Browning O/U 20 Gauges: New Model 725 Versus Veteran 325
New versions of veteran shotguns are sometimes worth extra money at the counter. But would that be true when a new Citori 725 went against a hard-to-find, but willing, Citori Model 325?
Browning over-and-under shotguns have been a staple on the shooting market for longer than many veteran wingshooters would like to remember. In the simplest terms – they work. Naturally as time rolls on, innovations to help make the shotguns more user friendly, handle and perform better, and just make them more appealing to the eye are tossed into the mix. A good example is the transformation of Browning offerings in the Citori Model 25 line, as in 325, 425, 525, 625 and the current 725.
The latest smokepole to find its way into hands of hunters and target breakers is the Model 725 in 20 gauge that hit the market in 2014. The main new features to the subgauge over and under are internal — such as a mechanical trigger system, back-bored barrels with lengthened forcing cones, and the Invector-DS choke tube system introduced with the 12-gauge Model 725 a couple of years ago.
To see just how much the Citori had changed, we were able to obtain a Browning Model 325 20 gauge in very good shape. Last produced in the late 1990s, the Model 325 was the first in the line of X25s and has become quite scarce — their owners don’t seem to be too anxious to part with them. The Model 325 we got our hands on had been in the gun safe of an acquaintance for quite some time, but was in excellent shape and provided a good example of how shotguns can change and still stay the same. The veteran 20 gauge featured 30-inch ported barrels and inertia triggers.
While the new Model 725 field version we used in the test carries a suggested retail price of $2470, the veteran used Model 325 in very good shape, if one can be found, is priced at about $1,500. We did not consider the price difference to be a major factor in our evaluation. As Gun Tests readers often point out, we’ll talk about the guns, and the reader can decide if his budget can take the hit.
To check out the two 20-gauge shotguns in a variety of shooting situations, we selected the following test ammunition: On the target range and at the patterning board, we used Winchester AA Target 2.75-inch loads packing 7⁄8 ounce of No. 8 shot with an average muzzle velocity of 1200 fps, and Remington Premier STS Target 2.75-inch loads with 7⁄8 ounce of No. 8 shot with an average muzzle velocity of 1200 fps. For tests in the field, we used Federal Game 2.75-inch loads with 7⁄8 ounce of No. 7.5 shot with an average muzzle velocity of 1,210 fps. There were zero malfunctions with any of the loads in both of the test shotguns. Here are our findings: