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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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Can't see buying any gun that is a pain to find ammo for unless it's almost free, which explains my Swede Mauser hunting rifle, when I bought it I spent all of $80.00 but had to scrounge for reloadable brass, now it isn't so bad but 15 years ago just try to find 6.5x55 in anything other than military surplus ammo. I was even buying the surplus ammo and pulling bullets to get primed brass to load with hunting loads!

It's the same problem with 16ga shotguns, only the shotguns are alot more than $80!
Makes it not worth the bother in my book, I'll stick with buy'em anywhere 12ga shotguns and ammo and 20 or even .410 for youth sized guns works out much better in the long run IMO.


I'd buy a lighter weight 16 ga BPS in a second. Hope they go for your idea.


Bernie & Mark:

Fiocchi makes a dandy high brass 16 guage load - it's called the "Golden Pheasant" - 1 1/8 oz of #5 nickle plated shot @1310 fps knocks the roosters down for keeps!


Scott Mahl: If you had taken the time to understand how to properly oil the magazine and set the rings on your A-5 to match your shotgun shell loads, you would never have found a more reliable gun. Felt recoil certainly does not exceed that of any other shotgun of similiar weight. I own or have owned dozens of these guns so speak with some degree of experience. If I had to guess I would suppose you to be a gas gun shooter. Insofar as the recoil of the Benellis my kid starting shooting 3 1/2 inchers in his SBE at 15 years old at geese plus 2 3/4 or 3 inchers in his 20 gauge at pheasants and never complained of excessive recoil. Surely it must not bother others noting the number of Benellis afield in the Rockies. Just my opinion...nothing more


If Browning tooled up again for the bolt action twelve gauge, they could use the same action for the .505 gibbs, and maybe the .600 nitro.


Thanks to the Keystone State we get at least another 8 weeks of the friggin Clintons. That puts me in a Barrett ... not Browning state of mind. Can anyone spot me $10large for a new Barrett range toy with a few boxes of ammo?

Mike Diehl

Ironically, a good side by side or over-under double may be the only kind of shotgun that Senator Obama wants to "allow" you to own.

Jim in Mo.

Trae B. Are you sure April issue? Not mine.

Dr. Ralph

It's the May issue that comes out in April Trae B., but I saw it and laughed my ass off! Congratulations and send all your relatives a copy and a roll of Duct Tape... Hanging Chad's got an article on page 41 of the April issue! They love us.

Jim in Mo.

DR. R, Just like this blog my F&S comes later than everyone elses but April issue did have a post from someone from Clay's hometown.

Trae B.

Yea it is the May issue but I got it in april. screwed me up a bit.
Well thats one of my dreams to check off, gettin in a Field and Stream.

Scott Mahl


With all due respect sir, you are assuming way too much. My opinion on the A-5 was not just my own but several other shotgunners as well. As far as cleaning them is concerned it is not rocket science and yes I am familar with the o-rings. I tend to value actual field experience with the A-5s rather than arm chair philosophy and my experience with them has not been favorable.

No, I am not a gas auto guy and I actually own 2 bennellis. Previous contributors had commented on their recoil but I was not one of them. Gas autos tend to kick less but I don't think that their recoil isn't that bad and I shoot pretty heavy waterfowl loads through them. I just think that the A-5s kick worse and I am certainly entitled to my opinion just as you are.

Seriously though, my main point is why are we as shooters constantly forced to be ok with mediocrity? Why can't one American shotgun maker come out with a SBS that handles well, has an attractive wood and finish and does not bankrupt you? How about a shotgun that costs $1,000 as a field grade and $1,500 in a premier grade? Why do I have to settle for a Turkish model if I want an affordable SBS? I am just a little disapointed that out of all of the responses to this blog all that came out of it was a lightweight bps, a bolt action slug gun and a custom A-5.

Dr. Ralph

Is Miroku shotguns only? Then why does my Browning lever action .22 say "Made in Japan"?... and all of my bro-in-law's rifles? I still think that pretty little Browning semi-auto would sell in other rim-fire chamberings.

Mike Diehl

As I recall the Ruger Gold Label is an American made SBS that is very good quality not mediocre, if you can get one.

But you're not going to get high quality fit and finish for $1000 any more. Much less in a SBS. And the kind of finish one could get in a $1500 shotgun is not going to set it apart from ordinary working guns. Partly that reflects real mfr costs and partly it's the fact that firearm prices have been inflated by, well, less-than-discerning types who will shell out $1000 or more for a synthstock military looking thang. So as long as firearms makers can get $1K for crap, they're not going to offer up some really sweet fit n finish double (for which there is less demand) at the same price they charge for crap.

That's why I'm willing to run into the $4K-$5K range. I want a sweet double for hunting that, when I become too ancient to walk, I can pass on to my son or his offspring and they'll look on it as something quite out of the ordinary.

