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Hundreds of thousands of dollars, thousands of man hours, enough CGI to launch a dozen spaceships and . . . no money shot. Call me a sick bastard but I really was hoping to see the hi-def slow-mo pheasant blown through by shot courtesy of the new Browning Citori 725. If you’re not a “making of” kinda guy, click here for the finished ad.

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    • Of the hunting I’ve done pheasant are by far and away the most fun I’ve had. I have fond memories of stomping through a freshly harvested corn field in Kansas having the time of my life.

      Quail are definitely a hoot too as long as you can get the little bastards to fly instead of running you in a million circles on the ground.

    • If you wan to see a pheasant shot out of the air, how about you get up from behind your desk, go outside and shoot a pheasant. I know it’s not as glamorous as sitting behind your keyboard watching youtube videos, but the end result is better.

  1. More than $3,000 for a gun that holds fewer shells and does exactly the same job as my Remington 870? It’s a shotgun. This ain’t some sub-MOA Euro-wonder rifle. You can stuff gold leaf into engraving on a hammer, and it’s still a hammer–only one that won’t get used to drive nails.

    My Swiss Army Knife has been with me through the last two decades, and that much wear and tear shows. A shotgun is the same.

    • $3K is the low end of O/U shotguns. They top out in the $15 to $20K range.

      If you’d ever shot a really nice shotgun, you’d know the difference between an 870 and a nice shotgun.

      The both are fed 12 ga shells. The similarity ends right about there.

      • Enlighten me, please. And I’m not being sarcastic. Isn’t one barrel better, in terms of aligning the sights? (I know that an over/under doesn’t have the same problems as a side-by-side, but still.) I can see how a stock that was taylored to me would be an improvement, but how much of one? Are we talking improved points in competition or an advantage in the hunting field? At present, a shotgun for me is a home defense weapon. In that sense, is there anything to be gained in these expensive models?

        • Right off the bat I’ll say I’m a pump guy. I inherited a wonderful 70’s vintage Ithaca 37 Featherweight from my Dad that I love. Having said that, a well made over/under is truly a joy to shoot. It’s hard to describe but the balance, quickness to target and the immediate second shot must be experienced. I’ve always wanted a Ruger Red Label 12 ga. but alas with my finances…….

        • I used to think as you do. I had nothing but a beat-up 12 ga semi-auto and thought “Feh. That’s good enough for anyone.”

          Then I started checking out higher-end shotguns.

          And after shouldering and shooting a half-dozen of them, the light bulb starting glowing over my head. “So this is what they’ve been talking about all that time…”

          At their price, the maker is concerned with making the stock fit the customer. It’s no longer a “well, that’s how we make them, like it or lump it” situation.

          A gun that really fits you and is well balanced swings like it is part of part of you. At first you think, “this swings really nicely. It moves like a breeze.”

          But then talk to expert shotgun shots and ask them about their swing. Many of them will crinkle their brow and say something like “Well…. I don’t know. I don’t see myself swinging.”

          When I’ve asked these people who have guns that are fit to them and they shoot a lot, they say that they see a target, they point the gun and pull the trigger. They don’t think about a swing. They just “point and zap.” It happens that fast for them. But you, as the bystander, you’re seeing them move that shotgun as fast as a snake strikes – and you’re wondering “WTF? What does this guy mean, ‘I don’t think I swing’? I saw him swing that gun right there!”

          Well, you did. In his or her mind’s eye, the swing was so quick and so natural, it wasn’t worth thinking about because they didn’t have to think about the swing. It “just happened,” because the gun fits like it is part of them. Until you have a gun that has that sort of balance and fit, you think it’s BS.

          Shotguns aren’t like rifles. Rifles are typically shot while not moving. You and I might be very different in size, but we’ll suffer with the exact same rifle, contorting ourselves to the mis-fit rifle, because as long as we can make it put the bullet where we want it perhaps a half-dozen times a year, we’re happy with the results. The guys who shoot a rifle a *lot* will start to want their rifle to fit better and will look into adjustable stocks or custom stocks – but for most of us, the fit & balance of the rifle isn’t really ever an issue unless we’re talking of some high-recoil monster.

          But shotguns are about movement. You’re moving, mounting, swinging and unmounting the gun, and you’d like that to become second nature. You want it to mount to the same point on your cheek and shoulder every time without having to think about it. When you finally get a shotgun that truly fits you, suddenly the clouds part, a chorus of angels starts blowing horns and you feel like you can hit anything. Seriously. The question forms in your mind: “Oh, Baby, where have you been all my life?”

