John Moses Browning’s Old School Humpback Auto 5s

By Sam Trisler

From left to right: Early Remington Model 11 12-gauge with the original style safety, later Remington Model 11 in 20-gauge, Browning Auto 5 in 12-gauge magnum and a Browning Auto 5 in 20-gauge.

From left to right: Early Remington Model 11 12-gauge with the original style safety, later Remington Model 11 in 20-gauge, Browning Auto 5 in 12-gauge magnum and a Browning Auto 5 in 20-gauge.

There are a couple of good stories about John Moses Browning and the work it took for him to get the Auto 5 made. As with most of his long-gun designs of that era, Browning first took it to Winchester. They had a long working relationship at the time, one that had resulted in multiple lever and pump action rifles and the model 93and 97 pump action shotguns. The story goes that Winchester thought the new autoloading shotgun design was ugly. I agree that the humpback is nowhere near the sleek and sexy Browning-designed Winchester 94, but still. What were they thinking when they passed on buying his patents on this one?

The Browning on top has the magazine cutoff that the Remington is missing. The Browning is also a bit fancier.

Browning next went to Remington to see if it would be interested in making the ugly gun. The story told here is that while John Moses was waiting for a meeting with Marcellus Hartley, the president of Remington, Hartley had a heart attack and died. I guess that’s what happens when you leave the greatest firearms designer of at least the past 200 years waiting.

No doubt frustrated, Browning next went to his new friends in Belgium. FN Herstal ran with it and ended up making the Auto 5 for almost 100 years. The Auto 5s made by FN for sale in the U.S. carried the Browning name, while they were marked “FN” for the rest of the world. Auto 5s marked “FN” show up from time to time here in the States. One thing to remember if you come across one is that they are not chambered in the typical American fashion. One notable difference is that instead of 2 ¾ or 3 inch chambers, the FN-marked guns will be metric.

FN-made Browning butt plate.

FN-made Browning butt plate.

Design and Function

Here is a simple description of how this type of action works: when a round is fired, the bolt and the barrel are locked together. The force of the recoil moves them both backwards and compresses a spring that is coiled around the magazine tube. Once they have reached the rear of the receiver, the barrel and bolt unlock. The barrel then returns, using the stored energy of the recoil spring. There is also an ejector built on the rear of the barrel that kicks the spent shell out. The bolt then moves forward under power from an additional spring that is in the stock. On the bolt’s return, a new shell is picked up and guided into the chamber.

In order to fit the workings of this long recoil action inside the gun, the receiver has a sharp drop-off towards the stock. This is where it gets the humpback nickname, even though it’s not a hump actually—just a sharp drop off at the back end of the receiver.

Let’s get back to the mechanics. As shotgun shooters know, there is a large variety of shotgun shell loads available. There are light target or trap loads, heavy turkey loads and fast waterfowl shells. Accommodating the difference in energy of these loads is the hardest part of designing an autoloading shotgun. The Auto 5 uses friction rings around the magazine tube that function with the recoil spring to absorb the correct amount of energy. The rings can be flipped around for different loads. Browning has the manuals for the Auto 5 on its website that give detailed instructions on how to set the rings up. A well maintained and properly set up Auto 5 is a pleasure to shoot. The recoil isn’t that bad, though it is still a shotgun and will kick as such. These old shotguns sometimes have a reputation of kicking like a Missouri mule, and they will if they are not set up correctly.

Browning Auto 5 in 20-gauge. Note the lever on the bottom left in the picture. That is the magazine cutoff that only the Browning (FN) guns have.

Browning Auto 5 in 20-gauge. Note the lever on the bottom left in the picture. That is the magazine cutoff that only the Browning (FN) guns have.

FN made the Auto 5 from 1902 until 1998-9. They were made in Belgium until 1975, when production moved to Japan. Yet the Auto 5 design wasn’t just made by FN. The classic Remington Model 11 is a licensed copy and was the first semi-auto shotgun to be made in the United States. Remington made around 850,000 of them between 1905 and 1948. Savage also made the models 720 and 745 from 1930 until 1949. All told, the Auto 5 design is the second most manufactured auto-loading shotgun of all time. Only the Remington 1100 edges it out.

