Skip to main content

Browning A5 Shotgun History

The Browning Auto-5 shotgun has its own special place in history. As the first semi-auto shotgun, another of the great John Browning's designs for the ages. Browning called the A5 shotgun his greatest achievement, and while other experts may disagree, the A5 is certainly Browning's most star-crossed.

Browning was so sure of the design, he wanted royalties but Winchester refused to meet his terms. He then took the Automatic-5 design to Remington. While Browning was waiting for an answer, the person he was negotiating with died of a heart attack. In frustration, Browning took his revolutionary design to FN in Belgium, who had already produced the Browning-designed pistol. The new shotgun began production in Belgium in 1902.

The A5 utilized a long recoil system. When a shell was fired, both the bolt and the barrel moved to the rear to re-cock the hammer.

As the barrel moves forward, the bolt follows and chambers another shell from the five-round tube magazine.


First and foremost, the A5 was a hunting shotgun. Supremely reliable, and able to take a staggering amount of abuse. The U.S. military used issued versions of the Remington Model 11 in World War II. The Army Air Corps used specially designed Model 11s fitted with cuts compensators, like this one, to reduce muzzle rise to train aerial gunners.


The original Browning A5 shotguns, like this one, were made in Belgium until the start of World War II, when Remington produced the A5 alongside their Model 11s. Production returned to Belgium after the war, but moved to Browning's Miroku plant in Japan in 1975. The last original A5s rolled off the production line in 1998.

In 2012, Browning reintroduced the Auto-5, but not really. While the new gun faithfully keeps the humpback lines of the original, the action has been drastically modified. No parts are interchangeable. The new Auto-5 shotgun is still recoil operated, but it's a short-action inertia type system rather than the long recoil system of the original system. The barrel stays put.

MOTVGunStories500wide

Hosted by actor and gun enthusiast Joe Mantegna, Gun Stories takes viewers through a firearm's history, from the heart of the design through its use on the range. Throughout the series, historians, shooters, trainers and industry experts place these weapons in their historical and social context, making Gun Stories a unique and definitive collection on the history of firearms. Past seasons are available online at www.myoutdoortv.com. Current season airs on Outdoor Channel.


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Guns & Ammo TV: Springfield Armory XD-M 10mm

Guns & Ammo TV: Springfield Armory XD-M 10mm

In this “At The Range” segment, Guns & Ammo Editor Eric Poole and Senior Field Editor Craig Boddington look over the features of the XD-M.

Pocket-Pistol Carry Tips and Tricks

Pocket-Pistol Carry Tips and Tricks

Pocket carry, as a method of concealed carry for a defensive firearm, can be a practical option when done right. This is especially true during the colder months when heavy outer garments can obstruct access to a traditional waistline holster. Former U.S. Navy SEAL Jeff Gonzales, president of Trident Concepts, joins G&A contributor Kimberly Heath-Chudwin to discuss guns, training and gear, including Blackhawk's TecGrip holster that can make pocket carry more successful.

Shooting 600 Yards with .300 Blackout

Shooting 600 Yards with .300 Blackout

The .300 Blackout cartridge was developed to provide greater effectiveness than a 9mm at short and medium ranges when fired from a short-barreled suppressed firearm. Just because the cartridge wasn't designed to go long doesn't mean Rifles & Optics Editor Tom Beckstrand won't take it there, using a large-format pistol, no less. Armed with SIG Sauer's 9-inch-barreled MCX Virtus Pistol loaded with Black Hills' 125-grain TMK ammunition, Beckstrand attempts to ring steel at 600 yards with help from Hornady's 4DOF ballistic calculator in this segment of “Long Range Tech.”

Trijicon RMRcc Reflex Sight – Perfect for Optics-Ready Concealed-Carry Pistols

Trijicon RMRcc Reflex Sight – Perfect for Optics-Ready Concealed-Carry Pistols

The people asked and Trijicon answered. Introducing the RMRcc miniature red-dot sight for compact, concealed-carry pistols. Trijicon's new RMRcc features the durability and reliable controls that have made the RMR so successful, but its reduced dimensions make the “Concealed Carry” model better suited for the popular small-frame pistols designed for discreet carry and personal defense.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Trijicon has dominated the Carry Optic landscape on hard-use handguns for years. With the new RMRcc, they plan on dominating the concealed carry market as well.Trijicon RMRcc Reflex Sight Review – Perfect for Concealed Carry Optics

Trijicon RMRcc Reflex Sight Review – Perfect for Concealed Carry

Jeremy Stafford - September 01, 2020

Trijicon has dominated the Carry Optic landscape on hard-use handguns for years. With the new...

In this segment of “At The Range,” Handgunning Editor Jeremy Stafford and contributor Patrick Sweeney compare the visibility of red and green lasers in outdoor, sunny conditions. Red vs. Green Lasers: Visibility in Bright Light Accessories

Red vs. Green Lasers: Visibility in Bright Light

Guns & Ammo Staff - August 24, 2020

In this segment of “At The Range,” Handgunning Editor Jeremy Stafford and contributor Patrick...

The Taurus TX22 rimfire shoots like no other.Taurus TX22 Rimfire Review Reviews

Taurus TX22 Rimfire Review

Eric Poole - May 23, 2019

The Taurus TX22 rimfire shoots like no other.

A guide on how to pair .223 and 5.56 NATO rifle barrel twist rates with bullet weights. Conventional wisdom says slower twist rates wouldn't properly-stabilize a heavy bullet. On the other hand, faster rates could over-stabilize lighter bullets. This is correct in theory, however, modern ballisticians have all but debunked the over-stabilization theory. All things being equal, it is better to have too much twist than not enough.Pairing Barrel Twist Rates with Bullets for .223 and 5.56 NATO How-To

Pairing Barrel Twist Rates with Bullets for .223 and 5.56 NATO

Keith Wood - November 17, 2018

A guide on how to pair .223 and 5.56 NATO rifle barrel twist rates with bullet weights....

See More Trending Articles

More Shotguns

Everything you need to know and learn about the differences between pump and semi-auto shotguns.Pump vs. Semi-Auto Shotguns Shoot 101

Pump vs. Semi-Auto Shotguns

Guns & Ammo Staff - May 10, 2020

Everything you need to know and learn about the differences between pump and semi-auto...

The Mossberg 500's ability to change barrels in seconds makes it one of the most versatile and valuable guns on the market.Mossberg 500: Do-It-All Shotgun Shotguns

Mossberg 500: Do-It-All Shotgun

Eric R. Poole - January 10, 2020

The Mossberg 500's ability to change barrels in seconds makes it one of the most versatile and...

Don't underestimate the fun factor.Review: Remington V3 TAC-13 Shotguns

Review: Remington V3 TAC-13

Brad Fitzpatrick - March 08, 2019

Don't underestimate the fun factor.

The new Tristar Viper G2 .410 Bronze offers handsome reliability and the option to chamber a 3-­inch shell in a sub-­6-­pound, value-­rich semiautomatic.Tristar Viper G2 .410 – 2019 Shotgun of the Year SHOT Show

Tristar Viper G2 .410 – 2019 Shotgun of the Year

Guns & Ammo Staff - January 22, 2020

The new Tristar Viper G2 .410 Bronze offers handsome reliability and the option to chamber a...

See More Shotguns

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Guns and Ammo subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now