Gun engraver

Shotgun Review: Browning Citori Field Sporting Grade VII

The Browning Citori represents the ultimate over/under, a legendary gun with a legendary brand name capable of rivaling any barrel in the world, even those costing thousands more. (Photo by: Brad Fitzpatrick)

When I was shooting on my college trap and skeet team 20 years ago, everyone wanted a Browning Citori. The school didn’t provide guns or funds to go buy them, so we were tasked with finding the money to get our hands on a Citori or finding someone willing to lend us their gun of hunting. I just didn’t have the funds to buy one, so I borrowed one from a friend for competition and skeet training, and used my own BPS for trap events. I felt that once I owned my own Browning over/under I would have arrived, that I would have a field rifle and a target that I could carry for the rest of my life.

I survived those meager college years, and after a few years in the real world, I scraped together enough money to buy my own Citori, a gun I still own and shoot today. For me, like so many other American shooters, the Browning Citori represents the ultimate over/under, a legendary pistol with a legendary brand name capable of rivaling any barrel in the world, even those costing thousands more dollars.

The details

If the Citori represents the pinnacle of shotgun design to you, then Browning’s new flagship, the Citori, is a gun you will enjoy. Known as the Citori Field Sporting Grade VII, this pistol offers something the entry-level Citoris don’t have: a look that rivals the best pistols in Italy and Germany. It is offered in 20 and 28 and .410 calibers, all featuring a black walnut stock in a bright oil finished grade VI-VII with a blank nameplate to add the owner’s initials. The rear of the stock is mated to a large Inflex 2 recoil pad with a rounded heel, and the fit between pad and wood is, as you would expect, seamless. The forearm and forearm of the Lightning style pistol are covered with an intricate 20 LPI diamond point cut checkering in the traditional Browning pattern.

Like other Citori pistols, the Field Sporting Grade VII comes with an inertia trigger instead of a mechanical trigger, and these pistols feature Browning’s triple trigger system that comes with three shoes so you can customize the feel and range. The trigger is gold plated for an extra touch of class.

Browning Citori Field Sporting Grade VII Shotgun
The elegant design of the Citori Field Sporting Grade VII rivals the best European shotguns. (Photo courtesy of Browning)

Even more striking than this Citori’s oil finish stock is this pistol’s steel receiver. It comes in a silver nitride finish with hand-wrapped engraving and silver accents. On the left side of the receiver you will find a pair of silver pheasants and on the right side a pair of ducks. A silver crimper adorns the bottom of the receiver, but the scrollwork extends to the trigger guard where you’ll find more scrollwork and a silver quail. Even the Browning Deeley style forearm version gets this same engraving.

Most of the mechanical characteristics of the standard field Citoris can be found on this pistol. The top lever and sliding tang mounted barrel selector/safety will be familiar to anyone who has ever fired a Citori. Coil-spring hammers and selective hammer ejectors are standard, as are chrome-plated chambers that resist barrel damage.

One of the hallmarks of Citori pistols is their robust locking system which withstands tens of thousands (or more) of rounds. The full-width tapered recess in the barrel lugs locks firmly into position over the full-width tapered locking bolt to provide solid steel-to-steel locking. This is especially important since the weakest point of any broken barrel shotgun is the point where the barrels and receiver intersect. Decades of Citori production and millions of rounds fired by competitive shooters have proven that this system works.

Browning Citori Field Sporting Grade VII Shotgun
Browning Citori Field Sporting Grade VII Shotgun (Photo courtesy of Browning)

Browning Citori Field Sporting Grade VII Specifications

  • Kind of action: on/under break
  • Gauge: 20, 28, .410
  • Store: Grade VI-VII black walnut
  • Stock finish: oil luster
  • Receiver Finish: silver nitride
  • Trigger: Inertia, triple trigger system, gold plated
  • Chokes: 5 Extended Midas Grade (F, IM, M, IC, SK)
  • Barrel length: 30–32″
  • Total length: 47 1/2 in to 49 1/2 in
  • Weight: 7 pounds, 5 ounces, 7 pounds, 9 ounces
  • Supplements: Lockable leather case
  • Suggested retail price: $6,460 – $6,540
  • Website:

