November 20, 2013

Browning Citori Model XS Sporting Over/Under 12 Gauge, $2120 (used)

Gun Tests magazine compared two high-end shotguns from Browning in the April 2012 issue to see which model offered the most bang for the buck. This Bargain Hunter test pitted a used Browning Citori Model XS Sporting Over/Under 12 Gauge, $2120; and a Browning Citori Model 725, $3140, on the competition shooting range. Here’s an excerpt of that test, used with permission:

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.

Browning Citori Model XS Sporting Over Under 12 Gauge

Gun Tests Magazine

Our testers said both the XS and 725 were pleasures to shoot and handle, and they would be happy to add either one to their firearms collection. We gave a slight edge to the XS over the 725 because it cost less and had slightly better performance at the patterning range.

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:

Browning Citori Model XS Sporting Over/Under 12 Gauge, $2120 (used)

This is considered a classic over-and-under that was introduced between the Model 425 and the Model 525, all of which are still readily available in the used shotgun market. The trademark receiver with a tapered locking bolt recessed into the bottom of the receiver allows the bolt to actually continue to set deeper through extended usage to keep the system tight as a drum. With the locking lugs underneath the receiver, recoil from a shot is transferred through the bottom of the action, rather than the top, to reduce muzzle jump and recoil. This feature alone is what has helped Browning maintain its popularity among shotgun shooters across the country.

The Model XS with its 32-inch barrels is a heavyweight in the over-and-under class, tipping the scales at a hefty 8.25 pounds. The weight of the shotgun was not overbearing, and its heft and feel were appreciated when swinging through long-distance targets.

Drop at the comb was 1.5 inches and drop at the heel of was 2.25 inches, which is standard for an out-of-the-box Browning shotgun. As noted earlier, the Triple Trigger system allows for an adjustable length of pull, created by moving the trigger forward or backward and tightening it in place with a supplied Allen wrench. This can produce an LOP adjustable from a maximum of 15 inches down to 14.5 inches. In addition, three different styles of gold triggers are a standard offering with both the XS and 725 — another Browning special well appreciated by our shooters. While not as important as with rifles in target shooting situations, the feel of a shotgun’s trigger should be comfortable for scattergun enthusiasts interested in shooting success. The Browning system is one of the best methods to ensure trigger comfort.

The XS earned high praise for some of the best factory triggers we have encountered, with the top barrel breaking at 4 pounds and the bottom pull at 4.25 pounds. Both pulls were very crisp and clean, although it should be noted that the XS featured an inertia system (the firing of the first shot stages the second shot) rather than mechanical triggers. This is one of the downsides of not being a product of modern technology, but we considered it only a slight blemish on the XS overall picture.

Both of the Brownings featured palm swells on the grip that are designed for right-handed shooters. Left-handed shooters are out of the shooting equation unless they obtain a custom stock. However, since all of our test team members were right-handed shooters, we found the palm swells provided a firm, comfortable grip. As a team, we were evenly divided in our preference of the slightly smaller palm swell of the XS over the larger swell of the 725. That is certainly a matter of the personal preference of each individual.

Browning Citori Model XS Sporting Over Under 12 Gauge

Gun Tests Magazine

The palm swell (for right-handed shooters only in the case of these two Brownings) is noticeably larger in the Model 725, right, than in the Model XS. We were evenly split on which swell provided a better grip. It is basically a matter of personal preference.

There was virtually no difference in the sighting plane along the identical ribs of the two shotguns. We did like the inclusion of several different colors for the HiViz Pro-Comp front sight on both shotguns that comes with white, red and chartreuse light pipes as part of the accessory package. Combined with the white mid-bead, the sighting system is very effective in making sure the shooter is looking down the barrel in the right way to break clays and hit birds. Another plus for both Brownings.

During our trip to the patterning board, the Model XS produced a good uniform spread of 45-55 percent (with 45 percent of the hits in the top half of the pattern) at 30 yards. We used the Diana Grade modified choke in the 32-inch top barrel and the Winchester AA No. 71⁄2 shot (our hand count of the ammunition found an average of 354 pellets in the one-ounce load). This average is very close to the 50-50 pattern the members of our team prefer in a sporting-clays shotgun.

We also found that the Model XS put an average of 316 pellets in the 30-inch circle, with 225 hits in the center 20-inch circle. There were no holes in the pattern, although there were 64 percent of the hits on the left side of the spread.

As a side test, also fired a few rounds through the Invector Plus Modified choke that was one of the standard chokes sold with the Model XS when it was a new item from Browning. The average pattern of 246 hits was 50-50, with 58 percent of the strikes on the left side and 168 hits in the center 20-inch circle. The solid performance of the Diana Grade extended choke was slightly better than the results with the new Invector DS choke (those results are detailed below) and transferred to the field during several mourning-dove hunts in south Texas.

