[su_heading size=”30″]Choosing the right loads and chokes is all part of preparing your turkey gun for spring success. [/su_heading]
STORY AND PHOTOS BY TROY RODAKOWSKI
[su_dropcap style=”light”]W[/su_dropcap]hether you prefer a 20-, 12- or even a 10-gauge shotgun to go after your spring gobbler, the time is now to pick the right load for maximum effectiveness. You might only get one chance at that trophy bird, so why not give yourself the best opportunity at a quick clean and ethical harvest?
Using range finders and shot-tracking equipment such as the Bullseye system can be very helpful.
There are many turkey choke tubes on the market, and folks often ask me which one is best. I always tell them to pick a choke designed for your gun and the load you plan to shoot. But whatever you do, choose something, because you shouldn’t head into the woods without a turkey choke. Trust me, you are not doing yourself any favors by not having one.
Choke tubes come in four standard sizes, commonly known as cylinder choke (C), improved cylinder choke (IC), modiﬁed choke (M), and full choke (F). Essentially, turkey chokes are extra full. Once upon a time, the standard for shotgun patterns was the 30-inch circle and what percentage of the pellets in a shotgun shell was delivered inside that area. The idea was to have an evenly distributed pattern inside the circle, but modern turkey hunters want something tighter than that. TURKEY CHOKES ARE DESIGNED speciﬁcally to keep your pattern tight at various distances. Turkey shells have more of a powder charge than a typical shotgun load, and this is where this distinctive choke will pay dividends. The general rule of thumb is that it takes three pellets to break a clay target and six pellets to take down a small game bird.
Counting the number of pellets in the vitals is key to finding the best patterning load for your gun.
Of course, as the size of the game bird increases, so does the number of pellets that are needed for a successful shot. In other words, it takes more pellets to kill a turkey than it does to bag a quail! Shot size is also important, as a larger shot will be needed to take down a turkey. In order to choose your chokes, you want to predict how far away your shot is going to be.
Hunters go after spring turkeys using a variety of methods; so one load won’t be perfect for everybody. But everyone can pick the perfect load to match his or her style of hunting. First, determine which size shot you like best – 2¾-, 3- or 3½-inch shells loaded with size 3, 4, 5 or 6 shot? Again, you need to shoot several through your gun and see which one patterns best on paper. There are even pelleted blends with specially designed wads for greater distance. Last year I hunted with Federal 3rd Degree Turkey Loads, copper-plated lead pellets in size 4, 5 and 6 shot. I was impressed with the effectiveness through my gun prior to season, especially at intermediate ranges.
There are old ﬁxed-choke guns that will shoot certain loads better regardless of other factors. I like to start out with standard No. 6s and see what the pattern looks like before trying something different. My father has an old Remington 870 ﬁxed full choke, and he seems to shoot size 6 loads through it best. Newer 20-gauge shotguns will shoot size 7s at 1,100 feet per second, and these are great for a young hunter or beginning sportsmen or -women.
FOR HUNTERS ON THE MOVE, lighter guns with good loads chambered in 3- and 3½-inch size 4 or 5 shot with velocity over 1,100 fps are more desirable. Regardless, a hunter needs to practice with several loads and determine which one works best. I like to ﬁnd at least two that pattern well, choose one that I prefer and have another on standby. Why have two, you may ask? Well, I have found that not all loads are readily available especially during season, so this way I don’t ﬁnd myself running out of shells halfway through the month of May and have to scramble to ﬁnd another type that I’m comfortable with. Does that sound like planning ahead? It sure does.
Blends of copper and lead with specially formulated wads have increased pellet density and range for gobbler gunners over the last few years.
The bottom line is, you want the largest possible percentage of pellets in the vitals as possible. Pattern your gun according to the type of terrain you’ve chosen to hunt. For example, if you are hunting thick brushy country, make sure to pattern for 30 yards or less, and in a more open environment pattern out to 40 yards. Counting your pellets at each range and ﬁguring out your kill percentage provides valuable information.
You will be very surprised at the different performance of various loads at the similar ranges. The ideal pattern for a turkey gun is 100 pellets within a 10-inch circle at 40 yards. Achieving this density essentially means that there should be a large enough percentage of pellets in the vitals to ethically harvest your turkey.
These loads have been very consistent for the author over the years.
