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Browning Auto-5 / A5 and Remington model 11 shotgun (Belgium, USA)
Type:semi-automatic, recoil operated
Gauge:12, 16 and 20
Length: varies with model
Barrel length: varies with model
Weight varies with model
Capacity: 4 rounds in underbarrel tube magazine
John Moses Browning, the legendary American gun designer, invented thefirst practical self-loading shotgun in 1898. In fact, Browningdesigned and patented three different systems, but finally choose the last one to go ahead. It must be noted, that at the time the autoloading shotgun was something of absolute novelty, and the task of designing such gun was severely complicated by the fact that the switch over from black powder to smokeless ammunition was well under way, and general quality of shotgun ammunition was rather uneven,to say the least. Nevertheless, Browning managed to make hist prototype model work, and work well. He first offered this shotgun to Winchester,which was the sole buyer for his designs from 1886 on. However, severe technical conservatism on the part of the Winchester's boss,T.G.Bennett, and financial disagreements (Browning insisted on royalty-based payments, but Winchester at the time always bought new designs for fixed amount of money) resulted in break between the designer and the company. Browning then turned to Remington, but tragic death of the Remington's president from hear attack just minutes before scheduled meeting with Browning put an end to this route as well. Browning then turned to the Belgian company Fabrique Nationale (FN), which at thistime (1901) produced first Browning-designed self loading pistol (M1900)as fast as it could be made. FN management greeted Browning and his newgun with great enthusiasm, and in a short while FN produced the firstFN Browning auto loading shotgun, known as Browning Auto 5, or A-5 in short. Browning himself ordered 10,000 A-5 shotguns from the firstbatch for sales and distribution in USA, and sold all 10 thousands in about a year. Following the introduction of the new, increased custom tariffs by US government, Browning found that it was economically not reasonable toimport more A-5 guns into USA, so he pursued FN to release rights to make and sell Browning auto loading shotgun on US market to Remingto nArms Co (FN originally had worldwide rights for manufacture of Auto 5).In 1906 Remington offered the Browning-designed auto loading shotgun as Model 11, and manufactured it without interruption until 1947, withwell over 800,000 guns made. Between 1949 and 1968 Remington also produced an updated (lightened and streamlined) version of theBrowning's design, known as Remington Model 11-48. The FN produced Browning Auto 5 shotguns continuously (with interruptions for Germanoccupation during both World Wars) until 1999, making Auto-5 probably the most successful and longest-producing sporting shotgun in thehistory. Overall output of Auto-5 shotguns made and sold by FN (During WW2, A-5 shotguns were made for Browning Arms Co by Remington, andsince mid-1970s Auto-5 shotguns were also produced for FN in Japan by Miroku, under FN license) over the century well exceeds two millionguns (2,000,000th Auto-5 was produced in 1970). Total estimate of worldwide production numbers for this legendary Browning design is well over three million guns.
Copies and clones of the Auto-5 shotgunwere also manufactured in Italy by Franchi and Breda, in USA by Savage and in USSR / Russia by TOZ, and by some other manufacturers around theworld. Many Auto-5 guns, made many decades before, are still used forhunting and shooting today, but, as time goes, Browning Auto-5 shotgunsincreasingly become collector's pieces.
Overthe time, both FN and Remingtonproduced wide variety of versions of the basic design. Hunting gunswere made with plain or ribbed barrels of various lengths and gauges(12, 16 and 20), with magazine capacities of 4 or 2 rounds, variousstocks, finishes etc. For police and military applications, FN and Remington created shorter-barreled shotguns with plain barrels. ManyRemington guns have seen extensive use by US police and security services; US military also used Remington shotguns to train AA and aircraft gunners in shooting at fast-moving flying targets (clay pigeons), using traditionally stocked guns or guns, mounted in special fixtures to emulate aircraft machine guns. Belgian-made guns have seen lessmilitary service, although British army issued more than few A-5shotguns as L32A1 during Malay counter-insurgency operations and later.
Browning Auto-5 shotgun uses recoiling barrel to operate its action. The systemis of so-called long-recoil type, as barrel and bolt recoil together forentire length of the recoil stroke, being securely locked by pivotingpiece, installed in the bolt. This piece, when pivoted up, engages thecut in the barrel extension with its large locking lug. Upon completionof the full recoil path, the bolt is arrested in the rearmost position,and the locking piece inside it is tipped down to release the barrel.Barrel, under pressure of its own return spring, located around themagazine tube, slams forward, leaving the empty shell on the bolt face.Once the empty shell is clear of the barrel, it is ejected out of thegun. When barrel comes to the rest in the forward position, it automatically releases bolt catch, allowing the bolt to run forward,picking the fresh cartridge from the raised cartridge lifter, andlocking the to the barrel at the end of the forward run. Bolt returns pring is located in the butt. To achieve reliable functioning withwide variety of loads, Browning used self-adjusting friction brake in the recoil system, which consisted of several (one or two, dependingon the exact model) friction rings, located around the magazine tube.The tubular magazine holds four rounds; fifth one can be loaded intothe chamber, making the total capacity of five rounds. One importantdifference between FN Auto-5 and Remington Model 11 shotguns is that the FN guns had a magazine cut-off lever, located on the left side ofthe receiver. This lever, when turned to the rear, locks the cartridges in the magazine, allowing for quick replacement of the loaded round with another (presumably, with different type of projectile(s), i.e.shot to slug or vice versa). Remington shotguns did not have this feature.