SOLD FOR: $2225
Make: Fabrique Nationale
Serial Number: 18203
Year of Manufacture: Ca. 1913
Gauge: 16 Gauge, 2 9/16” Shells
Action Type: Long-Recoil Operated Tube Magazine Fed Semi-Automatic Shotgun
Markings: The left of the barrel is marked “ACIER SPECIAL” and with Belgian proof marks, the bottom has Belgian proof/inspection marks. The bottom of the magazine lug is marked “18203” and with inspection marks. The bottom of the barrel extension is marked “203”, the top has Belgian proofs. The top of the forend near the front is marked “18203”. The left of the receiver is marked “FABRIQUE NATIONALE D’ARMES DE GUERRE HERSTAL BELGIQUE / BROWNING’S PATENT DEPOSE”, the right has Belgian proof marks and the bottom-front is marked “FN / 18203” with an inspection mark. The side of the bolt has Belgian proof marks and “39”, the rear of the charging handle is marked “739”. The head of the left carrier screw is marked “2 / 03”. The right of the bottom tang is marked “18203”. The bottom tang inlet of the wrist has “18203” stamped. The shank of the stock mounting screw is marked “203”. The receiver and barrel have early FN type III factory engraving.
Barrel Length: 27 1/2″
Choke: Full, Fixed
Sights / Optics: There is a silver-colored bead in a base fixed to the front of the barrel. The top of the receiver has a sighting plane which is serrated for glare reduction.
Stock Configuration & Condition: The stocks are two-piece checkered walnut with finger-grooved forend, semi-pistol grip, straight comb with European-style cheekpiece, serrated horn FN buttplate and a sling swivel in the belly (there is another swivel mounted to the front of the magazine cap). The stocks have some scattered light nicks, scratches and general light handling wear. The forend has a loss on the inside edge at the top-right-front and a repaired crack at the rear edge on the bottom-right. The buttstock has a couple of more notable dings in the wrist, one on the left-front and another on the front of the grip behind the bottom tang. There are a couple of short cracks and minor losses around the rear edge of the top tang. The checkering is well defined. The LOP measures 14 1/4″ from the front of the trigger to the back of the buttplate. The plate has light-moderate wear with some worm holes and flaking. Overall, the stocks are in Good-pus condition.
Type of Finish: Blued
Finish Originality: Original to the parts, the bolt assembly is not original to the gun.
Bore Condition: The bore is bright. There is no erosion in the bore.
Overall Condition: This shotgun retains approximately 15% of its metal finish. Finish remains in protected areas such as around raised features and along the edges of the forend. Other areas have mostly worn to white or gone to a light patina. There are some scattered light nicks and scuffs. The action shows operational wear. The screw heads range from sharp to tool marked with strong slots. The markings are clear. Overall, this shotgun is in Good condition.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly. We have not fired this shotgun. As with all used firearms, a thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance standards.
Box, Paperwork & Accessories: None.
Our Assessment: The Browning Automatic 5, most often Auto-5 or simply A-5, is a recoil-operated semi-automatic shotgun designed by John Browning. The Browning Auto-5 was the first mass-produced semi-automatic shotgun. Designed by John Browning in 1898 and patented in 1900, it was produced continually for almost 100 years by several makers with production ending in 1998. It features a distinctive high rear end, earning it the nickname “Humpback”. It is also an important piece of Browning/Winchester history.
John Browning had previously sold his designs to Winchester for lump-sum payments, turning over all of the patents related to a particular model. Winchester had gotten in the habit of having their engineers and attorneys assist Browning in filing for his patents, in order to ensure that when they received those same patents they would be airtight. Browning’s experiences with Colt and FN had convinced him that he would be better off licensing his designs rather than selling them outright, but when he presented this to Winchester, they refused his terms. This ended the relationship between Winchester and Browning.
Browning would eventually license the design to FN in Europe and later to Remington for their Model 11 and to Savage Arms for their Models 720 and 755. These designs went on to be a great commercial success, the first truly successful autoloading shotgun. While Browning received all of FN’s production to be sold in North America and was able to license production to other North American companies, FN also licensed the design to sell under their own name in other world markets. This is an example of an FN made gun marked for sale outside North America, and it is a fairly early gun, a 16 gauge made in 1913. It is a high-grade gun with an early FN Type III engraving pattern. The gun looks like it has served its previous owners well over the last century, with honest wear consistent with its age. The bolt assembly has been replaced, but other serialized parts match and the gun retains a good bore and strong mechanics. Whether you’re looking to add to your Browning collection or want a classy 16 gauge field gun, this will be a nice addition to any safe in America. Please see our photos and good luck!