English Stock?

Dear Technoid–

I am in the throes of choosing which Browning Citori model to buy and could use some advise. I want a gun suitable for waterfowl and upland game (mostly pheasant, some quail and dove) in 12 ga. at around 7 lbs. I chose the Citori because of its reputation for reliability and longevity, its good looks and feel, and because I’ve always wanted a good O/U. I have narrowed it down to either the Superlight model with the straight English-style stock, or the Featherweight Lightning model with its more traditional stock, both with 26″ barrels.

I’ve always liked the appearance of the English-style stock, but I have no idea what it is meant to accomplish other than possibly to save weight. What are the advantages and disadvantages of the straight stock as compared to the pistol grip stock on the Lightning model?

Does it affect gun balance or handling in some unexpected way that I won’t know about until I’ve bought and shot it?

Could I shoot (casual) sporting clays or trap with the straight stocked gun (and not be either laughed off the course or kicked stupid after 50 rounds)?

Although I like its appearance and feel, I’m concerned that if I choose the straight stock, I might be limiting the range of usefulness of the gun. Is this true? This will be the most expensive gun I have ever bought and I want to make the right choice.

Thanks for a great website,



For a broad range of shooting duties, including clay targets and the heavier loads common for waterfowl and pheasant, I’d recommend a pistol grip stock. A pistol grip stock gives the right hand a bit more control. You want the right hand to have a decent grip when the shells get heavy. Most people find the pistol grip stock more comfortable to shoot. All modern target guns that I am aware of use the pistol grip.There is a reason.

So why the English stock on a modern O/U? I think that it makes the gun easier to carry because it puts the right wrist at a more relaxed angle when the gun is carried at port arms for long periods of time in the field.

My upland bird guns for grouse and woodcock (lots of walking-type hunting) are a 12 gauge SxS with and English grip, a 12 gauge O/U with an English grip and a 20 gauge O/U with a very relaxed Prince of Wales grip. I hunt mostly behind flushers, so I have to carry the gun more or less at the ready. I also use the muzzles to push branches and twigs aside. This means that most of my walking is done carrying my gun muzzle up with my right hand along side my right ribs and my left hand about left shoulder height. An English stock puts my right wrist at a comfortable carry angle. A standard flat-based pistol grip stock makes my wrist a little more vertical in the carry position and a little less comfortable. It isn’t much of a difference, but it is a little bit. When I’m hunting in the Dakotas for pheasant, we drive them, so I also carry the gun at port arms as above. The drives aren’t all that long though so fatigue really isn’t a factor. Quail over pointers doesn’t require a gun to be carried at the ready, so you have more options. With duck, it doesn’t matter unless you are sneaking them.

There’s a lot of twaddle written about the English stock being designed to facilitate sliding the hand backwards when going from the front to the rear trigger. That’s baloney. While the English stock does permit a wider latitude of hand placement on the wrist of the stock, once you grip the stock, you definitely don’t want to loosen your grip and move the hand when switching triggers. The finger flexes just fine for that job. You don’t care about this anyway as you are dealing with single trigger Brownings.

So, I like the English stock better for carrying. I don’t like it better for shooting though. The pistol grip gives me better control of the gun and helps absorb recoil. Pistol grips vary and some are more comfortable than others. I particularly like the ones on most of the Brownings. I find some of the very vertical Italian target pistol grips on Beretta and Perazzi target guns awkward and too extreme for my comfort.

Everyone is built differently, carries their gun differently and shoots differently. You may find that the standard pistol grip is perfectly comfortable to carry, or you may find that the Engish grip is uncomfortable to shoot. Or not. It’s pretty subjective. Frankly, I think that most people buy one or the other based on looks. Most SxS guns with pistol grips just don’t look right. They seem to need an English grip. O/Us to me look a little out of place with the English grip and seem to be more at home with a pistol grip.

There is a compromise. It’s the Prince of Wales grip. This is a very relaxed pistol grip splitting the difference between the English and pistol grip stock. The P of W grip usually ends in a round knob. As a matter of fact, this is just about exactly the round knob grip that the Browning Lightnings have. Clever people at Browning. They give you the choice of English, full pistol grip or half way in between with the P of W grip.

I don’t have any experience with the new alloy receivered “Feather” Brownings, but the old Citoris were pretty heavy, so anything you can do to control weight in a field gun is good. The alloy guns will be plenty strong. Browning doesn’t know how to make a weak gun. All the bearing parts are still steel. But don’t count on the catalogue weights. Sometimes they are off by a good bit, encouraged no doubt by an imaginative writer in the ad department. Bring your own postal scale to the store if they don’t have one there.

So, what would I pick? I think you are on the right track with the Citori Lightning Feather. It has the alloy receiver for light weight, but it also has the nice P of W round knob grip for a nice compromise between carry comfort and shooting control. That’s why they put it on there.

Of course, the one thing I haven’t mentioned is looks. If you like the looks of the English stock, then that’s important. I certainly like the thinner forend on the Superlight a bit better than the one on the Lightning. It’s all personal choice. The English stock isn’t going to give you any surprises in shooting or make any drastic differences. The best advice to give is the usual stuff: find a store that has a good selection and wave the different guns around. One of them will sing a sweet siren song to you. It’s just like dating.

Best regards,

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

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