John Browning designed the Browning Auto-5 shotgun in the late 1800s and patented it in 1900. It featured a unique long recoil action never seen before where the barrel is free to recoil rearwards inside the action. I always enjoy watching a Auto-5 being fired and seeing the barrel recoil back.

The Auto-5 was first manufactured by FN Herstal Belgium in 1902. The design was licensed to Remington in 1905 who manufactured it as the Remington Model 11. Savage Arms licensed the design in 1930 and called it the Model 720 and later the Model 745.

This is the first time I have seen all three licensed versions of the shotgun in one photo.

Aside from the licensed copies, the design was adapted by a number of companies after the patents expired. One such example was the Franchi AL-48.

Many thanks to Mike for sharing this unique photo.



  • Anonymoose


    What’s going on with that extra receiver, by the way?

  • MadKaw69

    I think I need one of each now. I’m already a 1/3 of the way there with this Savage 720 built.

    • M.M.D.C.

      Nice! How does it shoot? Capacity?

      • MadKaw69

        Thanks. It shoots great. It holds 7 in the tube. It’s a beast with slugs, but otherwise recoil is fine as long as the friction rings are set up right. Even with the 18″ barrel I’m able to take clay birds with ease.

    • Zebra Dun

      A Malay mauler!

  • petru sova

    My only regret was not buying it for my first shotgun. I was 16 years old and opted to buy a Fox 16 gauge double barrel for the princely sum brand new of $104 dollars but I could have bought a light weight Sweet 16 Browning new for only $135.00. Flash forward 50 years and I finally bought a Sweet 16 and it turned out to be my favorite all time shotgun. Its balance is superb and its reliable as well.
    Of course every weapon has its draw backs and the Browning A5 is no exception. The gun is based on the long recoil system and the gun kicks like a mule despite being a semi-auto. One must also remember to grease the hell out of the barrel spines that ride in grooves in the receiver or if you do a lot shooting with it you will wear out the barrel. The take down is long and tedious and I am ashamed to admit it but when I first disassembled one of these I had two books complete with pictures and from start to finish it took me about 2 hours. Of course now that I know how to do it the job goes much faster, the only thing that slows you down is all of the locking screws that immobilize the main screws.
    Having said all this I would never sell or trade off my A5 Browning Sweet 16 as the 16 gauge brings back fond memories of the glory days of U.S. pheasant hunting in the 60’s in my youth which will unfortunately never come again. Now days I simply pay to hunt on a preserve to relive some of those old wonderful memories of my youth when on the first day of pheasant season you could not find one boy in our town in school that day. But we did it legally because back in those days you could actually get a free pass to get out of school on the first day of pheasant and rabbit season.
    Wages were low back then but purchases power was 10 times what it is today and just about everyone could afford a high quality Browning gun whether it was a rifle, pistol or shotgun. Try buying one today and see what they cost. I paid $1,200 for my last A-5 and was glad to even find one at that price as it was the rarest of all A-5 Sweet 16’s as it was made in the last year of production and had factory screw in chokes. And by the way in my humble opinion and also my gunsmiths humble opinion the Japanese made guns are every bit as good as the more expensive Belgian made guns.
    Some of the more common A-5 Light Weights can sometimes be found for as little as $500 dollars and that is a real steal compared to the junk plasticky and cast aluminum and stamped sheet metal trash being vomited out today by gun companies. You will not find any of those trash parts in an A5 gun.
    The gun is so reliable that if you make sure the magazine tube is always oiled or even greased so no rust sets in under the piston the gun will always work even in zero weather. I have known some people that have never taken apart the action for cleaning and the guns still go on working although this is just plain laziness and abuse of such a beautiful weapon. Some people being not mechanically inclined just are too afraid to take them apart but instead they take them once in awhile to their local gun smith and have the cleaned and oiled usually for a reasonable fee. Not a bad idea if you do not have the time or mechanical ability to do it yourself.
    Take care of a gun and it will last you a life time and the life time of your son as well. Abuse any gun and you take your chances on destroying it and since they are not being made anymore that is a sin.

    • iksnilol

      Thanks for the info. It was an interesting read, always nice to hear from the olden days.

      Regarding that last part; I always say if you don’t take care of things then they won’t take care of you either.

  • marathag

    Love my Rem. 11 Sportsman in 16 ga.

  • Raoul O’Shaugnessy

    HiStandard made one too

  • Mike Trumbull

    In the long Michigan winters it pays to have a hobby . I pick up an old shotgun like last years project a 1927 Winchester model 12 or this winters a 1938 Remington Sportsman after rebuilding, repairing, and refinishing it will be my idea of a fun gun. it will have been shortened to 20 inches be changed from a 3 shot to a 5 shot magazine have a flat olive drab finish and a set of Boyds nutmeg stocks. Thanks

  • Zebra Dun

    The brother-in-laws first wife inherited an Auto five from her father, they needed money I had money so I bought that A-5 for $175.00 back in 1978.
    It’s a Browning Light Twelve, made in Belgium during 1955 a hunting shotgun 28 inch barrel with no vent rib.
    It is what I call my best and favorite firearm.
    It gives the shooter a satisfying thump on the shoulder with every shot and can roll a bunny, drop a squirrel and down a quail with ease, it shoots slugs like a rifle out to 75 yards and patterns buckshot like a pro.
    If I could only have one firearm I would pick it.