Return of the Sweet Sixteen

Browning Sweet Sixteen

The Sweet Sixteen shotgun was one of the iconic scattergun models made by Browning in the last century. Built between 1936 and 1976, the 16 gauge semi-automatics were adored by many hunters who liked the lighter gun that produced near 12 gauge performance. Even though the 16 gauge has fallen out of favor with many, these guns are still sought by many collectors and hunters.

Good news for anyone who would like to have a modern Sweet Sixteen: Browning returned the shotgun to its catalog for 2016.

Sweet Sixteen

The modern A5 Sweet Sixteen is a semi-automatic shotgun that uses the company’s short recoil operated Kinematic Drive. Browning claims the system is extremely reliable with any load and in any field condition. The company backs it with a five year/100,000 round guarantee. Sounds a bit like a car warranty, but there it is.

On this shotgun, Browning opted for a 28″ barrel with a vented rib. Both the barrel and aluminum alloy receiver are finished in a polished black. Invector-DS Flush chokes are used and full, modified and improved cylinder chokes are included. A 26″ barrel model should be introduced later this year.

Additional details (28″ model):

  • overall length: 49.25″
  • weight: 5 lbs, 13 oz
  • magazine capacity: 4
  • stock: Turkish walnut with gloss finish and Inflex 2 recoil pad
  • gold plated trigger, cut 18 LPI checkering, brushed nickel bolt finish, gold engraved Buck Mark on trigger guard

Browning puts the suggested retail price at $1,699.

Richard Johnson

An advocate of gun proliferation zones, Richard is a long time shooter, former cop and internet entrepreneur. Among the many places he calls home is


  • iksnilol

    Wasn’t the Ithaca 37 in 16 gauge also nicknamed the “Sweet Sixteen”?

    • AndyHasky

      May have had the nickname, but having owned both I can say the browning was the only “sweet sixteen” engraved on it by the manufacturer

    • bbauman

      Mine says Featherlight? So glad to see a 16 available again.

      • iksnilol

        Yeah, Featherlight, but many people nicknamed the lightweight 16 gauges “Sweet sixteen”.

        As in not an official name.

  • J.J

    There’s no reason to get a 16 gauge when a 20 gauge is more available and just as effective.

    • iksnilol

      Out you heathen.

      OUT I TELL YA!

      No seriously, 16 ga is awesome.

      • Cameron Bissell

        the same could be said for any number of choices, why shoot B,B,C when you have xyz.

        the 16 is like the straight 6. If you compare it to the V6 or V8 it’s an oddball but they are great for what they do.

  • Evan

    The gold plated trigger just seems silly.

    • iksnilol

      I don’t know, gold has antibacterial properties.. Makes sense considering it is a booger hook.


      • DW

        Gold plated triggers are surprisingly common on shotguns, even Ithaca models costing less have them. They claim it’s mostly for corrosion resistance.

        • iksnilol


          I doubt it is expensive and it does add that classy touch.

  • Gregory

    $1,600.00, are they f-ing kidding? Who built the gun, virgins wearing silk gloves? Gun companies keep producing high priced weapons and expect them to sell well. How about they charge reasonable prices, they would sell a lot more of them and still make a reasonable profit. Instead, Browning placed this shotgun in a small nitch market. I predict a very short production life due to low sales.

  • AndyHasky

    The new a-5s lack the soul of the original gun since they changed the design IMO, but I can say that of all the semi autos I’ve racked (not shot) a new a5 feels the smoothest, can’t say how that translates to shooting though.

    • kzrkp

      I agree. It looks like its styled after a mid-range sports sedan. Keep the classic firearm look and stop dressing them up like forgettable cars.

      • AndyHasky

        Not just the aesthetics, the action itself is modified from the original, it seems silly to even call it an A5 if it has nothing but a few styling cues from the original JMB design

    • Miguel Raton

      If by “lack the soul of the original” you mean “doesn’t recoil as hard,” I’m all for it: the old long-recoil action kicked worse than my Rem 870! Quicker follow-ups from a pump because it didn’t beat you to death isn’t the way to sell a semi-auto… ::)

      As for the complaints about the high price, short commemorative runs & premium finish cost more money, there’s just no way around that. I believe they call that “exclusivity,” as in “If you need to ask how much it costs, you can’t afford it.” Yeah, that’s another one I won’t be buying either; I need champagne on a beer budget, not beer on a champagne budget! ;-D

      • AndyHasky

        By “lack the original soul” I mean doesn’t have anything in common with the original A5 design so they should stop whoring that name out like it means something.

  • Commenter

    /Rant On

    If Browning is going to all the trouble of touting a ‘return’ of the 16 gauge, why not take a cue from Benelli? That company just recently released a 28 gauge semi-auto with a 3″ chamber.

    Personally I think that’s ridiculous for the 28 gauge, but for the 16? Absaf*ckin-lutley!

    The 16 gauge is almost universally praised as a great way to go … IF you’re only shooting 2 3/4″ loads. It’s got more oomph than the 20 & less recoil than the 12 (while doing about the same damage). However, the biggest issue with the 16 as a viable alternative to either the 20 or 12 gauges is the lack of variety in ammo choices if you want something bigger than a 2 3/4″ load. So it stands to reason that a 3″ or even 3 1/4″ chambering in 16 gauge, with an ammo company partner providing the shells (that’s how Benelli did it with the new 28 gauge), would I think create a useful splash in the market.

    As it stands, faux-A5 or no faux-A5, the 16 gauge itself is left stuck in it’s small niche – nice for nostalgia’s sake, but not really useful when compared to the 20 & 12 alternatives.

    Rant Off/