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April 22, 2008

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Bourjaily: The Browning Wish List Roundup

A guest post from Shooting Editor and Shotguns Columnist Phil Bourjaily.

When I asked last week what guns you all think Browning should make I didn’t expect to read over 100 replies. Obviously, the question struck a chord. I’ve forwarded all your answers to my contact at Browning, who in turn forwarded them to the company’s firearms product managers. We’ll have to wait and see if they listen to you.

Counting up the responses (shotguns only, rifles are DEP’s area) it’s about a tie between a revived A-5, especially a Sweet 16, and a side by side. There’s good news and bad news here. The bad news: tooling for the BSS doesn’t exist anymore, and the high start-up costs aren’t justified for what would be a niche gun. It’s gone. If Browning introduced a side by side, it would have to be an existing gun, sourced from another manufacturer.  Would you buy a Spanish or Turkish Browning? I’m not sure I would.

The good news is, a new Miroku A-5 is much more likely. It would probably have to be a custom shop item, but that could include a no-frills hunting model. A Sweet 16 would be a natural, too. I’d like mine with a ribless barrel for a little less weight. 

The A-Bolt shotgun got four votes. It was a gun ahead of its time and I think there’s a market for it now. With modern slugs, it would be an absolute tack-driver by slug standards. Would you want it in 12 gauge, 20, or both?

My suggestion was for an alloy-receivered “feather” version of the BPS in 16, 20 and 28 gauge. The BPS is quality pump gun but overweight for upland hunting. If you could lose half or three-quarters of a pound with an alloy receiver and maybe a shorter magazine tube, it would make a great bird gun. Anybody else think that’s a good idea?


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The a-bolt slug gun does sell for crazy prices on the used gun market and maybe the market would be more favorable for it now.

I personally think a better solution would be to take the bps and/or a gold semi auto, permanently attach the slug barrel, drill and tap the receiver for scope mounts, clean up the triggers a bit, rework the stock dimensions (to make them more rifle like), and offer that to slug hunters.

The cost to do these mods would be less and people would have a tack driver of a slug gun @ a much lesser cost to both the consumer and browning.



Once again, I'm all for the a-bolt slug gun. I live in a shotgun only area and have always wanted one, but the prices for used ones are way too high for me. I'm sure with the new remington and hornady slugs, they could probably be just as good as a rifle.

Mike Diehl

I wouldn't buy another utility shotgun. Been there done that. Good quality utility shotguns, such as the Remington 870 Wingmaster, already exist aplenty. Slug guns are likewise a narrow niche market shotgun good for little else.

Clearly the Italian gun makers tooled up for side-by-sides and are making money at it. IMO, Browning's response to the demand is simply a case of manufacturer short-term thinking. Something like 1/3 of the replies in the other thread requested one. If Browning won't make one of their own then someone else, probably Weatherby or possibly Ruger will get my money, and likely many others' money as well.

Jason N.

Seems to me that there is a flood of turkish made firearms on the market. IMHO most of it is poorly made junk. The only thing nice about them is the price, but you get what you pay for.

Bernie Kuntz

Alloy receivers make me ill. I have a Winchester Model 50 that my Dad bought in 1961 and passed along to me. It is a decent enough gun, but the alloy receiver reminds me of a tin can and it does nothing for the balance of the gun either. If the receiver had been milled out of steel the gun would be a classic. As it is, I regard it just as another utility gun like the Rem. Model 870.

Browning did something right with the all-steel Auto-5, wonderful balance and yet not too heavy. Same thing with the Model 12 Winchester--all steel, but portable, and the most wonderfully-pointing repeater ever devised!


I'd go for a BPS featherweight in 16 guage - my current upland gun is a Charles Daly 16 guage O/U. Oh, and while we're at it.....How about getting the "Big Three" ammo makers to start offering a wider variety of 16 guage loads.


I'm all for the alloy BPS in 16. I purchased a 12 Ga BPS a couple of years ago to let my old 16 Ga Ithaca have a rest. I find myself wishing I was carrying the old featherweight after a long morning of hunting caus' I swear my knuckles are dragging on the ground from carrying the extra weight of the BPS.
I love the bottom ejection that the Ithaca and BPS have because I'm a lefty and the things keep exceptionally clean in wet and muddy conditions. Dave, you have good taste; for once it appears within my price range.


