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