Field. 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 1-1/2 oz. or 1-7/8 oz. payload heavy hunting load, in either case, so while some feel porting is a feature, it is a feature I'd rather do without. Porting increases noise, obviously, and it is noticeable to me despite wearing electronic hearinng protection. Not to the level of hunting loads, but obnoxious and unnecessary in any case. The 725 Sporting is a noticeably softer shooting shotgun than the already comfortable 725 Field, directly attributable to its noticeably increased weight over the field version.
As far as MSRP levels, which don't always mean much, the 725 Field is at $2469.99, the 725 Sporting is $3139.99, and the 725 Sporting Adjustable Comb model is $3529.99. Actual street prices are less at somewhere around $1950 for field models, somewhere around $2550 for the Sporting. Local prices vary, of course, so I have no I idea what they might be going for, exactly, at any of the thousands of dealers out there.
Like the tested 725 Field, the 725 Sporting has gorgeous wood, well-figured 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 as well.
The Browning 725 O/U series is the best vertical double 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. With the exception of the "Full" factory tube, they pattern far more openly 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.
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 little 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 oz. 1200 fps target loads as is, the new Inflex II pad is as good as any pad I've used in recent memory, so porting is of no advantage whatsoever as far as I'm concerned on the heavier 725 Sporting. Somebody must like it or think that it does something meaningful, but I'm not that somebody.
I've owned countless Citori's over the years, having shot competitively with the Browning 425 for some time. The 725 Citori is a huge advance in the Citori line, an exceptionally good handling shotgun with exceptional triggers. Browning should sell a ton 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 going to make a lot of people very, very satisfied. Congratulations to Browning Arms.
Copyright 2012 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.