In today's firearm market we have a lot of different choices in what we purchase, but what makes each manufacturer different from all the rest? Is it machining? Quality of metals? Or perhaps simply how much love they put into their product? Or is it all a matter of opinion?
With the research I have done one manufacturer caught my attention above the rest: Browning. There is quite an interesting history behind Browning and how they became what they are today. Not to mention, they are responsible for producing my favorite shotgun: the A-5.
In 1855 a boy was born who would change the world of firearms. This boy would eventually design some of the most well known and arguably the best designed guns in modern firearms history. We credit the design of firearms like the 1911 pistols and .50 caliber machine guns to the boy we all know as John Moses Browning.
Browning started making guns at a vary young age, the first gun he created was when he was 13. He contributed in furthering the design and quality of many different kinds of firearms including lever actions, single shots, and side by side shotguns. What he is best known for, however, is his auto-loading firearms. He made many different kinds of auto-loading firearms like the .50 Caliber BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle) and the 1911 to name a few, and my all time favorite the Auto-5.
The Auto-5 was created in 1895 and was put into production in 1900. 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 top of the receiver. Then the bolt returns forward and feeds another shell from the magazine into the action. So as you are firing the gun, the barrel slides into the receiver, (an action which is still seen in firearms such as the Barrett family of long-range weapons). The A-5 has a system of friction rings that control the rate of recoil. Setting these rings correctly is vital to optimal shotgun performance; and also to ensure a long life of the weapon by controlling excessive recoil. The friction rings are set based on the type of load to be fired through the gun. If you wanted to shoot a low brass round you can adjust the spring to fire without any hang ups or jams, and when you're ready to hunt with high brass you set the spring back and can have the same feeding reliability.
The Auto-5 came with lots of extras for its time as well. One of these features is a magazine tube stop which stops any shells from loading in to the receiver when the action is cycled and the chambered round is removed. This is a very useful feature, and adds safety when crossing fences, as you can safely de-chamber a round without completely unloading the firearm. It also helps to change different loads with quickly and easily. This feature is still in use today on the Browning Maxus.
The Auto-5 remained in production for nearly 100 years, stopping in 1998. Browning has since re-released a very similar firearm, although it is now simply called the A5. This shotgun has stood the test of time and has influenced the hunting world as we know it. Although the design of this firearm is old and it may not win any beauty contests, its hump back design makes it very unique (and identifiable) and its reliability is still nearly unmatched. If you're looking for a great gun with an even more impressive history the Auto-5 is a no-brainer.