First Year Auto-5

Discussion in 'Browning Auto A-5' started by Rudolph31, Feb 3, 2014.

  1. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 .30-06

    I'd given up on finding an A-5 made in 1903 so I bought a 1908 Remington. It certainly LOOKS like the first guns. Well, someone was selling a gun in the 2000 range and it arrives tomorrow. I'm very interested in comparing these guns. For example, I was surprised to find that the locking block on the Remington has rails on both sides. As this rail is a weakness of the design I'm curious to see if the first guns from FN had this stronger feature also.

    More to follow...
  2. SHOOTER13

    SHOOTER13 Guest

    Looking forward to some pictures Rudolph...!!
  3. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 .30-06

    Haven't got it yet. Snow storm slowed down FedEx and it arrived Thursday afternoon. I had to leave on a four day trip Thursday morning and can't pick it up until Monday.
  4. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 .30-06

    Picked up the 1903 yesterday. Overall good condition. Somewhere along the line it was re-blued and the receiver engraving suffered a little. Original barrel but the front sight has been replaced by a fiber optic! The forearm was replaced with a later, varnished one that doesn't match the original, oiled buttstock.

    I was going to shoot it but a quick check showed the chamber was 65mm. Will have to make some short shells first.

    Obviously not a pristine example but they only made 4121 Auto-5s in 1903 and probably less than 3000 of those came to the US. I consider myself very lucky to have gained custody of this one.

    Pictures eventually..
  5. Billythekid

    Billythekid Administrator Staff Member Administrator

    Hey Rudolph thanks for the update. Its pretty awesome that you own a piece of A5 history and amazing to own a browning that is over 100 years old and still in working order. look forward to seeing the pics when you get a chance.
  6. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 .30-06

    Thank you. I tried fitting a modern barrel today, but the extension couldn't get past the bolt. It looked like the ejector was the problem. I have a friend making some 65mm shells and we will try shooting them tomorrow.
  7. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 .30-06

    OK, I'm going to try to post a few pictures..

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    Last edited: Jul 5, 2017
    SHOOTER13 likes this.
  8. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 .30-06

    I've gotten this Imgur thing down...

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    You can see the fine threads on the magazine tube. According to Martin, they switched to coarse threads in 1906.

    Also, when the receiver was re-blued, the mag tube was polished but they left the threads and the tip dark.
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2017
    SHOOTER13 likes this.
  9. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 .30-06

    Forearm is not original.

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    Last edited: Jul 5, 2017
    SHOOTER13 likes this.
  10. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 .30-06

    Well, I shot the 1903 tonight. It shot--GREAT. We used AA's cut down to 65mm and Hartin Crimped. Makes an easy alternative to roll crimps. Not a hiccup, not a spit shell. Lots of broken clays.

    A detailed tear down and cleaning is next.
  11. Billythekid

    Billythekid Administrator Staff Member Administrator

    The a5 looks great!! And even better that it still shoots great.
  12. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 .30-06

    Most of what I learned about EARLY Auto-5s I learned from these posts on Shotgunworld by a man named Martin:


    http://www.shotgunworld.com/bbs/viewtop ... 3&t=216472

    I've learned about the function of the gun by watching the videos available on artsgunshop.com, the armorer's course offered by AGI, and by working on my own collection.

    Many changes were introduced to the Auto-5 in 1904, so I was very curious to see what mechanical differences I would find in this first year example. I won't try to replicate the excellent work that Martin has done in his posts, but to add my own observations. The safety, barrel and receiver addresses, lock screws, etc. have all been covered elsewhere. These posts are about what's INSIDE the gun.
  13. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 .30-06

    I stripped the shotgun down yesterday. The first difference I noticed was the Action Spring Tube. The pin securing the wooden plug is normally driven out with a punch through holes drilled in the side of the tube. On this gun, the pin is twisted out via a spiral slot. I wonder how much manufacturing time was saved by changing it to a simple drilled hole.

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    It seems the gun was designed to allow removal of the action spring by twisting the action spring plug with a screwdriver. Explains why the plug is all chewed up.
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2017
  14. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 .30-06

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    From this angle the Breech Block looks the same. Note the shape of the Operating Handle.
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2017
  15. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 .30-06

    But here you can see slots for the Locking Block rails on BOTH sides.

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    And 2 views of the Locking Block:

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    Note that the rail on the right side is twice the height of the one on the left. (2mm vs 1mm). I don't know when the change to a single rail was made but my 1924 gun has one rail. My 1908 Remington Automatic also has 2 rails.

    According to Art's, the rails on the locking block were prone to break and were beefed up in the late '50s. For that reason a worn rail requires a new bolt also as the thin railed parts are not available. An expensive fix that may have been unnecessary if FN had left it the way JMB designed.
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2017
  16. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 .30-06

    Breech Block and Locking Block.

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    Last edited: Jul 5, 2017
  17. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 .30-06

    Trigger Plate assembly. Early "Suicide" Safety, but basically the same for 95 years. Note the roller on the hammer, a feature omitted in (I think) the '70s. That change resulted in galling of the mainspring and guns that wouldn't fire. It seems that JMB knew what he was doing.

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    Last edited: Jul 5, 2017
  18. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 .30-06

    Bottom of the receiver showing the serial number. That "5" is really a "3"!

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    Last edited: Jul 5, 2017
  19. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 .30-06

    Some pictures of the butt stock. Very nice wood, though 110 years of use has worn the checkering flat.

    The S/V book says the serial number should be on the stock, but there's no sign of it here.
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    This is where the serial number is normally found.

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    Original hard rubber butt plate was replaced long ago by the later bone variety.

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    Last edited: Jul 5, 2017
  20. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 .30-06

    Receiver shots. Notice the clearance cuts for the bolt milled into the back. This keeps the firing pin from contacting the rear of the receiver, preventing an inadvertent discharge if the gun is hand cycled with live ammo. The Remington used a fiber buffer instead, making re-bluing problematic.

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    Last edited: Jul 5, 2017

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