Gun reviews: Browning A5 semi-auto shotgun.
Now, more than a century later, a new gun has emerged carrying the same name. Jason finds out what has changed.
The new Browning A5 has a lot to live up to because it carries the same model name as the gun that started it all in 1905 – not just for Browning, but for every other maker of semi-automatics as well.
However, Browning have brought together a number of up-to-the-minute designs to make this A5 a totally new gun.
On one of the Browning websites it says: “Your old Grandpa’s A5 this ain’t.”
I know that to be true because my grandfather had one, in fact I still have it.
It was the first gun I ever shot! As I remember it grandad bought it secondhand in 1939.
Those A5s were solidly built guns and many have survived long working lives under the most testing conditions.
In short they are the shotgun version of a Land Rover.
Few guns have been used as much around the world in both civilian and military applications as the A5, or for as many years.
I don’t know if the British Army use them now, but they were once fitted to bomb disposal robots to destroy suspect packages.
Perhaps the most distinctive feature of the original A5 was its humped back action.
Not the most elegant design, but then it was the first semi auto shotgun of its kind.
The new A5 draws on that look but in a more subtle way with slightly more finesse and flowing lines.
The action frame itself is aluminium alloy, a heck of a lot lighter than the original A5’s steel receiver.
Browning say that the hump back action gives a longer line of sight as it’s flatter for longer, before leading into the line of the rib.
At the heart of this gun is a kinematic drive system that uses the energy and inertia from the fired cartridge to throw back the bolt.
Browning are so confident in its reliability that they actually guarantee it for 100,000 rounds.
That’s a bold claim but it’s based on the fact this gun uses recoil from the cartridge rather than gas so it remains much cleaner without dirty gas clogging up a piston system.
That said, I still think it would help if we kept the gun cleaned and oiled on a regular basis!
Because there’s no gas piston the fore-end wood has been made thinner and slimmer to impart a better feel and improved handling characteristics.
Being lighter on the front end ensures the gun points quickly and precisely.
Browning have used the DS choke system from their 725 O/U on this new A5 and the longer tube with the thread at the top end certainly helps keep the profile and line of the barrel nicely slimmer.
A sealing ring at the bottom of the stainless steel tube helps keep the choke cleaner and less likely to work itself loose.
The A5 sports a new internal barrel profile which is back bored to 18.8mm and incorporates the Vectorpro system – a much longer forcing cone from chamber to bore that reduces friction of the shot load in the barrel, but gives higher velocities, improved patterns, better shot penetration and lower recoil.
Recoil is further reduced by the use of Browning’s new Inflex recoil pad system which incorporates a softer pad with internal pockets and a webbing wall to deflect recoil away from the shoulder.
Jason’s verdict on the Browning A5 semi-auto
“I am sure this gun will find some sort of place in the UK market if only because of its nostalgic appeal.
Its humped back action won’t be to everyone’s liking but there’s no doubt it will do exactly what it says on the tin.
Browning have not made the reliability claims without doing a good deal of research and development so you can be sure the A5 will make a very good utility and general purpose shotgun.”
Browning A5 semi-auto