Browning Auto-5 Pawn Shop Find

Shadowrider

Sharpshooter
Special Hen
Joined
Jan 28, 2008
Messages
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Tornado Alley
I thought I'd share the "rescue" I did.

I've wanted a cut down "not quite whippet" Auto-5 for a home defense gun for a long time. I looked for a beater 12ga Auto-5 for over 5 years before I ran across this one. All I found were always in nice shape and I can't bring myself to go cutting on a Belgian crafted shotgun. I could cut one of those abhorrent looking poly chokes off of one, but that's about it. And was this one ever beat! The forearm was split in two for about 3/4 of its length, rust and dings everywhere and utterly filthy inside. Looked like it spent some time in a barn, but probably just someone's closet neglected and bumped into for 30 years or more. It dates to 1955-1956 according to Browning's S/N lookup. The pawn shop guy told me the forearm was duck taped together when it came in.

IIRC, it was marked at $359. I watched it sit on the rack for a couple of months. Went back one day and low and behold it was still there. I couldn't hold out any longer so I offered $300 out the door for it. He said he had to call the owner. Owner said $300 + sales tax. I said deal!

After detail stripping it appeared to have not been shot, cleaned or lubed in years. Old oil turned to varnish and dust caked into every nook and cranny inside and light rust (no real pitting) was basically everywhere. Amazingly the bore was pristine. When I was blasting it out with brake cleaner it looked like mud coming out of the receiver. It had been shot a fair bit, but was in good shape mechanically. Someone had already cut the stock and put on a Pachmayr recoil pad long ago and it was hard as a brick.

I bought the Browning specific screwdriver set from Brownells and watched youtube videos on how to work on them and started ripping it apart saving the screws and corresponding matched lock screws in their own ziplock bag. These things aren't really hard to work on thanks to youtube. :thumb:

I cut another 1" off the stock and put on another Pachmayr pad. Those are a real pain if you don't have a commercial type belt or disk sander. I didn't get it as close as I wanted but just got tired of sanding on it with a file wrapped with sandpaper. I roughed it close with a Ridgid oscillating belt/spindle sander. Got it close enough for the role of this gun. L.O.P is 12.25". Not so good for clay games but much nicer for pieing corners in the house.

I cut the barrel with a hacksaw to 18.25" and then draw filed and squared it with a machinist's square. It's still just north of 18 3/16" to the closed bolt face.

I glued the forearm back together with Brownells Acraglas. Then I cut a crude zig-zag pattern and relief cut the actual crack on the inside and reinforced it by laying in a single layer of fiberglass woven cloth and flooding the whole thing inside with Acraglass. I doubt it breaks again. I also cut some walnut dowel rod and used Acraglass to glue it into each side of the forearm to mount a pic rail section for sling attachment points. I still have to mount the rail pieces and configure a sling. I wanted to try to keep the original wood. I can always go get a synthetic set but this appears to be a dark walnut like American instead of the more blonde'ish looking European walnut we usually see in these. The wood was once really nice, it's a shame it was so abused. I finished the wood with pure tung oil so it'll have some water protection and not have the built up plastic looking finish.


Parts Replaced:
Mag spring
Friction spring
Friction ring
Recoil spring
Both extractor springs
Locking block latch spring
Action spring

I added a Nordic +2 mag extension, the Hi-Viz front sight and TLR-1.

All in all, the major wear items are all fresh, clean, lubed and should be good to go for another few thousand rounds.

With the friction rings set for heavy loads it runs all 1 1/8oz (or heavier) loads as long as they aren't low recoil versions, they won't cycle. With the friction ring set for light loads it runs Winchester Ranger 1oz low recoil slugs, Fed low recoil FC buck and Winchester AA 1 1/8oz 1145 FPS bird loads. I just tested these today and as I remember, it recoiled noticeably harder setup for the the light stuff than it did setup and running the normal full power buck I'd tested before. I'm definitely going back to the range with all ammo types next time to compare. I may have been hallucinating, but it was just stupid fast and light recoiling before and I was grinning ear to ear because of that perception. Not so much today, however it did run flawlessly. I was wanting to dedicate this for the low recoil Federal FC buck, but if it's lighter recoiling by a noticable difference with the friction ring setup for heavier stuff I may just run my stash of regular #1 buck in it. The amount of and type of lube on the mag tube definitely has an effect on the cycling, so more experimentation is in order.

There's some weird perception thing going on with the last pic. The stock is short but it's not that short and the front sight isn't that dang huge either.
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Last edited:

Junk Yard Dog

Marksman
Special Hen
Joined
Nov 17, 2019
Messages
78
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74
Location
Oklahoma, Lawton
I thought I'd share the "rescue" I did.

