The over-under is the shotgun of choice for many discriminating target and field shooters. While many firms produce over-unders, few have the long-term legacy of those from Browning, which began with the Superposed. It was the last gun designed by the iconic John M. Browning and was patented in the United States in 1926. Production began at the Fabrique Nationale factory in Herstal, Belgium, in 1930, and the gun became available here in 1931.
The popularity of Browning over-unders grew, but so did production costs, and in 1973 Browning introduced a new over-under called the Citori that is made by Miroku in Kochi, Japan. Miroku is a well-respected firm that has been making firearms since 1893. The Citori was more affordable than the Superposed and elegant and innovative in its own right. The gun has been offered in more than 70 different configurations and has been in continuous production to this day.
In about 2000, Browning debuted a version of the Citori called the XS in trap and sporting models. One of the newest iterations is yet another variant called the CXS. The “C” stands for “crossover,” meaning that the shooter can use the gun for several shooting disciplines, such as sporting clays, skeet, and bird hunting. Since skeet and sporting clays simulate hunting shots, the CXS is probably the most versatile version of the CX line. It’s offered in 12 and 20 gauges.
The Latest Citori
The CXS is beautifully fitted and finished. The receiver is steel, highly polished and brightly blued. The action is a traditional boxlock that “wears in, not out.” As the action wears slightly, the tapered locking bolt engages a tiny bit farther into a matching mortise under the barrels so the action will remain as tight as new after decades of use. The barrels pivot on a full-length hinge pin—no trunnions here.
Both 12- and 20-gauge models have 3-inch chambers, and the barrels have a lightweight profile. They are finished in a highly polished blue and have a flat, ventilated rib that is 0.502 inch wide over the chambers, tapering to 0.392 inch near the muzzles. The rib has perpendicular striations on its sides and tiny longitudinal grooves in between. It’s like looking down a straight railroad track, and the effect really directs the shooter’s eye to the target. There are ivory mid and front bead sights. The lightweight rib floats on posts on the top barrel, and the barrels have ventilated side ribs. This reduces weight and also allows for faster barrel cooling when addressing legions of clay targets or doing battle with a raft of Argentinean doves.
The CXS chambers are chrome plated and have Browning’s Vector Pro lengthened forcing cones. At the other end of the barrels, the Invector Plus choke tubes are the extended Midas versions, with classy-looking gold rings at their ends and large, clear letters identifying the tube’s choke. The CXS comes with Improved Cylinder, Modified, and Full.
The CXS has what Browning calls the “Triple Trigger” system. The gold-plated shoe is 0.350 inch wide, has a checkered surface, and has three positions of adjustment to change the length of pull (LOP). A hex wrench is provided for adjustment, if necessary, and additional shoes are available. As received, the LOP on my test gun was 14.75 inches.
The trigger is an inertia type, so the recoil from firing the first barrel sets the trigger to fire the other barrel. If the first barrel doesn’t fire, just pull the safety back to the “On” position, then return to “Off” to fire the other barrel. The trigger pulls on the gun were about as good as it gets on a shotgun. The pull for the lower barrel averaged 5 pounds, 4 ounces, and it averaged 5 pounds, 7 ounces for the upper.
Of course, the CXS’s safety button is also the barrel selector—to the right to fire the under barrel first, to the left to fire the upper barrel first. The safety is manual.
The CXS’s stock is crafted of Grade II American black walnut. Of course, all stocks vary, and while the wood on my test gun has considerable figure, there are not many swirls and only a few dark streaks, but there’s plenty of grain structure. There is a slight Wundhammer palmswell on the right side of the pistol grip that really helps maintain a consistent grip, and the buttstock is fitted with a very effective 0.5-inch Browning Inflex Recoil pad.
The forearm has a tastefully restrained schnabel, not the garish, exaggerated hooks found on some arms. The forearm latch is a Deeley-type lever in the center of the forearm. The buttstock and forearm have extensive 18 lines-per-inch checkering, and the pattern is well executed.
On the Range & In the Field
I shot the CXS at clay pigeons, and it seemed to hit just a little bit above the front bead, which was about perfect because it provided a good view of the target and allowed me to adjust my swing and/or lead as needed. The clays were thrown from a Champion WheelyBird trap, and the CXS really crushed them.
The CXS is billed as perfect for hunting, so it was appropriate that I ply it on some feathered test subjects. The Flying Feathers Shooting Preserve near Golden City, Missouri, is a short distance from my home base and is run by my friends Bruce and Marsha Lilienkamp. Flying Feathers has quail, chukars, ring-necked pheasants, plenty of well-trained pointers, and knowledgeable guides to keep everything running smoothly. The place is perfect for what I call a “simulated hunt.” The cover is harvested cropland and grassy waterways over hill and dale. It’s a lot like “real hunting,” except that you know there is game there.
I used Federal Premium’s 20-gauge Wing-Shok Pheasants Forever load with 1 ounce of copper-plated #7½ shot on the three species of birds, and it did a fine job on them all. I own two other Citori shotguns, so I am pretty well aquatinted with their virtues, and using the new CXS was like hunting with an old friend. By noon, I had my birds. I ended up with four quail, four chukars, and three pheasants. The CXS was just right.
Overall, on the range and in the field, the new CXS performed as billed. It handled great, swung smoothly, and never malfunctioned. The ejectors chucked empties out with authority, and the trigger pulls were excellent. Weighing in at 7 pounds, 2 ounces, it was a delight to carry, yet it didn’t kick my hat off. I think the Citori CXS is a versatile and specialized evolution of the classic Browning over-under.
MANUFACTURER: Browning Arms, browning.com
BARREL: 30 in.
OVERALL LENGTH: 47.5 in.
WEIGHT, EMPTY: 7.13 lbs.
LENGTH OF PULL: 14.75 in.
FINISH: Bright blued steel, high-gloss wood
SIGHTS: Ivory mid and front beads
TRIGGER: 5.25-lb. pull upper barrel, 5.5-lb. pull lower barrel
SAFETY: Tang mounted