If you have never shot one of the old Auto5s, there are a couple of things that are a little different from its successors. The biggest one is the sight picture and cheek weld. The way the back of the receiver “humps” up means that you don’t have to tuck your head down as far to get the consistent cheek weld. Maybe it’s because I grew up shooting the old humpbacks, but nothing else I own or have shot feels as natural or comes to my shoulder faster.

Remington Model 11. These guns killed their fair share of ducks before the use of lead shot. The barrels on these old ones are not rated for steel shot.

Remington Model 11. These guns killed their fair share of ducks before the use of lead shot. The barrels on these old ones are not rated for steel shot.

The other main difference is the way the recoil feels. Well, not the actual recoil, really. The force I’m referring to is what I call the reverse recoil. When the barrel and then the bolt return to battery, it pulls the shotgun back down more than a shotgun that just has the bolt returning home. I’m sure it’s a matter of physics involving the mass of the barrel, but it is useful for reducing split times between shots.

I will admit I am a bit biased when it comes to the Auto 5 and its variants. I learned to shoot on them. These were the shotguns of my Grandfather. He had four of them, two Belgian- made Brownings and two Remington model 11s. There is no telling how many boxes of shells these guns have fired or how many birds have they’ve knocked out of the sky. My grandfather was a bird hunter. These old scatterguns have been across miles and miles of fields and woods. They all have a few bumps and bruises. It’s all character of a well-loved and well-used firearm. They are mine now and reside in the safe most of the time, but they still get pulled out at least a couple times a year to go do what they do best—throw lead and go boom.

{ 41 comments… add one }
  • Joe Burkhalter January 5, 2017, 8:25 pm

    At 81, after years of trap shooting, I have reconciled myself to an occasional goose hunt with my Son- in-law.
    After 4 separate rotator tears and three surgeries to fix, I cannot heft my Browning Broadway for trap or the Mossberg 835 ULTRA Mag for Turkey or goose, and besides the 31/2 ” goose loads are brutal. So I’m taking the wife’s Belguim made 5 A, 20 ga 3″ Browning for geese. Easier to swing. Less painful to shoot.
    QUESTION… Will an occasion half dozen shots with Heavi-metal #3’s damage the beautiful old 20 ga? The picture on the box shows a full length wad with the shot enclosed. In Trap shooting the wad is always thrown out a couple of yards. The Hevi-metal picture on the box shows the steel BB’s at the rear of the shell. I would think the wad would protect the bore.
    Anyone responding, please tell me your qualifications to answer. Lots of people would say “I wouldn’t do it. If someone says I ruined a barrel doing it, I will listen. One of my twin granddaughters wants that gun. It must remain undamagehd but I truly would like another goose hunt with my son-in-law before all my hunting is in front of, the fireplace with a magazine
    Thanks bro for a reply. JOE B

  • bob November 30, 2016, 8:18 am

    I’m interested in purchasing a new stock for my Remington Model 11. Any suggestions? I live in Virginia.

  • Jason April 12, 2016, 1:57 pm

    Just curious if anyone can provide any FIRST-HAND knowledge of the kind of damage a Remington Model 11 20-gauge shotgun (set for birdshot) can do at close range to any range of semi-solid items…the one I’m asking about is the one that’s 2nd from left in the very first picture in the article above.

  • Gary Piont March 23, 2016, 11:40 am

    I have a 1910 remington hump back. It needed a good cleaning.I used you tube to disassemble. At the time I was not aware of the differences in the Firing pin set ups.Can someone tell me for sure which one is correct? The one I have is round and inserted thru a small pin guide. It just doesn,t feel right.It does not have the retractor spring. I was told the early ones didnt have a spring.Im mainly concerned with a slam fire.

  • Tom Frederick December 17, 2015, 1:30 pm

    Loved the article and I also inherited a A5 that was my grandfathers and the one I used over 40 years ago. It is a 3-shot and I recently took most of it apart and found it to be pretty clean and gave it a good oiling and some polish on the stocks and it is good to go. My question is how to I find a owners manual, the browning website does not seem to have something from the same era. It appears to be made in 1936 from the 197XXX serial number (NRA Museum site) and has a solid rib on the barrel. I would like taking it apart for a thorough cleaning and ensuring I am putting it back together for the correct type of ammunition.

