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Old 10-15-2009, 01:15 AM
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Default Any Browning A-5 experts here? [long]

Greetings, all:

My dad just gave me his old Browning Auto-5 shotgun (Thanks, Dad!), and I'd like to know more about it. I'm particularly curious about when it was made.

The gun's in excellent condition, with only the slightest thinning of the blue on a few edges. It's a 20 gauge with a 25-inch vent-rib barrel (seems an odd length), and the round grip-cap shape at the end of the pistol grip typical of the older guns. The trigger's gold-plated, and the triggerguard appears to be anodized aluminum. The pistol grip and underside of the forend are checkered, and the wood has a shiny finish of some sort. At some point someone added a Pachmayr recoil pad. It also has 1-inch sling swivels fitted, the rear in the usual place on the buttstock and the front mounted in the center of the magazine end cap.

The gun has relatively few markings on it, mainly on the left side and bottom. On the left side of the receiver, it has the script lettering "Twenty" and below that the conventional lettering "Browning." On the left side of the barrel at the chamber end are two lines of lettering and symbols. The top line is pretty self-explanatory:

FABRIQUE NATIONALE D'ARMES DE GUERRE HERSTAL - BELGIQUE

The second line is not so clear what it all means. It starts with two small symbols I don't recognize (sort of like asterisks, but that's not what they are), then:

ACIER SPECIAL - C.20 - CART. 2 3/4"

and finishes with several symbols that look like proof marks, as you'd expect on a European-made gun. I assume "C.20" stands for 20 gauge, and "Cart. 2 3/4" is pretty self-explanatory. Any ideas what "Acier Special" means?

On the underside of the receiver at the rear end of the magazine tube are two lines:

4Z FN
777xx

I think the 777xx is the serial number, which should make this a 1928-ish gun. "FN" presumably stands for Fabrique Nationale, but I don't know what the "4Z" means. It doesn't correspond with the serial numbering schemes on Browning's Web site or at proofhouse.com. Is this perhaps a rebuild mark of some kind?

The 1928 serial number seems odd to me. The gun seems in far too good a condition to be that old. Maybe it's been reblued, but if so, whoever did it knew his business--all the markings are clear and crisp, all the lines and edges are straight and sharp. Might the thing have gone back to FN to be redone?

For a little history on this gun, my dad bought it in France in 1965. He got it used from the base rod and gun club at Toul-Rosierres (sp?) Air Force Base when De Gaulle kicked the Americans out of France and the base was closing. As far as I know, he never changed anything on it. He has always described it as a light skeet model, though it has no markings on it that say that (unless that's what "Acier Special" means). The bore inside diameter is about 9/16" at the muzzle; I don't know what choke that translates to. Oh, and it's a fixed-choke gun--no screw-in choke tubes or muzzle devices on it.

Any info would be greatly appreciated. I'll try to get a few pix up later.

Thanks, and Semper Fi.

Ron H.
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Old 10-15-2009, 01:45 AM
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OK, here are a few pix.

Overall


Receiver left side


Barrel markings


Unfortunately, I can't tell on this lousy monitor whether these pix are any good. Still, any info would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks, and Semper Fi.

Ron H.
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Old 10-15-2009, 05:25 AM
Marksman Marksman is offline
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Congrats on a very nice Browning A5, a 20 Ga. no less. I worked at Browning's St. Louis Gunsmithing shop for many years, here is what I can tell you. Your gun appears to be a model that FN made for european sales, nearly all Browning A5's made for US sales had engraved receivers and lacked sling swivels. The 4Z is just part of the serial number as is the FN, acier is a type of steel. Sometime the marking Acier Steel is seen as well as Acier Special. The ** asterisks refer to the choke, if your gun were a skeet model the marking would be a $ sign. The recoil pad has been added, the gun left Herstal with a buffalo horn buttplate. From the crisp appearance of the Twenty and Browning lettering, your gun does not appear to be re-blued. I believe your gun was manufactured later than 1928.
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Old 10-15-2009, 06:36 AM
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I believe it was made in 1964 and has a modified choke. From 1958 to 1968, they used that serial format where the 4 represents the year, Z represents and model and 777XX is the serial number. It looks in wonderful shape - your father had good taste!


Browning choke code stamped on the barrel near lettering
* = full
*- = improved modified
** = modified
**- = improved cylinder
**$ = skeet
*** = cylinder
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Old 10-15-2009, 06:51 AM
Centenniel Centenniel is offline
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Ron, it looks as if you have a fine bird gun there. Enjoy that great old Browning. I really like the A5.
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Old 10-15-2009, 07:01 AM
Golfin' Gator Golfin' Gator is offline
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I have a Browning Sweet 16 A5 left to me by my grandfather with serial number 33xxx. I can't figure out how old it is, but I love shooting it!
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Old 10-15-2009, 07:12 AM
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Default Browning serial numbers

Browning Auto-5 History: MGW
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Old 10-15-2009, 07:33 AM
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Ron, were you at TRAB when he bought it?
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Old 10-15-2009, 01:38 PM
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Gentlemen, thanks very much for the info--very interesting. It makes sense that the gun would have been made for the European market given where Dad got it.

Mr. jgh4445, yes, I was indeed at Toul Rosierres when Dad bought the gun. I don't remember much about the place, though, being as I was only a couple months old at the time. :-D I was born at Phalsbourg in October 1965.

Thanks again, and Semper Fi.

Ron H.
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Old 10-15-2009, 07:26 PM
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That is an exceptional Browning, and a heirloom to boot. It's nice to see one of that vintage in that condition. You are lucky to have it.

I'm a big fan of A5's.

John
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Old 10-16-2009, 12:22 PM
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Small world Ron. I was there as a 6th, 7th and 8th grader from 62 to 64. My last Christmas there, just before we went home, my Dad bought me a spankin new Winchester Mod 1200 pump from that same Rod and Gun club. Couldn't wait to get back stateside to do some hunting with it.
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Old 10-16-2009, 05:14 PM
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Golfing gator, if you want to find out more about your Browning, go to shotgunworld.com. According to the research I did for my Browning your gun was manufactured in 1951.
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