Citori History – Browning Historical Archive

Written in 2011

This articles below are from the Browning archives, written by several formal Browning writers and historians. It is for historical reference. This overview below was written sometime around 2011.  Other information came at earlier times and may no longer be accurate as to current features. 

John M. Browning was the inventor of the world-famous Browning Auto-5 and Superposed over and under shotguns. Born in 1885 in Utah, he received his first patent for the Model 1885 Single Shot rifle at the young age of 23. For the next 40 years, Browning was considered the world’s foremost firearms inventor.

Browning was able to do much of the design work in his head, visualizing the complete interaction of all the gun’s working parts. He then made the parts at his bench and put them together to complete the new gun. His firearms were simple, functional and reliable, so very few changes have been needed over the decades to most of his designs.

Browning’s B-25 Superposed was the first over and under shotgun, design to successfully appeal to a worldwide shooting market. Today, the timeless B-25, with its incredible balance and light weight, remains a favorite of bird hunters, and trap skeet shooters alike.

The Citori joined the Browning line of fine shotguns in 1971. As the fifth generation of the Superposed, the Browning Citori has inherited all the fine attributes of the original design, along with selected improvements over the years. It is considered the standard against which all other over and under shotguns are measured.

The Citori has a strong, forged steel receiver and precise internal parts that give it an impeccable reputation for reliability. Most of the internal parts are painstakingly hand-fit, meaning the Citori is essentially a custom-made shotgun at a factory-gun price.

There are more than 90 Citori models for target shooting and hunting. Today, there is the perfect Citori available in the most popular gauges for every shotgunner’s needs.

The Browning Citori is the only factory gun on the market that is made with such high standards of precise hand fitting and rich finishing.

HAND MADE

The Browning Citori is not a mass-produced shotgun. Many of the parts in each Citori are individually hand-fitted, progressing from the skilled hands of one gunsmith to the next. Because of this attention to detail, each Citori takes about four months to complete. As a result, each Citori is unique.

The Citori’s Receiver is machined from a solid block of steel for exceptional strength, creating a rigid framework for the polished and fitted internal parts.

The flat transverse-mounted, full-width Locking Bolt engages a full-width tapered recess in the rear barrel lugs and holds the action tightly closed.  Every Locking Bolt is hand-fitted to insure precise contact with its mating surfaces. The large locking surface is three times bigger than on most other conventional shotguns, giving the Citori an exceptionally long life.

The large diameter Hinge Pin spans the receiver from one side to the other to provide for maximum strength. Located under the lower barrel its enlarged contact surfaces create a stronger, more rigid lock-up with the barrel locking lugs. In fact, it has three times more contact area than conventional trunion designs, guaranteeing precise, solid opening and closing through many thousands of rounds.

The Recoil Surfaces within the receiver are perfectly hand-fitted, insuring greater support to the hinge pin and the bolt every time the gun is fired. In this way, the recoil force exerted on the receiver is distributed evenly, giving the Citori incredible reliability and longer life.

Hammer Ejectors guarantee positive shell ejection. The shells are ejected in two stages. First, the shells are released and elevated about 4mm, which is twice as far as other ejectors. Next, the hammer ejectors throw the shells clear of the chambers with more force than conventional spring ejectors found on the competition. The result is you never need to worry about having a fired shell hang up in the chamber of your Citori.

Citori Barrels are made from the highest quality steel. Chambers are hard chrome-lined to increase durability, reduce corrosion and withstand the wear that many thousands of shells can take over decades of use.

NOTE

Several Citori 12 and 20 gauge sporting guns are Ported. When a ported barrel is discharged, gasses moving violently down the barrel hit the forward edge of the holes and pull the gun forward off the shoulder reducing felt recoil. Porting in the over barrel also work to depress the barrels when discharged, counteracting muzzle jump.

Vector Pro™ Lengthened Forcing Cones are two inches longer than other systems. This long, gradual taper minimizes shot deformation and maximizes pattern uniformity, consistency and density.

The bore diameter of the Citori has been increased to its maximum specification by Back-boring. This reduces friction between the shot cup and the barrel, propelling the shot pellets to a higher velocity and reducing felt recoil.  What is equally important in the Citori’s barrel design is located at the muzzle end of the barrel.

The proven Invector™ Interchangeable Choke Tube System, found on all Citori models, allows the shooter to install the choke of his choice for specific shooting situations. The longer choke taper inside an Invector-Plus™ choke tube works hand-in-hand with lengthened Vector Pro forcing cones and original back-bored technology. The superior designs of the Invector systems are far more durable than the choke systems found in competitor’s guns, especially when shooting steel shot loads. The Invector systems eliminate gases slipping between the choke tube and barrel that could damage the choke tube and the barrel.

