Good, But Could Be Better

Dear Technoid:

Last year, I bought a 28 gauge Citori Lightning with 28 inch barrels and Invector chokes. I bought it for shooting skeet informally and for hunting grouse, woodcock, and preserve pheasants (shot at close range over a pointing dog). Grouse and woodcock populations are down in Wisconsin lately, so mostly I’ve brought it to bear on skeet targets and preserve pheasants with excellent success – I shoot the gun as well as any I’ve owned, but admittedly, these are not the trickiest targets.

At about six-and-a-half pounds (catalog weight), this is a pretty heavy gun for a 28 gauge. No doubt this weight smoothes out the swing and contributes to my success with the gun. However, I find that it’s still light enough to carry comfortably all day.

Here’s the issue: While I shoot it well, like the quality of the gun, and can handle the carry weight; I’m afraid that it’s lacking a certain dynamic “feel” that I’ve found in other guns (typically owned by other people). For instance, my friend has a Belgium Browning Auto 5 in 20 gauge magnum that probably weighs about the same as my Citori but has a much more lively feel to it without being whippy. My Citori feels like dead weight compared to his Auto 5.

So, should I keep searching for a gun that possesses that indescribable “feel” or should I stick with a log that I shoot well? How is the Citori Lightning Feather in 20 gauge? Also, what’s the best way to pick a winner off the rack? I don’t handle a lot of shotguns, so unless the gun’s really unwieldy, I have trouble judging the handling qualities without something with which to compare it. Should I borrow a gun that possesses the handling dynamics I want and take in with me on the search?

Thanks for your help. Please reply at your convenience.


Dear Greg,

Lemme get this right: You have a gun that you shoot well, is nicely made and can carry all day. Now you want something that “feels” better? Well, join the club. You have now crossed the line into the world of the lotus eaters. Too much is not enough! I sympathize because I am there with you. No matter how good the gun that I have is, I always have my eye out for a “better” one.

Moment of Inertia (MOI) is one method of attempting to quantify “feel” and dynamics of a shotgun. It measures the way the weight is distributed throughout the gun. A gun’s “feel” is determined by many things. One of the biggest problems with most of the new screw choke guns is that they are a touch nose heavy due to the addition of screw chokes and jugging of the barrels. Some people like this for certain types of target shooting, but many feel that the new guns feel slightly less lively for field use than the old solid-choke guns without the extra weight up front.

One of the reasons that Citoris are so popular for target shooting is that they have that slight weight forward bias to an even greater extent than some other makers. You will find that a Beretta field gun moves a bit quicker than most of the Citori models. The SIG/LL Bean/Rizzini Aurora is also fairly lively in 20 and 28 gauge. The Beretta Whitewing entry level gun is also fairly lively in 12 due to it’s absence of side ribs. The Rugers in 12 and 20 tend to be muzzle heavy or just plain heavy, but their 28 is nice. In gas guns, the Beretta 400A is the current winner in both 12 and 20 as to quick handling. The Benelli 20 is also nice if you fit the very small stock.

The Feather series Citoris have alloy receivers to reduce weight, but the weight reduction is between the hands. The barrels are the same. This means that they will be lighter to carry, but will have roughly the same feel when swinging.

I own three upland guns, none of which have factory screw chokes. There’s a 28″ Webley & Scott 2-1/2″ 12 at 6-1/4# with Cyl and Lt. Mod, a FN Superposed 28″ 20 gauge with 3″ chambers and Sk/Mod chokes, and a 12 gauge 6-3/4# Superposed Superlight 26-1/2″ with IC/Mod chokes. They are all light and responsive. I’d replace any one of them if I found something I like better, but I haven’t found anything yet. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t better guns out there or that my choice is somehow better than those of other SR readers. I’ve just sort of gotten used to them.

The only thing that I can suggest to you is that you keep your Citori while you keep your eye out for something else. You might consider looking at used guns with solid chokes if you want a little quicker feel. You certainly have a good gun now. If you find one you like better, then that’s a bonus. Don’t overlook the SxS. Some of the Turkish guns are reasonably priced and have excellent balance for field use. They were designed from the ground up as field guns.

As an interesting aside, I do several “Shooting Sportsman Magazine” readers/writers shoots a year. The first evening we have a “show and tell” where everyone lays their bird guns out on a table together so we could look at them. There are a dozen guys who have a pretty good idea of how to shoot birds and not one of the guns are the same.

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid

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