Auto-5 Friction Pieces

Discussion in 'Browning Auto A-5' started by Rudolph31, Dec 9, 2017.

  1. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 .30-06

    There is a lot of confusion regarding this system which is critical to proper operation. I’m going to try to clear it up by discussing the parts, how they work, what happens when they’re set up right — and set up wrong.

    Except for magnums, there are 3 parts: the Bronze Friction Piece, Friction Ring, and the Friction Spring. The picture below shows those parts along with Recoil, Magazine, Action Springs, and a Mag Spring Retainer.

    The Bronze Friction Piece (BFP) is just a brake. It’s split so that it can contract in compression around the Magazine Tube. The Friction Spring goes over it to hold it snug. For light loads, the Friction Ring isn’t used.

    The BFP sits at the top of the Recoil Spring with its bevel facing forward. This mates to a corresponding bevel in the Barrel Ring. When the gun is fired, the barrel recoils aft and the front of the BFP is squeezed causing friction, slowing the barrel’s (and the bolt it’s locked to) speed down to an acceptable level. For heavy loads, the steel Friction Ring is placed between the Recoil Spring and the BFP with its bevel forward. Now when the gun fires the BFP gets squeezed from the front and the back — doubling the braking.

    The question always asked is “What is a heavy load?” To me, a heavy 12 gauge load is anything greater than 1 1/8oz @ 1200fps. But it really depends on your gun. If you’ve replaced your Recoil and Action Springs recently you’ll find you need the light setting for all but the most powerful shells. Or if your BFP is worn and your springs weak, the heavy setting will work with light target loads. For that reason, always start out with the gun set up for heavy loads. If it won’t cycle, add a few drops of motor oil before changing to the light setting. For really heavy loads, wipe the mag tube dry before firing.
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2017
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  2. SHOOTER13

    SHOOTER13 Guest

    Thanks Rudolph...Sticky
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  3. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 .30-06

    I’ve described how the system works when it’s set up properly. Now I’d like to talk about what happens with improper set up.

    If there’s too much friction, there’s no damage to the gun, it just doesn’t function as a semi-automatic. Some Trap shooters intentionally set their guns up this way so as not to annoy the shooter next to them. (Trap shooters are notoriously thin-skinned.)

    Too little friction is the big problem. As the bolt and barrel come flying aft the rear of the bolt hits the back of the receiver, hard. In one of Art Issacson’s videos he shows where the back of a receiver has been peened out of shape by repeated blows of the bolt. If the damage is not too bad, Art can hammer it back into shape, but the gun has been weakened. And I’m pretty sure this doesn’t do the bolt group any good either.

    With too little friction the gun operates marvelously. Who suspects trouble when everything is working so well? But if your Auto-5 is recoiling hard, that’s a clue that it’s time to either reset for heavy loads, or replace parts.

    The Action Spring is most often overlooked. That’s the bolt return spring in the stock. It’s easily replaced by removing the stock screw (and its lock screw) and sliding the stock off. It’s easy to do this even if you never intend to disassemble your Auto-5 any further. You will need a set of Browning screwdrivers, however.

    The Recoil Spring and Bronze Friction Piece are easy to replace. I’ve never seen a worn steel Friction Ring, but I have seen a useless Friction Spring.

    After cleaning and oiling, I used to set my guns up for heavy loads. But after about one and a half rounds of Skeet I’d have to switch to the light setting. That got tiresome so now I use less oil and start on the light setting. Find out what works for you. Remember, you want the most friction the gun will cycle with.

    I can understand why, years ago, someone would buy a used Auto-5 and shoot it “as-is”. It probably didn’t come with a manual and those parts aren’t self-explanatory. But now, with the internet, anyone can download an Owners Manual.
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  4. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 .30-06

    Last, I’d like to talk about recoil. The Auto-5 has a bad reputation for this. It never made sense to me that a gun that has recoiling parts with energy being absorbed by two springs could recoil harder than a fixed breech gun like a pump or O/U. But I think I understand it now.

    I’ll preface my comments by saying the following is my opinion. I’m normally careful to stick to verifiable facts but I’ll climb out on a limb just this once. If anyone with a better understanding of physics wants to correct me, they’re welcome.