WHEN PATTERNING YOUR GUN, remember to always shoot from a stable rest,
bench or sled. I like to use my Bullseye camera system (bullseyecamera.com) or other digital range ﬁnder to help simplify the process. This also helps save time running up and down range and changing targets. No matter what shot size you choose, the pattern should equate to 25 to 35 percent (on average) of pellets in the vitals or 10-inch diameter. Density is the key ingredient in determining which load you prefer and works best.
You can make your own targets out of butcher paper or print out your own. Several outdoor companies sell high-quality shoot-n-see style targets that can be found at Cabela’s, Gander Mountain and other sporting goods retailers. A general rule and helpful reminder is that most turkey guns are patterned for 40 yards or less, since this distance is universally considered “ethical” to shoot and harvest a bird.
But spring is nearly upon us, so now is the time to quit reading about turkeys and get out there to burn some powder in preparation for a great season. ASJ
It’s not easy to bring down these amazing birds, so why not take a little time to make sure your time counts. A favorite shotgun with a turkey choke and a consistent load is all you need.
For the shotgun user, we all like to try out different types of slugs, maybe you’ve come across the “needle”. The needle slug is a 3D printed Alumide shotgun projectile. Alumide is a mixture of nylon and aluminum powder. It makes a pretty strong structure, the load was only 4 grams so its a light load.
This was based on a “pen shank” created by Michael Yeh. Greg from TAOFLEDERMAUS Youtuber gets a chance to shoot this needle at a clump of clay and jelly down range. Check out the results below.
There were a few more shots taken at a vest without any level IIIA plates, see the video below.
Hi this is Jeff of TAOFLEDERMAUS, today we’ve got another submission by Michael Yeh, a 3D printed, oddly-shaped projectile that’s based on a pen shank that he invented. That’s right. And like I said, this is printed with Alumide. Alumide is a mixture of nylon and aluminum powder. It makes a pretty strong structure, but it’s still pretty light. This only weighs four grams.
We’re out here shooting the 3D printed “needle”, the Needle is the name of this round made by Michael Yeh, you’ve seen him before, sending us some great 3D printed rounds. We’re gonna give this a try, you can tell it sorta looks like a rocket-pod on a helicopter. It’s got a couple of little through-and-through holes there, maybe we’ll get a little whistle out of them. So we’re gonna try them against Mr. Grumpy Clay down there, and see what we can get. Alright, Michael, let’s give this a try.
Ok I’m ready!
Here we go!
So you can see what we found, here. We found a little plug down here on the bottom, and all its little spires broke off. Then in here, one, two, three, and then the little tip. Right up in here, just the tip. And here’s what’s cool, this tip bent, but didn’t shear.
Wonder how it hit? Probably hit sideways or somethin’.
And then he took the wad to the nose. If you’re taking a wad to the nose, you’re doin’ it wrong.
Now you may have heard how quiet the shotgun was, we had a full-powder charge in there, but when you have a very lightweight load in there, something like four grams, it’s often not really enough to really light the powder and give it full velocity. And as you can see, this projectile never stabilized, flying sideways when it hit the clay. Ok, let’s take a shot at some ballistic jelly!
Oh yeah! That was better!
So the wad was stuck in the front, and you can see the needle round, there’s the point, it actually turned around.
Is that the front or the back? I see– look, you can see the track going through there!
This was the, uh…
No, what the heck happened there?
This…this almost looks like this is the track, but this thing did rotate, so… the wad was stuck in here. I dunno. We’ll have to see. But as I found it, it was still sitting like this.
Unless it did hit nose-first in there, and spun it around and caught the wad on the back side?
You can see some kind of a track, like, maybe it–wait. It went way in there and then bounced– it’ll spring back.
It’s actually in perfect condition.
Send that back to Michael for a refund!
Yeah! That’s the one I didn’t mark, too, for some reason.
You’ll be able to see it on slow-mo, but it either went in tip first and almost penetrated all the way through, or spun around.
Now this shot was noticeably louder, and you can see we have a much higher velocity. Another difference that we can see here is that we can see that the projectile is flying nose-first for most of the way, and then at the last split-second it flips around and hits the gel backwards. It’s interesting to see how the wadding is kind of engulfed in the cavitation hole there.
Ok, I’m ready!
Also, not recommended for home defense! [fire]
Look at the triangular-shaped impact from that thing hitting sideways and kinda keyholing in there. It’s the almost exact same shape as this flying and going -boom- right there.
