Growing up I had always used a 20 Gauge Remington 870 Youth Model for every kind of hunting. It was a nice little gun, and for someone in their early teens it simply didn’t make any sense to buy anything else. I used it for everything from shooting trap, sporting clays, grouse, woodcock, & pheasant. It was a nice, reliable gun & I bet I’ve shot well over 10,000 rounds through that over the years. Now that I’m older (we won’t mention how much older) I’ve finally graduated to what is in my opinion the best grouse gun out there – the Browning Citori.
What I like About The Browning Citori
I wouldn’t trade this gun for the world. I’m a smaller guy (only 5’6″ on a good day) so it’s normally quite difficult to find a gun that fits me well enough. After putting a slightly shorter butt pad on it (I prefer plastic instead of rubber so it doesn’t catch my vest when a bird flushes) this is definitely the best grouse gun for me. I’ll dive into a few other factors that I love about the Browning Citori when it comes to getting after the birds.
Perfect Barrel Length For The Grouse Woods
Obviously there are different options out there for barrel length depending on what you’re looking for, but my Browning Citori has a 24″ barrel. This is one of the shortest guns you’re going to find, and is commonly by far the shortest gun at the trap club. Heck, it doesn’t even fit into the gun racks at our local club since it’s so short!
This incredibly short barrel is perfect for grouse hunting in the thick cover that we always end up in. When my English Setter Trigger goes on point and we flush the bird, the 24″ barrel on my Browning Citori doesn’t get snagged on any brush on the way to my shoulder. When combined with my step-back method for thick cover, I rarely end up hitting any branches or trees with my barrel as I’m swinging through the bird.
Zero Moving Parts
After owning a pump for all those years I will say I got pretty quick on the 2nd shot with my Remington 870. However, not even semi-autos can compare to the 2nd shot you’re able to get off with an over/under like the Browning Citori. Where with a pump & semi-auto you still have the action moving to eject the spent shell & load the new one, the over/under is ready to rock the millisecond you let off the trigger on the first shot.
I’m a big believer that if nothing is moving on your gun you’re going to have a higher quality shot on your second shot. It’s just simple physics. Even if you’ve gotten good at getting back onto the bird after your first shot with a semi-auto or pump, nothing is going to compare to having everything contained and ready to go with an over/under. You’re also not going to catch any brush on your arm like you would with a pump. Even semi-automatics have a chance of catching the action on some cover when you’re working your way through the woods.
If you ask me, the best grouse gun is always going to be an over/under like my trusty Browning Citori. It is far and away one of the easiest guns around to maintain. Simply running a boresnake and some good CLP keeps us ready to rock & roll.
Light Weight & Easy To Carry
It kind of goes against saying that one of our major criteria was going to be the weight of the gun. Hiking & weaving for hours through the woods trying to find grouse will eventually take its tool and you want to be able to snap that gun to your shoulder when the time comes. The Browning Citori is light enough that you can get it to your shoulder lightning-fast, even if you are hunting without a dog & get surprised by a flush.
Two Barrels – Two Choke Selections
Another thing that I really like about the over/under action on the Browning Citori is that you obviously have two barrels. That means you can fine-tune your shot size & choke selection if you want in order to maximize the effectiveness of your 1st & 2nd shots. I personally like a skeet choke & a lighter load for my first shot. For my second shot I’ll either go with a heavier shot size or a tighter choke, especially in the winter when the shots tend to be longer.
There really isn’t a right or wrong answer here, and for some hunters this might be overkill. But I like to play around with different setups, and an over/under like the Browning Citori certainly allows me to do that.
The Best Grouse Gun – The Browning Citori
The Browning Citori definitely wins my award for the best grouse gun out there. With enough variations to choose from to get exactly what you want, you really can’t go wrong. It does come on the higher end of most hunter’s price ranges, but if you take care of it properly you’ll be carrying this for decades. Heck, my 12 gauge Browning Citori is over 30 years old & it hasn’t skipped a beat!