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Citori Gran Lightning, Everything I Never Wanted in a Shotgun, and Now I Love it!


Citori Gran Lightning Grade VI, 12-3, 28", Midas

When I needed a shotgun to take to the Turkey Shoot every Saturday this Fall, I started looking at 50 to 70 year-old Belgian made Browning Superposed guns. After several days of reviewing specs and prices, I realized that I was too set in my ways. I decided to take a whole new approach.

Getting Out of My Comfort Zone… I Tried Something New and Different

Citori Gran Lightning & Buffalo Hide Case
Citori Gran Lightning & Buffalo Hide Case

All my life, I’ve considered the Belgian made Browning’s to be superior to the Japanese made shotguns. Why did I hold that opinion? Well, it wasn’t because I had actually compared the two. Made in Japan has never graced the barrel of a gun in my collection, that is, until now.

Citori Gran Lightning
Citori Gran Lightning

After making the change in direction from old to new, my attention turned to the Citori and all that it has to offer. Of all the available models, the Gran Lightning appealed to me the most. The Citori is manufactured for Browning by the Miroku Corporation in Nangoku, Japan.

In the 1950s and 60s, Made in Japan was synonymous with "inferior product" and any exports from there carried a stigma. Many of the WWII generation had deep-rooted negative feelings toward Japan as a result of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. This attitude was passed to my generation.


Citori Gran Lightning with Roosevelt & Drake Buffalo Hide Case
Roosevelt & Drake Buffalo Hide Case

Once I came to terms with a Japanese manufactured gun (says the guy that drives a Tacoma with a Supercharger), I needed to choose the options I wanted, then search for availability and pricing. My specs were 12 gauge, 3” chambers, 28” barrels with Midas grade Invector-Plus choke tubes with black band (no gold or silver tubes).

Citori Gran Lightning
Citori Gran Lightning

The configuration I sought was available from a dealer in New Hampshire. The wood was Satin finish instead of the Gloss or Oil finish that I would have preferred. The total cost, including the transfer fee on my end would be $3,800. After compromising on virtually every other option, why not compromise on the wood as well? My mind was made up. I was going to do it.

My new shotgun would be everything I never wanted:

  • Made in Japan
  • Choke Tubes
  • Gold Embossed Receiver
  • Satin Finished Wood

After reading about the technological advances that have gone into the design of the new guns, it made me feel like it would be foolish to buy a 50 or 75 year-old gun to take to the competition. As I write this, I’m looking across the room at the gun, standing in my Run Around Susan Gun Rack. This gun is beautiful and my photos don't do it justice.

Leg-O-Mutton Style Case Hard Shell - This case was made out of Buffalo Hide by Roosevelt & Drake. I bought this case (new) sometime between 2000 and 2006. I'm pretty sure the company stopped making these soon thereafter.


Photos

(Click or Tap to Enlarge)

Back-Bored Technology

Browning was the first firearms company to offer factory back-boring...


Browning was the first firearms company to offer factory back-boring to shotguns for reduced recoil and improved patterns. Back-boring increases the inside bore diameter to its ideal, maximum allowable specification. This reduces friction between the shot cup and the barrel, allowing the energy developed by the powder to propel the shot pellets to a higher velocity.

Citori Gran Lightning with Back-Bore Technology
Citori with Back-Bore Technology

Reducing friction from the forcing cone on the shot column also results in fewer deformed pellets for more uniform patterns and keeps more pellets in the center of the pattern. Back-bored barrels work hand-in-hand with the Browning Invector-Plus™ interchangeable choke system.

source: https://www.browning.com/news/tech-terms/shotgun-back-bored.html

Better patterns and increased shot velocity help you hit what you’re shooting at. A back-bored barrel is a shotgun barrel that has a bore diameter increased beyond standard specifications. Increasing the bore diameter of a shotgun barrel greatly enhances its performance.

Does Back-Boring Really Work? I Shall Soon See.

A larger bore diameter reduces friction of the shot charge against the barrel wall. Instead of trying to overcome friction, powder gases expend more energy on the wad base, resulting in an increase in shot velocity. Because there is less constriction or pressure from the barrel walls on a shot charge, there are fewer deformed shot pellets. A greater number of ballistically superior round pellets in a shot charge gives you exceptionally uniform patterns — delivering more shot pellets in the effective part of your pattern.

Cleaning a New Gun for the First Time

When you buy a new gun, read the Owner Manual before firing. If the gun shipped with a coating of rust protectant, it is important to thoroughly clean the gun, removing the product applied at the factory. For grease, I use Birchwood Casey RUG4 Rig Universal Grease. For the barrels, I use a high-quality Boresnake, as I had already sprayed both barrels very good with the Birchwood Casey Bore Scrubber.

This new Browning was so tight when I first assembled it, I had to try to close the latch on the forearm about fifteen times before finally getting it to close. After greasing the gun, it was much better.


Grease and Bore Cleaner
Grease and Bore Cleaner

Cleaning a brand new gun for the first time is very different from routine maintenance. The Owner Manual states that the gun is shipped with an application of rust protectant that should be removed before firing. I disassembled the shotgun and took the parts outside and sprayed them really good and wiped the parts down before bringing them back into the house.


  Clean & Protect Your Gun


Grease and Bore Cleaner
Cleaning a New Gun

The more I handle this Citori, the more I like it. I am counting down the hours to take it to the range. A follow-up report on how it performs on the paper targets at 30 yards will be forthcoming.

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First Firing

Two Second Place Finishes in Six Rounds...


My time at the competition was cut short this weekend because the granddaughter spent the night with us the night before and she wanted to do something with Papa. There are fifteen shooters per round and the process is very slow, requiring fifteen minutes per round. So I only got to fire the gun six times today.

First Target at 30 Yards, Top Barrel, Full Choke Tube
Top Barrel, Full Choke, 30 Yards

Six times firing the gun was enough to get the feel of the gun and evaluate how it performed. I began, by using the top barrel with the Full Choke Tube. Although there weren't as many pellets on the sheet as I expected, the gun put six in the target on the first go. I suspected the gun was shooting high.

On My Next Trip to the Range, I Will Have the Full Choke Tube in the Bottom Barrel

Had I thought to take the choke tube wrench with me to the range, I would have moved the Full Choke Tube to the bottom barrel between rounds. When the Range Inspector checked my chokes before the Shoot began, to my surprise, he commented that my choke was more open than the Standard Full Choke. I'm looking into this to learn why that would be.

I Once Had a BT-99 Trap Gun that Fired High at 30 Yards

Before my next firing, I plan to learn more about these tubes and see if I can get the exact measurements of the tubes online. There is an Extra-Full Tube, but if the measurements are too small, I won't be able to use it in the competition.


Second Target at 30 Yards, Bottom Barrel, Modified Choke Tube
Bottom Barrel, Modified Choke, 30 Yards

After firing three rounds with the top barrel, I moved to the lower barrel. The first target showed more pellets on the page, but only one on the black line.

Third Target at 30 Yards, Bottom Barrel, Modified Choke Tube
Bottom Barrel, Modified Choke, 30 Yards

Lowering my aim, still using the lower barrel, I put even more shot on the page with a better result. My plan is to switch the order of the chokes as previously mentioned, investigate the tube measurements and get more time with the gun next time. For the moment, my opinion on back-boring is up in the air.

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