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Browning Auto-5

Discussion in 'Shotguns' started by Sergei Mosin, Oct 14, 2020.

  1. Sergei Mosin

    Sergei Mosin Member

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    I always see Browning Auto-5 shotguns on the used racks in any gun store, and I've thought about getting one just to have another good JMB design, probably not to be used for anything more serious than a little backyard trap shooting. What should I be looking for in an Auto-5?
     
  2. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Member

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    A Belgian Light 12 with plain barrel and raised bead. Modified choke.
     
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  3. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 Member

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    Assuming it’s a 12 gauge, there should be none of the barrel extension protruding from the receiver. If there is, the forearm has been battered and is due to crack.

    Speaking of forearm cracks, check the bottom, many have cracks there.

    A lot of parts were updated in 1958, if you’re only going to have one, a ‘58 or later will be easier to find parts for. These guns are identified by a single digit (1958-67) or two digits (1967-76) in front of the serial number’s letter prefix.

    When I check an Auto-5, I cover the primers of dummy cartridges with tape. I load the gun, and cycle it by pulling the barrel all the way back and releasing. Ejected cartridges should have only the smallest dent in the tape. Then I repeat, this time pulling the trigger and checking for a strong hole in the tape.
     
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  4. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 Member

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    A lot of Auto-5’s were fitted with the hated PolyChoke. I happen to like the device — they work well enough, are handy as Hell, and add weight to the front that helps smooth my swing. And I get the gun for a couple hundred less.
     
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  5. 1MoreFord

    1MoreFord Member

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    While a lot of folks are hung up on the Belgian Browning mystique I like my Japanese Light 12 w/ 26" choke tube barrel greatly. Don't feel the need for it to be a Belgian gun to be a good shooter.
     
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  6. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Member

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    The only reason I mentioned the Belgian A-5 in my post is because I don’t see too many Japanese A-5s with the plain barrel, which I personally prefer. The OP also implied he was looking for something traditional and classic and the Belgian Brownings, maybe unfairly so, seem to have a little more of a presence in those categories with gun enthusiasts in general.

    Absolutely nothing wrong with the Japanese Miroku A-5s. They might even be better than the Belgians. I’m not getting rid of my BPS for anything. Least of all because it is not made in Belgium.
     
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  7. NIGHTLORD40K

    NIGHTLORD40K Member

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    To clarify, the A-5 is the current production model, which has nothing except a faint resemblance in common with JMBs Auto-5 design.

    Cracked forearms are the number one problem, usually because the retaining nut was overtightened. The friction rings should also be inspected for excessive wear, and new springs are a good idea on an older example.

    Both Belgian and Japanese production are good guns. Dont forget that Remington and Savage also made licensed copies, although the parts arent 100% interchangeable.

    I tell you what, though- a properly set up Auto-5 is just about the most fun you can have in the world of gunning! Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, hehe....:thumbup:
     
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  8. cdb1

    cdb1 Member

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    Recoil is different. You get two impulses instead of one because the barrel moves when the shotgun is fired. The original Auto-5 is not gas or inertia operated, it’s operating system is called, “Long Recoil”. I know this is old hat to most of you. Some people don’t care for Auto-5 recoil because of that. Properly set up they are a joy to shoot, I enjoyed my Sweet 16 until it was stolen in college.
     
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  9. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Member

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    The old Auto-5 was always known to me colloquially as the A-5. I guess the distinction between the two never mattered until the new one came out.
     
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  10. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 Member

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    Can over tightening the magazine cap cause the stock to crack? I guess, but the biggest problem is the tendency for the cap to loosen as the gun is shot. This allows the barrel to travel further forward than normal and it batters the forearm. After every few shots I retract the barrel a bit and snug the cap hand tight.

