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The Browning Automatic 5, most often Auto-5 or simply A-5, is a recoil-operated autoloading shotgun designed by John Browning. It was the first successful autoloading shotgun designed and remained in production until 1998. The name of the shotgun designates that it is an autoloader with a capacity of five shots, four in the magazine and one in the chamber.


The Browning Auto-5 was the first mass-produced semiautomatic shotgun. Designed by John Browning in 1898 and patented in 1900, it was produced continually for almost 100 years by several makers with production ending in 1998. It features a distinctive high rear end, earning it the nickname "Humpback". The top of the action goes straight back on a level with the barrel before cutting down sharply towards the buttstock. This distinctive feature makes it easy to identify A-5s from a distance. A-5s were produced in a variety of gauge, with 12- and 20- predominating; 16 gauge (not produced between 1976 and 1987) models were also available.


John Browning presented his design (which he called his best achievement) to Winchester, where he had sold most of his previous designs. When Winchester refused his terms, Browning went to Remington. Tragically, the president of Remington died of a heart attack as Browning waited to offer them the gun. This forced Browning to look overseas to produce the shotgun. It was produced by FN (a company that had already produced Browning-designed pistols) starting in 1902. Remington would later license-produce it as the Remington Model 11. (It was also license-produced by Savage and Franchi.) The Model 11 was the first autoloading shotgun made in the USA. Production in Belgium continued until the start of World War II, when Browning-marked examples were produced by Remington Arms in the United Statesmarker. Unlike the Remington Model 11, the Remington-produced Browning shotguns had magazine cutoffs. Some 850,000 Remington Model 11 shotguns were produced before production ended in 1947. In 1952, production returned to FN, where it continued to be produced until the end. However, the majority of production moved to Japan in 1975. Finally, in 1998, manufacture of A-5s ceased except for a few commemorative models created at FN in 1999. By that time, it was well-established as the second-best-selling autoloading shotgun in U.S. history, after the Remington 1100.


Browning Auto-5 in 20 gauge magnum (Made in Japan)
The Browning Auto-5 is a long-recoil operated semi-automatic shotgun. Shells are stored in a tubular magazine under the barrel. When a chambered shell is fired, the barrel and bolt recoiling together (for a distance greater than the shell length) recock the hammer, eject the spent shell, and feed another shell from the magazine into the action. This type of action was the first of its kind.

Browning Auto 5 field stripped

To load the weapon, shells are fed into the bottom of the action, where they are pushed into the tubular magazine. Most A-5s have removable plugs in the magazine which prevent more than 3 shells from being loaded (two in the magazine, plus one in the chamber) to comply with U.S. Federal migratory waterfowl laws, as well as some state hunting regulations. With the plug removed, the total capacity is 5 rounds. If the chamber is open (the operating handle is drawn back) the first shell loaded into the magazine tube will go directly into the chamber. The bolt then closes, and all further shells fed into the gun go into the magazine.

The A-5 has a system of friction rings that control the rate of recoil. Setting these rings correctly is vital to good shotgun performance and to ensure a long life to the weapon, by controlling excessive recoil. The friction rings are set based on the type of load to be fired through the gun. Different settings can be found in the owner's manual, available at

External links


  1. Harold Murtz. Gun Digest Treasury (DBI Books, 1994), p.194
  2. Murtz, ibid., pp.193-4
  3. Firearm Model History - Remington Model 11

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