Early Browning A-5...


January 13, 2003, 01:51 AM
I have stumbled across a project gun (like I need another!) that I picked up cheap - $125.

It's a Browning A5 12 Ga, 28" full choked barrel, 2 & 3/4" chamber. The forend is pretty badly cracked, there's blue missing here & there, and a recoil pad was added to it sufficiently long ago that the pad is now as hard as the original buttplate.:eek:

The S/N is 72XXX, so I would guess it to be an early manufactured gun. Mechanically, it's in decent shape. I haven't had a chance to pattern it, but the bore is bright with no pits, and it seems to feed and function fine.

Date of manufacture would be of interest, as well as a source for replacement forends. I've tried the usual suspects like Gun Parts, but none of them make any comment as to vintage of the wood. I don't want new glossy finished wood.


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Dave McCracken
January 13, 2003, 05:44 AM
Boyd's and Wenig's sell unfinished stocks and forearms,Tex. try there, or call Browning directly.

Along wiht the wood, go with a new set of springs and rings. Cheap insurance...

Sounds like a nice project, please keep us posted ...

January 15, 2003, 12:02 AM
If there's no alphabetic character above or before the serial number, the number corresponds to 1929 production.

January 15, 2003, 01:36 AM
Contact info for Boyd's and Wenig's?

Many thanks for the info!

I did shoot it a little this weekend. No practical way to pattern it, but it functioned fine. The old recoil pad is getting replaced with something softer:what:

I still don't understand how I can bench a .375 H&H and flinch over 12 ga 1&1/4 oz loads.:confused:

Dave McCracken
January 15, 2003, 05:50 AM
Tex, that .375 H&H weighed 9 lbs plus, probably. Better pad, better fit, heavier...

January 15, 2003, 07:08 AM

Try Cabela's. They've had Remington model 11 wood...maybe A-5 also?

Tom C.
January 15, 2003, 02:43 PM
Brownell's has replacement wood for the A-5 and many others. I have a Remington Model 11 that was in similar shape: covered with rust, old rock hard recoil pad, long full choke barrel, with two barrel bulges. I found a replacement barrel, and had the thing restored with new finish on wood and steel, and ghost ring sights, and removable chokes. Shoots slugs into 3" at 50 yds. I use it for IPSC 3 gun matches.

January 15, 2003, 03:05 PM
:scrutiny: It's a Ruger #1 - an old one with the lighter barrel & a thin rubber pad.

Many thanks for the info. The old humpback seems to be pretty good mechanically. I'll try to post photos tonight. It has the early safety. Seems a good deal for $125:D

Tom C.
January 15, 2003, 09:47 PM
If you want to see how good the A-5 is compared to current combat competition shotguns, take a look at the Winchester website. Both HTML and pdf. The pdf has nice color photos.


Dave McCracken
January 16, 2003, 05:44 AM
$125 for a working A-5? Great price, even on a beater.

Try 1 oz or 1 1/8 oz loads for less kick.

January 16, 2003, 01:13 PM
I bought a similar project gun years back. A straight grip A5. Wonder when that was made? Nice weapons, kick like mules.

Tom C.
January 16, 2003, 01:49 PM
Do you have the friction ring in the high drag position? The high drag position really mitigates recoil with my Remington model 11 which is an authorized clone of the A-5.

January 16, 2003, 06:07 PM
Tom C.

I was wondering what kind of ghost ring sights you installed on your A-5 and a recommended gunsmith that does this work. I've been wanting to purchase a Buck Special 24" barrel for mine, but so far I'm just using the 28 incher. Thanks for any information.

Tom C.
January 16, 2003, 09:05 PM
I got the MMC rear sight. It is one of at least 2 very nice rear sights available from Brownell's. I used a Williams base and an Ashley Outdoors front blade. The rear sight is mounted well back on the receiver. The front sight has to be pretty high. I was pleasantly surprised with the accuracy. With the barrel moving so far, I assumed it would be a little loose, but it is actually quite tight and shoots great. I also use it for sporting clays. It does generate some interesting comments when I pull it out.

January 16, 2003, 09:43 PM
Tom C:

Can I safely assume the "friction ring" looks sorta like a ring, and goes on the action somewhere?:confused: :D

I never have studied the A5 action in detail before, so this is a learning experience.:)

Will snap some photos tonight.

January 17, 2003, 12:33 AM
Thanks Tom, for the sight information. I always thought about getting a picatinny rail machined to fit the contour of the A-5 receiver top, then adding a sight on that. Maybe it would be too high.

Tex: If you remove the forearm, you will see the friction rings next to the recoil spring. I suppose the early A-5s were all 2.75" chambered. You can get an Assembly/disassembly book for the A5 from Brownell's, which covers the entire dismantling procedure. I don't know if the early ones like yours are exactly the same. Pretty close, I'd bet.

January 17, 2003, 02:28 AM
Here it is...

January 17, 2003, 02:33 AM

What is the normal Length of pull for these guns? It checks 14" over the pad, which was obviously added on. You guys think the pad was just added on, or was the buttstock shortened, too.?

January 17, 2003, 02:36 AM
And finally, the other side. Sorry the photo is not in such good focus. You can see the crack in the forend. Not shown is at the front end of the forend, it split, and some fool installed a #8 machine screw & nut to hold it together. It's a real amatuerish eyesore, and probably the reason why I could get it so cheap.:)

January 17, 2003, 02:38 AM
Bah, forgot to attach the file the first time.

Dave McCracken
January 17, 2003, 06:00 AM
The earliest A-5s were chambered for 2 1/2 or 2 9/16" shells,TTBOMK.

Old A-5s I've shot were a bit short in LOP, one was definitely not altered.Since you're replacing the pad, why not install one that will give you the proper LOP?

For $125, you made out like a bandit....

Tom C.
January 17, 2003, 10:16 AM
The friction ring is between the barrel ring and the recoil spring. There is a brass ring that can be squeezed by the upper ring attached to the barrel, or 2 rings. With the gun muzzle up, the upper ring is what attaches the barrel to the mag tube. The second ring looks like a thick washer. One side is flat, and one side is cupped. With the ring on top of the recoil spring, with the cupped side up so that the brass friction ring is seated against the cup, between that thick washer and the barrel ring, that is the high drag position. With that ring reversed with the flat side against the brass friction ring is the low drag position. High drag, the brass friction ring is squeezed from both the top and bottom for maximum drag. With the ring reversed in the low drag position, the friction ring is only squeezed by the barrel ring. I use the low drag position for 1 oz 2.75 dram loads. With 1 1/8 oz 3 dram loads available from outlets like Walmart, you can use either. The cycling is slowed down in the high drag position. For heavy loads like slugs, the high drag position can prevent you from taking a beating. I replaced the brass friction ring when I rebuilt my Remington. You may need a replacement for your old Browning. Also consider a new recoil spring.

Sights. The Winchester Super X-2 Practical Mk II has the rear sight mounted on a picatinny rail, the new military Benelli M4 has a similar sight mounted on the receiver, with a picatinny rail mounted in front of the sight on the receiver. I didn't think of the rail at the time, so mine is receiver mounted. I could still mount a short rail in front. One of the sights in Brownell's is available as either a receiver mount or rail mount. Rail mounting probably requires a higher front sight.

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