Browning A-5 Semi-Automatic Shotgun Review

The new Browning A-5 semi -automatic shotgun may share many resemblances with the older model of the same name, but as Browning say themselves ‘this ain’t your grandpa’s Auto-5’. In fact, the new A-5 is a completely different gun – every part has been altered, customized or completely replaced to make it a better weapon in every way.

The one iconic trait that the gun does indeed share with its predecessor is the iconic humpback-shaped receiver that earned the gun it’s now famous nickname – the humpback. The gun has been designed around a recoil-operated mechanism which makes it particularly efficient for hunting and Browning claims that it is the fastest cycling, softest shooting gun in it’s category on the market today.

Anyone who’s used to the mechanism of the previous model will immediately know and feel the difference when using the new A-5. It’s something that can only really be understood in practice – as they say, the proof is in the pudding. So if you’re interesting in upgrading your grandpa’s old A-5 to the new model, I would highly recommend reading this and putting the old A-5 to rest in your storeroom or adding it to your antique collection because the new A-5 is sure to blow your mind.

Browning A-5 History

The original Auto-5

The original Auto-5 was developed well over a hundred years ago and was the first-ever semi-automatic shotgun invented at the time. The idea of having a self-reloading firearm was indeed revolutionary and saved a lot of time in between reloading, making for an ultimately more efficient weapon.

Due to the ease of fire and shortened reload time, the gun saw military action during WWI and a later version was implemented during the Vietnam War. The gun was produced in a variety of gauges including 12, 20 and even a 16 gauge – but this was discontinued for a short period of time and eventually only came back onto the market in the late 80’s.

The gun was produced by a variety of different manufacturers over the course of the 20th century in different parts of the world and at different times including the US (where the gun was developed), Belgium, Japan and even Portugal.

Shortly after World War II, Remington developed a similar model called the Remington Model 11. They hailed the gun as the ‘new generation’ of semi-automatic shotguns and it was very similar in design and function to the A-5. However, the Model 11 only lasted until 1968, when it was replaced by the Sportsman ‘48 – a gun designed to comply with the new hunting regulations set by the government. The gun could hold a maximum of 3 shells at a time and came in 3 gauges namely 12, 16 and 20. Although the Model 11 was specifically designed for hunting purposes, the gun also saw action during the Vietnam war and was used by both the USMC and South Korean soldiers.

Browning A-5 Specs & Build

Browning’s patented Kinematic Drive System

The success of the A-5 lies in its new short-recoil operated mechanism and Browning’s patented Kinematic Drive System. The old A-5 made use of a long-recoil system, which often gave the gun more of a kick and took slightly longer to reload. The new system reduces recoil (and therefore kick) with each shot, and increases the weapon’s reliability as it’s a much simpler system that can work under almost any conditions and with almost any load type.

The new system makes for a cleaner, more efficient firing mechanism as gasses are designed to go out through the barrel and away from the action – meaning less overall wear-and-tear and a steadier shot each and every time.

The gun has been carefully designed to be as balanced and ergonomic as possible so that every shot hits home that much better – literally giving you more bang for your buck. The new Browning A-5 has a lengthened sight plane (30% longer to be precise), which helps to guide your eye down the barrel and link up directly with your target – crucial for hunting and making each shot count.

Adding to the gun’s increased ergonomic feel is the fact that it has a light-weight barrel contour, so your arms won’t be weighed down by any unnecessary excess weight. The gun also refrains from using a gas system which ultimately reduces the overall weight of the weapon and makes it easier to grip the slim forearm of the gun. The new A-5 comes in a variety of different finishes and gauges (12, 16 and 20) and each version of the gun has it’s own character traits making each suitable for a different use or purpose.

So I’d be sure to look over each one before making your decision to buy the gun – as you might find one that caters specifically for your own personal needs – my personal favorite is the A-5 Sweet 16 because of it’s sexy walnut gloss stock and the inclusion of the Invector DS choke tube which helps to prevent the buildup of gas and grit in between the choke and barrel, minimizing the amount of maintenance the gun needs as well as increasing its performance.

Browning A-5 Shooting & Performance

The new Inflex Recoil Pad

The new A-5 is a great shot and can really help to give you the edge when it comes to hitting those targets and maximizing your speed in between each shot. The gun is incredibly fast and can literally fire as quickly as you can pull the trigger. The short-recoil mechanism works like a charm, slotting in a new round within a few milliseconds of pulling the trigger, so in the odd chance you miss on your first shot, you can follow up immediately with another two in a very short space of time.

The gun was designed with hunting in mind and has a 30% longer sight plane to help greatly increase your aiming ability. Along with the iconic humpback feature, it’s definitely one of the most accurate shotguns I’ve ever used.

Depending on the rounds you use, the A-5 is also designed to help reduce the effect that the recoil has on your aiming in between shots. The new Inflex Recoil Pad attached to the end of the stock of the gun helps to pad your arm against the kick of the gun, and is designed to bring the gun down and away from your cheek when it’s fired, helping you to keep your eyes on the target in between shots.