Although some of our test team members normally prefer lighter, quicker sub-gauge shotguns for doves, we were all impressed with the very solid long-range bird-downing ability of the longer-barreled shotgun. Multiple single-shot kills at 50 yards or more — witnessed and verified by other test team members — put quite a few birds in the game bag. While there were some minor complaints about the XS being too heavy to carry as a field gun, there was only praise for its bird-busting performance.

Our Team Said: In this match-up of a seasoned veteran versus a new and improved version of basically the same shotgun, we simply had a very hard time finding a problem with either Browning. Handling ability, stellar performance, and shooter-friendly firearm features were nearly identical. Both the XS and 725 were a pleasure to shoot and handle — either shotgun would be a fine addition to anyone’s firearm collection. In the end, we decided to give a slight edge to the Model XS over the Model 725 because of its lower price and razor-thin better performance at the patterning range and in the field.

Comments (36)

Awww, Cecil, there's no mystery to it. Probably because I'm an old retired fart, I have a lot of time to mess with my guns, and I discover quite a bit by just playing with them. Also, I subscribe to a bunch of gun periodicals, and I read them cover to cover, as well as using several really good books in my library as reference sources. I also spend an appreciable amount of time just shootin' the breeze with guys at gun shows. Since I have always had a fascination for all manner of firearms, I just normally soak up a lot of information about them.

Posted by: canovack | November 29, 2013 6:32 PM    Report this comment

Colonel, you sure as hell know a lot more about guns than do I.

Posted by: Cecil B | November 29, 2013 2:46 PM    Report this comment

Thanks Colonel. You knew there was a reason you mentioned that.

Posted by: runner | November 29, 2013 2:24 PM    Report this comment

Well, runner, I don't see that there is any major advantage to a cartridge that headspaces on the shoulder instead of the case mouth. I included that with my third reason for liking the cartridge, as a neutral observation. That said, however, in the remote chance that a pistol's chamber might be bored too deep or if the cartridge case was a tad short, the shoulder of the cartridge would still halt the forward movement of the cartridge as it is loaded into the chamber. This would insure proper seating in the chamber and negate any forward-rearward movement of the cartridge, thus insuring a proper strike of the firing pin on the primer. I once had a pistol chambered .40 S&W, whose chamber was so long (deep?) that I could actually hear the cartridge moving back and forth in the chamber as I shook the pistol. The result was frequent misfires, because the firing pin did not consistently strike the primer when the cartridge had seated at the case mouth and chamber leade.

Posted by: canovack | November 29, 2013 12:49 PM    Report this comment

Thanks canovack for explaining why the .357 SIG is among your favorites. I understand all of your reasons but one. What is the significance/advantage of the headspace measurement from the shoulder of the case, rather than from the mouth of the case as in straight or slightly tapered cases? Thank you.

Posted by: runner | November 29, 2013 10:00 AM    Report this comment

My love affair with .357 SIG is based upon three features. 1) I think bottleneck pistol cartridges are badass. I have a couple of pieces chambered 7.62x25 Tokarev, and they speak with some real authority. 2)The Texas Department of Public Safety adopted SIG Sauer P229 pistols in .357 SIG, because the round is the only one that routinely punched through slanted windshield glass, while other candidates bounced off. Ballistically speaking, the .357 SIG is the pistol's equivalent of the revolver's .357 Magnum. 3) No matter what sort of bullet may be stuffed into the cartridge, because it is bottlenecked, it will always function well in any pistol without concern for jams. It also headspaces on the shoulder of the case, rather than the mouth of the case as is common with straight or slightly tapered cases.

While one usually cannot go wrong with the purchase of Colt firearms, once that rampant pony is stamped on the frame, the price immediately jumps into some pretty rarified atmospheric stratum. I have a number of Colt revolvers plus the two 1911s I mentioned above, along with a Colt 2000 All American pistol. They're all great pieces, but my Para Ordnance P12-45 shoots just as well as any of the Colts.

Posted by: canovack | November 25, 2013 10:37 AM    Report this comment

I am here to learn from your extensive experience; refering to all of you. Colonel, I would like to know why .357 SIG is among your favorites. I did check with and found they listed some 2 dozen Colt 1911 variations. MSRP ranged from just under $1K to more than $2K. Apparently they are all made with Unobtainium as none were available.

Posted by: runner | November 25, 2013 10:09 AM    Report this comment

I paid about $1200 for my last one 2 or 4 years ago. But, I have NEVER had a problem with any that I have owned. I always know it is going to go bang and when you NEED it to, that's what counts. I do love my .44 too.

