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April 15, 2008

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Bourjaily: What Guns Should Browning Make?

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

Last week I was lucky enough to travel to Japan with three of my gun-writing colleagues to visit the Miroku factory, which has made Browning guns since 1966. It was an eye-opening experience which I’ll be recounting in an upcoming Shotguns department. After we toured the plant, the Miroku brass gathered us in a conference room and asked “What guns should we make?” Because they thought we were firearms experts, and because they are very polite people, they carefully wrote down everything we told them. We had a lot to say, much of which, if the Japanese know what’s good for them, they will consign immediately to the Miroku shredder.

So let me put the same question to you Gun Nuts, who are the real gun buying public and therefore the experts whose opinions matter: what guns would like to see Browning make? Should they revive the A-5?  How about the A-Bolt shotgun? Or, is there something new you’d like to see come out of the Miroku factory?

Here’s your chance to be heard. Make some noise.


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If Browning were to resurrect the A-5 "Sweet 16" I would risk my wife's wrath and buy one!

Clay Cooper

What I like to see, a Browning A-Bolt 264 Win Mag with a specially made barrel to withstand the throat and barrel erosion that sealed the fate of this fantastic cartridge.

Bernie Kuntz

I have owned a Belgian-made "Sweet Sixteen" since 1971 and love it! In 2000 I won a Belgian-made Browning Gold Eagle, NRA Commemorative. I shot a Canada goose and 7-8 ducks with it. Last summer I took it out twice and shot some clay birds. Both times the son-of-a-bitch jammed when it got heated up! Bring back the Auto-5! My gunsmith lives in Sheridan, WY and offered to test fire it, but he hasn't been to town in some time.

I also believe a high-quality .22 bolt-action repeater along the lines of Kimber and Cooper would be a success. Classic-style stock with decent wood, 22-lpi checkering, a good bedding job, and high quality bluing--I'd buy one for sure!

Mike Diehl

Browning should make a good side by side hammerless double shotgun in 12ga. It should have a vent rib and two triggers. It should have classic American or English lines. It should have bluing so damb rich, dark, and polished, that at high noon under a clear October sky you can see constellations reflected in the metal. It should have modest, tasteful engraving that lightly embellishes the appearance. It should have attractive wood that makes you drool like a starving man looking at a stack of pancakes. It should be reliable, and cost less than $4001 US dollars.

It should not have wierd allegedly "ergonomic" holes in strange places that make you think the whole thing was designed by Picasso to be a wall-hanger. It should not have a ventilated rib that looks like a cross between a modern kinetic sculpture and the Golden Gate Bridge. It should not look like a Hollywood prop cast off from the "special effects department" of a B-movie space opera.


I agree with Mike Diehl, and would add they should make that shotgun in 16 gauge and 20 gauge, too.


Living in a state where rifles chambered in pistol calibers were just made legal for deer hunting, I'd like to see an 1885 low wall or high wall in a selection of pistol calibers and especially the .357 Maximum.


I'd love to see a "working grade" over/under. Yes, the Citoris are fine guns with beautiful recievers and finish. So fine in fact that I a)haven't yet justified buying one, and b)would think twice about carrying it far afield. I love fine firearms as much as the next guy, and cherish the ones I have. I'd also love a solid, reliable over/under that didn't break the bank.


Mike Diehl

We agree again!

I would like to see the BSS in both 12 and 20. I possessed a 20 for a short period of time and truly adored it. Beavertail fore end and straight stock! Wow!

Like Boilermaker, I would also like to see the B78, but in some standard (non-magnum) calibers. I would love to see anybody chamber a rifle in the old .300 H&H. Especially in a single-shot, falling block type action!

An A5 Sweet 16 would be scarfed up as soon as I could find one, even though I don't care for the A5!

Last but not least, would be a resurgence of the Jonathan(sp) Browning Mountain Rifle. I was able to hold one once! It felt fantastic and looked awesome! In forty-five and fifty caliber, please!

In the late 70's, Browning offered a double rifle in standard, (.270 Win - .30-'06 Spgf - 7mm Rem Mag) calibers. Don't know if they still do, but dreams of a .270 Win double rifle gives me shivers!