So that’s not very stable, but it was accurate enough!
Wad. Accurate enough for home defense!
Look at the picture of the wad, it’s a perfect transfer, like silly putty.
Now this shot was noticeably louder, and it was flying at a much higher velocity this time. This is probably at least hitting mach 1.
So this is like, 300 yards, you say?
Yeah it’s about 300 yards, it’s a sniper shot.
Call of Duty 300 yards. Ok. It looks like we plant some hickock seeds. He’s starting to sprout up!
Ok that was another weak-sounding shot, but we had pretty good velocity. You can see the slug tumbling end-over-end, it never regained stability, though. But we still had fun doing it. I hope you check out michael’s channel, he does a lot of different stuff. Crossbows, he does some reloading, black powder stuff, it’s pretty
cool, the kid’s really smart, and has always impressed me. And some of the stuff we have coming up, the Australian Fosterless slugs, I’m not sure what we’re calling them there, we have another Tim Hamilton Turban brass slug design, and this is another Tim Hamilton-designed, just like the dumbell design that we shot the other day, and then finally we have the UPK2, a very cool russian slug, and here’s a demo of it.
OK, hit it! [Fire] wow.
I still have a lot of stuff that people have been waiting for me to shoot that they’ve sent to me, some of them waiting a couple months so bear with us, the weather hasn’t been very good, but we’re slowly catching up on this stuff. Hope you guys enjoyed this, thanks for watching.
[su_heading size=”30″]Benelli’s Montefeltro has made the journey from European novelty to the world’s most respected repeating upland shotgun. [/su_heading]
STORY AND PHOTOS BY BRAD FITZPATRICK
[su_dropcap style=”flat”]I[/su_dropcap]n 1911, as John Browning was ﬁnalizing his semiautomatic pistol stateside, Teresa Benelli was helping her six sons invest in a small automotive repair shop in Urbino, Italy. The brothers did well with their business and eventually began building motorcycles, selling their bikes in the U.S. through Montgomery Ward catalogs. By 1967, the brand had earned enough capital to allow Giovanni Benelli to design and market semiautomatic shotguns, a byproduct of his love of hunting. Little did he know that the gun that bore his name would reinvent the shotgun market in much the same way that Browning’s 1911 forever changed pistol design.
The Montefeltro has a reputation for harsh recoil, but it isn’t abusive. The author fired this field gun – which wore a black plastic butt plate – more than 500 times on this day in Argentina, and although his shoulder was sore it wasn’t enough to keep him from heading to the field at first light the following day.
Although the name Benelli was stamped on the very ﬁrst gun to leave the Urbino factory in ’67, the real genius behind the gun was an Italian designer named Bruno Civolani. Civolani’s system was different than the gas systems that were becoming popular in the States. One of the hallmarks of the Benelli design was that it was so simple and basic that it rarely broke and, as shotgun enthusiasts quickly learned, it required less frequent cleaning and could go hundreds of thousands of rounds before a failure.
That design was the Inertia Driven System, and it had three basic components: a rotating bolt face, a bolt body and an inertia spring. As recoil pushes the gun rearward, the bolt stays in place for an instant and the inertia spring compresses, eventually developing enough energy to unlock the bolt face. The bolt body is then forced rearward, extracting and ejecting the spent casing. The recoil spring shoves the bolt back forward and slams the bolt body back into place after picking up the next shell. The ﬁnal step in the process is for the rotating bolt head to lock into battery for the next shot.
Waiting on birds in Argentina. The wait was rarely longer than 30 seconds, so this Montefeltro took a beating, and that’s just one day. In addition, it cycled dirty shells and busted hard primers without any issues.
BENELLI WAS ALREADY BIG IN EUROPE before American hunters and shooters started noticing a few of these slim, sleek Italian autoloaders showing up in duck blinds and upland ﬁelds. One of those early guns was named the Montefeltro in honor of the Duke of Montefeltro and his family who lived in the region of Urbino. Benelli’s Montefeltro had some similar features to popular American guns at the time, but there were a few obvious differences.
For starters, the forearm was trim and slim, very different than American gas guns that housed pistons and gas systems under the barrel. The Montefeltro was also lighter by as much as a pound, a result of the simplicity of the Inertia Driven System, as well as an intentional design feature – gas guns tend to work better the heavier they are, and inertia guns are quite the opposite. The Benelli was a gun that could easily be carried all day long, and upland hunters liked this.
