Remington Model 11/Browning Auto-5
Remington Model 11 Shotgun
Browning Auto-5
TypeSemi-automatic shotgun
Place of originUnited States/Belgium
Service history
In service1905–1975
Used bySee Users
WarsWorld War I[1]
World War II[1]
Malayan Emergency[1]
Vietnam War
Rhodesian Bush War[2]
Production history
DesignerJohn Browning
ManufacturerBrowning Arms
Fabrique Nationale Herstal (Belgique)
Remington Arms
Savage Arms
Miroku Corp.
VariantsRemington Model 11, Remington Sportsman, Savage Model 720 and Model 745
Mass4.1 kilograms (9.0 lb)
Length127 centimetres (50 in)
Barrel length71.1 centimetres (28.0 in) [3]

Cartridge12 gauge, 16 gauge, 20 gauge
Feed systemTwo or four round tubular magazine, plus 1 in the chamber

The Browning Automatic 5, most often Auto-5 or simply A-5, is a recoil-operated semi-automatic shotgun designed by John Browning and manufactured by Fabrique Nationale de Herstal. It was the first successful semi-automatic shotgun design, and remained in production until 1998. The name of the shotgun designates that it is an autoloader with a capacity of five rounds, four in the magazine and one in the chamber. Remington Arms and Savage Arms sold variants called the Remington Model 11 and Savage Model 720 that were nearly identical but lacked the magazine cutoff found on the Browning.


Depiction of Auto-5 in 1909 catalog.

The Browning Auto-5 was the first mass-produced semi-automatic shotgun. Designed by John Browning in 1898 and patented in 1900,[4] 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 gauges, with 12 and 20 predominating; 16 gauge (not produced between 1976 and 1987) models were also available. The shotgun saw military service worldwide from World War I through the Vietnam War. The weapon was used heavily by members of the Special Air Service in the Malayan Emergency, who found the semi-automatic shotgun perfect for close quarter jungle fighting. British troops utilized the unaltered Browning Auto-5 Sporter with a 28 inch barrel, supplemented by Remington 870-R slide action shotguns with 20 inch barrels. The British found that the number of semiautomatic shotguns in a patrol were directly proportional to the number of kills made when encountering a guerilla group. [5]


John M. Browning with his Auto-5

John Browning presented his design (which he called his best achievement)[4] to Winchester, where he had sold most of his previous designs. When Winchester refused his terms, Browning went to Remington. However, 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 manufactured by Fabrique Nationale de Herstal (FN) of Belgium, a company that had already produced Browning-designed pistols, starting in 1902. Browning would later license the design to Remington, which produced it as their Model 11 (1905–1947). The Remington Model 11 was the first auto-loading shotgun made in the United States. Savage Arms also licensed[dubious ] the design from Browning and produced it as their model 720 from 1930 to 1949, and their model 745 with an alloy receiver and two-shot magazine from 1941 to 1949. Browning's long-recoil operated design itself served as the operating system for subsequent Remington (11-48), Savage (755, 775) and Franchi (AL-48) models.[4]

Production of the Auto-5 in Belgium continued until the start of World War II, when Browning moved production to Remington Arms in the United States. The Auto-5 was produced by Remington alongside the Model 11 until FN could resume making the gun after the war.[6] 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 of Browning models returned to FN, where it continued until the end. However, the majority of production moved to the Japanese company Miroku in 1975. Finally, in 1998, manufacture of A-5s ceased except for a few commemorative models created at FN in 1999. As of 1983 it was well established as the second-best-selling auto-loading shotgun in U.S. history, after the Remington 1100.[4]

In 2014, Browning Arms released the A5, a mechanically unrelated recoil-operated shotgun with external resemblance to the Auto 5; it is manufactured in Viana, Portugal.[7]

Design details

Browning Auto-5 in 20-gauge magnum (made in Japan)
Auto-5 field stripped

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 recoil together (for a distance greater than the shell length) and re-cock the hammer. As the barrel returns forward to its initial position the bolt remains behind and thus the spent shell is ejected through a port on the right-hand side of the receiver. Then the bolt returns forward and feeds another shell from the magazine into the action. This type of long recoil action was the first of its kind and patented in 1900 by John Browning.

To load the gun, 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 three 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 five 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 (there is a manual bolt closing button under the ejection port), the bolt then closes, and all further shells fed into the gun go into the magazine. This function known colloquially as the Speed Load feature was not found on earlier models but was available through conversion and rebuild kits, and was introduced later on in the 1950s as a standard feature from the factory.

The Auto-5 has a system of bevel rings and a friction piece or pieces, which retard the barrel's rearward travel. 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 are found in the owner's manual.[8][9]

There is a sixteen gauge variant with the name, "Sweet Sixteen". This model is no longer in production.



  1. ^ a b c d Leroy Thompson (20 August 2013). US Combat Shotguns. Osprey Publishing. p. 72. ISBN 978-1780960142.
  2. ^ Chris Cocks (3 April 2002). Fireforce: One Man's War in the Rhodesian Light Infantry (1 July 2001 ed.). Covos Day. pp. 31–141. ISBN 1-919874-32-1.
  3. ^ McNab, Chris (2009). Firearms. Bath, UK: Parragon. p. 277. ISBN 978-1-4075-1607-3.
  4. ^ a b c d Wallack, LR. "Sixty Million Guns". 1983. In Gun Digest Treasury, Harold A. Murtz, editor, DBI Books. 1994 p.194 ISBN 0873491564
  5. ^ Long, Duncan (1987). Street Sweepers The Complete Book of Combat Shotguns. Paladin Press. p. 7. ISBN 0873644247.
  6. ^ Firearm Model History – Remington Model 11 Archived November 14, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "Where are Browning firearms manufactured?". Retrieved June 6, 2020.
  8. ^ "Browning -- Owners Manuals". Archived from the original on 2010-12-23. Retrieved 2010-12-29.
  9. ^ "Owners Manuals".
  10. ^ Jowett, Phillip, Latin American Wars 1900-1941: Osprey Publishing (2018)
  11. ^ Philippines Army Weapon Systems Handbook. International Business Publications. May 2007. p. 116. ISBN 978-1433061981.
  12. ^ Neil Grant (2015). Rhodesian Light Infantryman: 1961–1980. Osprey Publishing. pp. 17, 22, 39. ISBN 978-1472809629.
  13. ^ Римантас Норейка. Самозарядное охотничье ружьё Browning Auto-5 - прощальное ревю // журнал "Калашников. Оружие, боеприпасы, снаряжение", № 6, 2003. стр.19-22