    Thanks for any advice.

  • Noleland October 3, 2015, 10:37 pm

    I have a 35 a5 with a polychoke and I set it for light loads. Bevel toward receiver and brass bevel toward barrel. It is a 2 3/4. Kicks like a mule with low brass heavy target loads. Do you think I need to replace the spring? Everything else is in great condition. Thanks for any advice.

  • Rickey Clarkson May 6, 2015, 8:02 pm

    I really enjoyed the article, I have a Browning A5 light with the gold trigger it was given to my dad for Christmas the same year I was born (1956) it is the Belgium made and has the FN butt plate. This is truly one of the best shotguns ever made, my dad used it for most of his life and I have used it since I was old enough to hunt. This gun has preformed flawlessly for over 59 years and I expect it to keep doing just that when I leave it to my son and grandson. The only thing is that I have never been able to date it’s manufacture date

  • Dan Mattson April 21, 2015, 5:42 am

    I am trying to find some information on the engraver Funken. My dad has a sweet 16 that I’d love to get more history on. If anyone can point me in the right direction I’d greatly appreciate it

  • Terry Goodrich June 23, 2014, 9:36 pm

    After reading the comments I’m almost choked up with emotion for my Browning A-5. My first shotgun was an Ithaca Model 37 pump in 12 Ga. It was called the “Featherweight”. Easy to shoot for a lefty with its bottom ejection of spent shells, and completely reliable in every respect. It ‘barked’ loudly and kicked like a mule. After about 15 years and about 25 Whitetails, I bought a Belgian A-5 from a neighbor who complained bitterly that he couldn’t hit a bull in the ass at 10 yards with it.
    I gave it a world class cleaning and re-seated the barrel rings according to the book. She is the best gun I’ve ever shot.
    I like to shoot deer in the head/neck at close range in thick cover, and I’ve “let the air out of” another 25 ,or so, that way with my sweet A-5. Heavier than the Ithaca 37 pump, and lately I make good use of a sling, but what a wonderful gun. I can even hear the ‘click’ when the barrel re-seats from the recoil. I love it. The magazine cut-off is a sweet little feature.
    I never thought of it as a hump-back, but it’s profile is definitely distinctive. Everyone who sees it in the field recognizes it for the wonderful gun that it is. Or, I tell them!

  • W. C. Rushton May 21, 2014, 11:44 pm

    I have my granddad’s old Remington which was called “The Sportsman”, didn’t say Model 11 on the receiver or barrel anywhere. This was Remington’s way of naming their waterfowl piece, since this old gun only has 2 shots capacity in the magazine—-no duck plug, the design of the magazine tube only allowed two rounds to be inserted. This old gun has probably killed a boxcar load of rabbits and quail before I was even born. My granddad bought this shotgun new in 1935 and gave $38.00 for it. It came with a 26-inch improved cylinder barrel, and I later picked up a 28-inch full choke barrel from a Model 11 for it. I’ve personally killed several head of deer with it, and it’s such a natural pointer for me I guess, I’ve never yet failed to take down two bobwhites from any covey rise. Or maybe it’s just granddad’s magic coming through for me with his old favorite————–

  • Jack Slimp May 20, 2014, 1:12 am

    My dad left me with 3 Browning shotguns. One was a Remington Model 11 12 ga. made for the Army in the 1940’s; it has the Army ordinance symbol on the barrel and the receiver. One was an A-5 20 ga., and one was an A-5 12 ga. which you can see on this web page: [url=]web page[/url] . Dad bought the Model 11 in 1956 from an Army captain who purchased a newer gun. In 1957, as it turned out, Dad and the Army Captain were competitors in a skeet match, which Dad won during which he shot 150 straight with that Model 11. The A-5’s have a sweet loading option whereby you just shove a shell in underneath and the gun chambers it without you pressing any buttons or doing anything else.