There were a few other nuances found on the Montefeltro that are different than traditional gas guns. For one thing, the bolt was much lighter. Whereas it was a chore to pull the bolt rearward on a gas gun, the Montefeltro, by contrast, could be racked with a single ﬁnger and a slap of the wrist. Another difference – one that I have seen baffle ﬁrst-time Benelli shooters – is that simply pulling the bolt rearward doesn’t automatically feed a shell from the magazine tube into the chamber.
There’s a very, very good reason for this, though. If you jam a Montefeltro down on the ground, you can actually open the bolt, and if a shell happened to feed during that process, you would be suddenly carrying a shotgun with a chambered shell and not be aware of that fact, which is dangerous. New Benelli shooters have to get used to the idea of depressing the shell release lever and then racking the bolt. It takes some time, but I’m so familiar with my Montefeltro that the order of operations on a traditional gas gun has begun to feel foreign.
This Idaho partridge fell to the Montefeltro with a 1-ounce load of size 6 shot. The Benelli is light enough for allday carry even in this steep country.
The Montefeltro was – and is – a beautiful gun. The curves of its long action, stylized receiver and trim proﬁle were once considered revolutionary, but have now become a blueprint followed by other makers. The rib is quite ﬂat, but the Benelli is so light and well balanced that it is quick to the shoulder and ﬁts a wide range of shooters. Wingshooters liked that, and they also liked the Montefeltro’s scant weight. If you are a serious bird hunter – the kind that climbs mountains in search of Huns and chukars, or who wades through alders and grapevines for a shot at a ruffed grouse – that difference in weight makes, well, a difference.
Serious bird hunters began carrying Montes, and soon something else became very apparent about these guns. Since the Inertia Driven System doesn’t rely on gas to be vented through the gun (these gases are pushed out of the barrel for less fouling), these guns could go for thousands of rounds between cleanings and would ﬁre a wide array of loads without the need for modiﬁcation or adjustment. Want to break a few clays or walk-up a covey of quail or two? You can use light loads without any problem. Want to follow that up with a hunt for hard-ﬂying roosters or large ducks? Fine, your Benelli will eat those loads as well without indigestion.
The Montefeltro is available as a combo gun with two satin walnut stocks—perfect for a young shooter who is still growing.
Not all semiauto shotguns are available in left-handed versions, but the Montefeltro is. With so many options with regard to stock design and length, as well as action, it’s little wonder that so many shooters like the Montefeltro.
The basic Montefeltro has an anodized receiver and blued barrel and comes with a very nice satin walnut stock or durable black synthetic, and there’s also a Silver version
with AA-grade walnut and a nickel-plated engraved receiver. The trigger assembly drops out and the trigger guard is big enough that I can easily shoot my gun when wearing rather large leather gloves. Crio choke tubes are included, so named because Benelli cryogenically treats both their barrels and chokes to relieve stress on the steel, smooth surfaces, and, as a result, produce more consistent patterns. Additionally, the Montefeltro comes in a left-handed version for southpaws and a compact version for anyone with short arms. With so many options and features, it’s little wonder this gun has won over a legion of shooters in the United States and elsewhere.
THE DOVE FIELDS OF ARGENTINA test a shotgun as brutally as any other place on earth, and among the many lodges that cater to dove hunters, those belonging to the David Denies group are perhaps the ﬁnest of all. Denies offers a variety of excursions throughout South America, everything from hunting roaring red stag to ﬂy ﬁshing in some of the world’s most incredible waters to duck hunts with 50-bird limits. But the David Denies brand specializes in dove hunts, and in a land where birds are shot daily by the thousands, I doubt if any outﬁtter can put you in ﬁelds where you will pull the trigger more frequently.
The Montefeltro accounted for these Kentucky doves on the opening morning of season. Benelli’s autoloader is certainly one of the most versatile upland guns you can own, perfect for clay shooting, doves, pheasants, rabbits, and more.
We were hunting Cordoba Lodge, and on our ﬁrst day in camp we headed to a cutover dove ﬁeld into which the birds were streaming by the thousands. I doubt that more than 30 seconds passed without a shot opportunity, and since our guns hadn’t arrived yet, we were given the lodge guns. These were, as you might imagine, Benelli Montefeltros. It was the exact same 20-gauge autoloader I carried at home for quail, rabbits, grouse and chukars, but this Argentinian gun had seen tens of thousands of rounds more than my own Monte.
