Like many other upland hunters, I grew up on the Browning brand. My grandfather and father owned Brownings, and when I was young and in search of my first real bird gun, I was only interested in firearms that bore the Buckmark logo. The first gun I ever remember really longing for was a Browning Citori.
Despite a name change and factory relocation in the late twentieth century, the modern Citori looks and operates much like the original John Browning-designed Superposed that first drew American hunters to stack barrel shotguns. To many upland hunters, the Superposed/Citori was a blueprint of how an over/under should look, and few suspected Browning would stray very far from the shotgun’s original recipe.
Then came 2004 when Browning launched the Cynergy: an all-new over/under shotgun that looked decidedly different than the Citori family upon which the brand had built its O/U empire. The most obvious change to the Cynergy was its avant-garde, racy styling. The original Cynergy has a futuristic recoil pad that curved into a cutout in the stock and was said to reduce recoil by about 20 percent. But the biggest change was the new gun’s low-profile action. The Citori’s receiver is beautiful, but quite deep because the barrels attach to hinges located at the bottom of the action. That adds weight and increases the height of the receiver, so Browning’s engineers decided to switch to an innovative new Monolock hinge that has dual lumps that fit into channels in the Monolock. This eliminated the need for a hinge, lowered the Cynergy’s profile to compete with boxlock shotguns from Beretta and other European makers, and lightened the gun. It also changed the look of Browning’s over/unders and made some traditionalists cross.
The Monolock wasn’t the only difference between the Cynergy and Citori, and perhaps not even the most significant. The Citori utilizes an inertia trigger which harnesses recoil generated by firing the first barrel to reset the firing mechanism for the second barrel. The reasoning behind this is to prevent the shooter from accidentally doubling under recoil. The Cynergy, by contrast, introduced the world to Browning’s Reverse Striker ignition system; a mechanical trigger that allowed the shooter to fire two shots in rapid succession without the risk of doubling.
The Cynergy looked different than the Citori, but it also shot differently. Eventually, shooters came to appreciate the light, smooth-shooting Cynergy. Over the years, the Cynergy has evolved. The previous generation Cynergy Feather model came with the original fashion-forward recoil pad that cut deeply into the stock. The new Cynergy Feather, which Browning introduced for 2020 as a limited availability gun, is equipped with an Inflex pad similar to what you’ll find on the Citori and Citori 725. The new Cynergy Feather’s Grade I/II black walnut stock looks similar to what you’ll see on the brand’s other over/under shotgun lines, but there are differences.
For starters, the forearm is wider and flatter than the Citori and the Cynergy is equipped with a subtle Schnabel fore-end. The stock has a more traditional look than that of the first generation Cynergy Feather, but it’s extremely functional and comfortable.
The Cynergy Feather’s walnut stock contrasts nicely with the gun’s aluminum alloy receiver with silver nitride finish and engraved game scenes (a pheasant on the left, a duck on the right). Steel is used on the breech face and hinge surfaces for added durability. The Cynergy Feather is available in 12 gauge only and two-barrel lengths (26 or 28 inches). Cynergy Feather barrels features a ventilated top and mid rib, a blued finish and comes with a 5/16 rib with a single white bead.
The reduced receiver profile and use of aluminum alloy make the Cynergy Feather a lightweight field gun. The version I tested with 28-inch barrels weighed in right around 6¾ pounds (though that may vary slightly gun-to-gun because of wood density) and the 26-inch version weighs a couple ounces less. Despite the reduced weight, the Cynergy isn’t whippy. Balance point is right at the front of the receiver. This factor, combined with the gun’s light weight, superb stock design and low-profile boxlock action, make the Cynergy a very natural-pointing gun that’s great for getting on birds in a hurry.
The mechanical triggers are also excellent. Average pull weight for both barrels is six pounds and the trigger is lighter and crisper than other guns in this class. The Cynergy Feather’s gold-plated mechanical trigger is located inside an oversized, rakish trigger guard.
On the Range
Looks are subjective, but I’ve yet to meet a shooter who didn’t appreciate the Cynergy’s feel and handling. The narrow receiver does lower the gun and makes for effortless pointing.
Browning advertises a 60/40 POI with this gun, and I found that to be accurate. The patterns I tested struck dead-center out to 40 yards. I also had a chance to test the Cynergy on some clay targets. Using a Champion thrower, I simulated the most common presentations encountered in the field—hard crossers, outgoing, and angled shots. The Cynergy dusted targets at every angle, and it comes quickly to the shoulder.
Due to the stock design, recoil pad, and nice balance, this gun also handles recoil well. With standard field and target loads it’s not abusive. Even with magnum upland loads it’s still manageable, and with its matte finish and 3-inch chamber it wouldn’t make a bad duck gun. At the other extreme, with very light one-ounce target loads, the Cynergy is a very soft-shooting gun suitable for just about anyone—even young or small-statured shooters.
Whether you’re hunting chukar in steep canyon country, pheasant in Midwest crop fields or breaking targets at the local clay course, the Cynergy Feather will accommodate you. It may loom slightly different, but change isn’t always bad.
- Action: Over/Under
- Gauge: 12
- Chamber: 3-in.
- Barrel Length: 26 in., 28 in. (tested)
- Weight: 6 lbs., 12 oz.
- Overall Length: 45 in.
- LOP: 141⁄4 in.
- Stock: Grade I/II Black Walnut
- Receiver Finish: Nickel Alloy
- Barrel Finish: Blue
- Chokes: IC,M,F
- Sights: White Bead
- MSRP: $2,270
- Website: browning.com