Guns > Shotguns

The Browning A5 Shotgun

The features include a kinematic action that is inertia operated, unlike your papa's recoil-operated A5.

6/15/2012

My grandfather didn’t own a Browning A5, nor did my father. But my friend’s did. I remember comparing my Remington 870 Wingmaster—a well-used shotgun my father gave me when I was 14 years old—to the Browning A5. Even then I thought the A5’s “humpback” design was distinctive, cool looking and, even at that impressionable age, I knew the gun was backed by a reputation of reliability. That impression came flooding back to me at an unveiling of the new Browning A5 at a writer’s seminar in South Dakota.

“But wait,” said Scott Grange, Browning’s director of public relations, “this isn’t your grandfather’s A5.” He wasn’t kidding—that phrase has now become the company’s slogan.

This shotgun would please John Moses Browning’s innovative spirit. This incarnation of the Auto-5 no longer has the long-recoil (recoiling barrel) system of the classic A5. It has a new short-recoil system. Named the “Kinematic Drive System,” its engineering is very similar to Benelli’s Inertia Driven action.

The A5’s Lineage
The Browning A5 was the first mass-produced semi-automatic shotgun. The name of the shotgun was derived from the fact it was designed to be an autoloader that had a capacity of five shots—four in the magazine and one in the chamber. Designed by John Moses Browning in 1898 and patented in 1900, it was produced continually for almost a century by several makers with production ending in 1998. Its receiver’s distinctive rear end (its “humpback”) allows the top of the action to go straight back toward the shooter’s cheek, level with the barrel before cutting down sharply toward the grip. The A5 was produced by several manufacturers from 1902 to 1998.

tJohn Browning presented his design to Winchester in 1900. When Winchester didn’t like his terms, Browning went to Remington. Tragically, the president of Remington died of a heart attack as Browning waited to offer them the gun. Browning then took the design to FN, which started making A5s in 1902. Browning would later license the design to Remington; they produced it as the Model 11, the first auto-loading shotgun made in the United States, from 1905-1948. Savage Arms also licensed the design from Browning and produced it as its Model 720 from 1930-1949, and as its Model 745 from 1941-1949.

With that taste of its history in mind, we should now note that its engineering is much more modern.

Paolo Benelli invented the Inertia operating system in the 1980s and was granted a patent in 1986. It uses the recoil from the shell, in combination with a floating bolt that resists movement (inertia), and a stout “inertia” spring hidden within it, to operate the action. So while it can be called a recoil-operated action, it’s different from traditional long-recoil-operated systems that rely on a rearward-moving barrel to cycle the action. Benelli’s patent prevented other manufacturers from using the technology for two decades. During that time Benelli shotguns earned a reputation for extreme reliability. By not using gas from a shotshell to cycle the action, a recoil-operated (inertia) gun sends all gas and grime out of the barrel, keeping its mechanical parts cleaner and thus less likely to fail over time.

Along with its inertia-operated system (Browning spent five years getting this gun right), the A5 also features Browning’s new Invector DS (Double Seal) choke  tube system. The DS system has threads at the top of the tube and a brass band around the bottom that act as a seal to keep fouling from getting in between the choke and the threads.

The shotgun also has a handy new feature Browning calls the “TurnKey” that allows hunters to install or remove the magazine plug with the use of an ordinary car key.

The Field-Test
We began with five-stand. After I cycled 200 shells through the A5, I pulled the choke tube. It was so clean I had to look down at the pile of spent shells at my feet to make sure I’d shot as much as I’d thought. While shooting the 1-ounce loads the gun failed to cycle once for me.

Next we took various iterations of the A5 out for pheasant. No one experienced a malfunction with pheasant loads. Being a short-recoil-operated gun—not a “gas” gun—it does kick harder than a gas semi-auto, but less than a fixed-breech gun. To tell you the truth, I couldn’t tell the difference, though I did notice that a Browning over/under I also used certainly had more recoil than the A5. Waterfowl hunters will likely notice a little more recoil than they would get from a gas gun, but to me it’s negligible. Part of the reason is that Browning fit the A5 with the Inflex II recoil pad. (Waterfowlers from the bygone days who had steel buttplates on their A5s would probably call anyone who complained about this new A5’s recoil a “wuss.”)

The Final Analysis
The A5 is a light, 3-inch, 12-gauge gun weighing a hair over 7 pounds with a 28-inch barrel. Its stock comes with shims to adjust fit. I found it to be an easy gun to carry, point and shoot.

The A5 also has the speed-load feature that has become a Browning characteristic. When you push the first shell most of the way up the magazine tube, the shell is loaded into the chamber and the bolt slams shut to lock it in. This is a handy feature when your gun is empty and the geese are still circling.

I found that the carrier stop button is big and easy to find on the bottom of the receiver—even when I wore gloves. I also found the safety, much like the Gold and Silver shotguns, to be big and easy to use. It is also simple to reverse to left-handed.

The A5 will be available in 26-, 28- and 30-inch barrel lengths. It will come in a wood-stock version (Hunter), synthetic (Stalker) and camo (Camo). The suggested retail price will range from $1,399 to $1,599.

