Thursday, September 09, 2010

Browning Auto-5

Just the other day my friend John H_____ and I were talking and he mentioned his cut down Browning Auto-5 (something like the one in the photo). You might have seen R. Lee Ermey shoot one on his show, "Locked and Loaded", in an episode about shotguns. These guns are pretty neat, but some have given them a reputation as relatively hard "kickers". The main reasons that these guns might have heavier than normal recoil is due to the recoil spring being "tired", i.e. in need of replacement or because the friction ring isn't set up correctly. The manual shows you how to do this.

I remember we had a man, last name of Shifflett, with whom we used to shoot skeet. He had a Belgian Browning Auto-5 and would shoot the targets from the hip with his gun. Amazing to me at the time, as after some 10,000 rounds I hadn't achieved that level of skill. However, those many Saturdays or Sundays of observing his shooting and getting a little trigger time on his gun (with my ammo) did instill some fondness for the gun. I don't think a properly set up gun is a particularly hard kicker but most of my shooting with one has been with skeet loads. Those aren't particularly punishing from any gun!  Note:  Brownells sells spring and friction ring kits for those old guns which is necessary to restore proper operation. 

Recently, a customer at Nuckol's bought a plain barrel Auto-5 and didn't even take it home before having the barrel cut down. It was then that I discovered that not everyone sees this as a good thing. Oh, how loud were the cries about ruining a Belgian Browning! A real collectible done away with! Of course, so far as I know all the Japanese Brownings have vent ribs and aren't quite so suitable for this operation. I have to admit I'd looked at the same gun and contemplated the same action!

These guns are a long-recoil operated, 5-shot (3-shot with plug for migratory birds),  and semi-automatic.  The safety can be, with the skills of a gunsmith (the official word), reversed for left-handed shooters.  The same gun was produced here in the US, after initiation of punitive tariffs on the Belgian guns, by Remington Arms as the Model 11 and later 11-48 (which differs from the Model 11 in the shape of its machined steel receiver and the use of cheaper stamped steel internal parts). 

From Browning's site we have this information on the guns.
The production of the Auto-5 began in 1902. Produced by F.N., John M. Browning ordered 10,000 of these shotguns in his first order. In 1999 Browning issued the "Final Tribute" version featuring engraved scenes of John M. Browning, the F.N. Factory and the Browning Brothers first store. Only 1,000 of these were produced in a high-grade wood. Production of the famous "A-5" ceased after this final tribute.

To find your serial number, you will need to refer to your owner's manual. We have most owner's manuals online. You can go to those by clicking here.

Date Historic Information Serial Number Info
1903-1939 First 10,000 shipped to U.S. Marked with "BROWNING AUTOMATIC ARMS CO. OGDEN UTAH-U.S.A." Very few serial number records remain. Beginning with Serial Number 1 to approximately 228,000. Exact production figures are not available. Year of manufacture on Pre-World War II production is strictly a guess.
1940-1946 From 1940 to 1946 production of the Auto-5 was turned over to Remington. Serial number is on the side of receiver. "ABC" for American made Version. (A=16 gauge, B-12 gauge, C=20 gauge) 1946+229,000-237,000
1947 237001-249000
1948 249001-270000
1949 270001-285000
1950 285001-315000
1951 315001-346000
1952 F.N. took over production of the Auto-5. 346001-387000
1953 387000-438000
1954-55 Serial Numbering System changed. H=Standard Weight. L=Light Weight. H1-H83000
1956 Serial Number designation for the Light Weight changed to G. H83001-H99000
1957 Serial Numbering System changed again. M=Standard Weight. G=Light Weight. M22000-M85000
1958-67 From 1958 serial numbers were preceded by the date of manufacture. 8M=standard weight for 1958. 8G=light weight for 1958.
Example: 8M1000 = A 1958 Auto-5 standard weight shotgun with serial number 1000
M=standard weight
G=light weight
1968-76 In 1969 Browning started using two digits for the date of manufacture which was followed by a four digit code that identified the type of Auto-5:
M=standard weight
G=light weight
This was then followed by the serial number beginning with 1000.
Example: 69G1000 = A 1969 Auto-5 Lightweight 12 ga.. shotgun with a serial number of 1000.
M-standard weight
G=light weight
1976-1997 In 1976 Browning standardized its serial number identification which it followed until 1998.
1. Auto-5 Type 151=Magnum 12 gauge
161=Magnum 20 gauge
211=Light 12 gauge
221=Sweet 16
231=Light 20 gauge
2. Date of Manufacture
is a two digit code
3. Serial Number
beginning with 01001
at the start of each year.

Number Example: 01001RT151
This would be an Auto-5 Magnum 12 ga.,manufactured in 1976 with the serial number 01001.
1999 The Auto-5 will be discontinued for 2000. To commemorate this historic event for the Auto-5, Browning released the "Final Tribute" version in 1999.
1. Serial Number
beginning with 1001
at the start of each year.

2. Date of Manufacture
is a two digit code
2000 (distribution began in 1999)
3. Auto-5 Type FT="Final Tribute" 12 ga.

Number Example: 2000FT1001
This would be a Auto-5 "Final Tribute" 12 ga., manufactured in 1999 with the serial number 1001.
The gun isn't too complicated as can be seen in the accompanying schematic. It is yet another example of Jonathan Browning's inventive ability.

1 comment:

Zane D. Clark said...

I have my Uncle Pete's A-5. they are wonderful guns, but I wouldn't cut the barrel though.