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Shotgun Review: Browning Citori Field Sporting Grade VII

The elegant new Citori from Browning is a stylish, high-end shotgun that rivals European guns in quality and performance.

Shotgun Review: Browning Citori Field Sporting Grade VII

The Browning Citori represents the ultimate over/under, a storied gun with a storied brand name capable of competing with any stackbarrel in the world, even those that costs thousands more. (Photo By: Brad Fitzpatrick)

When I was shooting on my university’s trap and skeet team 20 years ago, everyone wanted a Browning Citori. The school didn’t provide firearms or funds to go and buy them, so we were tasked with finding the money to lay our hands on a Citori or find someone willing to loan us their shotgun. I simply didn’t have the funds to buy one of my own, so I borrowed one from a friend for skeet competition and practice, and used my own BPS for trap events. I felt that once I owned my own Browning over/under I would have arrived, that I would have a field and target gun I could carry for the rest of my life.

I survived those lean college years, and after a couple years in the real world, I cobbled together enough money to purchase my very own Citori, a gun that I still own and shoot today. For me, like so many other American shooters, the Browning Citori represents the ultimate over/under, a storied gun with a storied brand name capable of competing with any stackbarrel in the world, even those that costs thousands more dollars.


The Details

If the Citori represents the pinnacle of shotgun design for you, then Browning’s new flagship Citori is a gun you will appreciate. Known as the Citori Field Sporting Grade VII, this gun offers something that entry level Citoris do not: A look that rivals the best guns from Italy and Germany. It’s offered in 20- and 28-gauge and .410, all of which feature a grade VI-VII gloss oil finish black walnut stock with a blank nameplate for adding the owner’s initials. The rear of the stock is mated with a large Inflex 2 recoil pad with radiused heel, and the fit between the pad and wood is, as you might expect, seamless. The Lightning-style forearm and pistol grip are covered with intricate diamond point 20 LPI cut checkering in the traditional Browning pattern.

Like other Citori guns, the Field Sporting Grade VII comes with an inertia trigger instead of a mechanical one, and these guns feature Browning’s Triple Trigger System that comes with three shoes so that you can customize the feel and reach. The trigger is gold plated for an extra touch of class.

Browning Citori Field Sporting Grade VII shotgun
The elegant design of the Citori Field Sporting Grade VII competes with the finest European shotguns. (Photo courtesy of Browning)

Even more striking than this Citori’s oil finish stock is this gun’s steel receiver. It comes with a silver nitride finish with hand and rolled scroll engraving and silver accents. On the left side of the receiver, you’ll find a pair of silver pheasants, and on the right side, a pair of ducks. A silver setter adorns the bottom of the receiver, but the scroll work extends to the trigger guard where you’ll find more scroll and a silver quail. Even the signature Browning Deeley-style forearm release receives this same engraving.

Most of the mechanical features from standard field Citoris can be found on this gun. The top lever and sliding tang-mounted barrel selector/safety will be familiar to anyone who has shot a Citori before. Coil mainspring hammers and hammer-fired selective ejectors come standard, as do chrome-lined chambers that resist barrel damage.

One of the hallmarks of Citori guns is their robust locking system that stands up to tens of thousands (or more) of rounds. The full-width tapered recess in the barrel lugs locks firmly into position on the full-width tapered locking bolt to provide stout steel-to-steel lockup. This is especially important since the weakest point on any break-barrel shotgun is the point where the barrels and receiver intersect. Decades of Citori production and millions of rounds fired by competitive shooters have proven that this system works.

Browning Citori Field Sporting Grade VII shotgun
Browning Citori Field Sporting Grade VII Shotgun (Photo courtesy of Browning)

Browning Citori Field Sporting Grade VII Specifications

  • Action Type: over/under break
  • Gauge: 20, 28, .410
  • Stock: Grade VI-VII Black Walnut
  • Stock Finish: Gloss Oil
  • Receiver Finish: Silver Nitride
  • Trigger: Inertia, Triple Trigger System, Gold-Plated
  • Chokes: 5 Extended Midas Grade (F, IM, M, IC, SK)
  • Barrel Length: 30–32"
  • Overall Length: 47 1/2 in. to 49 1/2 in.
  • Weight: 7 lbs., 5 oz., 7 lbs., 9 oz.
  • Extras: Locking Leather Case
  • Suggested Retail Price: $6,460-$6,540
  • Website: browning.com

