When someone mentions a Browning auto
loading shotgun, most shooters think of the classic Browning
Auto-5. This is the gun that has endeared the name of John
Browning to generations of shotgunners. That is not surprising
given the fact that the A-5 was in production for almost a full
century. The A-5 is still revered by many shooters and
collectors, and is a fine shotgun. It works on the long recoil
system, and while that design is a good one, most shooters today
prefer a gas operated shotgun for versatility, reliability, and
soft recoiling qualities. The A-5 was dropped from the Browning
catalog a few years back, but Browning has found a worthy
successor in it’s gas operated autoloader; the Browning Gold.
Browning introduced their Gold model shotgun in
1995, so it has been with us for a few years now. Browning makes
numerous variations of the Gold, from dedicated target guns to
field models, in 20, 12, and even the 10 gauge. The target
models are chambered for 2 ¾ inch shells, while the field
models are chambered in three or three and one-half inch
versions. The Gold is offered with both wood and synthetic
stocks, in a variety of finishes from bright blue to camouflage.
The subject of this article is the Gold Hunter
model in 12 gauge. It has a three inch chamber and a 26 inch
vent-rib barrel with three screw-in choke tubes. It uses
Browning’s Invector Plus tubes, which are longer than
most on the market. It has a magazine capacity of four 2 ¾ inch
shells or three 3 inch shells, plus one in the chamber.
One of the best features of the Gold is it’s
reversible safety button. This is particularly important to me,
as I shoot from the left shoulder. The location of the safety is
just behind the trigger guard and easily reached with the
trigger finger. Also, the shape of the trigger is very
comfortable, with a more rounded shape than most, conforming
nicely to the shape of the human trigger finger.
The particular gun shown here has exceptional
wood for a hunting grade shotgun. The walnut shows some very
nice grain with good color and a gloss finish. The pistol grip
and fore end wears well-executed cut checkering. The wood is
what sold me on this gun. I wasn’t really in the market for a
new shotgun at the time, but when I spotted the gun while on a
trip through Cody, Wyoming, I had to have it. Browning does a
good job of furnishing nice wood with their shotguns, even their
field grade guns.
I have had this Gold Hunter for almost two years
now, and it has never malfunctioned even once with many, many
shells run through it, from light target loads through
three-inch magnums. The gun is easy to keep clean, disassembling
quickly to clean the gas system. I take it down, clean it with Break-Free
CLP, and leave it wet. It takes about five minutes total.
The gas system is self-adjusting on the Gold, with no valves to
turn, friction rings to flip over, or o-rings to change. Just
load and shoot.
The Gold Hunter is very easy on the shoulder.
The gas system and recoil pad do a great job of softening the
punch, allowing the shooter to fire a couple of hundred shells
A great little feature that is exclusive to the
Browning Gold is the speed-load. With the bolt locked rearward,
as it does when empty, inserting a shell into the magazine tube
sends it immediately to the chamber, making the Gold ready to
fire instantly, without pressing any buttons. This is a
worthwhile feature when the shooting is fast, as over an active
The balance and handling of the Gold Hunter is
with a slight bias towards the front end, steadying the swing
and allowing for quick handling without being too light and
whippy out front. It comes up quick and swings very smoothly.
The gun weighs seven and one quarter pounds, but feels a bit
lighter due to the excellent balance. While this particular
model is not listed as a target gun, the slight muzzle-heavy
feel along with the gun’s ability to reliably cycle very light
target loads, would make this gun very suitable at Sporting
Clays. For a gas gun to handle both hunting and clay sports, I
can think of none better than the Gold Hunter. Using the same
gun for shooting clays and hunting should improve scores in both
After being around for a few years, I think that
Browning has a real winner in the Gold auto loading shotgun.
It is a good successor to the venerable old A-5, and
worthy to wear the Browning name. I think that John Browning
would be proud.
Check out the complete line of Browning Gold
shotguns at: www.browning.com
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