  • Brian May 20, 2014, 1:03 am

    To me, the A5 and most Browning designs will not be improved upon until the handheld ray gun is invented. I can’t tell you how many times a customer has brought in his A5 after decades of use ,asking me to clean it for the first time. Powder residue completely covering everything in the trigger group except the hammer. I SWEAR. The customer will say “it’s acting a little sluggish” or “it jammed once”. I own 5 of them and would not trade them for any of the new junk that’s out there.

  • Rick Manson May 19, 2014, 11:31 pm

    I have owned those A 5;s all my life. Shot my dads 3 shot humpback made in St. Louis.It didn;t have a mag tube plug, only held 3. He bought it after returning from WW2.I had a set of brownings for my 3 boys, 20,16,12,12mag. All twelve were stolen form our home in 1981. It was like a funeral around here for years.Since I have gottten a few, but none like the ones I had. I had 3 with the front trigger guard saftey.Pre war I think…………Great article……I still shoot them….

  • Robert Davison May 19, 2014, 9:42 pm

    Thanks for the interesting and informative article and Thanks to the folks who added to it with interesting stories about these shot guns. Like several others I haive the “Browning Patent Remington” as my dad referred to it that was my dad’s. I first shot it when I was about 17 when he left it with me during hunting season because I didn’t have my own shotgun then. He gave it to me when he moved in with my sister when his health failed. It will get passed on to my son or daughter who ever wins or looses the coin flip if and when they divide up my firearms.
    I never shot clays with it but it put a lot of pheasants on the table over the years.
    Thanks again, I never actually knew that my shotgun was actually known as a Model 11. Now I’ll have to look up the serial numbers and track down the year it was made.

  • Vearl Brown May 19, 2014, 8:10 pm

    I was a Browning gunsmith for 38 years. I started in 1961 at the 1706 Washington Ave address. Right after I started I got a chance to see and hold some of John’s proto guns. NO DOUBT for their time they were as good as it got. One of the interesting things about his proto guns. As soon as they functioned he was done with them and on to something new. External finish on the proto’s are as ROUGH as a cob. Lot of file marks, hammer dings and such. BUT THEY WORKED. It was an HONOR and pleasure to have worked for the company. Vearl Brown. Browning gunsmith # 21

  • JB May 19, 2014, 7:02 pm

    Great article and pictures! I have four humpbacks. A Sweet Sixteen with factory rib and 24″ barrel, one Light 12, on 3″ Magnum (Miruka Japan), and my first Model 11 Remington. I shoot nothing else. As has been stated quite well, they fit perfectly, don’t kick if set up right, and have a unique individual classical profile that will never again be seen or manufactured with the quality of yesteryear! I still search for good bargains on quality A-5 Humpbacks and guess I won’t stop until I can’t breath any longer!

  • Rick May 19, 2014, 6:27 pm

    To Sam Trisler, I enjoyed your article and have done lots of research on the A5s. My great grandfather was a competition shooter back in his life time and I now have his A5. It is model #4742. Yes, it is one if the first 10,000 made with the full hand carving of the receiver and upper barrel. On the side it is stated “FABRIQUE-NATIONALE-HERSTAL-LIEGE, BELGIUM-BROWNING’S-PATENTS” next line “OCT 9, 1900 – DEC 17, 1901 – SEPT 30, 1902 – JUNE 16, 1903”. If you would like, I would be happy to send you pictures. It is a magnificent shotgun to shoot!

  • John Holmes May 19, 2014, 4:37 pm

    Luck to have 3 of the. An A5 16ga. with a Poly Choke installed at the Browning Shop at St. Louis in 1932, this A5 came in a leather and wood Browning marked case. The next A5 12 ga. is a 3 SHOT MODEL made in 1936 with a solid rib barrel and last but not least is a Sweet 16 from 1962 with 2 barrels 28″ VR mod. and a 26 PB IC. All 3 get used too and I cherish them and will pass on to my son and daughter.

