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Guns That Changed the World: The Browning A5

Updated on August 19, 2012

Guns That Changed the World: The Browning A5

The Browning Automatic 5, most often Auto-5 or simply A-5, is a recoil-operated semi-automatic shotgun designed by John Browning. It was the first successful semi-automatic shotgun designed and remained in production until 1998. The name of the shotgun designates that it is an autoloader with a capacity of five shots, four in the magazine and one in the chamber.


Guns that Changed the World

The Browning Auto-5 was the first mass-produced semiautomatic shotgun. Designed by John Browning in 1898 and patented in 1900[2], it was produced continually for almost 100 years by several makers with production ending in 1998. It features a distinctive high rear end, earning it the nickname "Humpback". The top of the action goes straight back on a level with the barrel before cutting down sharply towards the buttstock. This distinctive feature makes it easy to identify A-5s from a distance. A-5s were produced in a variety of gauges, with 12- and 20- predominating; 16 gauge (not produced between 1976 and 1987) models were also available.

AGI 127 Browning A5 Shotgun Armorer's Course - Guns that Changed the World

Browning Auto-5 Shotguns, The Belgian FN Production - Revised, Second Edition

Browning Auto-5 Shotguns, The Belgian FN Production - Revised, Second Edition
Browning Auto-5 Shotguns, The Belgian FN Production - Revised, Second Edition

The Browning Auto-5 Shotguns is the first book ever to cover the history, model variations, accessories and production dates of the legendary Browning Auto-5 shotgun. The authors; H.M. Shirley, Jr. and Anthony Vanderlinden combined their knowledge in specific areas to make this publication possible. This publication is to date the only reference book on the Auto-5 (A-5) shotgun prepared entirely with the extensive cooperation and support of Browning, FN Herstal, the Ogden UT, Browning museum and the Liege Firearms museum. This reference is the only accurately researched book on the Auto-5 (A-5) shotgun and its production.



Guns that Changed the World

John Browning presented his design (which he called his best achievement) to Winchester, where he had sold most of his previous designs. When Winchester refused his terms, Browning went to Remington. Tragically, the president of Remington died of a heart attack as Browning waited to offer them the gun. This forced Browning to look overseas to produce the shotgun. It was manufactured by FN (a company that had already produced Browning-designed pistols) starting in 1902. Browning would later license Remington to produce it as their Model 11 and Sportsmen (it was also built under license by Savage as their model 720, Franchi as their AL-48, in Italy by Breda, and in Russia by TOZ). The Model 11 was the first auto-loading shotgun made in the USA. Production in Belgium continued until the start of World War II, when Browning-marked examples were produced by Remington Arms in the United States.[4] Unlike the Remington Model 11, the Remington-produced Browning shotguns had magazine cutoffs. Some 850,000 Remington Model 11 shotguns were produced before production ended in 1947. In 1952, production returned to FN, where it continued to be produced until the end. However, the majority of production moved to Japan in 1975. Finally, in 1998, manufacture of A-5s ceased except for a few commemorative models created at FN in 1999. By that time, it was well established as the second-best-selling auto-loading shotgun in U.S. history, after the Remington 1100.

Browning Auto-5 - Guns that Changed the World

Tales of the Gun: The Guns of Browning


Browning guns and rifles were the favorites of figures as diverse as Buffalo Bill, John Wayne, Theodore Roosevelt and Annie Oakley. They have seen action in every conflict of the 20th century. But very little is known of the man whose creations have led him to be regarded as the greatest gunmaker the world has ever known.THE GUNS OF BROWNING explores the life of the legendary weaponsmith and introduces the firearms that made him famous. Filled with interviews with weapons collectors, historians and military experts, it sheds light on a figure whose explosive creations changed the face of warfare and set the standard for all those who followed.


Design Details

Guns that Changed the World

The Browning Auto-5 is a long-recoil operated semi-automatic shotgun. Shells are stored in a tubular magazine under the barrel. When a chambered shell is fired, the barrel and bolt recoil together (for a distance greater than the shell length) and recock the hammer. As the barrel returns forward to its initial position the bolt remains behind and thus the spent shell is ejected. Then the bolt returns forward and feeds another shell from the magazine into the action. This type of long recoil action was the first of its kind and patented in 1900 by John Browning.

To load the weapon, shells are fed into the bottom of the action, where they are pushed into the tubular magazine. Most A-5s have removable plugs in the magazine which prevent more than 3 shells from being loaded (two in the magazine, plus one in the chamber) to comply with U.S. Federal migratory waterfowl laws, as well as some state hunting regulations. With the plug removed, the total capacity is 5 rounds. If the chamber is open (the operating handle is drawn back) the first shell loaded into the magazine tube will go directly into the chamber. The bolt then closes, and all further shells fed into the gun go into the magazine.

The A-5 has a system of friction rings that control the rate of recoil. Setting these rings correctly is vital to good shotgun performance and to ensure a long life to the weapon, by controlling excessive recoil. The friction rings are set based on the type of load to be fired through the gun.

Belgium Browning Standard Weight Auto 5 Classic Shotgun 1957

Browning Universal Gun Cleaning Kit

Browning Universal Gun Cleaning Kit
Browning Universal Gun Cleaning Kit

Browning Universal Cleaning Kit, Universal Cleaning Kit Description: - 35-piece kit is packaged in a fitted aluminum carry case with handle and contains two sets of solid brass cleaning rods: One for small caliber rifles and pistols (.17-.280) and one for large caliber rifles, pistols (.30 and larger) and shotguns - Ten wire brushes, .17-.45 cal. including three shotgun brushes 12 ga., 20 ga., and .410 bore - Six wool mops from .17 cal. -12 gauge - Includes six jags, two slotted patch holders, brush adaptors, one PSH handle, handle adaptor and 50 cleaning patches, Mfg No: 12444, Manufacturer: Browning


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    • bjj james profile image

      bjj james 4 years ago

      I was not familiar with this gun.

    • kevin-collins profile image

      kevin-collins 5 years ago

      Great lens. Thanks for sharing that piece of history.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      hi all , its great to find an article on my favorite shotgun.i started shooting with one when i was 14. im now 50,and,ive shot with allsorts of shotguns and never found any gun ,even modern , that shoots better,or feels as good to shoot with.

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      cottagecrafts 5 years ago

      Nice information about the Browning A5, stop by my post about custom replacement gun stocks for the Browning A5 and other guns.

    • chrisqw profile image

      chrisqw 6 years ago

      Interesting lens. Thanks!

    • SlipAwayDesigns profile image

      SlipAwayDesigns 6 years ago

      Never had the opportunity to fire a Browning, I am still in love with my m14!

    • SquidooMBA profile image

      SquidooMBA 6 years ago

      Love Brownings! Thanks for the lens.

    • Wbisbill LM profile image

      Barbara Isbill 6 years ago from New Market Tn 37820

      Interesting lens!

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      Pete Schultz 7 years ago

      I've used a browning A-5, a Remington 1100, a Browning BPS, Remington Wingmaster, Winchester Black Shadow and Weatherby Orion. I've come to appreciate the two chokes and two shots of the double barrel....but still appreciate the workings of the fine repeaters I've had. (and in most cases, still own.)