SUMMARY

The manufacture and perfect fit of the Citori’s internal key parts are exceptional to help ensure perfect function over the years. The latest manufacturing technology, combined with a systematic, final hand fitting of these parts insures that your Citori is the best built over and under shotgun in the world.

 

Additional Notes on Citori Features

Overview by Browning writers. Some features and processes have changed over time. 

Precision Cut Checkering.

Many years ago checkering was added to firearms to improve a shooter’s grip. Today, the checkering on a Browning Citori still does that and much, much more. Carefully cut at 25 lines per inch (count them yourself) it not only offers a firm grip but works to complement every curve and every carve found on a new Citori. The difference between Citori checkering and ordinary checkering may be found in the sharpness of each diamond cut, with each diamond ending in a pyramid point. Border depth remains consistent. And corners and turns – like on a 625 Feather for example – follow smoothly around stock contours. You not only can see the difference, but you can feel it too.

Exquisite American Walnut.

When you invest in a Browning Citori over and under shotgun you picture in your mind a master walnut buyer working his way through pallets of properly cured walnut blanks, selecting only the finest and the best of each grade. Your picture is correct. Browning Citori stocks are crafted from the finest American walnut, carefully cut and judiciously prepared for the time they would transform from a block to a piece of art. The variety of the forearm and stock shapes and dimensions is not by accident. Each shooter is unique, and with Browning, you can find the stock that will bring out the best in your shooting ability – and do it beautifully. Many Citori shotguns feature stocks with patterns, figure, and grain that are fast becoming rare and difficult to purchase, adding an extra sense of uniqueness and quality.

An engraving that sets the standard.

Browning Citori shotguns have always been known for their uniquely well-performed engraving. You see this both in the patterns and the scenes themselves . . . and in the quality of the actual image on the steel or alloy receiver. Determined by the pattern itself, your Citori will be created by methods involving high relief, sophisticated engraving rolls or detailed photo-etching processes -- and often with gold highlights. Browning gunmakers excel with engraving expertise today as they have for over a half a century. The patterns themselves are created by artists who work in metal and who are inspired by the traditions we love. The finished engraving is inspected by craftsmen who often “hand chase” details to assure your satisfaction. You can look closely at a Citori – and you should. And enjoy this extra level of near-custom quality. 

Citori Historical Reference

THE NAME 

Sometime in the early-‘70’s, Mr. Harmon G. Williams, then-president of the Browning Arms Company and a few of his staff were contemplating a name for their new over and under shotgun.

Prior to manufacturing firearms, B.K. Miroku fabricated a number of products, primarily harpoons.

At that evening meeting, Mr. Williams put his arms up and locked his fingers behind his head, as was his custom when in such meetings. He flexed his biceps left, then right. “What about Citori”, he said. This put the room into deep thought. “What does it mean”, said one. “I don’t know” he replied. “The name just popped into my head.”

No one had an argument with the name and Citori stuck.

Since its inception, the Browning Citori shotgun has become a widely praised legend of detailed craftsmanship. Its design hasn’t changed,  keeping with the simple, yet strong gun designs of John M. Browning. The Citori is available in all gauges, and many models are proudly and skillfully embellished with intricate engravings and gold inlays, exquisite woods, and different stock options for all types of shooting demands. It has won thousands of awards worldwide for its shooters and has been readily accepted at every shooting level, maintaining its place today as the number one premier over and under shotgun that is on the wish list for hunters and shooters worldwide.

In May 2008, Browning presented the ONE-MILLIONTH CITORI to the National Rifle Association as a  fundraiser in protecting our rights as American citizens to keep and bear arms. The Browning Citori, surely, is one the world wants to keep.

 

ANSWERS TO HISTORICAL QUESTIONS PROVIDED BY THE MIROKU STAFF 

To Miroku team:

"Our advertising department is building a historical perspective on the Citori.
 
"Can you tell me about the over/under manufacturing expertise at Miroku prior to the introduction of the Citori.  When did Miroku begin manufacturing o/u shotguns?  Did the Miroku brand of O/U exist at the time?  How long did Miroku produce the Charles Daly brand? The Citori has a long and well deserved excellent reputation and I think it is very good that the history be chronicled while there are still “old timers” that can help.
 
Thanks for your help, 
 
ANSWERS

"I'm afraid that the old-timers are not always in a position where they could respond to any question thoroughly and correctly.

