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Browning to Try Lazarus Effect

Allen Randall, staff

The newly introduced A5 Sweet Sixteen could be a big hit for Browning.

There is an old saying: “time and tide wait for no man.” 

History has made it evident that the same saying can be applied to firearms. As time passed, both the hunter and the game they pursue grew smarter and keener. Sometime during the 20th century, namely the 1970’s, the American sportsman decided to leave the friendly 16-gauge shotgun behind and opt instead for either the lighter payload of the 20-gauge or the heavier payload of the 12-gauge. 

For a long time, Browning and Remington led the pack in providing the American hunter with his or her shooting iron for the field. I am willing to bet that the first shotgun almost all of us shot was our granddad’s Remington 1100 or Browning A5, with that signature hump at the end of the receiver. 

I know that was the case for me. 

Now it seems more and more hunters are pushing the Brownings to the side and choosing to shoot Italian jobs such as Benellis or Berettas. Personally, you would have to pry my Beretta Xtrema 2 out of my cold, dead hands before I would sell or get rid of it, I love that gun. 

Today, most hunters carry a 12 or 20-gauge. However, that may be about to change for some. Browning has decided to raise the 16-gauge from the grave and reintroduce their “A5 Sweet Sixteen.” 

The Sweet Sixteen was an iconic model for Browning, and I have had many conversations with my grandfather about how popular that model and payload were for many years. For some reason, hunters later turned the other cheek. 

I am excited to see if people will actually buy this gun. Never before have I had an opportunity to shoot, specifically, a Sweet Sixteen. I believe it is a good alternative for the older or younger shooter who doesn’t want that recoil associated with the 12, but still wants more sting than a 20. 

It is a sweet shooting load. 

At just under 6 pounds, the A5 Sweet Sixteen would be a perfect gun for quail, pheasants and even squirrels (if you hate them that much). It’s useful for hunters who need a light gun so they can stay on their toes and react quickly. Many argue that in dire situations, the 12-gauge is too heavy and cumbersome to permit shooting at a moment’s notice. 

However, there are several problems I can foresee with Browning’s re-launch. 

First off: shells. It is nearly impossible to find 16-gauge shells these days, and when you can they’re extremely expensive. Decent 12-gauge shells can go for around eight dollars a box, whereas a box of sixteen’s will cost you about 15 dollars. That’s pricy as far as shells are concerned. 

Another problem arises with the constantly evolving technology of guns; these new-fangled 12-gauge Italian jobs feel like shooting a bb gun — as smooth as it gets. Recoil is becoming less and less of a problem in today’s world. 

All that being said, I would love to see Browning’s rebirth of this classic succeed. It would be great to have a new lighter shotgun that can pack a punch. 

Do I want one? Yes. Do I have the $1,700 to pay the MSRP? No. But that is beside the point. There are positives to bringing back this model, and if Browning leads the way, other manufacturers may follow. 

This would drive the price of shells down, potentially making the 16 a popular payload once more. If you are searching for a light and quick gun that still packs enough punch to put a hurting on whatever critter is on the wrong end of the barrel, invest in a Browning A5 Sweet Sixteen. Until next time.

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