The Browning Auto-5 was produced by legendary shotgun designer John Browning and was a recoil-operated autoloading shotgun. The shotgun was the first fully successful autoloading shotgun ever produced.
In full, the Browning Automatic 5 shotgun was the first mass produced semiautomatic shotgun. Originally designed and manufactured by John Browning in 1898 and eventually patented in 1900, the firearm was produced continually for nearly 100 years, with production finally ending in 1998. The shotgun features a distinctive high back end, earning it the dubious nickname "Humpback". The top of the action on the shotgun goes straight back on a level with the barrel before sharply cutting down towards the buttstock. This distinctive feature on the shotgun makes it easy to identify Browning A-5s from a distance however causes complaint among some shooters used to Remington slope back shotguns. The Browning A-5s were produced in a variety of gauges at the time however the 12 and 20 gauges predominating; 16 gauge (which was not produced between 1976 and 1987) models were at the time also available.
John Browning presented his manufactured design (which Browning called his best achievement) to the Winchester company, where he had sold most of his previous firearm designs. When Winchester refused his meager terms, Browning went to the Remington Company. Tragically, the president of Remington died of an acute heart attack as Browning waited to offer Remington the gun. This forced Browning to sail overseas to produce and manufacture the shotgun. The Browning A5 was produced by FN (a company that had already produced someBrowning-designed pistols) starting in 1902. The Browning Auto-5 was used in World War I extensively and highly regarded by soldiers due to its devastating and lethal, close range firepower which was very useful in the trenches. Ironically, Remington would later license and ultimately produce the shotgun as the Model 11. (It was also license-produced by Franchi and Savage.) Production in Belgium of the Browing A-5 continued until the beginning of World War II, when Browning signified samples were produced by Remington Arms in the US. Different than the Remington Model 11, the Remington produced Browning type shotguns had magazine cutoffs. In 1952, production returned to FN, where it remained until the end of production. However, the majority of production moved to Japan in 1975. Finally, in 1998, manufacture of A-5s ended except for a few commemorative models created at FN in 1999. By that time, it was well-established as the number two-selling autoloading shotgun in U.S. history, after the Remington 1100.
The Browning Auto-5 is a recoil operated semiautomatic shotgun. Shells are stored in a tubular magazine under the barrel. When one shell is fired, the recoil recocks the hammer, ejects the spent shell, and feeds another shell from the magazine into the action. This type of action was the first of its kind.
To load the weapon, shells are fed into the bottom of the action, where they are then pushed into the magazine. Most A-5s have removable plugs in the magazine which prevent more than 3 shells from being loaded in at one time (two in the magazine, plus one in the chamber) to comply with Federal migratory bird 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 will go directly into the chamber. The operating handle then closes the ejector port, and all further shells fed into the gun will go into the magazine.
The A-5 has a system of friction rings and plates that control the automatic ejection of spent shells. Setting these rings correctly is vital to good shotgun performance and to ensure a long life to the weapon. Correct settings also help reduce recoil and increase accuracy. The friction rings are set based on the type of load to be fired through the gun.