April 2012

Two Visions of the Citori O/U: The New 725 Vs. the Older XS

In this new Bargain Hunter feature, we carefully consider if innovations in the Browning 725 are worth the premium dollars the gun commands? Pitted against it is Browning’s stalwart XS.

One of the most popular over-and-under shotguns offered by Browning, the Citori line, has undergone numerous updates and upgrades over the years as thousands of target and field shooters look for something to improve their clay-busting and game bag-filling skills. A tweak here, a new twist there, and each new model is promoted as the key to shooting success. The practice must work pretty well, as very few of the major firearm manufacturers refrain from cranking out new and upgraded models on a regular basis.

One of the most recent entries to the new-and-improved market is the Browning Citori Model 725, released to the public last year as the latest in a long line of innovative over-and-under shotguns produced by the company founded by legendary firearms’ inventor John M. Browning. The Model 725 is an update of the models such as the 625, 525, 425 and XS over-and-unders that are considered among of the most popular stack-barrel shotguns in the country.

Lighter and trimmer than its predecessors, the 725 is billed as allowing the shooter to become “one with the gun,” with a new mechanical FireLite trigger for quicker second shots and new Invector-DS extended choke system for improved patterning and easier removal during choke changes. Several other minor changes are advertised as helping reduce recoil and provide better shooter comfort when touching off a round or two in the field or on the range.

To fulfill the requirements of the Bargain Hunter story angle, we revisited a Citori Model XS Sporting that was part of a Gun Tests review in 2007. The XS fell between the Models 425 and 525 in the Citori line and as noted in the earlier review, it is among the solid, dependable over and under shotguns made in Japan for Browning. In Bargain Hunter reviews, we not only will flyspeck the performance of the guns involved, but we will delve deeply into questions of value, perhaps saving you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in tightly-matched comparisons.

In this case, both the 725 and its XS predecessor feature the same rugged full-width hinge pin and tapered locking bolt design with locking lugs in the bottom of the receiver that have become a Browning trademark. In addition, both models come with three-stage triggers allowing for an adjustable length of pull, palm swells (for right-handed shooters), ported barrels, and screw-in chokes. Rather than use the internal Invector Plus chokes that came as a standard feature with Model XS, we upgraded to Diana Grade extended chokes for this match-up. Our reasoning was to pit extended chokes versus extended chokes as a fair test of performance.

Although the Model XS featured 32-inch barrels while the Model 725 sported 30-inch barrels, we did not think the slight difference in handling ability hindered a proper match-up of the two shotguns.

Our ammunition selection for this test included Winchester AA Xtra-Lite Target 2.75-inch loads that were 2.75-dram equivalent shells with one ounce of No. 71/2 and No. 8 shot traveling at 1180 fps for the sporting clays testing; and Federal Game Load 2.75-inch loads that were 3.25-dram equivalent shells with one ounce of No. 71/2 shot travelling at 1290 fps for field tests.

Since only the Model 725 would handle 3-inch shells, we limited our comparison to 2.75-inch loads. Anyone who has fired many 3-inch loads and suffered from the resulting shoulder shock can appreciate our decision.

Both shotguns handled the two types of shells with exceptional performance both in the field and on the sporting clays range with no malfunctions of any kind. Our team was particularly pleased with the solid hits using Modified chokes with both shotguns on high-flying mourning doves as far as 50 yards away. Here’s our test report:

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