    Let’s take an Auto-5 with no friction parts at all, and very weak springs. At the moment of firing, the barrel and bolt will accelerate aft at incredible speed. The shooter will feel zero recoil — until the bolt slams into the back of the receiver — then he gets it all at once. In effect, the light weight of the bolt & barrel, compared to that of the entire gun, have become an Accelerator.

    Accelerators are sometimes put on guns — usually machine guns — to increase recoil for more reliable operation. The Colt Service Ace had one in the form of a floating chamber to make a .22LR cartridge approximate the feel of a .45ACP.

    We learned in High School that Force=Mass x Acceleration (F=MA). So A=F/M. In other words, the light recoiling mass of the bolt & barrel will accelerate much faster than the entire gun. We also learned that Kinetic Energy = 1/2 MV2. So although doubling the mass doubles the energy, doubling the speed quadruples it, tripling the speed increases the energy by a factor of nine.

    I don’t know how much faster our theoretical bolt & barrel go, but it explains to me how a Long Recoil gun like an Auto-5 can kick harder than a pump.

    Now look at an Auto-5 that’s set up perfectly. At the moment of firing, the shooter will feel some recoil because the friction pieces are dragging the rest of the gun aft. The Recoil and Action Springs are absorbing the energy of the bolt & barrel, and if there’s any energy left the shooter will get the rest at the end of travel. I believe there’s much less total recoil in this situation and what’s there is so spread out over time that it feels negligible.

    To me, the Auto-5 is a pleasure to shoot. For others, the strange pogo-stick action of the cycling parts is too distracting. And I admit to having most of a box of 1600fps slugs left over. No combination of dry tube and heavy setting could mitigate that kick. But, with the gun set for maximum friction, I still believe those slugs were less painful than if I’d fired them from a pump or an O/U.
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2017
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  5. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 .30-06

    Once again, thank you, Shooter.
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  6. SHOOTER13

    SHOOTER13 Guest

    No problem my always contribute your knowledge and expertise to this forum, and our membership is better for it.

    So, Thank You !!
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  7. ClemY

    ClemY Copper BB

    The Auto 5 recoil mechanism forms a spring, mass, dashpot mechanism with the recoil and action springs providing the spring force, barrel as the mass and the friction piece being squeezed to form the dashpot/drag mechanism. Barrel mass becomes pretty important. My 28”barrel with choke tubes weighs 42 oz, my 24” cut down barrel weighs 38 oz. and my 20” barrel weighs 33 oz. Each of these is going to require different settings from the friction piece to operate optimally. Using the inexpensive Federal 1 1/8 oz. loads I get from Walmart, the 28” barrel does best in the low drag setup with the drag ring below the recoil spring against the receiver and an older, slightly compressed recoil spring; the 24” does best with a new recoil spring and the friction ring against the receiver; the 20” barrel wants a new spring with the friction piece in the high drag position with the friction ring at the base of the friction piece.

    I enjoy doing a little work optimizing the performance of my recoiling guns.
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  8. M.D. from N.C.