I was smart enough back in the day to buy a A-Bolt 12ga shotgun once I heard that Browining discontinued making them. Best gun purchase I have every made; Period. I think I paid $700 - $800 dollars new and on Gunbroker.com they are selling for $2300. It is light years ahead of the guys that have slapped a slug barrel onto their shotguns.

Matt in MN

I wouldn't buy a turkish SxS with or without Browning's name on it. I already tried that with the CZ. It broke after 200 rounds and the customer service was terrible.

I traded it for a Weatherby over/under (which I'm told was made by SKB) and I'm much happier. Although I still pine for a SxS. I guess I'll have to save up for a while.


Surely you jest, sir! The tooling for a side by side doesn't exist? If the Turks, the Spaniards, Italians, Brazilians and Ruger can all make side by side doubles the great imitators can! Miroku is being short sighted at best! My feeling is that they want to be able to say they listened to us and are giving us what we want then turn a quick Yen from us! FN apparently owns manufacturing rights to many former Winchester/USRAC guns why not pick up the tooling for the M 21/23 Winchesters from Hartford -- Better yet why not see if we can get some manufacturing back in Hartford!

I know the answers:
1. Ruger and many others investment cast most of the parts for their doubles, Winchester machined the parts to the classics I mentioned.
2. Reopening a plant in a blighted area will cost more than it would be worth to FN. What it would be worth to Connecticut's economy on the other hand I don't know.

As for the argument that the market for doubles is a niche; the market for all sporting arms is a niche by most economic measures!

Come on Miroku, step up to the plate!


I agree with Mike Diehl. That there are already enough niche shot guns out there. I have a Mossberg model 500 with several different barrels for it. a 30" smooth bore for upland birds, a 20" rifled barrel for slugs and hunting deer, and a 18" smooth bore riot barrel for home protection. They have served me well and kept the freezer stocked in meat. I admit it is not as pretty as a Ruger Red Lable side by side or over and under. A Benelli Legacy Sport, or even a Beretta White Onyx. But for hunting here in Michigan it does the job. I can take it out through the heavy brush of the woods, mud of the fields and the occasional splash of water and not have to worry that I have ruined it.

Tom the Troll


Hate to reply this, Phil. I fear there’s not much a person can do for that BPS without seemingly putting the proverbial bowtie on the hog.

It’s one of the most expensive pumps on the market, and there’s nothing classy or functional to rationalize it.


The A-bolt shotgun, YES!!

Having shot both 12 and 20 gauge, I would love to see this gun available in both. Both do insane damage, and the fps on the 20 gauge is impressive.


The more things change the more they remain the same...My first Browning was a Sweet 16 with a 26 inch ribless barrel. I wanted one with a rib but did not have the extra cash which amounted to several boxes of shells so I had to make a decision. Later I acquired several other A-5s and loaned the 16 to a friend. Unfortunately it burned up when his place caught on fire. Since I shoot Benellis, SKBs, or Berettas most of the time now I doubt I would buy another Sweet 16.

Bernie Kuntz

Mike, I too wish ammo companies, Remington in particular, would make a greater variety of 16 gauge loads available. Since several new guns now are chambered for 16 gauge, including two by Remington, I am surprised they do not.

Last year I visited a huge Sportsman's Warehouse store that had just opened. They had PALLETS of shotshells on the floor. I searched through the store's entire display stock and found not a single box of 16 gauge shells!

Try to find a good No. 5 maximum load sometime in 16. The last time I blundered upon No. 5s was ten or 12 years ago at a Cenex station. I bought a 20-box case of Activ No. 5s, 1-1/8 oz. They go through my Sweet Sixteen like crap through a goose. Activ was then bought out by Kent. Maybe Kent sells 16 gauge shells somewhere but I haven't seen any here.


#5 shot???? Haven't heard or seen that size shot in decades!!!

Who're the old duck hunters????

Trae B.