  • The O/U shotgun of Miroku's own design was developed in 1960 and it was introduced in the domestic market in 1961.
  • We entered into sales tie-up with Charles Daly in USA in 1963.  Since then, the O/U shotgun started to be distributed under Charles Daly brand in USA.
  • Our tie-up with Charles Daly terminated in 1974.  We already started our supply of the same O/U shotguns to Browning in 1973 under the "CITORI" name.
  • The same O/U shotguns were being distributed also in Europe under "Miroku" brand through sales agency in each major market.
  • In 1974, the CITORI as well as all Miroku O/U products line was totally model-changed being based on FN Superspose, as you know.

Best regards,

Y. Shidei

Timeline

This timeline was created to record a partial history of  how Browning firearms came to be made at the Miroku factory in Kochi, Japan, and the evolution of the Browning-Miroku partnership. This was compiled in the early 2000s.

TIMELINE – ROUGH DRAFT FROM EARLY 2000s

  • In 1897 legendary gunmaker John Browning sold his first design for a 32 caliber, blowback, semi-automatic pistol to Fabrique Nationale, It would not be the last design that FN would manufacture. John Browning, with an autoloading shotgun under his arm, went to Belgium in 1902. A month later a contract was signed granting FN the exclusive world rights to manufacture and sell it.
  • Browning relied on Fabrique Nationale to make its products. For 50 years Browning would dominate the firearms industry designing products for such legendary companies as Colt, Remington, Winchester, and FN. And although Browning’s incredible career ended with his death in Belgium in 1923, the legacy has continued.
  • Browning would surely be impressed and astonished that over a century later this business relationship is still strong. Always one for innovation and reaching out for the best quality he’d also surely be impressed with the collaboration of Browning with the legendary Japanese gunmaker, Miroku. Today the fates of Browning, Miroku, and FN are inexorably linked together
  • In 1965 John Browning’s grandson, John Val, was seeking another quality firearms manufacturer when he traveled to Japan to meet with Miroku. The Wild West went to the Far East. Japan had a skilled workforce, technical knowledge, and abundant raw materials including steel. The Brownings liked what they saw.
  • The Miroku factory was not only making shotguns under their own name but for American gunmaker Charles Daly as well. This level of quality and commitment to the production of fine-machined firearms has led to another long-term relationship that continues today.
  • By the end of the 1990s Miroku was shipping over 200,000 guns a year to Browning in the United States. Browning’s single barrel trap gun, the BT99, was the first gun manufactured in 1967, followed by the lever-action 22 rifle, the BL22, in 1969. The BL22 was followed by the Browning Side by Side (BSS) just at the time when FN had withdrawn its own Anson Model.
  • In 1970 the over and under Citori would gradually replace J.M. Browning’s traditional side by side model. In 1973 the Browning Pump Shotgun (BPS) was being made in Kochi City, and in 1976 the legendary Auto-5 shotgun would move from Belgium factories to Japan.
  • While some American consumers were initially wary of foreign quality, the styling, finish, and fit were Browning all the way. A true design partner, Miroku, and Browning achieved an incredible working relationship: coil springs replaced leaf springs,  parts were heat-treated, and improvements were. “Miroku guns were high quality from day one,” notes former Browning executive Ray Allen
  • Miroku is located in Kochi City, located on the southern side of the island of Shikoku, the smallest of Japan's four major islands. Bordered by lush green mountains to the north, and blessed by the abundance of the Pacific Ocean to the south. Kochi is naturally rich and beautiful. Kochi is small but has a country charm and historic legacy and pedigree that is absolutely irresistible, which may have been an attraction to the rural character of Browning.
  • In a culture with very little access to firearms, Miroku is Japan’s largest gunmaker and is very important to the community. Amidst the farms and small businesses, next to the rice paddies on the edge of town, over 1000 employees hand finish, engrave, and build guns with reverence and commitment. 
  • As Japan was modernizing and learning Western manufacturing techniques in the 19th Century, Karaji Miroku began making handmade guns for hunters seeking the boar and deer in the nearby mountains. By 1934 Kuraji’s son Bukichi was making long guns, pistols, and whaling harpoons. (A giant harpoon gun from the 1930s even graces the company headquarters.) By the mid-1960’s Miroku was in difficult financial problems when the Brownings traveled to Japan.
  • Today Miroku is the largest of Japan’s 3 nonmilitary gunmakers, posting over $78 million in sales at the turn of the millennium. They have also diversified their manufactured products to include Toyota automobile parts and machine tools. They currently create the BLR, BPS, BT99, Cynergy, and Citori for Browning.
  • When FN acquired Browning in 1977 Miroku was in a position to try investing with FN and Browning.  Miroku went to Korea for BSS but they attempted the project for 2 ½ years until they gave up. Gun production of the BSS was very complicated and the mechanism, very difficult to manufacture.