Browning A5 Sweet 16: A Complete Review and Buyers Guide

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Introduction

The journey of progression that saw Browning Sweet 16 evolve into the current state is one you will love catching up with. The original old Auto-5 Sweet 16 saw a rigorous production process that began in 1902 when John Browning designed the first Auto-5, which turned out as a very functional semi-automatic shotgun. From then, Fabrique Nationale, a Belgian, took the production and proceeded with that for the next 75 years till 1977.

Production later moved to Miroku, Japan, which proceeded for the next 23 years. In these years of production and remodeling, the Auto-5s were made in 12, 16, and 20 gauges, with the sweet 16 version getting the attention of a majority of users then. You may also want to check out other 16 gauge shotguns. Sweet 16 was loved so much was its ability to combine the abilities of gauges 20 and 12. It was until the year 2000 that the last run of Auto-5 was sold.

How it Came to Be

The old A-5 was not popular for nothing. Its unique humpback profile and its long-recoil action with the moving barrel made it reliable and a preferred choice to almost every gun user. It was so popular that if someone didn’t own it, they at least knew someone who did.

Between the period when the old Auto-5 aged and when the new Sweet 16 was introduced, the browning company introduced a more modern inertia-operated shotgun known as the A-500, which was to be renamed A500R. This gun was only produced for a few years, and the Browning team had to move ahead to something better.

After several attempts to come up with an outstanding gas-operated auto gun, which saw the introduction of discontinued gun versions like the B80, B2000 and A500G, Browning decided to bring in something new. In the year 2012, they introduced the A5, which came in as a 12 gauge gun. In 2016, however, during the 2016 SHOT show, the A5 was reintroduced as A5 sweet sixteen thanks to its 16-gauge features. It is this A5 sweet 16 that we want to focus on today in this guide.

Buyer’s Guide: What to Expect from this Beauty

Features

You may feel motivated already to buy this iconic gun, but before making that step to own one, you may want to know what to look out for in this gun. I gathered some of the general features you can check out for before settling for a reliable A5 sweet 16. Have a look.

The Inertia Action

The A5’s inertia action, which is also called Kinematic drive-by Browning, is an outstanding feature that you must look for when buying the gun. It allows you to keep the outer bolt housing in place while the A5’s recoil moves the gun to the rear. This action helps eliminate the need to have the recoil move the barrel to the rear and push the bolt back to its original position as in the original A-5.

The inertia action applies pressure to an interior bolt spring, which in return powers the bolt backward making the rotary head to twist free of the barrel, which cocks the hummer and ejects the hull. When all these happen, the spring in the stock forces the bolt forward to chamber the new shell and close the bolt.

Detachable Trigger

The A5’s trigger is detachable, and you can easily do this by pushing out the two cross pins and giving it a yank or a pull. As you check closer, you should expect a trigger housing made of aluminum as well as the trigger blade. It has a push-through safety button at the rear of the trigger guard and a bolt latch in front of the trigger guard. This allows the assembly guard to lock when the magazine is empty. The bolt latch can also help release a shell from the magazine to load into the chamber.

New Invector DS Screw Chokes

The A5 sweet sixteen comes with three of the new invector DS screw chokes. They are flush-mounted and are about 2.9 inches long, which gradually compress the shot to avoid deformation. The DS (Double Seal), refers to the choke‘s brass branded seal at the back and front threading at the muzzle. While screw chokes threaded at the muzzle allow carbon to build up between the choke and the bore, the invector DS brass back seal perfectly prevents this. 

‘Grade 1’ Wood 

One other thing I find appealing, and you would want to check out for it the high-quality wooding on the A5 sweet sixteen shotguns. The wood on this gun has a nice finish in a high-gloss synthetic. The wood’s checkering is a result of a perfect machine-cut, which is well executed in an attractive 18 lines per inch pattern to give it an executive look.

Slender Forearm

The gun has a slender forearm or forend, which makes the gun light and easy to handle, move around and lend in the air. This forend features ergonomic wood construction that offers a perfect grip making the gun stable in your hand for better shooting accuracy.

Adjustable Stock

The stock comes with six shims that fit between the head of the stock and the receiver’s rear, which helps you easily adjust the height and cast off the shaft. Three of the shims will help you adjust the stock’s height only while the other three will adjust both height and cast.

The Two Loading Options

When you go purchasing the A5 sweet sixteen, you will have to check or ask about the gun’s loading options available during the trials. First, there is the normal option for semi-auto guns where you drop the shell into the ejection port and push the bolt-closing button and then place the next shell into the magazine. The second option is the Browning’s speed loading plus where you feed the first shell into the magazine, which it automatically chambers and the closes the bolt.

Upon confirmation of the above features, you will be sure that you are settling for a genuine A5 sweet sixteen shotgun. Let us now see the advantages of getting the new A5 sweet sixteen shotgun below.

