Beretta 686 Vs Browning 425

Dear Bruce,

Could you please list any pros or cons to both the Beretta 686 which I own or the Browning 425 which I might be buying. Also which would you recommend, I shoot trap and skeet, but mostly sporting clays, around 3 to 5 thousand rounds a year.


Dear John,

Browning 425 vs Beretta 686? You are getting into personal opinions here. I don’t want to drawn and quartered by email any more than I already am. The regular misinformation I dole out is one thing, but actually expressing a preference?! Heresy!

So, naturally, here goes into the hornet’s nest. I have spent a fair amount of time with both guns and have seen many of each model in action. For a “shoot everything” clay target gun, I would pick the 425 in a heartbeat.

Yes, I am fully aware that the Browning 425 costs about $300 more than the 686 Onyx Sporter, but I’d still take the 425.

Mechanically, I feel that the 425 is more durable than the 686. I’ve had forend breakage and ejector problems with the 686 series. I’ve never personally had any mechanical problem with any Citori I have owned or shot. Admittedly, this isn’t a tremendously broad sample, especially having personally owned only three 686s, but it’s the best I can do.

The 686 series tends to concentrate on light field guns which are not particularly suited for clay targets. The most excellent Beretta 682 is really that company’s target gun. The 686s are also more built to a price than the more expensive 682s. That said, the 686 Silver Pigeon 20 gauge is one of my favorite light field guns and I prefer it to any comparable Japanese Browning product for that particular use. If you asked me to compare the Beretta 682 sporter to the Browning 425, I might well have a different answer. My 682s have been real work horses.

I know of a number of very high mileage Browning Citori target guns. I don’t personally know of any equally high mileage 686s, though I am sure that there are some. Every hunter who has owned a gun for five years is convinced that he has 100,000 rounds through it, when the truth is probably closer to 1/10th of that if he is a very avid hunter indeed. Clay target shooters, especially the trap shooters, really put the rounds through a gun. Browning makes numerous Citori trap models and I see many of them in use. Beretta makes at least one 686 trap model, but I’ve only seen one or two in use. Beretta leaves the heavy clay target work to their sturdier 682s. The trap shooters have certainly voted for the Citori over the 686. The 682 is a different story.

I don’t want to knock the 686 because it has served many people well. I just want to observe that the general market picks one of the Citori models in preference to it. Unlike Beretta with their two differently priced mainstream boxlock actions (the 686 and the 682), all 12 gauge Citoris use exactly the same action whether they are field, target or high grade models. When you pay more money, you get more gingerbread, not a different design. Beretta lets you pay more money for a stronger design as you change models.

I particularly like the Browning 425 for an all-around clays guns because it comes with a long, high stock which works a bit better for trap for most people. Once you get used to it, you will also find that it probably works better for sporting and skeet too. For a average or bigger than average man, a 30″ 425 would answer adequately for any clays sport, though ATA trap is always best with a dedicated gun.

My gripe with the Berettas is that I often can’t get used to their stocks. I am approaching 60,000 rounds through a Beretta 303 trap gun (which I use for all clay games). That stock suits me (parallel Monte Carlo with tight pistol grip), but I have trouble dealing with the other Beretta sporting, skeet and field stock dimensions. A lot of people do. One of the biggest complaints I get about Beretta’s 390 sporter is the stock. In spite of its shim adjustment feature (which the Browning Gold auto does not offer), it doesn’t fit about half the people. The 686’s share many of the same 390 stock quirks, especially in their skeet and sporting models- heavily sloping and overthick combs and huge pistol grips. Many of the Italian guns are stocked to promote a “heads up” shooting style- that’s why he vertical pistol grip and sloping stocks. Many Americans crawl their stocks and find the Italian paradigm uncomfortable. Just about everyone is comfortable with the Browning, Remington or Winchester style stock. Why Beretta can’t just copy one of the above three for the American market is beyond me.

As I said above, this is all pretty subjective. Wiser people may feel differently. I’ve never viewed myself as a “Browning Man”, or “Beretta Man” or even a “Budweiser Man”. I sort of take each gun (and beer) as it comes. That said, over the years, certain brands and models do appeal to me more than others.

Bottom line: As between the Beretta 686 and the Browning 425 for a general purpose clay target gun, I would pick the 425 because I think that it is stronger, better built and fits most people better. There, I said it and I am glad.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC
(Often in error, never in doubt.)

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5 Responses to Beretta 686 Vs Browning 425

  1. tony petres says:

    I also liked Beretta, but I owned three 686 trap guns and on each I found myself stock crawling way too much. In simple terms, it was just about impossible for me to get my face down on the stock. I always felt I had way too much rib showing to be comfortable chasing quartering trap birds. One of my friends told me he always felt the stock needed a treatment with a rasp, right out of the box! I owned a 301 trap and it too had a “high, straight-fitting stock” but not quite as bad as the 686 O/U guns. Just my humble observation – maybe my face-shape has something to do with it?

  2. Mark Polansky says:

    Strange, I was under the impression that, after you get past the earlier wide/heavy frame S682s, the 682, 686, and 687 all used used the same frame and internals and the only differences were finish, engraving, wood, and barrels. Is this incorrect?

  3. robert says:

    I have owned both the Beretta 682 and Browning XS skeet and liked both firearms. The Beretta sits lower than the Browning and I thought kicked less – seemed more of a push rather than an upright hit. The Beretta’s comb was lower and I had to place a pad to obtain a correct site picture, whereas the Browning fit me out of the box. The triggers on both are good and durable with the Beretta perhaps a tad lighter. The only real negative on the Browning is the availability of aftermarket parts. For example, the XS skeet comes with either a long or short tang trigger guard and trying to find parts for the short tang is extremely difficult. The wood on the Browning I thought was better. I would agree that the Browning 425 would be preferable to the Beretta 686.

  4. Bill Torrico says:

    I used to shoot sporting clays with my father years ago. Am looking to get back into it, which i get props for because I live in the Pacific NW and the weather stinks here! A little rain never hurt anyone! Priced a Beretta 686 at Cabellas for $1,999 new (5 chokes included). Looked and felt Beautiful. However, in Cabellas’ used gun section I found a Browning Citori O/U for $1,047 (no chokes). I have a call into a gunsmith to inquire about the cost to modify the used Citori to get a better comparison on price. The question I have is how would you evaluate a used gun?

    Other than obvious wear marks on the stock (minor in my case) i don’t really know of a way to properly inspect the rest of the gun (other than disassembly into the major components and looking for excessive wear). I am leaning towards the Citori but i certain could afford the Beratta so i am in a position wear money is not necessarily the driver. What I want is a good solid gun to shoot sporting clays. I will not be hunting with this shotgun.

    Any words of wisdom?

  5. Steve Slawson says:

    Sir Technoid,

    I purchased a Browning Gold Fusion 20 gauge in 2005 that came from the factory with adjustment shims. My wife’s Browning Gold Ladies Sporting 12 gauge, purchased in 07-08, also came with shims. Her most recent Browning, a 20 gauge Silver did not come with shims. I think it was 2010.

    For the record all are “hers” now including a Beretta 391 Sporting.

    Thanks for all your excellent work. I look forward to your comments. I just wish more people would ask you questions.

    S/F Steve Slawson

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