The A-5 has a great loading mechanism that makes both loading and unloading incredibly easy and safe, so you won’t have to spend minutes trying to reload – it’s really a matter of seconds. The gun can also take a wide variety of loads bullet types and handles each with ease – although it’s important to note the gun’s performance will alter slightly with shells from a higher gauge, as you’re likely to get more recoil with each shot.

After trying this gun – I would definitely recommend it to anyone who’s looking to upgrade their current rifle or is new to field of hunting altogether. You can feel the difference with each shot, and the improved aiming system, efficient firing mechanism and overall lighter weight makes the gun perfectly suited for novice and experienced shooters alike.

Browning A-5 Magazines & Accessories

B-Square Shotgun Saddle Mount

Because of the long-term manufacture of the original A-5 and it’s near cult-like status amongst shooters, there are a wide variety of aftermarket accessories and customizations available to you for this gun – many have of which have been updated to fit the new A-5 too.

One of the more valuable accessories I came across and has made all the difference to my shooting, is the B-Square Shotgun Saddle Mount. This is an easy-to-fit mount that allows for the addition of electronic sights and scopes and can greatly increase your accuracy as well as give your eyes some relief in between shots.

The part is great because it’s cost effective and makes a noticeable difference in your accuracy – it has also been specifically designed for the A-5, so it doesn’t require any additional gunsmithing or machining to be fitted. Simply screw it on and you’ll be shooting again in no time.

Even though the A-5 is so well balanced – and is definitely one of the most ergonomic shotgun’s I’ve ever fired with regards to comfort and balance – enough is never enough. At least for me. So, to help balance out my gun even more, and reduce the overall recoil of each shot, I invested in the Ballistic Specialties Kinetic Magazine Weight.

Once installed, the Kinetic Magazine Weight helps to bring more focus to the guns center of weight and significantly reduce the muzzle jump and recoil in between shots. This is due to the Kinetic Magazine Weight’s carefully designed, CNC machined pure aluminum bar stock.

It’s a little pricey because getting it installed adds onto its original cost, but the end result is definitely worth it. With these two simple additions, I’ve made my own A-5 the best hunting shotgun I’ve ever owned and I probably won’t need to upgrade it ever again – so long as the gun is well maintained and treated well.  

The accessories for the A-5 are nearly limitless – everything on the gun can be replaced, modified or customized to your precise specifications and suitability. It’s really just a matter of shopping around for what you want, and doing a bit of research in your spare time. However, these are the two essential additions I would recommend – as the gun works just fine on its own in stock form. Straight out the box – you’re already getting your money’s worth and more, but when it comes to ergonomics and balance – enough is never enough.

Remington Model 11 & Sportsman ‘48

Remington Model 11

As I mentioned in the paragraph on the A-5’s history, the Remington Model 11 was a variation of the same mechanism that made the A-5 famous and was hailed as the ‘new generation’ in semi-automatic shotguns. The Model 11 was developed shortly after World War II in 1949, but only lasted until 1968 when the gun was replaced by the Sportsman ‘48 in order to meet new hunting regulations.

The gun was produced in a variety of gauges and also saw some military use during the Vietnam war. What made Remington’s model revolutionary (as compared to Browning’s original design) was that the parts of the gun were cheaper to make, therefore reducing the overall cost of the gun.

But, there was another advantage to this. Because the parts fitted together so easily, it became the first gun of its kind to have interchangeable and replaceable parts without the need of gunsmiths – which ultimately made customization and maintenance a much easier process. After this, many of Remington’s competitors adopted a similar method of steel pressing when it came to manufacturing their parts – and since then this has become a standard feature with most guns in the same category or even in general.

Conclusion

I think I could sum up the new A-5 in 4 words: ‘Wow, what a gun!’ It’s the easiest shotgun I’ve handled so far and is probably the number one recommendation I would make for anyone looking to upgrade their hunting gun, or even for a beginner looking to get started.

It’s quick to shoot, easy to reload, incredibly comfortable  and accurate – not to mention that it’s easy to operate in general. The gun feels like it was designed for hunting and it definitely proves itself in the field. It can do a lot of damage and survive the harshest of conditions – only to shoot straight like it was fresh out of the box. It’s easy to clean and maintain, meaning you won’t need to replace any parts or buy a new gun any time soon.

In terms of getting value for money – the A-5 has and always will be one of your best investments. The gun has a long history, and hopefully an even longer future. I almost forgot to mention that Browning trusts their design so much that they’ve included a 100,000 round guarantee (or 5 year warranty) with the gun – so in the odd chance that something does go wrong, you’ll be covered. If that doesn’t seal the deal – I don’t know what will.

Check out Gunivore reviews on Gun Oils such as Lucas Gun OilHornady Gun Oil and Rem Oil

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