    Probably the biggest weakness of the design is the fact that the barrel rams into the walnut forearm with every shot. Even guns with properly tightened caps will eventually fail there. Art, of Art’s Gun Shop says there’s nothing to be done except replace the part. Nothing for him to do — when he fixes a gun, he wants it to stay fixed. But we can fix our forearms, if only temporarily. And repetitively.
     
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  11. I6turbo

    I6turbo Member

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    A Model 11 (more or less a Remington-built Auto-5) was the one of the guns I shot quite a bit when I was a kid. I always admired the Auto-5 but always prefered O/U and SxS for most of my shotgunning. A few years ago I picked up a 1954 model Auto-5 to make an HD gun out of it. After shortening the barrel and having Michael Orlen install screw-in chokes, the gun has become my favorite shotgun to shoot. It's just fun, and it's a very high quality gun - you can just feel the craftsmanship in hand. I recently set up a 1952 Model 37 the same way. I love both of these guns and would highly recommend either of them (top two guns in the photo below).

    nuWcru9.jpg
     
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  12. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 Member

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    I’m guessing you use it for more than HD if you put screw-in chokes in it. My bowling pin gun doubles as an HD shotgun.

    KbiljHA.jpg
     
  13. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Member

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    The biggest weakness of the design are the users who do not understand the difference between light and heavy loads and who do not or will not or don’t know how to adjust the friction ring accordingly.
     
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  14. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 Member

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    That’s not a weakness of the design, it’s a weakness of the operators.

    But if you bought a used Auto-5 in 1966, you’d have to write to Browning for an manual before you could shoot it. Who would actually do that? That’s where the gun got it’s reputation as a hard kicker.

    With the internet, today there’s no excuse for setting up the gun wrong — but plenty of people still do. I call them idiots.
     
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  15. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Wasn't there a friction ring diagram pasted inside the forearm?
    Nobody hereabouts paid any attention to it, them there spring operated Belgium Brownings were expected to Just Work.
    My neighbor the gunsmith got a lot of them in with the action parts in a cigar box because Mr Browning's design genius did not extend to easy reassembly of commercial guns.
     
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  16. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 Member

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    See those super thin slots on the screws? Browning didn’t want anyone but their own gunsmiths going inside an Auto-5. If you plan to, buy the screwdriver bits from Brownell’s, and watch Art’s videos.
     
  17. Terry G

    Terry G Member

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    Belgian Light 12 with it's victims. The "Sweet Sixteen" is also one of my treasures. The forearm on the 16 Gauge does carry a crack from shooting (idiot me, I was young) slugs and buckshot through it. The light 12 is strictly a bird gun. The heaviest load used IMG_0206.JPG was no.4 shot and steel Duck/Goose loads. I've had them both forever. I have other shotguns, but I like the Browning's the best. Both of mine are full choke.
     
  18. Sergei Mosin

    Sergei Mosin Member

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    I take it the light 12 should not be used with buckshot?
     
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  19. 1MoreFord

    1MoreFord Member

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    I've always seen A-5 reference the Auto-5. The new current production gun is the A5 w/o a dash.
     
  20. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 Member

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    Sure it can. Just make sure the friction pieces are set up for heavy loads. For really heavy loads, like 1600 FPS slugs, wipe the magazine tube dry.
     
  21. I6turbo

    I6turbo Member

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    I've had my Auto-5 disassembled down to the individual parts for cleaning and inspection of the 66-year-old gun. I don't find it to be that difficult to disassemble and reassemble compared to some guns and other devices. Some handguns are a lot worse to me, particularly some of the trigger and sear mechanisms.
     
  22. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Member

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    Yeah. That’s what I said. I just phrased it ironically.
     
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  23. Sergei Mosin

    Sergei Mosin Member

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    Any thoughts on the 20-gauge version?
     
  24. cdb1

    cdb1 Member

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    Have the friction rings in the right place and felt recoil is pretty light to me.
     
  25. Scott.M

    Scott.M member

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    One with a gauge inscription that ends in 6.
     
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