          Shotguns are also about dozens to hundreds of rounds when you’re shooting clay sports. A shotgun that doesn’t fit starts to fatigue you – quickly. A shotgun that fits you poorly in a 100+ round shoot will have you whimpering like a sore pup the day after shooting in a clay sport. Sure, if we’re shooting only a box of shells during upland season, eh, we don’t care that much about fit, swing or recoil. We can tough our way through it.

          The people who shoot any of the clays games even semi-seriously might be shooting anywhere from 100 to 500 rounds in a *day*, sometimes hundreds of rounds for several days in a row. If they have a shotgun that doesn’t fit, doesn’t swing, doesn’t point where they want it – life sucks really, really hard.

          OK, you could get all of that on a Remington 870. Seriously, a good gun-fitter can make your 870 feel like it’s part of your arm. It’s going to cost a fair bit to get either an adjustable stock or a custom stock made for you. But the result will eventually be: Point-bang. If someone wants to shoot a lot on a tight budget, I’d strongly recommend getting either an adjustable stock or a custom stock made for them on a pump or semi-auto as a starting point.

          There are other things that can be done to the 870 to improve it – improving the trigger, slicking up the action, playing with the ejector, etc – until we talk about the second shot. In trap doubles, skeet and sporting clays, you’re going to be a bit slower on the second shot, and if you’re serious about your scores, eventually you realize the pump is costing you.

          The double guns allow you to make the follow-up shot so fast that not even a semi-auto can keep up. The SxS and O/U gunmakers worry about the lock times between shots on double guns. For those people who don’t shoot a lot, lock times are a mostly academic issue.

          For the people at the higher levels of shotgunning, the fast second shot is a real issue, and it becomes an issue far faster than it took for me to start worrying about lock times in target rifles. I’m talking of trap shooters telling me that they started shooting four years ago and now they’re obsessing about how fast they get on the second shot. Having a second, *different* choke is also an issue. Many doubles used to be “M/F” – modified/full, fixed chokes. The idea was the modified was the first shot, the full was the second shot. Skeet people shoot more open chokes and change them according to their station. Trap people can run pretty tight chokes when they have a high handicap – they’ll be back to the M/F type of setup for many of the very experienced people.

          You can’t get that double-choke setup on a single barrel. You have to choose a choke that doesn’t suck on both the close and the long shot on trap doubles. For a lot of people in the trap and sporting clays, they get to a certain point in shooting where they realize that unless they’re going to become very good at shooting with a tight choke, they need two chokes to move up in scores.

          On many modern O/U sporting shotguns, you can choose which barrel fires first. In those situations where you think you’ll need the tight choke first, you can choose that. Typically, you slide the safety left or right to choose the firing sequence, and slide it forward/backwards to unsafe/safe the gun.

          Put all that together and you see where the double guns or over-unders start to rule the clay sports. And once you’ve gotten really good at clay sports with your double or O/U, you start wondering “Why not use it for upland game?” You keep the pump gun for ducks and geese, where you’re down in the mud and muck in a duck blind, maybe shooting 3″ magnums. Pump guns are also great for “social purposes.” But for everything else, you stick with the SxS or O/U.

          As for the super-high-end guns over $10K with the extravagant engraving, checkering, inlays, etc:

          Yep, these guns cost serious money. But look at it like this: Some guys buy little red sports cars. Some guys have extra-marital flings. Some guys get into crazy extreme sports like mountain climbing, or they buy a sailboat or go nuts into fishing.

          Some guys decide that they’re going to become very good at shotgun sports, they’re going to buy a gun that costs what the sports car (or the high-maintenance mistress) would, it’s going to have the bling and they’re going to enjoy their time on the clay range.

          The closest analogy I can make is that it’s about like having your first taste of really good single malt whisky… you don’t want to go back to drinking Chivas.

        • Greg, with an OU each barrel is choked differently. That way if you miss the first shot at the pheasant, which would typically be fairly close, your second shot will have a tighter pattern and you could hit it at a distance.

        • Sorry, I had replied to you, but TTAG’s comment system ate it. Again. I grow weary of TTAG’s comment system malfeasance.

          As the others have indicated, the fit, balance and swing on well made O/U’s and doubles is something quite far removed from the typical semi-auto or pump. The balance, especially, is something you have to try to believe. The dual choke capability is another big issue, and on most modern O/U’s and SxS’s, you can choose which barrel fires first.

          Double guns also have a faster lock time to allow you to get the second shot on a bird or clay off faster than if you were working with a semi or pump gun.