I’m sure people will pull it off shelves and run their thumbs over its humpback, maybe with visions of geese cupping wings and setting out their landing gear dancing through their heads. And that’s good, because a hunting gun should be romantic (or nostalgic) as well as practical and infallible. This one is all that.

Technical Specifications:

Gauge: 3", 12-gauge
Barrel: 26", 28", 30"
Magazine Capacity: 4
Sights: fiber optic front bead
Safety: reversible
Stock: wood or synthetic; LOP 141/4"; drop at heel 2"; drop at comb 13/4"
Overall Length: 475/8"-515/8"
Weight: 7 lbs., 3 ozs. (wood stock, 28" barrel)
Finish: blued, camo or matte
MSRP: $1,399-$1,599

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20 Responses to The Browning A5 Shotgun

JODI BAKER wrote:
December 15, 2013

Purchased the new A5 hunter 3.5''with 30''barrel good gun with good partten shot but kick's hard.

Bruce Blackburn wrote:
October 30, 2013

Purchased a new A5 and love it. Very easy to carry, nicely balanced, and so pointable. Working great and soft recoiling. Very happy with the purchase thus far.

Clay Tomlinson wrote:
June 19, 2013

I purchased the new a5.. it shoots and handles great. I had a loading issue ... the mag release button would not always release a shell onto the carrier... browning replaced my gun great service

KC wrote:
March 03, 2013

MY GRAND FATHERF PASSED AWAY I GOT A BOX WITH A NEW BROWNING A5 IN IT. BEAUTIFUL 30" FULL CHOKE, GOLD TRIGGER, ENGRAVED AND WAITING FOR ME TO HUNT. THIS GUN WAS AMAZING WITH WHAT I COULD PULL DOWN AND DROP. I STILL HAVE IT. STILL A BEAUTIFUL GUN. I HAVEN'T HUNTED WITH IT FOR 10 YEARS OR SO. ALL I HAVE IS TO SAY WHAT A GREAT SHoTGUN! I AM VERY PLEASED TO COME ACROSS THIS ARTICLE.

Greg wrote:
February 27, 2013

Every christmas my wife buys me a new browning. This past christmas she set the new A5 in my hands. 28in. Barrel hunter. Truely the quality I have come to expect from browning. On a recent rabbit hunt the firearm performed flawlessly. On target fast and a joy to carry. No cottontails got away from this fine piece. I am sure it will spend many days afield and on the trap range.

Rick wrote:
December 14, 2012

A question to Sqwat or other left-handed A5 users: Several reviews state that the safety can be reversed to left-handed; but is there any problem to left-handed shooters from the shells or debris being ejected to the right? Would you recommend this gun for left-handed use?

Sqwat wrote:
November 05, 2012

I'm a owner of one of the new A-5's and took it out for opening Duck season this past weekend and ran into one major, major issue. I'm left handed and the enlarged safety lines right up with my trigger finger so every time I squeezed the trigger the concussion would cause the safety to activate. Virtually every time making it a one shot shotgun. I'm hoping this is something I can have adjusted or reversed. Now that being said the gun did shoot super smooth, accurate, and was a blast. If I can get the safety adjusted than I would say it was perfect. If I can't...Southpaws beware.

Freedoms Patriot wrote:
November 01, 2012

I own 2 A-5's I think John Moses Browning has a great history of getting all his timeless designs right the first time.

Don B. wrote:
October 26, 2012

Well there ya go, you cannot please everyone. I believe this a well built meat and potatoes gun. Prices are relevant to what is on the plate today, not yester year. Good show Browning.

Ted Sartin wrote:
October 15, 2012

I have 5 A5's and love the 16 ga. and 20. I will have to take a look at the new 5's.

Ken A wrote:
October 10, 2012

I just purchased a 26" Barrel Camo Version A-5 from Neuse Sports Shop in Kinston, NC. The salesperson told me they received their first shipment of 4 guns yesterday and I purchased the 4th tonight. It is a great felling gun that comes to the shoulder extremely well. I own two A-5's made in the 60's so I cannot wait to shoot this new version.

Kevin Willis wrote:
August 28, 2012

i just picked up my new A5 hunter 28' and this thing looks awesome. Can't wait to shoot it this weekend . Kevin in Va.

Bob wrote:
August 05, 2012

Forget the na-sayers. When will it be available?????

Jessica Hammett wrote:
July 27, 2012

Please let us know when this gun will be available. My husband has been asking me everyday to check for it!!

MitchB wrote:
July 12, 2012

This gun is an insult to the A5 name. No engraving, plain wood, cheap imitation, priced about twice as much as it's worth. It will last about as long as the other new brownings autos.

Husker wrote:
June 26, 2012

When will the A5 be available in stores?

popatrent wrote:
June 24, 2012

Yes, when will other gages be available

Dr Ralph Cockrell wrote:
June 22, 2012

Too bad it's not like my Grandads Auto-5

Skyking wrote:
June 21, 2012

So, when will the Sweet 16 return?

JOSEPH G MATTERA wrote:
June 21, 2012

OUTSTANDING SPECS DOES IT COME IN LEFT HAND CAMO