Pick any type of hunting or shooting sport that requires a double-barreled shotgun and there will be at least one, and more likely two or three Browning Citoris that fit the bill.
This prolific line of over/unders has added yet another member to the family in the past year: the Citori 725 Feather.
The "feather" designation carries more than one meaning. It refers both to the shotgun's reduced weight compared to other 725s, thanks to an aluminum alloy receiver, and to other design features meant to maximize its suitability for pursuing game birds.
As any bird hunter who has busted through a tangle of poplars, hiked over miles of wheat stubble, or, as is necessary to reach my local grouse spots, climbed a 1,000-foot ridge knows, upland shotguns are carried much more than they are fired, so weight is no small consideration when buying a new bird gun.
The 725 Feather I tested weighed 6 pounds 8 ounces with its 28-inch barrels, making it three-quarters of a pound lighter than the 725 I tested when the series was first introduced. (The Feather is available with 26-inch barrels as well.) This puts it in a comfortable middle ground for 12-gauge bird guns, with the real featherweights coming in closer to 6 pounds.
The Feather, like most over/unders, carries very well. It balances right where the forend and receiver meet, just ahead of the hinge pin, and settles into a very natural "suitcase" carry.
When the 725 series was introduced a couple of years ago, it represented a significant upgrade over the 625s, which Browning still offers. The 725s were the first Citoris to have mechanical triggers, and their receivers were engineered to have a slightly lower profile.
The triggers on the 725 Feather I tested are magnificent. They break as crisp as a fall morning at 4 pounds 2 ounces each. In a dynamic situation, with either a rising bird or a speeding clay as a target, firing the gun feels more like a mental act of will than a physical effort.
The effect of the shotgun's trim receiver on performance is more subtle. It aligns the hands and eyes in a straighter line with relation to the barrels, and it enhances how the shotgun points and swings.
The butt pad also improves the way the 725 Feather handles. Its rounded edges and slick construction make it difficult to mismount the 725. Whether an unseen blue grouse burst from a line of evergreens or I was taking a low house number 5 on the skeet field with the gun held at waist level, I had no difficulty getting the shotgun correctly settled in my shoulder and into play.
Mechanically, everything on the 725 is tight and smooth. The safety is combined with the barrel selector in a single tab. It moves between safe and fire and the upper and lower barrel settings in a positive fashion, with no hint of grit or slop. The action opens and closes with an ideal level of resistance, while the ejectors pop out empty hulls vigorously and with even force.
The wood and metal on the gun are finished in an understated and, for the most part, elegant manner. The solid side ribs on the barrels give the gun a traditional field look. The top rib has two unobstrusive ivory beads and it is hatched with fine checkering that does a good job of cutting down on glare.
Good craftsmanship is apparent in other aspects of the 725's metalwork as well. For example, the line where the barrels and monobloc join is barely visible, indicating a precise mating of the two pieces and an even color finish. And the edge on the trigger guard, which is crisp and square without being sharp, indicates that someone knew how to polish that piece just right.
The wood on my sample is slightly proud and has some nice figure, especially on the forend. The laser-cut checkering is plain but functional, and the game scenes on either side of the receiver are pleasant but don't really stir the soul. For the price, the engraving should be better.
Overall: *** 1/2
Verdict: The 725 Feather is a bird gun, pure and simple. The design has a distinctly American look and I'm confident that the legions of Browning fans will take to this latest member of the Citori family.