The gun performed ﬂawlessly, coming quickly to the shoulder and crumpling birds that were passing left-toright, incomers, and doves that presented high overhead shots. As fast as I could shoot we reloaded, and by day’s end we had put better than 500 rounds through the gun – a light afternoon by Argentina standards. At the lodge, over a steak and wine (what else in Argentina?), I asked the lodge owner how many rounds the Benelli had gone through. He squinted, tilted his head to the sky, and did some math.
“Probably … 150,000. A hundred thousand, at least.”
I may never press the trigger on my Monte that many times, but it’s good to know that the gun can handle that kind of abuse. But that longevity is only one reason that people buy the Montefeltro. The other is that if you hunt hard, it’s one of the best shotgun options you can own.
The synthetic stock version is perfect for anyone who plans to take their gun through the briars or into flooded timber and who doesn’t want to damage that fine walnut stock.
The Silver version is truly a magnificent firearm with a nickel-plated receiver and AA-grade walnut. MSRP on this gun runs above $1,700, but the quality of this gun justifies the cost.
AMERICA ALSO OFFERS TREMENDOUS wingshooting opportunities on public lands throughout the west. The only caveat is that you’ll have to climb and hike – a lot. In this country, if you’re averaging a bird a mile, that’s pretty spectacular, and the average is probably more like one bird every 5 miles. But for those who love this kind of open range hunting, there’s nothing that can compare.
Idaho’s Tom Loy, famous for his line of superb Gordon setters, introduced me to chukar hunting. The ﬁrst gun I brought along was a 7½-pound over/under, which was a terrible choice. For one thing, it was too heavy, a real burden when you’re hiking in steep country. For another, I needed that extra shot.
This past year I hunted with Tom again, but I’ve since learned that there are upland guns built for this kind of task and the Montefeltro is one of them. My 20-gauge Monte weighs a hair over 5½ pounds and it carries very well. That’s a good thing, because Tom knows some of the best places to hunt birds in Idaho but you’ll have to walk. We covered a moderate distance on our last hunt, perhaps 5 or 6 miles, and we really had great success, harvesting ﬁve Huns and a pair of California quail. The Montefeltro accounted for about half those birds, but my back wasn’t aching when I was ﬁnished. The only strain was from a heavy game bag.
I have carried my Benelli to the ﬁeld in search of a variety of different upland species across the United States, and it has never failed me. But before you run out and buy a Montefeltro, there are a few things that you should know. For starters, gas guns recoil less. I don’t think it’s a lot less, and if you aren’t shooting hundreds of rounds a day, I doubt you would notice. The Montefeltro’s other quirk is that the bolt head must be dropped with enough force to rotate and lock it. Ease it forward and you’ll hear that dreaded “Benelli click.” With a few days’ practice you will quickly learn how to handle the Benelli so that this doesn’t happen, but I still occasionally forget and miss a shot.
The author shooting doves in Argentina with a well-worn Montefeltro. Guns rented by Argentinian dove lodges see more abuse than most any other shotgun, and Montefeltros are one of the handful of weapons you’ll see in regular use here.
Those foibles are minor compared to the Benelli Montefeltro’s many, many strong points. It’s little wonder that this svelte little Italian gun with its ingeniously simple operating system has spawned so many copies, with more and more inertia guns hitting the market each year. But there’s only one Montefeltro, and it’s hard to beat the original. ASJ
Little man rips this and all he has left to say is “I don’t know which is bigger, OO Buck or #2.”
Yeh, just a little kick and most kids his would end up on the ground, this boy leans back only to look at dad like, “Whoa, baby, that had some mustard on it!”
This little tyke has some shooting chops on him with this rifle, a compact shooter with a gun probably taller than he is. He appears to hit his mark in the video, and probably gains a bruised shoulder in the process– which he appears to be used to.
It’s good to teach your kids gun safety and responsible shooting, especially while young. Part of that is having a good set of headphones and adult supervision. Thankfully in the process, this adult supervisor kept the camera rolling. I’m sure this kid will have some fond memories to look back on in a few years, and this will be one of them.
[su_heading size=”30″]Rockin ‘n Rollin’ with a Shotgun[/su_heading]
When it comes to rapid shotgun fire, this is just about as good as it gets! Never mind the XRAIL system that this guy is using on his shotgun.