The Gnitty Gritty

The knock on Citoris, of course, is that they’re heavy, a fact which shouldn’t come as a particular shock when you consider how much steel is included in one of these robust receivers. But since the Citori Field Sporting Grade VII is only available with 20, 28, and .410 scaled receivers, it’s light enough to carry all day, even with 32-inch barrels. The 20-gauge model, with optional 32-inch barrels, weighs in at seven pounds, seven ounces, on par with the average 12-gauge field over/under. Opt for the 30-inch barrels and you’ll cut this gun’s weight by two ounces. The 28-gauge and .410 models with either 30- or 32-inch barrels weigh about the same, with the heaviest of the bunch being the .410 with 32-inch barrels which top out just over seven-and-a-half pounds. Browning didn’t pull the weight of these guns from thin air—remember, this is a field and sporting gun, and while a very light shotgun is wonderful for long days spent hiking big, open country where you might only shoot a box of shells during the course of a week of hard hunting, it’s torturous to shoot those light guns 100 rounds at a time on a clays course. Seven-and-a-half pounds is a happy medium. It’s not so heavy that it handles like a piece of lumber in the field, yet it's not so light as to be abusive.

Rich bluing covers the barrel of the Citori Field Sporting Grade VII, which come with a midrib and a 3/8- to ½-inch tapered top rib with a white midbead and HiViz Pro Comp front sight. Five extended Midas Grade chokes come standard with each grade. The 20-gauge version comes with Invector-Plus choke tubes while the 28-gauge and .410 feature Invector chokes.

What’s it cost? $6,459.99 to $6,539.99 depending upon how you option it. That’s not cheap, but it’s not out of line when you consider that the scroll work and fit and finish on this gun rivals some Italian guns costing much more than that. If you’re a dedicated Browning collector I suspect you could find space in your safe for this gun. But beautiful as it is—and this gun is stunning—how does it perform in the field?


Field Performance

Some of the Browning die-hards standing in line to get their hands on one of these guns will undoubtedly transport this Citori from their FFL to the safe (perhaps because they don’t want their significant other to start asking questions about how much that new gun with the silver inlay and oil-finish stock cost). Striking as the Citori Field Sporting VII is, it would be a shame to put it up on blocks and never give it a test drive.

Those who elect to use their Citori Field Sporting VII for its God-given purpose will find that this gun is very well-suited for both hunting and sport shooting. I’ve become a fan of 30-inch barrels, first for sporting clays and then for everything else, and if I’m not chasing grouse in thick cover or trying to cut weight for a chukar hunt, you can believe I’ll carry a gun with 30-inch pipes. For those who prefer 32-inch barrels for sporting applications you could choose that option, but I think 30-inch barrels make the most sense on field guns.

Browning Citori Field Sporting Grade VII shotgun
With supreme design and reasonable carry-weight, the Citori Field Sporting Grade VII is both a top-shelf sporting and field gun. (Photo By: Brad Fitzpatrick)

I’m comfortable with the Lightning forend and it has grown to become my favorite design, and I am very impressed with the Inflex 2 recoil pad. You might not notice a difference in recoil when shooting a single gun, but when you shoot multiple firearms during the course of fire, you begin to appreciate that the Inflex 2 is indeed a worthwhile option. I also like the heel design which is resistant to snags, and since I shoot most of my sporting clays low gun these days (I’m not trying to break records, I’m trying to kill more birds during the season) I’ve grown contemptuous of a couple of shotgun recoil pads with which I once shared a cordial relationship.

This new Citori handles well, albeit not all that differently than models of similar weight, gauge, and barrel length. I personally don’t think fiber optic sights are a necessary addition to this gun, but I’m in the minority on that and I understand why Browning adds them to their competition shotguns. One addition I very much do like is the Triple Trigger System, which gives the impression that you melted the trigger metal and molded it around your finger when you find the right one for you.

All Citori shotguns work well in the field and on the range if you play your role, but this one looks a lot better performing its duties than its stablemates. Yes, the Citori Field Sporting Grade VII is a lust-worthy gun, and it’s just as good-looking (if not better) than the website photos reveal. There’s no more mystery regarding the reliability of these guns, so you can purchase one and hunt with it the remainder of your life. I suppose I’ll use that line on my wife when I eventually cave-in to my desire to own this gun. Here I find myself again craving a Browning Citori. That’s one way to relive your college years.

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