  • Mike L May 19, 2014, 2:49 pm

    The pheasant gun of choice for working Nebraskans after WWII was the Browning “Sweet Sixteen” carried by my dad and mom … grandpa, and six brothers and their wives comprising both sides of the family. The 16 gauge model was easy to shoot and brought down many a pheasant. I have their Kodachromes from trips to Western Nebraska … strings of birds. Dad said in those days (early 1950s) a flock of 20 to 40 birds could bust right in front of the line … and scare the poop out of the kids who were walking down the center rows of corn or milo. Then shotgun shells got expensive, farmers started posting and charging to hunt … and most everybody sold their Sweet Sixteens. Dad always regretted it.

  • Robert Bowden May 19, 2014, 1:49 pm

    Of course, there is also the other “Humpback” designed by John Moses Browning. The Remington model 8 semi-auto rifle that I think Winchester also declined. I have often seen it referred to being a shotgun. The recoil springs were inside a barrel jacket that looks as big or bigger than a shotgun barrel. It is a rifle. It too was made in Belgium and labeled the FN1900. The issue with Winchester on the shotgun was that Winchester had always bought the patents from Browning, but this time Browning wanted royalty paid on each gun manufactured. Winchester did buy nearly all of Browning designs up to this time and some of them they never produced. I wonder what some of those looked like. ROB

  • Seth Tyrssen May 19, 2014, 1:43 pm

    Another A5 lover, here. My dad brought his back from the Army in 1946. He put a Poly-Choke on it, and hunted with some guys from his company, maybe a dozen times. Most of the time it lived in the closet, and consequently is still in nearly-new condition; parkerized metal, flaming bomb stamp, and all. The new “A5’s” look pretty good, and I’m sure they’re a great shotgun, but the internals are completely different, and therefore not a true A5 IMHO.

  • mesaman May 19, 2014, 12:47 pm

    Still have my Model 11 Remington 15 guage, had it for 61 years and will give it to my oldest son in law when I leave planet earth. Over the years I acquired a Browning Broadway, an A5 magnum, and a BAR 7mm mag, plus several hand guns from .22 to 9mm. Browning’s name is used reverently in this state, Utah, and many colleges and universities have buildings in his name.

  • george May 19, 2014, 12:47 pm

    One browning A 5 story you missed was the Browning’s made during WW 2. They were made in saint Louis by Remington after the FN plant shut down so it wouldn’t have to make guns for Hitler. They had the shell cut off lever, and the Browning name

  • Robert May 19, 2014, 12:25 pm

    I have a old Fn A5 that has the straight stock and SN is 1XXX. Can any one tell me about it?

  • Ryan hennigan May 19, 2014, 11:53 am

    Has anybody got an A 5 barrel 3″ mod. 28″ ribbed barrel That was made in Japan they would like to sell been looking for one a long time Ryan

    • Steve May 19, 2014, 1:47 pm

      Ryan, Are you looking for the entire gun or just the barrel?

  • Ron May 19, 2014, 11:42 am

    Those old shotguns were made for bird hinting. When a covey of quail explode in all sorts of directions, there is no time to aim, just point and shoot. The hump back models let you point quickly and on target. There was another browning that was a great bird gun. I was called a double automatic. It was light, quick and while not a humpback, was very accurate, I loved mine and hunted for years with it,