What I Love about it

  • Smaller, lighter receiver for reduced weight.
  • It offers a sleek feel in your hands.
  • It is made entirely of steel with wooden stock for durability.
  • Attractive and good looking.
  • Comes packaged in an ABS case with storage holes to hold the disassembled gun.
  • The Inflex II recoil pad at the end of the stock improves its looks and reduces snagging on your cloth.
  • Kinematic drive system.

What I Don’t Like

  • The supplied shims don’t quickly move the barrel up enough to measure.

What is the Difference between the Original Browning Auto-5 and the New Browning A5 Sweet Sixteen?

The original A5 Browning shotgun had some structural and functional differences that set it apart from the new sweet sixteen. While these differences may not be major ones, knowing about them could help you differentiate the two and settle for the sweet sixteen much easier. Let us see what sets them apart below.

Receiver

One distinguishing factor between the standard and the new sweet sixteen would be the receiver. The sweet sixteen’s receiver is hollows out in usually four spots taking shape reminiscent of half-moons. The original one, on the other hand, had a distinctive squared-off humpbacked receiver. The new sweet sixteen’s receiver is of aluminum, which gives it the resilient strength against corrosion. The standard one, on the other hand, had its receiver mostly made of steel.

Barrels

The barrels on the older versions where the barrel ring mounts on the mag tube come with three holes drilled out to ease some weight away. On the other hand, the sweet sixteen enjoys a total barrel dynamics, which helps to extract the overall performance from this revered gauge (g 16). 

Feel and Texture

There is a real difference in how the two guns feel, and their texture would easily tell them apart. The old A5 has a thinner wood finish that offers less grip; hence it is less stable in the hands than the new sweet sixteen. The new one has a checkered finish on the stock, making it attractive but sturdy to hold hence more stable in the hands than its predecessor.

Weight

With time the sweet sixteen came into the picture. One of the things that the manufacturers shelved from the older version was some excess weight from the stock and the forearm. This meant that the outcoming sweet sixteen had to weigh lesser than the original one.

‘Sweet Sixteen’ Designation

Initially, all A5 sweet sixteen had the ‘Sweet Sixteen’ designation inscribed on the receiver’s left side, which automatically reminded you that you were holding a sweet sixteen shotgun. However, over the years, the new sweet sixteen has evolved, and the guns have been refinished with the latest ones having the designation removed. 

Safety

The older versions had the safety pins on the trigger guard’s front that slid back and forth through the trigger guard. These initial safety pins were considered unsafe, and they had to be replaced with at least two subsequent safety styles in the latest version. So essentially, the new sweet sixteen offers safer operations than what the old version did. 

Shooting the New A5 Sweet Sixteen

After settling for the sweet sixteen shotguns, you have many expectations running in your mind about how the gun is going to function. The shooting experience can be very smooth and fun when you do everything right. So let us find out what happens after the purchase deal is sealed.

When bought, the gun comes out of the box very dry. After a few shots, it may start to fail to cycle the shells. The perfect shells you can consider for this gun include the Fiocchi 1-oz number 8. They offer a maximum speed of up to 1.156 fps, which are lighter for increased air velocity. Since the gun comes out when dry, you may consider applying some oil to smoothen the shooting process.

Convenience

I believe the speed loading gun plus feature would be more convenient than the standard option for semi-auto shotguns to load the gun. The gun’s trigger pull will appear a bit heavier than the overall weight of the gun. It weighs about 6.25 pounds, which is still a bearable weight for an entire operation. The trigger has a bit of creep, but its likely you won’t feel it because of the heavy trigger pull.

If you have a full face and a short neck, the sweet sixteen’s stock design would be a perfect fit. The drop of 1.75 inches at the nose area on the stock helps you better view the hump. If you do not have the full face and short neck, you have to lift your face over the stock.

Comfortably expect a perfectly stable operation despite the gun being delightfully light for field carry. It doesn’t whip about when shooting thanks to its long barrel. The gun comes packaged in a black ABS take-down case, ideal for car travel but not for demanding travel escapades.  

It comes with the two extra chokes and wrench, stock lengths, spacers, cable trigger lock, manual, and six height shims. Its manual is unique as it gives you a detailed guide on how to use the gun. This ensures you have a comfortable time during the assembling and disassembling of the firearm.

Most Popular Browning Sweet 16 Accessories

Final Verdict

The Browning sweet sixteen is a revolutionary gun with outstanding features that will meet your expectations and exceed them. Mainly used for hunting, the sweet sixteen will improve your success score in the fields. Remember to have extra magazines for convenience during your hunts; this helps you reduce wastage of time refilling the magazine. 

Do not forget to check out the features that define a modern sweet sixteen before making a purchase. Ensure you check the inertia action, new DS screw chokes, detachable trigger, and adjustable stock, among other features. Do not keep waiting any longer; get yourself a new sweet sixteen shotgun and join the rest in enjoying this gun’s excellent features.

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