Pure Hunting Class: Browning’s Over-Under Citori 16-Gauge Shotgun Review
You don’t need to be a shotgun connoisseur to understand a nice shotgun when you pick it up. I am neither a connoisseur nor even a serious shotgunner, but I’ve shot enough of the finer ones to know what it feels like. Today, we’ll venture into yet another story about a handsome Browning Citori over-under double. Better yet, we’ll check out the 16-gauge model, which is brand new to me.
The Browning Citori line of shotguns has long been famous for its quality and performance. A beautiful match of attractive wood and steel is at the core of this gun. This one is paired with 28-inch 16-gauge barrels. The receiver has beautifully engraved patterns to match its clean, smooth lines. Like most over-under shotguns, the gun is opened with a lever on the spine of the action.
Citori shotguns feature a full-width tapered locking bolt. This provides for additional strength to keep the gun closed. The locking mechanism is also tapered, allowing it to seat ever deeper with the wear that will occur over decades of use.
Behind that, you’ll find the safety selector. Again, like most over-under shotguns, the safety doubles as a barrel selector. You can slide the safety left and right to choose which of the two barrels to shoot first. Moving it forward and backward selects between the safe and fire positions.
The mechanical intricacies are beautiful, the ejector system uses a spring to drive up the impact of the ejector upon opening the gun fully. This ensures that spent hulls are thrown clear of the breach, allowing for fast and unobstructed reloads. The ejector springs are only actuated after firing a specific chamber, so unfired shells are easily retrieved from the chambers.
This gun featured 2.75-inch chrome-lined chambers and an elevated rib for a better sight picture against the bead at the end.
16 Gauge: The ‘Sweet Sixteen’
I’d never been fortunate enough to play with a 16-gauge gun. I’d shot countless 12-gauge, 20-gauge, .410, and 10-gauge shotguns. But the little “sweet sixteen” was new to me, and new things are usually a bit exciting. Being a little bit bigger than the 20 gauge, I figured the 16 gauge would be great for wing-shooting small birds like those portrayed in the small Browning’s engravings. Doves and quail seem like an obvious choice, but ducks and pheasants would also be a perfect target for this gun.
The first issue I ran into was ammo related, turns out that in our current ammunition situation, 16-gauge ammo is a little more difficult to find than others. But I was lucky enough to land a couple of boxes of Federal ammunition, one was a fairly standard trap load of 1-ounce #8 shot. The other was a #4-shot hunting load ideal for pheasant hunts loaded a bit quick at 1,425 fps. I was going to shoot it all to see what I did and didn’t like about this little gun.
A Box of ‘Birds’
With a box of clay birds in the back of the truck, I took the Citori into the beautiful green Rocky Mountains. Hand-thrown clays seem to be the most fun for me, surprises and challenges are much easier to present to the shooter. We began throwing targets among some aspen and pine trees to help add in a little bit of a hunting feel.
The first shots from the Browning were smooth and easy – It is after all just a shotgun. There was a noticeable difference between the two different types of ammunition, which was expected. The slower load was very pleasant shooting, and it would have been great for a young shooter learning the art of shotgunning. The faster load carried some more pep but still felt just like a normal shotgun push to me.
We hammered through the targets, scattering clay all over. The Citori was as smooth as could be, easy to open, and it fit me well enough to hit a pretty good percentage of birds. Everything about the way it worked just seemed so refined, from loading and shooting to ejecting empties. It all felt like it was on an assembly line timed with a chain.
The Invector choke system, like most others, is easily understood and quick to change for whatever your shooting regimen might require.
Hunting Real Birds
The upland game hunt had recently started here, so my next mission with the Browning was to find some upland birds. The cool air of a September morning always gets me excited, but I was even more excited as I crested the tops of the mountains and began spotting birds. It was a surprising number of birds, to be honest.
I worked my way into a little bowl where I had seen some large blue grouse working along a tree line. As usual, the birds are near invisible unless they move or pop out right in front of you with a startling outburst of feathers and noise. The Browning and I responded in kind, making our own outburst of feathers and noise.
We managed to take a couple of grouse and one dove during the hunt that day. The Citori was an excellent companion for such a hunt and granted a touch of extra class to it as well.
Just as I suspected might be the case, I was quite enamored by this little shotgun. Despite not being a shotgun aficionado, I still greatly enjoyed my time shooting it. The 16-gauge chambering might be a little extraordinary for my high-volume taste, so perhaps another Citori with chambers for 12 gauge would better fit my shotgun needs. But if you like something different, this would be an easy bet to win on.
The flawless function of the gun, paired with the beautiful manufacturing and finish, make it an outstanding choice for those looking for a quality double. If I keep getting guns like this one, I may have to become a real shotgun aficionado.