          Something you need to remember about shotgun competitors is that they’re not shooting a box of shells here or there. Some of these people are shooting hundreds of rounds per day. For trap, skeet and sporting clays competitors, a gun that fits them “just right,” that swings well, that gives them the dual choke solution for the double shots… those are guns that win competitions for them.

          BTW – for those who haven’t ever shot ATA trap, you might want to poke around into ATA competitions to see what the prize money is. At the “Grand American” shoot, the total prize money is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars:

          Do you think those competitors are spending $10K on a gun they’re using to go after 10’s of thousands of dollars every year? You bet your sweet bippy they are.

          As I had indicated in the prior message, some guys like to spend their money on fast cars, some on high-maintenance women, some guys spend it on high-end shotguns. I’m talking the doubles or O/U’s with the fancy engraving and artistry. When you have their kind of money, they look at these guns as part gun, part investment. And when one looks at the track record of these high-high-high end guns as an investment, the track record is pretty darn good.

  2. For what Browning is asking for this, I think I’d rather kick in maybe an additional $500 to $1500 and get into a Ceasar Gurini instead.

    All that said, I’d much rather that Browning simply bring back the Superposed. It would probably cost $5K today. I’d pay it faster than I’d pay half that for a Citori. The Citori was brought out by Browning because they wanted to make a cheaper shotgun, not a better shotgun. The Superposed was Browning’s (as in John Moses) last design and used to be made by FN in Belgium. Then Browning brought out the “Liege” shotgun for all of two years, still made in Belgium, but which dropped most of the embellishment on the Superposed to drop the price.

    Then Browning ditched Belgian manufacturing all together and shipped the manufacturing over to Japan.

    It’s another case of gun companies wanting to make cheaper and cheaper guns rather than nice guns. It results in all the money (and there’s quite a lot of it in the shotgun market) for nice guns going off-shore because there’s hardly any company in the US left making really nice guns any more.

    • Regardless of the quality of the Belgian vs. Japanese manufacture, your last paragraph contradicts part of your argument. How does Belgian manufacture differ from Japanese manufacture in terms of money going offshore?? Last time I looked at a map, Belgium was in located somewhat outside the borders of the US. Also, you covet an Italian-made gun. Closer to Belgium than the US. Just sayin’.

      • Because there are no current US-made O/U or SxS guns in that price and quality range that I know of. If we’re talking about sending the money off-shore, then I’m going after the best product in that price range, and in the Citori’s range of $3.5 to $6K or thereabouts, that’s quite likely a Ceasar Guerini. They have some very good ideas in shotgun production, IMO.

        About the only US maker of really nice shotguns left is the Connecticut Shotgun Manufacturing Company, and most all of their guns start at $9K… and go upwards like a homesick angel from there. So if we’re going to talk about whether I’m going to buy a $9K to $70K+ gun here or overseas, OK, then I’ll go with CSMC in a heartbeat. They make very, very nice guns. They even make a modern Winchester 21. Ooooo…. aaaahhh… starting at over $20K.

        But in the $5K range? Well, now we’re still in imported guns. There are several Italian companies making some nice guns in that price range.

        The net:net upshot in the “nice shotgun” market is this: aside from the CSMC I mentioned above, there’s really not much made in the US in “nice guns” other than custom rifles and handguns any more. For some reason, the mass gun makers thought it best to abandon the high-end shotgun market.

        Making a bespoke shotgun is difficult because it is very difficult to just find fine shotgun barrels. Let’s say you wanted to make a bespoke o/u or SxS gun. First job you have to solve is the barrel problem. Everything else can be made much more easily than the barrels. I’ve been asking around quite a bit recently, and other gunsmiths agree that the barrel issue for shotguns is a vexing one.

        We used to OWN this market. Look at all the fine gun makers of 100+ years ago: Parker, LC Smith, Lefever, Ithica, A.H. Fox, etc. All these companies made a range of shotguns – from the “field grade” (which was very affordable in their day) to the ultra-premium guns which, in auctions today can fetch upwards of $100K (or more).

        The Japanese, with their national attitude towards firearms… how much do they really care about shotguns? Not much. It’s just another product to them. They do a good enough job, but… it’s hard for me to believe they have a passion for their product the way the Belgians, Italians, Germans and London gunmakers do and the way US gunmakers used to.

        Somewhere along the way, the gun industry in the US made the mistake of listening to MBA’s and it’s been downhill ever since. It’s one of my really big, red, hot buttons. We used to make not only a lot of stuff in the US, we used to make a lot of really NICE stuff in the US. And part of that “really NICE stuff” were really nice guns. Really, really nice guns.

        • I have a theory as to why American shotguns and other guns went south quality speaking. The turning point was WWII. The military had a policy of “good enough.” That is, things didn’t have to be perfect or the best, but rather just good enough to get the job done.

