If there were a Firearms Genie in the bottle and I was given three wishes for shotguns, one of them would be the Browning Automatic 5. In the tale of my family’s Auto 5, my Mom was the Firearms Genie and my Dad got exactly what he wished for.
Let us go back to the early 1960s in Richmond, Virginia. Now let us picture a couple with their first child at Christmastime. I wasn’t even of this world for another few years, but my Mom has retold the stories of my Dad’s passion for hunting in those days. I knew my Dad as the occasional hunter that loved to shoot and fix guns. Anyway back to the Firearms Genie and her minion, the wife of my Dad’s hunting partner, who lived down the street. Christmas was coming up and my Mom wanted to buy my Dad a shotgun, as he enjoyed hunting ducks and other wildfowl. She wanted to surprise him but had no idea which gun to get for him. So the Firearms Genie sent the wife of my Dad’s hunting buddy to talk to my Dad. She was told to tell my Dad that she was looking for the best gun to buy for her husband for a Christmas present, but that she had no clue as to what to get or where to get it, etc. So she asked him, “If money was not an issue, what gun would you get for yourself?” The answer was reported back to the Firearms Genie and a brand new Browning Automatic 5 was purchased.
On Christmas day, my Dad had no clue that he was getting any firearms related gifts, as the shotgun comes broken down into a rectangular shaped box. It took a lot to overwhelm my Father, but this really surprised him. Apparently the A-5 didn’t leave his clutches that season and the weapon was shouldered every time a worthy target appeared on the television or all around the house for that matter. I loved it when my Mom recently told me that. I had to laugh because when I finally purchased my very own Remington 870 shotgun, when my wife got home from work, she found me asleep on the couch with the gun wrapped in my arms and nothing that moved on the T.V. was safe. I know that the Browning went hunting a lot and it has some signs of use in the field but we all have our scars and stories.
The Automatic 5 shotgun, sometimes called the “Humpback” shotgun because of its uniquely shaped receiver, is yet another fine example of one of John M. Browning’s innovative patents. Fabrique Nationale, in Belgium, manufactured this Browning Auto-5 in 1960. An interesting fact about the Auto-5 is that it is the firearm that caused John Browning to split from Winchester and seek out Fabrique Nationale to manufacture the Auto-5. Winchester and John Browning were entrenched in a royalty dispute in regards to the Automatic 5. Its production started in 1902 and the last run of 1,000 Browning Auto-5s was made in 1999.
This particular A-5 (capable of firing 5 shots) is a recoil operated, semi-automatic lightweight 12-gauge shotgun. This long gun uses a recoil spring, a friction ring and a bronze friction piece to control recoil for better follow up shots and accuracy. The frictioning system also sets the gun up for being able to shoot many different types of loads. A simple and useful feature is the magazine cut off, which stops another cartridge from being chambered when you unload the shotgun (or “make weapon safe”). This is handy when the description of your prey changes and you want to fire a custom cartridge or deliver a non-lethal blast (breeching, crowd/neighbor control).
The Automatic 5 is a fast shooting and reliable shotgun and that is the reason that it had such a long production run. It was even a trench clearer in WWII. Every time that I operate this shotgun, I marvel at the many brilliant designs of Browning. When I was a kid I used to wonder why my Dad always referred to the Auto-5 as his favorite gun, as I used to think that it was odd looking. These days I totally get it; I really do think that it is a beautiful shotgun and that the engineering is superior. What’s not to like about the Browning Auto-5?