Jim in Mo.

Mike Diehl,
Your mention of the Ruger GL sbs. I'm not so sure about it either. Despite the high cost, when it came out and was tested a gun mag writer mentioned that the barrels were so thin that a slight knock would dent one.


Odd how things occur in life. In my small town newspaper today there were three shotguns for sale.
Remington 1100, 12 ga, well used $200.00
Winchester Defender, like new, $260.00...AND for the first time I have seen one for sale outside a gun show in years:
Browning Sweet 16, made in Belgium, excellent condition, $995.00
They have come a long ways from the $139.00 for my Sweet 16 I paid back in '68 but then you rarely ever see one anymore.


Scott Mahl: In response I would like to add that all the A-5's that I have owned have been shot as often as possible by me, various relatives and hunting partners. Like I have stated previously don't buy a used gun from me because it definately has been used but not abused. Considering that the design of the A-5 was in production and sold to happy customers for almost 100 years lends considerably to the general consensus of opinion of the design. I also point out the various "generics" of the basic same gun such as those made and marketed by Remington, Savage, plus Pointers etc. was also sold with a resonable degree of success. Impossible to convince me that the A-5 does not rank among the most reliable of all repeating shotguns. Even Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker liked them with barrels sawed off so short that supposedly the weight was below the minimum to provide optimum function. The Army Air Corps once prefered, I believe probably St. Louis Remingtons, for training aerial gunners. By the same token we all rave about the pointability, reliability, and other positive characteristics of the M-12. I agree since I have had quite a little experience with numerous models of that gun. BUT have you ever seen anyone who was happy with the 3 inch magnum version? There is a reason those numbers are limited. I agree with your last paragraph in its entirety concerning an American made S X S or O/U but am still somewhat perplexed about your problems with the A-5. I wonder what actually caused the difficulties since you obviously maintained yours properly.
I have often pondered why Remington can't produce an O/U that is a market success. Yes there was the 32, 3200, and others but none really took the driver's seat like 101's, some Berettas, or even the more recent Rugers. Big Green's latest efforts generally were merely marketing someone else's products.
Scott, again I appreciate you expressing an interest in my comments.


I had the privilege to shoot a BPS 12 gauge, 3" chamber, 28" barrel, synthetic stocked shotgun. All I fired were low brass target loads, so cannot really comment much on recoil. It shouldered and pointed well. It seemed to balance well. If I were to buy one I would look for a walnut stocked pretty one. As I remember, this model didn't seem to be overweight or too light. I think it would be a dynamite slug gun.

I always wanted an A-5 standard field gun with 2 3/4 inch chamber with 30 inch full choke barrel. When the steel shot syndrome hit us, that did away with alot of great designs. Kind of like the manufacturers dropped the ball. Maybe I'm wrong, but that's my perception. It seems like it took the manufacturers and the hunters awhile to (fully?) accept the steel shot idea. Now I see some guns that shoot steel shot pretty effectively. Too many mandates from Washington screw up alot of old traditional things, guns, cars, etc. It takes time for people to digest all this red tape.

Would I buy a BPS with an alloy receiver? I don't think so. I'd probably go for a Franchi AL-48 first, they had alloy receivers 30, 40 years ago? The ones I was familiar with were very good and reliable, and well balanced.

Scott Mahl


Very good comments on your part! I would never attempt to change your mind on the A-5 and I admit that it is a classic firearm and there are of course shooters like yourself who have had very positive experiences with them. The great thing about this blog is the contributions that everyone brings to it. I appreciate your response and have always valued differences of opinion.

I simply do not buy into the notion that we cannot get a good $1,500 SBS. Manufacturing costs be damned I really believe that no one is making one because they don't think they will sell. I waited for years for that Ruger SBS and when I did finally see one I picked it up from the rack and quickly put it back down. A non existent stock and 2 long, ungainly barrels on it. It had all of the balance of a couple of 2x4s. Is that all that we can get for $2,000? There had got to be a better way.

As far as the Remington O/Us are concerned well, I am not really sure why the 101s did so well and not the other models. Maybe, they set the standard that the other models could not live up to.

Anyway, I would like to think that the gun makers will at some point start listering more to the persons who buy their products rather than some suit who thinks he knows what we want.

Mike Diehl

"Your mention of the Ruger GL sbs. I'm not so sure about it either. Despite the high cost, when it came out and was tested a gun mag writer mentioned that the barrels were so thin that a slight knock would dent one."

According to their website it was redesigned with production scheduled this summer. I've heard lots of claims however that only well connected distributers get access to new Ruger stuff like the LCP, and I recall a while ago hearing that a Gold Label was harder to find than an honest congressman.

Right now I'm mostly eyeballing the Weatherby Athena d'Italia.

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