Shotgun fans out there will debate over a better system to use, like one of the comments below and that it has no real world application. (umm, fire power is a huge debate)
But other than that, just the pure fun and excitement of shooting it on rapid is exhilarating, you can’t argue that. This guy puts some mods (XRAIL System) to his shotgun in order to fire 23 rounds in just under 4 seconds! Anyone shoot more than that in one shoot?
See the action below.
Pretty cool, huh! Lets chime in on the subject of firepower, some of school of thoughts think spraying that many rounds from a shotgun is not practical. We’re going to stay neutral on this, but would love to hear what you all have to say about that below in the comments.
Heres the overall of what people are saying about this shotgun:
[su_heading size=”30″]Browning’s light and balanced A5 shotgun lets you to shoot the old ‘gentleman’s gauge’ in a technologically updated package.[/su_heading]
STORY AND PHOTOS BY MIKE DICKERSON
[su_dropcap style=”flat” size=”5″]A[/su_dropcap]s an aspiring curmudgeon (my wife might suggest that I’m already there), I frown disapprovingly when I hear that someone is remaking a classic. Be it a movie, a song or a ﬁrearm, some things are just so iconic that you simply shouldn’t mess with them. If you do, you’d better get it right, or you’ll catch hell from people whose hearts were captured by the original. Sadly, and all too often, “new and improved” translates into “new and cheapened and ugly.”
In its newest incarnation, the A5 Sweet Sixteen weighs just 5 pounds, 13 ounces with a 28-inch barrel. It’s light but well balanced, and swings smoothly, according to the author.
I recently had an opportunity to test one such newly made-over gun, the Browning A5 Sweet Sixteen shotgun, and I’m pleased to report that, in this instance, the manufacturer got it right. By right, I mean spectacularly right.
My opportunity to test this reborn 16-gauge classic came during a three-day pheasant hunt with R&R Pheasant Hunting, an 18,000-acre, family-owned farming and ranching operation near Seneca, S.D., with four other outdoor scribes. We were there, along with representatives from Browning, Winchester and the South Dakota Department of Tourism, to test three new shotguns and ammunition from Browning and Winchester.
I spent the ﬁrst day wringing out the newly announced Winchester SX4 shotgun in 12 gauge, and bagged my fair share of birds. I spent the second day happily shooting roosters with the Browning 725 Citori over-and-under shotgun chambered in 28 gauge. I held off on shooting the Sweet Sixteen until the ﬁnal day of the hunt, mainly because only two were on hand and everyone wanted to shoot them. As fellow outdoor writer “Uncle Bob” Matthews observed, “The Sweet Sixteen was the prettiest girl at the dance, and everyone wanted to dance with her.”
Production ended on the Browning Automatic 5 in 1998, after a run of nearly 100 years, but the company brought the timeless design back a few years ago in modernized form, adding the Sweet Sixteen to the lineup last year.
AND WHAT A DANCE IT WAS.On the second drive of the day, I took the left ﬂanker position, outside and ahead of Bob, who walked a few rows inside a ﬁeld of tall corn. We both carried the Sweet Sixteen, stoked with the new Browning BXD Upland Extra Distance 11/8-ounce load of No. 6 nickel-plated shot, and as luck would have it, most of the roosters that ﬂushed during that drive came our way. The sky was soon raining pheasants. I think only one rooster made it past us. By the time that drive was over, someone had nicknamed us “The Sixteen Dream Team,” and I already knew I would have to own this shotgun.
To understand what makes this new gun so special, it helps to know a bit about its history. Today’s A5 traces its lineage to the original Browning Automatic 5, designed by John Browning in 1898. It was one of the most inﬂuential shotgun designs of all time. First produced by FN in 1902, it was later made by Remington as the Model 11 and by Savage as the Model 720 and other variants.
Built on a smaller, lighter alloy receiver, the shotgun retains its predecessor’s iconic squared-off profile.
The Auto 5 used a long-recoil operating system in which the bolt and the barrel recoiled together, and it had a friction piece and bevel ring to adjust recoil to the load. It was soft-shooting when set up properly, but could thump you soundly if it was improperly tuned. Production moved from Belgium to Japan in 1975, and the guns got heavier. By the 1990s, semiauto shotguns that were cheaper to produce and lighter, and with more modern designs, were gaining dominance. The writing was on the wall: Production ceased in 1998, after nearly 100 years of production, and the Auto 5 was no more.