The Gnitty Gritty

The knock on Citoris, of course, is that they’re heavy, a fact that shouldn’t be particularly shocking considering the amount of steel included in one of these sturdy receivers. But because the Citori Field Sporting Grade VII is only available with 20, 28, and .410 scale receivers, it’s light enough to carry around all day, even with 32-inch barrels. The 20-gauge model, with optional 32-inch barrels, weighs seven pounds and seven ounces, on par with the 12-gauge medium field above/below. Go for the 30-inch barrels and you’ll shave two ounces off the weight of this gun. Both 28 and .410 gauge models with 30 or 32 inch barrels weigh about the same, the heaviest of the bunch being the .410 with 32 inch barrels which weigh in at just over seven and a half pounds. . Browning didn’t pull the weight of these guns out of nowhere – remember this is a field and sporting gun, and while a very light shotgun is wonderful for long days spent hiking in wide open country where you could only fire a can of shells in a week of hard hunting, it’s a pain to fire these small arms 100 rounds at a time over a course in clay. Seven and a half pounds is a happy medium. It’s not so heavy that it handles like a piece of wood in the field, but it’s not so light that it’s abusive.

A rich bluing coats the barrel of the Citori Field Sporting Grade VII, which comes with a 3/8 to ½ inch tapered midrib and top rib with a white midbead and HiViz Pro Comp front sight. Five extended Midas Grade starters come standard with each grade. The 20 gauge version comes with Invector-Plus chokes while the 28 and .410 gauges come with Invector chokes.

How much does it cost ? $6,459.99 to $6,539.99 depending on how you option. It’s not cheap, but it’s not out of place considering that the scroll work and fit and finish of this gun rivals some Italian guns costing much more than that. If you’re a dedicated Browning collector, I guess you could find room in your safe for this gun. But as beautiful as it is – and this gun is stunning – how does it perform in the field?

Field performance

Some of the die-hard Browning fans lining up to get their hands on one of these guns will no doubt haul this Citori from their FFL to the vault (perhaps because they don’t want their significant other to start asking questions about how much this new gun with the silver inlay and the cost of the oil finish stock). As striking as the Citori Field Sporting VII is, it would be a shame to put it on the blocks and never give it a test drive.

Those who choose to use their Citori Field Sporting VII for its divine purpose will find this weapon very well suited for hunting and sport shooting. I’ve become a fan of the 30 inch barrels, first for sporting clays and then for everything else, and if I’m not hunting grouse in thick cover or trying to cut the weight down for a hunt chukar, you can believe i’ll be carrying a gun with 30 inch pipes. For those who prefer 32 inch barrels for sporting applications, you can choose that option, but I think 30 inch barrels make the most sense on field guns.

Browning Citori Field Sporting Grade VII Shotgun
With supreme design and reasonable weight, the Citori Field Sporting Grade VII is both a high-end sporting and field pistol. (Photo by: Brad Fitzpatrick)

I’m comfortable with the Lightning forend and it’s become my favorite design, and I’m very impressed with the Inflex 2 recoil pad. You may not notice a difference in recoil when shooting a single gun , but when you fire multiple guns while shooting, you begin to realize that the Inflex 2 is indeed an attractive option. I also like the snag resistant butt design, and since I shoot most of my sport guns these days (I’m not trying to break records, I’m trying to kill more birds during the season), I became dismissive of a few shotgun recoil pads with whom I once shared a cordial relationship.

This new Citori performs well, but not so differently from models of similar weight, caliber and barrel length. Personally, I don’t think fiber optic sights are a necessary addition to this gun, but I’m in the minority on this and understand why Browning adds them to their competition rifles. One addition I really like is the Triple Trigger system, which feels like you’ve melted the trigger metal and molded it around your finger when you find the right one for you.

All Citori shotguns perform well in the field and on the range if you play your part, but this one seems to perform its duties much better than its stable mates. Yes, the Citori Field Sporting Grade VII is a gun worthy of envy, and it looks just as good (if not better) than the website photos reveal. There is no longer any mystery as to the reliability of these weapons, so you can buy one and hunt with it for the rest of your life. Guess I’ll use that line on my wife when I finally give in to my desire to own this gun. Here I find myself craving a Browning Citori again. It’s a way to relive your university years.