The double rifle was offered through their "Custom Shop" only!
Don't think it was ever in production!



Echo on Mike Diehl and KJ above with one more hope; no bleeping choke tubes! Take the time to choke the barrels the right way! Yes make it in 12, 16 and 20 guages. This would not be an all around shotgun anyway rather the one we bring out on Opening Day or when the Old Man joins us. If it is light enough it may be the one I choose for grouse in the mountains. No need for hideous screw in tubes there.

Oh and since the Japanese love baseball so much let me throw them a curve; allow for special orders on stock fit. I am a relatively big guy and 14 inches length of pull is a tad short for me.


I think that the A-5 in limited production would see some sales. A lot of folks like me loved them in the old days and still have a few with little interest in acquiring a new oriental version. Perhaps they could create a .410 of appropriate scale as well as a 3.5 incher for waterfowl.
Bring back the .22 semi-auto pistol in whichever grade that might be of interest as well as the breakdown .22 semi-auto rifle in short, LR, plus a magnum, and maybe the trombone.
I would be interested in another generation of Safari grades in Mauser action since the A-bolt leaves me cold due to a couple mechanical shortcomings. Manufacture it in at least two action lengths. M-42s, M-12s, '95s and others have already been done in years past and the T-bolt is back so what is left? Maybe a '97 that would be of interest to the cowboy shooters? I always liked the three pistol sets in the cases but could never afford them. Apparently someone could so throw out a few boxes of .25 baby, .380 pre-adj sights, and 9 mm Hi-Power in a higher grade or two.
None of the above will make them any money due to initial investments and limited sales potential. Old die hard Browning lovers like me already have what they want and the kids only see stainless and plastic. Just throw my ideas in the shredder as well.


I too agree with Mike Deihl as well, I want to see a good side by side but also in 20!


Let's see...

Ditto the A-5 Sweet Sixteen.

1885 Highwall in classic calibers like 45/70, 30/40 Krag along with the more modern non-belted stuff

86 Winchester in the old west calibers

The Old Browning 92 was also a charmer, I'd like to see it return

Left hand A-Bolts in the same short and long action calibers available to right handers, add 6.5 X 55 to that list maybe even the 7 X 57... No high gloss please...

Even better idea on the A-Bolt call it the A-Bolt Classic make it in left and right hand chambered for the classics like the .257 Roberts, 6.5 X 55, 7 X 57, 8 X 57 maybe even one of the 9.3's. I would bet they would sell evey one they could make.

While we are wishing perhaps the above "Classic" could be made up on Mauser Actions. Since Browning has always had an international flavor they could buy the actions from the Serbs (Remington is) and reintroduce if you will, the old "FN Type" Mauser action sproting rifles.

Bring back the A-Bolt rimfire. A left hand version of same would be nice. No high gloss please...

Trash the X-Bolt, Keep the A-Bolt

Do away with the ergonomic, Euro type stocks on all product lines.


Thanks SA

I had forgotten about those )(*&*^%^*( choke tubes, and I agree!
A double gun should have the left barrel choked tighter than the right: full-mod/mod-imp cyl. But, progress from there to imp cyl/imp cyl and skeet/skeet!



One other thought, remember the .30-'06 that Browning once made in a S X S? Do the same thing in say .470, .500, .600 etc. at a price considerably less than English or European verisons. It could be a plain jane using gun that we commoners could afford if we really wanted to even if we had to sell a few favorites to make the acquisition. By the way look at the price of old Browning S X S 12 gauges on Gunbroker, a good one apparently will fetch quite a few bucks. Perhaps that situation needs revisiting in all gauges.


I love the A-5, as do the rest of the males in my family. Up until the late '90s, it was THE autoloading shotgun, as far as we were concerned, due to its unquestionable reliability.

Browning should not bring it back. The Benelli inertia technology is just as reliable and weighs a lot less. Were gas loaders still the only alternative, my answer would be different.


I love the A-5, as do the rest of the males in my family. Up until the late '90s, it was THE autoloading shotgun, as far as we were concerned, due to its unquestionable reliability.