That changed in 2013 when Browning stunned the shotgun world by bringing back the A5 in 12 gauge, albeit in much-changed form and manufactured in Portugal. The Sweet Sixteen followed in 2016. It’s built on a smaller, lighter alloy receiver with a polished black anodized ﬁnish, and weighs just 5 pounds, 13 ounces with a 28-inch barrel, and a bit less with a 26-inch barrel.
It’s one thing to ﬁnd a lightweight shotgun. It’s quite another to ﬁnd one this well-balanced that swings so smoothly. The gun simply painted birds from the sky for me, and I had difficulty believing I was swinging a 16-gauge shotgun with a 28-inch barrel.
Internally, the old long-recoil action has been replaced with a reliable, fast-cycling inertia-drive system guaranteed for 100,000 rounds or five years.
Externally, this gun resembles the original Auto 5, retaining the distinctive “humpback” squared-off receiver. I like it because it affords a slightly longer sight plane, aligning naturally with my eye, and allowing me to shoot with my head up a bit more and beneﬁt from a more comfortable, less-punishing cheek weld. INTERNALLY, THE SWEET SIXTEEN is an entirely different animal from its predecessor. The long-recoil system has been replaced by an inertia-driven system called Kinematic Drive by Browning. It’s fast-cycling, easy on the shoulder and highly reliable – so much so that Browning stands behind it with a 100,000-round or ﬁve-year guarantee that the shotgun will work “come hell or high water.” It’s a clean-running system, because all gasses go out the barrel and away from the action.
A look at the barrel reveals other reasons why this is not your grandfather’s Auto 5. It has a lengthened, tapered “Vector Pro” forcing cone to minimize shot deformation and enhance pattern uniformity. The barrel is also backbored to reduce friction between the shot cup and bore. I’m not convinced that this reduces recoil, as some claim, but I do believe it helps with pattern consistency, uniformity and density. The barrel sports a red ﬁber optic front sight and white midpoint bead.
The shotgun ships with full, modiﬁed and improved cylinder Invector DS choke tubes. These longer-than-usual tubes have a more gradual choke taper, again contributing to more uniform shot patterns. They also have a brass alloy band to help seal out residue, making the tubes easy to remove after a day of shooting.
The Sweet Sixteen carries like a light 20-gauge gun but punches like a 12, helping the 16-gauge shotshell realize its full potential.
Other nice touches include 18-lines-per-inch checkering on the glossy Turkish walnut buttstock and forearm. The stock has an Inﬂex II recoil pad, which directs recoil energy down and away from your face. With Speed Load Plus, you simply push the ﬁrst shell into the magazine, with the action open, and the gun automatically feeds the ﬁrst round into the chamber. The “plus” part of the equation is a handy little mechanism you can push with a ﬁnger, inside the bottom of the receiver, to unload shells from the magazine tube without having to cycle the action repeatedly.
The new Sweet Sixteen honors its proud legacy while enabling you to shoot the old “gentleman’s gauge” in a technologically updated package. The gun has little noticeable recoil. It is fast, yet swings smoothly. It is elegant, but utilitarian. It packs like a 20 gauge, but punches like a 12. With this one shotgun, a hunter would be wellequipped to handle most any type of wingshooting. As one of my fellow scribes observed during our hunt, “This might be the gun that saves the 16-gauge shotshell.”
The author and his new pal, 6-month-old Desert, show off a pair of central South Dakota pheasants taken with Browning’s newly resurrected A5 Sweet Sixteen shotgun.
As I sit here admiring the richly ﬁgured wood of the stock on the sample gun sent to me for testing, I suspect he may be right. I also suspect Browning may have a difficult time getting this one back. ASJ
Editor’s note: For more on the A5 Sweet Sixteen and other Browning products, see browning.com.
[su_heading size=”30″]What if you’re in an emergency situation?[/su_heading]
And you’re out of shotgun slugs the only shells available are cheap birdshot shells. Here’s a quick survival hack that allows you to turn that bird shot shell into a slug capable of taking down bigger game.
The hack is quite simple all you need to do is use a pocket knife and cut around the wadding area, but don’t cut all the way through. What happens is when the shell is fired, the full frontal portion of the shotgun shell hull, shot and the wad becomes a fearsome projectile.
Last thing is, this can be very dangerous due to the pressure spikes from forcing the whole chunk of shot shell down your barrel. So only use this hack in only survival situation.