    M.D. from N.C. Copper BB

    Well gents I was never considered the smartest kid on the block, however, I was told that unfinished homework equated into NO hunting & fishing on Saturday's during the school year. Kinda forcing me into having to use my brain! Which leads me to page two of the story. (As Paul Harvey use to say). I inherited a 1972 Belgium Browning A-5, 3 inch mag, 32 inch full choke goose gun. After getting very excited about being the first one to shoot this beast in over 45 yrs, I decided to through a few 3 inch mags in the tube and pop them off in succession, as I had never experienced shooting a semi-auto shotgun before. So out came the tube plug and in went 4 three inchers. Down to the pasture I go and sited in on an old black walnut stump. Boy did I let that stump have it! Bark, woodchips, bugs and other unidentified objects went flying sky-high. However, before all the fallout had hit the ground, I was feeling a jolt unlike I had never felt in this ole boy's shoulder in a very long time. As I shouldered up the old Browning and started heading back to the house, several groundhogs and a few squirrels I'm sure was glad to see me leaving. After getting back to the house, I went directly downstairs to my man cave and laid that Browning on my workbench as I was going to get to the bottom of such a brutal beating. After taking off the forearm and removing the brass friction ring and other friction rings, I had noticed that I was probably the first one that had ever seen the magazine tube as the factory vaseline type gel was on the tube and in the recoil spring. It was at that time I noticed a schematic that had been placed in the forearm stock, what would be later be learned Browning had placed it there. The schematic showed how one was to set up the friction rings on the magazine tube addressing what type of ammunition one would be shooting through the shotgun. It was learned that the friction rings had been set up for heavy magnum loads. My mind immediately wandered back and reflected on the beating that I had just received which made me wonder why did it kick so violently? So like a good little boy of years ago, I started doing my homework again. After researching countless forums, YouTube postings, and other informational sources, one thing was clear, confusion certainly continued to loom. Some would say you need to put 10 W 30 motor oil on the magazine tube, others would say that you need to put just a very light coating of oil on the magazine tube, others would say it needs to be totally dry in order for the friction rings to work properly. Then I read where ejection springs that have been compressed for all these years may have perhaps lost there Integrity, causing this outcome. So now here comes page two of the rest of the story. After ordering new brass friction and beveled rings and new ejection spring. I chose to clean up the factory vaseline type lube off of the mag tube. Putting on just a very light coat of special lubricant from Brownell's, wiping most of it off mind you. After setting up for heavy magnum loads, according to the schematic inside the forearm stock, I headed back down to the pasture, squirrels and groundhogs watching my every move. NOT four mags this time, but only two! Like I said earlier, "my daddy didn't raise no foul"! After drawing down on what was left of Mr. walnut stumpy, my cheek muscles were activated and I think I might have closed one eye or perhaps both and let er rip! WOW! Much to my surprise, those two rounds were actually pleasurable to shoot. I know I must have had a different look on my face than the first time as both groundhogs and squirrels had left the area completely! So now my wheels were really spinning. I run back up to the man cave, put back on all the old parts, including ample amount of lubricant, only putting two rounds in tube and squeezed em off.
    You guessed it, kicked like a mule!

    I can only speak for myself, I think in my case it was a culmination of events. Old springs, friction rings, improper amount of lubricant on magazine tube. Hope that helped gents. All I know is those groundhogs and squirrels better watch out! As Paul Harvey would say "Good Day"

    Sent from my SM-N910V using Tapatalk
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  9. ripjack13

    ripjack13 Resident Sawdust Maker Staff Member Administrator

    Thanks M.D.....
  10. mike4570

    mike4570 Copper BB

    Regarding the bronze friction piece and the steel spring. Should the gap in the spring and the gap in the friction piece align?
    I have had several old Model 11 remingtons where the gap's were offset. Just wondering....
    Thanks for any insight.
  11. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 .30-06

    I have heard both; but it’s not in the manual, and I don’t think it makes any difference. But if you want to know what I do, for no particular reason, I make sure that they don’t.
  12. Joe C.

    Joe C. Copper BB

    I've just started shooting trap and skeet with my Dad's A-5 (SN 139486, circa 1929). It hasn't been used for many years and when I was growing up he used it for small game. Long story short, I'm having a problem with the gun not ejecting some shells. When they get stuck, I need to use a pocket knife or small screw driver to pry the base out of the chamber before they come out. I've tried wrapping a piece of Emory cloth around a brass cleaning brush, mounting it in a drill and polishing the chamber for a few second. This helped, but didn't eliminate the problem. I'm thinking of doing this again until the problem stops, but didn't want to cause a bigger problem. Is this a common problem and am I on the right track to correct it?

    When the shells don't stick, the gun seems to be cycling just fine. Per the manual, it's set-up properly for light loads. I've replaced the recoil spring, friction spring and BFP and have ordered the Auto-5 Action Cycle Kit, just due to the guns age and I'm sure it's never been touched since my Dad bought it over 50 years ago. But my gut feeling is that its due to the shells and the chamber just needs to polished a bit further. Thoughts?
  13. kumpe

    kumpe .410

    I had the exact same problem with one of my Auto-5's. My problem was fixed by two things.