Browning should not bring it back. The Benelli inertia technology is just as reliable and weighs a lot less. Were gas loaders still the only alternative, my answer would be different.


I will hurry out and buy a BAR with rotary magazine similar to the X-Bolt. This should slim down the profile and reduce a bit of weight.
These should be available in nice wood or composite stock. Standard calibers, of course.


I wonder if Petzal read THE 47TH SAMURAI prior to this trip.


Bring back the A-5. I would buy one.

Chad Love

As much as I would love to see my beloved A-5 rise from the ashes, I don't think it's going to happen and I can tell you why in one word: Benelli.
As near as I can tell, a Benelli SBEII contains about, oh, $27 worth of raw materials and it probably costs about, oh, another $27 to actually roto-mold and stamp that $27 worth of materials together into something that roughly approximates a firearm.
Benelli (or Beretta, rather) then sells this fusion of cheap plastic and sheetmetal for around $1600, which gives them plenty of profit margin to then sink lots of dough into a very persuasive marketing campaign that hooks even more hunters and thereby closes the loop and continues the cycle.
And before all you Benelli guys start howling, yeah, I know they work, and work wonderfully. But they're way overpriced for what you actually get.
Now take an A-5. Look at the machining and finish work required for all those intricate parts. I just don't see how Miroku could bring back the A-5 and make it competitive with simpler, less complex guns that work at least as well (and I say that begrudgingly).
Would I love to see it? Absolutely. Would I buy one? In a heartbeat. Would the rest of the great, unwashed shooting masses (present online company excluded, of course)? Highly unlikely.

The American gun market is driven by fad, gimmickry and herd mentality. I think neither the A-5 nor the BSS has a chance at self-supporting market share in today's shooting world.

Having said that however, I think the BSS or some other quality, mid-priced SXS would have a far better chance than the A-5.
My reasoning is that pretty much anyone who wants an A-5 either has one or can find one fairly easily. There are literally millions of them out there.

Not so for good quality, reasonably-priced modern doubles. Just try finding a BSS or an Ithaca 100 or 200 or an older Miroku. I still wake up every morning, roll out of bed and kick myself square in the ass for not buying a beautiful little European-market Miroku 20-gauge double I passed on 12 years ago.
I didn't make that same mistake when I had a chance at a mint Miroku Charles Daly Superior grade O/U a while back.

Everyone knows Miroku makes great guns, and if (and this is a big if) they could bring out a well-made, nicely-balanced, nimble SXS in the $800-950 range I think they'd sell a boatload of them because there are a lot of guys who crave that. I'd sure buy one.

The A-5, IMHO, has the whiff of nostalgia about it while a reasonable, non-clublike BSS clone I believe is more of an unfullfilled market need.

Mike Diehl

I'm with SA and Bubba on the choke tubes. Leave 'em out. I want my double with full (left)/ modified (right) chokes. There's good places in this world for screw in choke tubes on shotguns, but not on the double I'd prefer.

Jason N.

I agree with the BSS coming back in 12,20,16,28. Since Browning produces Winchesters, how about the model 21 sxs or the model 42 pump in .410.


I agree with you guys about A-5s. Back in the sixties, seventies, and eighties that gun was about all I used. Then came steel shot (all my A-5s are old Belgiums) so I now have five Benellis (3 are mine and 2 belong to the kid). If I only had one shotgun it would be an SBE, it can be used effectively for anything.


Another vote with Mike Dhiel on the shotgun. I'd personally like it in SxS 16ga. Like another person noted, a SxS double-rifle in a deer caliber would be cool as crap. Since it's something for "relatively" short range (at least that's my idea of a double rifle), 30/30, .270, or even .45/70 would be fantastic. Lastly, could they make more of the 1885 High Walls with an elongated tang for Vernier sights. None of them need to be terribly fancy. A beautiful gun gets me going as much as the next guy, but it's beauty often seems somewhat diminished if I can't afford it. So classic doesn't have to be fancy, but it should look nice and be affordable (approx. $1000ish) if that's not too much of a pipe dream.

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