Ya'll look at Field @ Streams april 2008 cheers and jeers Mr. Petzal put me in there. About how I fixed a 30/30 with duct tape.

Phil Bourjaily

To J Street: I want to see a revived A-Bolt shotgun, but you're right about a pump with a fixed, rifled barrel being just as accurate. The first BPS slug guns had a couple of washers that fit between the barrel ring and the magazine cap to stop the barrel from wobbling. I put five slugs into 1 7/8 with that gun, which is probably the best group I've ever shot with slugs.
To Silver Arrow: the original Model 21 machines are all owned by Connecticut Shotgun Manfucacturing Company, who uses them to make beautiful 21s which unfortunately start at $10,000.
To T Wellert: You have to stop calling me "Dave." It is, frankly, an honor to be confused with DEP in print (in person, not so much). Like you and Dave, I also am left-handed, which probably explains my fondness for the BPS and its top safety.

Bernie Kuntz

Mark-1: No. 5 shot is readily available in 12 gauge. I was invited to a "celebrity hunt" in southwestern North Dakota a couple years ago (I am not a celebrity, although I write a weekly column for my hometown paper over there), and was issued some No. 5 Remington Express loads (1-1/4 oz.) They did the job on the roosters! Also, about a year ago I bought a 10-box case of Kent No. 5 magnums (1-1/2 oz. loads) in Wolf Point, MT. No. 5 is my favorite shot size for pheasants followed by No. 4 and then No. 6.
These are high-antimony lead loads.


Wolf Point, now that is quite an interesting place. That aside I bought a couple "flats" of Federal Premiums in #5 at Scheel's in Billings, MT two years ago. I suppose they are still available or at least hope so since they are my favorite 12 gauge rooster load. In spite of that like I have said before I still love to hunt with my pixx elm fence post stocked SKB O/U 28 ga. and 6s or 7 1/2s just to astonish my 12 gauge only friends.


Mr. Bourjaily

Thank you for your courtesy in replying directly!

To Silver Arrow: the original Model 21 machines are all owned by Connecticut Shotgun Manfucacturing Company, who uses them to make beautiful 21s which unfortunately start at $10,000.
Well that 'splains everything! At least about those machines and the M 21. Do you think they (Connecticut Shotgun MFG CO that is) could be pursuaded to do a M 23 at somewhat lower pricepoint? Would be nice indeed.

Were I a lefty I am sure the BPS and Ithaca shotguns would be more interesting to me but my Mossberg and Remington serve me quite well in the utility shotgun catagory.


Del in KS; what about Mr. Billy Dixon and his 7/8 mi. shot. No range finder, no scope, just Kentucky windage, lots of elevation, and lots of practice. He stated later, he was aiming at the fancy head dress of the medicine man who was mounted on the white horse. He effectivly ended the second battle of Adobe Walls with that shot, because the Indians felt they had lost their good medicine. If memory serves, Dixon was using a BP cartridge rifle.


After reading the posts i am now interested in the A-Bolt.

I would buy a sweet sixteen. No doubt.

Tom Fowler

Interesting comments, but perhaps Browning is privately asking its engineers, "Forgetting what we have DONE, what can we do 'better' and cheaper than we have ever done before?"

Marketing has, no doubt, already asked the same question, knowing that if Browning makes a "better" shotgun than anyone else, we will break our necks to get in line. The competition is stiffer, now, and asking what "better" is, is a smart move. Find the need, Browning, and fill it. We'll buy it. Do it in the USA and we might buy one for our kids, too.

Make it so expensive that the average Joe cannot afford it, and they'll see what a niche market is, for sure. They will be selling the slick, expensive brochures on eBay for decades, as novelty items.

Your move.

Tom Fowler

Scott Mahl

Mr. Bourjaily:

Now that my dreams of owning a BSS are forever dashed I will make a brief comment on the A-5.
It was unreliable and it kicked so hard it would make a Benelli
feel like your old, grannies kiss.

So you feel that the BSS is a niche shotgun while a 16 gauge A-5 isn't? Maybe, you and a few of the contributors here will buy enough of them to keep them a float because I can't see anyone else lining up to buy them.

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