Posted by: Cecil B | November 24, 2013 8:43 PM    Report this comment

Thank you both for the input. I appreciate it. I will not be carrying it, but use for target shooting for fun and for home defense if the need ever arises. Colt 1911s are among the most expensive, but I assume you believe the cost is worth it.

Posted by: runner | November 24, 2013 7:58 PM    Report this comment

No Colonel, we never think that. You always present concise, informative data that is not always available. And we ALL thank you for that. Hell, very few got to fly a gunship.

And Runner, I myself own a couple of Colt Govt. models. I carried a Commander when I was a Sgt with the police department cause I was doing more supervising than gunfighting. I know there are probably better firearms available but to me, Colt is the 1911 for me.
And if you run out of ammo and the guy is still trying to kill you, it DOES make a great club AND won't be broken in the fight. Just my opinion.

Posted by: Cecil B | November 24, 2013 7:38 PM    Report this comment

I bought my first 1911 in October 1964, when I was finally able to scrape up the $90.00 I paid for a brand new Colt Government Model. I was a young Army lieutenant with about a year in service, and money was pretty scarce, but I just had to have that Colt, since it was the standard side arm of US Forces. Over the 50 years since then, I have bought, sold, and traded literally hundreds of rifles, pistols, revolvers, and shotguns. I presently have three 1911s in the collection. Yes, I still have the one from 1964 plus a GI 19ll I got from my father-in-law, and a Para Ordnance P12-45 compact. Without a doubt, 1911s are great guns, but I rarely carry one anymore. I have become a great admirer of SIG Sauer pieces, owning several, because I was never quite comfortable with the cocked and locked carry of the 1911. .357 SIG is among my favorite calibers, and on any given day, I can usually be found with a P229 DAK in that caliber on my right hip.

Many in this forum have likely seen me post comments about a variety of firearms, because I have owned so many of them. I suspect that from some quarters they may be thinking....."oh here he goes again with something to say about_____", but it's true.....I just have owned a lot and now do own a lot of firearms.....

Posted by: canovack | November 24, 2013 5:03 PM    Report this comment

For the geographically curious, I live in St. Petersburg. The one in Florida, not the one in Russia.
I am a gun nut novice. I bought my first gun, a single shot .22 from Sears. I don't remember for certain how old I was, but probably about 12. It was sold to me no questions asked. It was a simpler time then. Anyway, career and raising children took up all my time for decades. So now I have time on my hands and some money that is not ear-marked for something else. In recent years, I aquired a Ruger Single Six Convertible, a Hi-Point .45 carbine, and a couple of Mosin-Nagants left over from The Great Patriotic War.
Now I have the itch for a 1911. My only experience with one was one trip to the range in the Navy in the early '70s. I really like the look of it. It gives the impression you could drive nails with it. Not with bullets, but using it as a hammer. I would never do that obviously. I like the look of the Remington 1911R1. It seems close to the original, except for the grip safety, which may or may not be a good thing. I held one in a store, and it felt good, unloaded of course, and you can't try out a gun before buying it. There are probably more variations on the 1911 than anyone can count, so it may be a case of too many choices.
I would appreciate any information and advice from personal experience about various 1911s. Thank you very much.

Posted by: runner | November 24, 2013 4:03 PM    Report this comment

Yes Sir. After the holiday madness, we should do that. We could meet half way.

Posted by: Cecil B | November 24, 2013 1:49 PM    Report this comment

Cecil, you and I definitley must close the distance and get together for some serious tipping of the suds and spirits.....

Posted by: canovack | November 24, 2013 10:53 AM    Report this comment

It is interesting to read the comments in here and visit with guys who are old like I am. I have learned a lot and appreciate all the information, quips and sometimes the reprimands when my mouth overloads my ass.

Posted by: Cecil B | November 23, 2013 10:08 PM    Report this comment

This is one of the best forums I have encountered, for the exchange of information among gun guys. Granted we digress, but what's a little gossip among friends? I'm glad that some folks find my posts interesting or entertaining, since I often find lots of interesting/entertaining stuff posted by other folks, too. One of these days, it would be really interesting to actually get together and meet someplace where we could actually see who we are talking to. That said, however, I suspect that our geographical locations, in many cases, are pretty far flung. Cecil and I are only about 150 miles from each other, but some of our guys are way, way out there.....even in other countries.....

Posted by: canovack | November 23, 2013 5:26 PM    Report this comment

Thanks for the welcome Colonel. I have been a fan of yours for some time. You always have something to say that is worthwhile; informative, entertaining, and well written. My thanks to you for all of that.

Posted by: runner | November 23, 2013 12:39 PM    Report this comment

OK, James M.....or "runner", welcome to the forum. As you can see, some of the old gang often will digress into other areas of interest besides what is in the original article. We like it that way, and it tends to keep things on the light side.....