          A huge part of our manufacturing base was geared towards the war effort and they searched for cheaper ways to manufacture products and succeeded to an astonishing degree.

          After the war things returned to normal for a while but the instilled “good enough” policy was there. Slowly manufacturers, not just gun manufacturers but all of them, started making products cheaper.

          However, since this form is about guns I will give a prime example, maybe the prime example. That is the now venerable Remington 700. Remington started with a clean slate to design a rifle for hunters that would work yet be cheap to manufacture. They believed rightly that most consumers could not tell the difference between an expensively made rifle and a cheap one. All the average hunter wanted was something at a reasonable cost that was accurate.

          They started with a tubular receiver and a washer type recoil lug. This was clever as hell and worked. Then on the theory that most hunters didn’t have clue what controlled feed in a bolt action was and still don’t for that matter, they dropped it in favor of the older, cheaper push feed design which was at the time considered inferior by most knowledgeable gun people. Along with the push feed came the button ejector and tiny extractor. Remington but time and money into the barrel which assured accuracy.

          Many gun enthusiasts were appalled but gun writers and such were not and are not the main market for guns. The Remington Model 700 was a marketing success and that is what business is about. It is difficult to argue that it is a bad design when it has been so successful. Those unfamiliar with older rifles with forged receivers and controlled round feeding really do not see any difference. The them the Model 700 is the benchmark bolt action rifle.

          And the 700 works, well at least most of the time. I have had or seen happen ejectors stick, extractors break and double feed jams that required pliers to clear. Of course everyone has heard of problems with the safety and although I have never witnessed this a friend of mine had it happen. Even after this though he won’t give up on the rifle! He is right out of the book “The Believing Brain” when it comes to his loyalty toward the gun!

          Still for the most part the 700 works and it fits the military requirement of “good en0ugh” to a tee.

          I do think America produces the best hunting rifles but they are expensive. The Dakota rifles are an example and interestingly are owned by the same company that owns Remington. The action on the Dakota is essentially a pre-64 Winchester Model 70 action without the coned breech, the coned breech being considered superfluous.

          There are other rifles that are pretty damn good now at a more reason cost than the Dakota. Manufacturers of combined the best features of both the old M70 and the M700 to produce a more than good enough gun at a reasonable price.

          As far as shotguns go it is much the same thing with an addition. Doubles require a lot of hand fitting to get them to regulate correctly. There are few American workers that can do this anymore. In fact even in England most of the workers are now Spanish.

          The Ruger Red Label was a try at an American double at a reasonable price and in a way it is good enough. However, if you are used to European doubles you’re never going to happy with the Ruger. It just doesn’t have it.

          I think we are going through another phase of lowering consumer products quality. Not in guns so much but just about everything else. It’s call Made in China.

  3. I would think the high end market is niche at best. I have seen some which are like works of art. I would never go dragging it through the mud and muck.
    Then again I don’t have 3k plus to spend on a shotgun even if I wanted to.

    • You would be amazed at the amount of money in the high end shotgun market.

      There’s a reason why there’s, what, eight foreign companies selling high-end shotguns in the US? Krieghoff, Beretta, AyA, Zoli, Perazzi, C-G, Francotte, Merkel, Rizzini, Fausti… there’s at least a dozen smaller European companies I’m not naming, and none of those are the English shotgun makers and I’ve left out at least three of the Basque Spanish gun makers and a bunch of Italians.

      Then in the US, there’s Kolar and Ljutic making competition guns in the US, CSMC making sporting guns.

      There’s TONS of money in the high end shotgun world, else these two dozen+ companies could not all be sustained for a decade, much less decade*s*.

      The major gun companies in the US just decided that it’s smarter to race each other for the bottom of the barrel.

        • People seem to be either really down on them, or non-committal about them. I’ve rarely met anyone who “loves” their Red Label. But someone must like them, because Ruger sold a bunch of them.

          Complaints I’ve heard:

          – the auto-setting safety. It sets the safety back on every time you open it. For many more experienced shotgunners, they hate-hate-hate this. Ruger used to have a deal where, for a fee, they’d disable this for you. Dunno if they still do, or what the fee is.

          – they’re perceived as heavy for the 20 gauge guns, OK for the 12’s.

          – the wood-to-metal fit looks rough.

          – I heard one report of ejectors slipping over the shell rim

          I’ve never owned one, so I don’t have any personal opinion of consequence. The one I shot seemed to work OK, but the auto-setting safety was annoying. Ruger appears to have discontinued them, so you’d have to find them in NOS or the used market.

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