Bobby Cole | Originally published in GameKeepers: Farming for Wildlife Magazine
Like many of you, I grew up loving shotguns and rifles. I started with a single shot .410 and quickly moved on to a borrowed .16 gauge pump that I nearly wore the finish off while cleaning. I loved that gun.
Next came the little .20 gauge Remington 1100. From that point on in my life until recently, my shotguns were Remington. I had nothing against the other brands at all, it’s just what I started with and I was confident with one in my hands. During my eight-year college career, I worked at a sporting goods store in Montgomery, Alabama, that sold lots of firearms. (College takes that long if you don’t go during the fall or spring because of deer and turkey seasons.) I got to hold them all and more importantly I got to talk to lots of gun enthusiasts and hear their opinions. Everybody has one.
The only guns I am interested in are hunting guns. I used to love to listen to caliber discussion and bullet weights arguments. I also enjoy hearing what works best for ducks, turkeys, dove and other upland birds. We really are living in the golden age of firearms. Both guns and ammo are at their best. Dove loads really haven’t changed, but waterfowl and turkey loads have come a long way.
I remember a local gun aficionado named Bobby Thomase buying a box of every kind of turkey load in 1985 (there weren’t but three) to find what shot the best in his turkey gun. Today would be a different story and I am certain he has bought them all to find the best. Barrel length and screw chokes have made a single shotgun very versatile. The big decision now is whether to get a 26 or 28 inch barrel since choke discussion has been thankfully eliminated.
For some reason I never owned a Browning A5 back in the day when they were so popular. I don’t know why I never did. They were handsome guns and felt nice. They were clearly a fine firearm and I sold many of them. I think I had a hang up with the hump on the back of the receiver; I didn’t think my eye looked down the barrel as easily as it did the Remington. Then the gun sadly went away as modern times dictated.
Recently at a SHOT Show I was perusing the Browning booth, as I love to do, and noticed what looked like a classic Browning A5. I reached for it and it was streamlined a bit but clearly the same gun. It was dipped in Mossy Oak Shadow Grass Blades and had a unique rubbery texture. It wasn’t slick. It gripped my hands.
Looking around to make sure no one was watching I threw the gun to my shoulder and MAN let me tell you it felt good! Wow. I looked at it about 30 more times in three days and it was all I could think about on the flight home.
I finally scrapped up the money and purchased one with a 26-inch barrel. The gun is light and points quickly. I have since learned the frame is built from aircraft-grade aluminum. It has quickly become my new duck gun. I absolutely love the way it feels and shoots. It handles the recoil of 3-inch shells just fine with its new Kinematic Drive System that harnesses recoil energy and converts it into the mechanical motion needed to operate the action. The gun feels reliable and Browning is offering a 100,000 round or five year guarantee.
That hump I always worried about, now melds seamlessly into the rib to extend the sight plane. I was sold just holding the gun. I have learned change can be good. I thoroughly enjoyed hunting with it this past fall. By now the gun isn’t something new and I hope you have seen one. If you haven’t, I would strongly encourage you to check out the Browning A5. It ain’t your granddaddy's gun; it’s better for a number of reasons. GameKeepers will like this one.