|  10/18/2015

Pheasant Shotgun Review: Browning A5 Ultimate

You know what’s really hard to do? Engineer the evolution of an already legendary product. Take Browning and its signature model A5. About as American as baseball and Apple Pie, “The Humpback” and they heyday of pheasant hunting go hand-in-hand.
With the trademark humpback incorporated into the new design, Browning ingeniously gives a nostalgic nod to the gun’s iconic predecessor. Beyond that, the shotgun has changed so much that comparisons to the original design are unfair. Simply put, if you want an old A5, buy a used one. “This ain’t your Grandpa’s Auto-5” is the clever Browning marketing line.
I first shouldered the new A5 during last year’s Rooster Road Trip, the A5 Hunter model, and found it to be an ideal pheasant shotgun. This year, I’m carrying the A5 Ultimate 12 gauge, an upgrade (about $200 MSRP more) that features gloss oil finish walnut and a satin finish engraved receiver. The engraving is different on each side of the receiver – pheasants on one side, mallards on the other, each surrounded by intricate scroll. Artwork never bagged a pheasant, but the attractive nature humanizes the Ultimate, and makes it a more appealing option for the upland hunter with designs on passing it down the next generation of A5 wingshooters.

First Impression
I put the A5 Ultimate through the paces in my home state of Minnesota for the opening weekend of pheasant hunting season, then uncased it again upon our arrival in Montana. At 6’1”, most modern semiautos fit me like a glove, and that’s the case with this 28” barreled gun. At 6 lbs. 13 oz., the gun is light and easy to carry, but not so deprived of heft that it’s a toothpick. I have a tendency to shoulder ultralight shotguns too quickly and rush shots, so I appreciate the A5 as more balanced to my liking.
First Rooster
The Browning A5 comes with a 100,000-round or 5-year guarantee (whichever comes first). We got our first two shots out of the way on wild roosters – what I consider to be the “Ultimate” testing ground. When my spaniel flushed a rooster and a hen simultaneously, I got caught gazing and didn’t focus intently enough, shooting behind the fast-escaping rooster. I bore down and recovered on the second shot, dropping the rooster cold at about 30 yards using the improved cylinder choke. Just 999,998 to go...that’s a lot of roosters!
Final Thoughts
In addition to being a joy to shoot, the A5 Ultimate is a breeze to assemble and clean; the Inflex II recoil pad is very comfortable.
Main Features
  • Gloss oil finish walnut (Grade III),
  • Satin finish engraved receiver,
  • Fiber optic bead,
  • Humbpack receiver,
  • Ergo balanced,
  • Recoil operated kinematic drive
-Anthony Hauck is Pheasants Forever’s director of public relations. Contact him at AHauck@pheasantsforever.org and follow him on Twitter @AnthonyHauckPF