Proven on the range and in the field, Browning’s famed O/U shotgun continues to be a favorite of the trap and skeet crowd and of upland fans.
by Brad Fenson
We drove to the far end of a harvested hayfield and walked up a steep hill that had kept the swather at bay. Our guide, Quenton, better known as Q, is a master dog handler and was running three of his favorite prairie chicken finders to cover the large blocks of prairie habitat. It was an interesting mix of pointers and labs that honored each other’s roll in flushing and retrieving.
We stopped, loaded our shotguns with Browning BXD Upland, and I snapped the hinge on the Citori closed, making it ready for action. The timing was critical, as we took two steps into the chest-high grass and a juvenile chicken took to the wing. The thundering wing beats threw me off for a second, but it didn’t take long to recover and unload a pattern of lead on the quickly retreating bird. We were on the scoreboard and the day had just begun.
Browning Citori shotguns have always been a favorite of mine, as they have the fit and feel of a premium firearm that is easy to use. The Citori is considered by many to be one of the few over-and-under shotguns on the market that can play a dual purpose on the range or in the field.
I always knew Browning’s Citori line as the perfect tool for trapshooting or skeet and confirmed its value when I met Foster Bartholow last spring, hunting turkeys in South Dakota. I picked Foster’s brain on the advantages of sticking with a Citori. Foster and his brother Matt have been shooting Browning Citori shotguns for over 17 years and have done tremendous with them in the trapshooting circuit.
This year alone, the duo came home with a combined 31 trophies at the Grand American Trap Shoot, where people come from across the world to Sparta, Illinois, for two weeks of competitions. Matt came in #1 in the 2600 HOA Championship by White Flyer with 2553×2600, and Foster placed 5th in this event and High Over All in singles, doubles, and the handicap event at the Grand Championships.
Why is it important to talk about world-class trap shooters? Because they are also avid hunters and embrace their Browning shotguns in the field as they do on the trap range.
Here are the key features of Citori shotguns and why they are great guns on the line and in the field.
Consider reliability. Bartholows can personally attest to the reliability of Browning Citori shotguns, as their XT models have hundreds of thousands of rounds through them and keep performing at the highest level.
Performance is obvious when you look at the scores and records Foster and Matt have put up. Matt holds the second-longest run in registered doubles with 910 broken doubles targets in the 2017/18 shooting year. He also holds the record for the second-longest run in singles with 1,840 consecutive registered targets broken. Matt has the high doubles average in the ATA with an average of .9882, and this is the 4th year in a row that he has won the award and the sixth time he won in eight years.
In 2008, Foster was named Co-Champion along with Leo Harrison III for the Clay Target Championship after hitting a total of 1,100 targets straight.
The adjustability of a Citori is an important part of the equation. It is crucial that your shotgun shoots where you point, whether you’re competing on the line or hunting in the field. Depending on the model purchased, an adjustable comb and butt plate/pad, and an Un-Single option, allows you to adjust your point of impact (POI) simply by adjusting your rib.
Foster says, “These features allow you to dial in your shotgun, so it’s set up perfectly for your shooting style. As many shooters know, trap-specific shotguns will shoot a higher POI, going anywhere from 60/40 to 100/0 high. Adjusting for POI provides the shooter a constant visual of the clay target, I have my gun set around 70/30, so I am putting the bead at the bottom leading edge of the clay target and never covering the clay target completely.”
Most hunting/sporting/skeet guns will have a 50/50 POI, and as a result, you’re covering your target with the bead, potentially losing visual while pulling the target. A hunter is going to have the best of both worlds when choosing to purchase a Citori for hunting. Foster uses the same shotgun on the trap range as he does when out hunting doves.
I gained further appreciation for the Browning Citori on my prairie chicken hunt when we were treated to a late-afternoon pass shoot on the edge of a large cornfield. It was an upland hunter’s dream, with dozens of large flocks of prairie chickens and sharp-tailed grouse winging in from miles off the grassland to the protein-rich agricultural field. Positioned behind a large round bale, I watched the horizon for incoming birds. Flock after flock winged to the corn and eventually, 12 birds made the mistake of dissecting my path. I swung my shotgun hard to get in front of a grouse and rolled it with a well-placed pattern. Minutes later, a flock of chickens flew up the same draw and offered me a perfect passing shot at 40 yards. With a limit of birds in hand, I sat back and watched in awe as the prairie fowl worked into the field. To top things off, we enjoyed the same success the following day.
Browning Citori Line
Browning lists the current, limited, and discontinued models of Citori shotguns on their website, which includes the original, legendary Citori (with many proven models and configurations) and the new 725 version, with a low-profile receiver, mechanical triggers, and Invector-DS choke tube system.
Browning BXD Upland is a premium shotshell with plated shot to ensure it maintains roundness and pattern density. With a deadly speed of 1350 fps, it provides the downrange energy to kill birds clean at challenging distances and angles.
South Dakota Upland Bird Outfitter
TRAXX Hunting LLC., 26799 Sinclair Road, Iona, SD 57533; Quenton McEntee (605) 213-0135.