  • Don Page May 19, 2014, 11:34 am

    My wife and I live in the Cottonwood Az. area. My wife’s uncle Joe and aunt Jean lived about an hour away in the Prescott Az. area and we would visit them during the holidays. Uncle Joe was a retired house painter. He had an excellent sense of humor and could spin a yarn with the best of them. Joe had a small gun collection, probably 4 shotguns and a couple rifles. Among the shotguns was this strange looking “short barreled” hump backed looking gun, the likes of which I had never seen before. When I asked Joe about it he said it was an Auto 5 and used as a trench gun in WWI or WWII ( Maybe both) and used by prison guards in between the wars. It was obvious that the gun had had a hard life. But Joe was deadly serious when he said that there were times, during the depression, that there would not have been food on their table had it not been for that 12 ga. Auto 5. Joe seemed to have a real attachment for that particular gun. Sort of like my father had for his Remington 12 ga. ( We had many Rabbits and Pheasants on Thanksgiving along with the Turkey with credit to dad and that Remington)
    Time passed ( as did Uncle Joe) Aunt Jean said Uncle Joe would have wanted me to have pick of his small gun collection since she was going to sell them. I made an offer of $75.00 for the Auto 5 and she accepted. Later I learned it was a Remington model 11.
    Shortly after that my (20 something) year old daughter came to visit and since I was raised with guns I tried to make sure she was comfortable with guns. We went into the Arizona desert with some of my guns and I took the Auto 5 for the first time and some clays with a hand tossing rigg. I found Uncle Joe’s Auto 5 five to be nice to shoot, quick to shoulder and it would reach out well beyond where I thought it would and nail the clay, I was impressed. The wording on the receiver said something about having a modified choke. I also found, to my surprise,that my daughter was nailing as many clays as was I…I later found that the video arcade had electronic shooting galleries that allowed her to stay in practice.
    Given that experience the gun just became one of my favorites. I took it to the local (well recommended) Gun Smith and had it totally refurbished. When I got it back it was, and still is, a work of art.
    That gun was sort of the start of my gun collection but having been through the Army (1960 – 1966) and in Vietnam in “62” with my helicopter detachment I was a bit closed mouthed about my collection…Yet someone must have suspected we had enough stuff that we deserved to be robed. Uncle Joe’s Auto 5 was taken along with many other treasures. My wife, seeing my internal rage, tried to calm me down by saying, ” Don’t worry: If we get anything back it will be Uncle Joe’s Gun”. I knew she was just trying to help..I thought I’d buy another one but it just would not be the same.
    A little more than a year later the Phoenix Police Dept. called me to say they had recovered the gun in a pawn shop sting operation. I was glad but at the same time I was afraid to see what condition the gun would be in. The police unwrapped the gun when I went to claim it…It was perfect, not a mark on the bluing or a scratch on the wood.
    I have since added other treasures to my collection along with a much improved security system…

  • UncleNat May 19, 2014, 11:12 am

    Wow, great article–I never realized my dad’s old Franchi AL-48 was a Browning A-5 design. Virtually identical action. Franchi did manage to reduce the extreme humpback though and a pound or so of weight. Makes a difference when humping it all day.

  • Razor ------- May 19, 2014, 11:04 am

    From the best SA 22 rifle to the mighty 50 BMG and everything in between that J.M.Browning designed all these firearms will be here and cherished forever in fond memories of the past and into the future. The man was a genius in his own right and his brilliant firearm designs are still produced today and the guns of yesterday much sought after by serious collectors everywhere. Yes! here was a man.

  • Ralph May 19, 2014, 10:38 am

    Wow, I have one I used as a teenager. (Now 70) I never thought it was such a great gun. It did look ugly though. The last few years I have been selling off my collection . Does anyone know what one might be worth?

  • Ryan Holt May 19, 2014, 9:53 am

    Savage also made variant of the Auto-5 with some interchangeable parts. I inherited one marked as a Model 755A. There is a lot of misinformation about them on the internet with some claiming that they were only made with alloy receivers. The alloy receiver did have a tendency to crack, but I have found more than a dozen or so with Steel receivers. I began using the 755A, steel receiver, that was made in the 50’s, as my “dove” gun for the last couple of seasons. I don’t find the recoil to be any less manageable than any other semi-auto 12 gauge.

  • Spoon May 19, 2014, 9:53 am

    Beside the Remy copy, Diawa also came out with a humpback renditon that sports an aluminum billet receiver with an etched blueing/natural silver metal color hunting scenes. Stock and forearm from tropical hardwood resembling mahagony and a thick, brittle clearcoat HD urethane-like finish. Just prior to my birthday, the old man bought himself a new A-5 to replace his 1960 made A-5. Since the Diawa was similar and very economical, he surprised with it as a 15th birthday present. It works well; better than the Remingtons I’ve shot over the years. with factory and reloads from light to the old heavy waterfowl loads with up to 1.5 ozs of chilled shot (it’s a bit punishing with those given the light weight). Tain’t as pretty as the old A-5 in terms of aesthetics (I have his battered A-5 now) but it’s the Diawa is the only gun I ever shot 4 quail with 4 rounds going in 4 different directions on a covey flush of scale quail. That one episode makes it special to me. Now…If I could just afford FOOD for all my firearms from the A-5, it’s Japanese copy, the various rifles and pistols that seemed to be gathering too much dust from non-use!