Posted by: canovack | November 23, 2013 10:18 AM    Report this comment

We do have varied interests James.

Posted by: Cecil B | November 22, 2013 10:57 PM    Report this comment

Apparently the computer wants to call me runner, so I will just leave it at that. James M.

Posted by: runner | November 22, 2013 10:39 PM    Report this comment

These posts are interesting and entertaining. Shotguns, big tits, licking the jar, then it goes into the dumper. I'm in the old fart age range so I can identify with all of it. Thanks fellas.

Comment by: James M.

Posted by: runner | November 22, 2013 10:36 PM    Report this comment

Thanks for the info Colonel.

Posted by: Cecil B | November 22, 2013 9:06 PM    Report this comment

Oh, BTW, Cecil.....I use generic stuff for my cocktail. Walmart Equate brand psylium powder and Clearlax work just as well as the branded stuff, but they come in considerably cheaper. And, yes! The temp this morning was 35 and wet. It felt like the Michigan weather in which I spent my youth.....or maybe MISspent my youth.....

Posted by: canovack | November 22, 2013 3:07 PM    Report this comment

I'll have to give it a try Colonel. As for the licking part, my neighbor lost her house, so there went ANY chance. Freezing my butt off today.

Posted by: Cecil B | November 22, 2013 12:40 PM    Report this comment

Hmmm.....Even licking the edge of the jar is getting more difficult. Hey, Cecil.....Every morning, I have a cocktail of psylium powder, Miralax, and water spun in a blender. It works pretty well, but be careful of how much Miralax you put in.....

Posted by: canovack | November 22, 2013 12:35 PM    Report this comment

Here's one to remember--"you may be too old to cut the mustard, but you are never too old to lick around the edge of the jar" =)

Posted by: Sluggy | November 22, 2013 11:55 AM    Report this comment

Sluggy: Neither did I but the time just flies and before you know it, you are praying for normal bowel movements and fewer aches and pains.

Posted by: Cecil B | November 22, 2013 11:51 AM    Report this comment

Sorry, I understand completely. I too am a member of that Old Farts Club! I just never intended to join that quickly!!

Posted by: Sluggy | November 22, 2013 11:42 AM    Report this comment

Well, Sluggy, as I have commented to others who have made the same observations as you, there are some of we old farts in this forum who have been in here for years and years. We have formed friendships right here, and we sometimes (often times?) drift from the subject of the article. Please try to be patient with us.....we don't mean to confuse anybody. We're only talking about things we enjoy.....

Posted by: canovack | November 22, 2013 11:37 AM    Report this comment

Hmm, confused. This article has nothing to do with cheap double barrels.

Posted by: Sluggy | November 22, 2013 11:13 AM    Report this comment

Sounds like we wear the same clothes Colonel. I see a lot of the double barreled "Coach Guns" for same lately. Does look scary from the front end. And I have the ammo carriers on mine too. I am betting I would love that little 20 gauge.

And JJ. I sgree with the big titted blonde gun bearer. Tits just go so well with guns. LOL.

Posted by: Cecil B | November 22, 2013 11:07 AM    Report this comment

Both are excellent target guns. Having owned both I much prefer my 32" 725 Sporting. Overall design, lighter barrels and mechanical triggers make a big difference.

Posted by: Sluggy | November 22, 2013 10:10 AM    Report this comment

Gimme' a break...two grand for a used, two shot, shotgun when most of us are scrabbling for cash to buy ammo for our defense? At that price it should come with a big breasted blonde as a gun bearer.

Posted by: J J | November 22, 2013 7:12 AM    Report this comment

I did carry a sawed off double barrel when I was on the streets. It got the attention of the bad guys much more than the Ithaca pump I had. I never understood it but it could scare shit out of the woods. Still have it and I think I paid about $80 in 1972.

Posted by: Cecil B | November 21, 2013 10:37 PM    Report this comment

to subscib was $2.00 at checkout was $24,00 what is this?

Posted by: hebert3007 | November 21, 2013 9:34 AM    Report this comment

I have always been fascinated with double barreled shotguns, both side by side and over/under. The very first shotgun I owned, as a lad, was a Stevens M311 side by side in 20 gauge. It was followed by a Remington M870 12 gauge pump, and I was finally bitten by the over/under bug. I responded by purchasing a brand new Browning Superposed Lightning 12 gauge, and I felt like I was on top of the world. By-the-way, I purchased it in Anchorage, Alaska in 1967 for the price of $400. Now, as I think of it, at the present time, $400 barely gets us to an entry grade shotgun of any sort..... My, haven't times changed?

Posted by: canovack | November 20, 2013 5:12 PM    Report this comment

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