2024 Browning A-5 20 Gauge Autoloader
Twelve years ago, Browning released their new A5: an alloy receiver Bruno Civolani action variation, commonly referenced as an “inertia gun.” The A5 has nothing at all in common with the barrel-recoiling A-5 of John Browning. However, Browning used the “A5” designation to try to build upon the prolific reputation of the classic Automatic-Five. I've already reviewed a couple of new A5 12 gauges as well as the new A5 “Sweet Sixteen.” Every year, since 2012, I've asked Browning “Where is the 20 gauge?' and every year, until now, the answer has been “there are no plans for one.”
My experience with the A5 12 gauge has been a mixed bag. However, it seems that Browning A5 sales in general have taken off quite nicely over the last few years. There are several reasons for this, not the least of which has been Benelli's severe point of impact issues that have yet to be addressed. A5's do shoot to point of aim. The A5 also has speed loading no one else has, and a reasonably generously sized cross-bolt safety that eludes most Turkish fodder. The Browning Invector Double Seal barrels are lighter and lively, lighter than Invector Plus barrels. Though the choke designations are horribly mismarked in 12 gauge, it is less of an issue in 20 gauge.
Shotshell improvements quickly hit 12 and 20 gauge for the most part, with 16 gauge ignored. While there are renewed attempts with the 3 inch 28 gauge this year, the better case capacity of the inch 20 gauge condemns the 3 inch 28 gauge to the abject failure department, as the 3 inch 20 gauge already has come close to killing off the 16 gauge. Aside from the 12 gauge, the 20 gauge is the most useful and versatile hunting gauge on the planet, made even better with Winchester Long Beard XR and Diamond Grade loads in lead, along with the several choices in tungsten-based shot types readily available in 20 gauge, along with Bismuth.
Above: the long-awaited Shaudi admires the long-awaited A5 20 gauge.
The new A5 is extremely light, coming in at 5 lbs. 11 oz. with a 26 inch barrel and an ounce more for the 28 inch barrel. I weighed the original Browning Gold 20, 26 inch at 7.0 pounds, and Browning Silver Hunter 26 inch at 6.5 pounds. My B-80 alloy 26 inch weighs 6-1/4 lbs, and the lightest 20 gauge autoloader I have is an old Benelli M2 with a 24 inch barrel that weighs 6 lbs. on the nose. The A5 is lighter than all of them, without resorting to plastic ribs or plastic trigger guards.
Here is a list of what I've personally weighed various 20 gauges at, for your amusement pleasure.
While called an “A5,” it is actually an “A4” with 3 inch shells, but an A5 with 2-3/4 inch shells. The cycling with target loads was extremely positive with target loads (above), the only loads I was able to try out in Las Vegas. Recoil was not objectionable likely due to Browning's excellent Inflex II pad, but I won't know about 1-1/4 oz. lead loads until I have an example here to spend some quality time with. I would expect the recoil to be snappy with any sub-6 lb. shotgun that isn't gas operated, with heavy loads.
As usual, I don't care for the center bead or the excessively heavy trigger, both of which can be quickly rectified. The examples Browning had all had outstanding, well-figured walnut stocks and fore-ends. The examples I inspected were all supremely well-balanced, no doubt enabled by the Invector-DS barrels. My five minute SHOT Show A5 20 gauge video is here: https://youtu.be/3x6lqCaS3ho .
Expect a very detailed review as soon as I get a 26 inch A5 20 gauge in my hot little hands. This has the potential to be Browning's best upland repeating shotgun ever and it looks to be a massive hit for Browning in 2024. The Browning published specs are currently located here: https://www.browning.com/products/firearms/shotguns/a5/a5-hunter-20-gauge.html .
Copyright 2024 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.