  • Michael Gunzburg May 19, 2014, 9:20 am

    Great article. My first shotgun was an Auto-5 in 20ga. (My dad had the Auto -5 in 12ga.) I still have both. Nothing beats the craftsmanship and dependability of these old Brownings. I have owned many fine shotguns, but for me, the 20ga. Auto-5 remains my favorite. While I enjoy a classic double, I take my little Browning when I want to do some serious bird shooting. I love that gun and the priceless memories that go with it.

  • petru sov May 19, 2014, 9:11 am

    There are several things to remember in regards to operating these guns. Always make sure the fore-end take down nut is tight or it may result in a cracked fore-end due to recoil. Also you must grease or at least oil the magazine tube because if you do not it will rust and cause the piston that rides over it to cause malfunctions. Also grease the barrel splines and there corresponding groves in the receiver or your barrel will wear out.

    I used to hunt with a double barrel for over 40 years until I discovered the A-5 lightweight sweet-16 and fell in love with it. It is a very well balanced gun for an automatic.

    The only down side to the A-5 is that it is not an easy gun to take apart the action to clean. Most people never take apart the action but the gun is so well designed and made of such high quality parts, (no modern junk castings, stamped sheet metal or plasticky parts) they seem to last forever. I ground screw driver bits to fit the screw heads and bought to books that show pictures on how to take apart the action. It took a couple of hours the first time to completely dis-assemble it and clean and oil and grease it and re-assemble it. But I am unfortunately the only person on the planet that takes care of his guns. The rest of the population take a fiendish delight in annihilating everything they get their hands one, it gives them an excuse to go out and buy something new and then start the process of mass destruction all over again. I guess that’s why mint guns get such high prices as there are so few of them in existence.

  • Stu May 19, 2014, 8:53 am

    Great article. I two have two Browning 20Ga Belgium made. It brought back a lot of great memories of my dad. He was an avid quail hunter and we walked a million miles across Texas quail country and Kansas hunting pheasant. Those days are gone now. Back when you didn’t have to have a 3000 dollar lease to hunt, just a few great friends and a bottle of whiskey thrown in to hunt on their land. I’m glad I got to live it.

  • D. Hicks May 19, 2014, 8:44 am

    Good article on the Auto 5. I have a Sweet 16, and it has a poly-choke on it. Hey the old corn cob works. The 16 gauge does anything I need it to do. The Browning never jams and I really like the the way it looks.Thanks

  • Charles L Bloss Jr May 19, 2014, 7:52 am

    I have my Dad’s Model 11. After he passed away, I had the very competent gunsmith, that worked on all of my guns, completely renovate it. He cut the choke off, cut the barrel off to 18″, put a bead sight on it. He re-blued it, re did all of the wood, re-chromed the lever, and it looks like new. It was so long ago, all of this cost me $50. It has a special place in my safe, and will never be fired again.

  • James TenEyck May 19, 2014, 7:21 am

    Love the article on the old Browning “humpback” A-5. I grew up watching my dad shoot his pre-W.W.1 16ga., and he shot everything from deer to rabbits with it. I couldn’t wait to own my own, and have 2 Belgium Browning’s, and 5 barrels for them. The fit me perfectly, and shoot flawlessly. My Dad’s old 16ga. ( 2 9/16″ chamber) had the safety style INSIDE the trigger guard ( not as pictured in your article), which made the gun perfect for lefties or righties. since I was a lefty, I was always begging my Dad to let me use his old humpback, instead of my Ithaca Model 37. while the Ithaca was a fine gun, it never fit me, and the sight picture was never to my liking. In 1975 I bought my 1st A-5 12ga., for $299.00 from Sears & Roebuck! It’s still in use, and I will never part with this timeless classic. Anyone I met in the field carrying an old humpback A-5, immediately gets my attention.

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