I've wanted a cut down "not quite whippet" Auto-5 for a home defense gun for a long time. I looked for a beater 12ga Auto-5 for over 5 years before I ran across this one. All I found were always in nice shape and I can't bring myself to go cutting on a Belgian crafted shotgun. I could cut one of those abhorrent looking poly chokes off of one, but that's about it. And was this one ever beat! The forearm was split in two for about 3/4 of its length, rust and dings everywhere and utterly filthy inside. Looked like it spent some time in a barn, but probably just someone's closet neglected and bumped into for 30 years or more. It dates to 1955-1956 according to Browning's S/N lookup. The pawn shop guy told me the forearm was duck taped together when it came in.

IIRC, it was marked at $359. I watched it sit on the rack for a couple of months. Went back one day and low and behold it was still there. I couldn't hold out any longer so I offered $300 out the door for it. He said he had to call the owner. Owner said $300 + sales tax. I said deal!

After detail stripping it appeared to have not been shot, cleaned or lubed in years. Old oil turned to varnish and dust caked into every nook and cranny inside and light rust (no real pitting) was basically everywhere. Amazingly the bore was pristine. When I was blasting it out with brake cleaner it looked like mud coming out of the receiver. It had been shot a fair bit, but was in good shape mechanically. Someone had already cut the stock and put on a Pachmayr recoil pad long ago and it was hard as a brick.

I bought the Browning specific screwdriver set from Brownells and watched youtube videos on how to work on them and started ripping it apart saving the screws and corresponding matched lock screws in their own ziplock bag. These things aren't really hard to work on thanks to youtube. :thumb:

I cut another 1" off the stock and put on another Pachmayr pad. Those are a real pain if you don't have a commercial type belt or disk sander. I didn't get it as close as I wanted but just got tired of sanding on it with a file wrapped with sandpaper. I roughed it close with a Ridgid oscillating belt/spindle sander. Got it close enough for the role of this gun. L.O.P is 12.25". Not so good for clay games but much nicer for pieing corners in the house.

I cut the barrel with a hacksaw to 18.25" and then draw filed and squared it with a machinist's square. It's still just north of 18 3/16" to the closed bolt face.

I glued the forearm back together with Brownells Acraglas. Then I cut a crude zig-zag pattern and relief cut the actual crack on the inside and reinforced it by laying in a single layer of fiberglass woven cloth and flooding the whole thing inside with Acraglass. I doubt it breaks again. I also cut some walnut dowel rod and used Acraglass to glue it into each side of the forearm to mount a pic rail section for sling attachment points. I still have to mount the rail pieces and configure a sling. I wanted to try to keep the original wood. I can always go get a synthetic set but this appears to be a dark walnut like American instead of the more blonde'ish looking European walnut we usually see in these. The wood was once really nice, it's a shame it was so abused. I finished the wood with pure tung oil so it'll have some water protection and not have the built up plastic looking finish.


Parts Replaced:
Mag spring
Friction spring
Friction ring
Recoil spring
Both extractor springs
Locking block latch spring
Action spring

I added a Nordic +2 mag extension, the Hi-Viz front sight and TLR-1.

All in all, the major wear items are all fresh, clean, lubed and should be good to go for another few thousand rounds.

With the friction rings set for heavy loads it runs all 1 1/8oz (or heavier) loads as long as they aren't low recoil versions, they won't cycle. With the friction ring set for light loads it runs Winchester Ranger 1oz low recoil slugs, Fed low recoil FC buck and Winchester AA 1 1/8oz 1145 FPS bird loads. I just tested these today and as I remember, it recoiled noticeably harder setup for the the light stuff than it did setup and running the normal full power buck I'd tested before. I'm definitely going back to the range with all ammo types next time to compare. I may have been hallucinating, but it was just stupid fast and light recoiling before and I was grinning ear to ear because of that perception. Not so much today, however it did run flawlessly. I was wanting to dedicate this for the low recoil Federal FC buck, but if it's lighter recoiling by a noticable difference with the friction ring setup for heavier stuff I may just run my stash of regular #1 buck in it. The amount of and type of lube on the mag tube definitely has an effect on the cycling, so more experimentation is in order.

There's some weird perception thing going on with the last pic. The stock is short but it's not that short and the front sight isn't that dang huge either.
View attachment 148050 View attachment 148051 View attachment 148052 View attachment 148053 View attachment 148054 View attachment 148055

epic..to say the least
 

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