    The first is the one you already tried, polishing the chamber. I had to do quite a bit of polishing to make shells come out smoothly.
    I don't think you have to worry about doing it too much as long as you use a fine abrasive. I used a normal piece of cloth on a brass brush and applied a metal polishing compound.
    As for you, this made things better but not perfect.

    The second thing that fixed it for me was changing the extractor. Mine was pretty worn so I replaced it, but it could also be that the extractor spring is weakened, or that the extractor and spring slot on the bolt needs a cleaning to allow it to move freely.
  14. Ranger6

    Ranger6 .270 WIN

    I have seen this twice also. One was on reloads that had been reloaded way to many times and the base of the shell had expanded. The other time it was the same thing on new factory cheap shells. I shoot monarch shells now, there are 2 different monarch shells, here in Texas at least and if I shoot the rigid looking monarch I don’t have a problem. If I use the smooth plastic ones, I will have a problem. The brass is higher, and looks like brass on the rigid shells and looks like tin on the others. May wanna measure the base of your shells. Fired and non fired. Maybe switch to a different ammo and try it.
  15. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 .30-06

    Good advice from Kumpe and Ranger.

    The extractors may be worn, there may be crud their slots, and their springs may need replacing. The left extractor in particular is prone to breaking. Browning beefed it up and new old-style extractors may be hard to find. But the new ones can be modified.

    A change in ammo is a great idea. None of my guns like the cheap Winchester. And I have one gun that wouldn’t cycle anything other than Federal — until a friend noticed that the left extractor was broken.

    Polishing the chamber is a good idea too, but emery cloth seems like overkill. I’d use 0000 steel wool turned with a drill.

    One other thing. You’ve replaced your recoil spring. I’ve had trouble with my guns cycling target loads with a new spring in place.
  16. Joe C.

    Joe C. Copper BB

    Thanks to all for sharing your experience and recommendations. I shot 75 trap targets Wed. morning and had 3/50 Winchester Super X 1 1/8 ; #7 1/2 @ 1255 FPS shells stick in the chamber. The 25 Remington 1 1/8; #8 @ 1145 FPS all ejected just fine. The metal base height of both shells look identical, but I'm sure it only takes a little to make a difference. If staying away from the Winchester's keeps me on the firing line, so be it! PS - It's been a while since I've seen actual brass on shells, at least anything in my price range.
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  17. Ranger6

    Ranger6 .270 WIN

    There are still some with brass, but your right most are now tin cheap crap. Hard to beat 4.99-549 for a box of 12 gauge. I just bought some 16 last night. They are brass, but we’re over 9 a box.
    I don’t shoot any Winchester anymore. Every since they changed their shells. I use to reload the AA only. They were the best. Not the case anymore. My newer browning will jam every time with Winchester.
    And you won’t see a difference in the base of its out of round even the slightest. You can either mic it or use a go/no go gauge that’s used for reloading. I have even had what I thought was a go on a shell, until I tried taking it out of the gauge and it was stuck.
    Last edited: May 11, 2019
  18. ClemY

    ClemY Copper BB

    When you are replacing springs, don't forget the action spring. It is the one in the stock. Mine got crudded up and wouldn't close the action in cold weather.

    For shells, I just use the Federal shells I get from Walmart. They are inexpensive ($21/100) and seem to work fine in my guns.

    Checking extractors and polishing the chamber of an old barrel are a good place to start.
  19. Joe C.

    Joe C. Copper BB

    Action spring kit and new recoil spring w/brass friction ring are due today. After looking the gun over much more closely, I found the left extractor has broken off at the front edge of the breech block. Due to its age (~90 yrs.) I also need to replace the breech and locking blocks. Tougher call to make now. Parts, labor, shipping (plus I was thinking about having it re-blued), it will cost as much as new gun. But it's my Dad's, still shoots fine....hmmmm
    Last edited: May 13, 2019
  20. Ranger6

    Ranger6 .270 WIN

    Parts on eBay, do it yourself. Not that big of a deal. Will be as good as new and way under price of new one.

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