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New Browning A5s probably won't stack up to old

Published: Friday, Dec. 6, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

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I was flipping through the pages of a sporting goods flier that came in the mail. It was full of Christmas specials, cute camo pajamas, toys for the kids and lots of other ‘gifty’ items. I turned the page again and my gaze fixated on a particular item.

There under the heading of shotguns was a Browning A5. For those of you that have been around for a while, that name probably rings a bell. For those of you that read those words and haven’t participated in the shooting sports are probably wondering what is a Browning A5?

For lots of us it was a 12ga shotgun that was typically called a “humpback.” The name was derived from the squared off receiver that makes it easy to pick out from a lineup of hundreds of shotguns. The shotgun was manufactured from 1902-1999. There were lots of them made and they are plentiful throughout the states.

Browning then ceased manufacture of this classic gun. Many people were saddened by this news and it immediately raised the nostalgic value of the A5. As I was looking at the picture in this ad, I thought back to the first time I saw one of these distinctive guns. My uncle owns one. I shot, or shot at, many clay birds with that thing during Thanksgiving breaks.

Fast forward a few years, I used an A5 to shoot my first duck while sitting in a blind in Ballard County, Ky. Those mallards came swirling in overhead. I clutched that Browning with its rock-steady action and waited. Finally, the guide yelled, ‘take them.’ The A5 rocked and birds dropped. A sportsman doesn’t forget something like that.

Later that next spring, I used the same shotgun to shoot my first wild turkey in Tennessee. Once again it performed as hoped. A couple of weeks later, I used it to bag my first gobbler here in Grundy County. That Browning A5 and I had a lot of firsts that won’t be forgotten.

The reintroduction of the A5 in early 2012 was greatly anticipated as scores of shotgun enthusiasts recalled with fond memories time spent with “grandpa’s gun.” The look is where the similarities to the previous version of the Auto 5 and the new model end. This new gun, as many put it lovingly, “ain’t your grandpa’s A5.”

First off, the receiver is aluminum and lighter than the previous model. It weighs just less than seven pounds. The recoil system also has been updated and is an inertia-based system that is very similar to the ones used in many Benellis. The choke system also employs Browning’s new double-seal system.

The first thing that you might notice when you grab the new A5 is that the drop is not as pronounced as on the older Auto 5. This new stock also comes with extra shims to help create a custom fit for each individual shooter.

If you are interested in how the new version shoots there are many blogs and articles available that talk about its cycling characteristics and easy target acquisition. Just take a second and Google “new Browning A5” and lots of choices will pop up.

Even though I personally prefer to shoot a shotgun that is more aligned with a Remington 1100 body style, there is still something to be admired about seeing an old humpback leaning in the corner of a duck blind. It is truly a classic.

Will the new version gain the legendary status its predecessor enjoys? I highly doubt it. The new A5 is sure to leave the retail shelves, and satisfy many hunters across the land, but with each new model that is bought, the old classic Auto 5 will become even more legendary.

I left the flier of that advertisement lay open to that page. Each time I walked by it the rest of the night I would take a quick glance and see that new, shiny, version of an old classic and think back on good times.

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