Browning Auto 5 + Ashton VSG

I love the old Browning Auto 5 Shotgun. It was on these old autoloaders that I learned how to shoot, how to hunt, and how to respect a firearm. I spent a lot of time in the woods with my grandfather and each of us had one in our hands. He is gone now, and I have his old Browning Auto-5s and Remington Model 11s. I still take them out into the field from time to time and of course enjoy a fine cigar after and reflect on the day’s hunt and memories of hunts past. So let’s look a little at the history of this classic John Browning design and work through why we’ll choose an Ashton VSG to go with it.

Browning Auto 5

FN made the Auto 5 from 1902 until 1998-9. They were made in Belgium until 1975 when production moved to Japan. Yet the Auto 5 design wasn’t just made by FN. The classic Remington Model 11 is a licensed copy and was the first semi-auto shotgun to be made in the United States. Remington made around 850,000 of them between 1905 and 1948. Savage also made the models 720 and 745 from 1930 until 1949. All told, the Auto 5 design is the second most manufactured auto-loading shotgun of all time. Only the Remington 1100 edges it out.

There are a couple of good stories about John Moses Browning and the work it took for him to get the Auto 5 made.

John Moses Browning with Auto 5 repeating shotgun
John Moses Browning with his Auto-5 repeating shotgun. (Image source: Wikimedia)

As with most of his long-gun designs of that era, Browning first took it to Winchester. They had a long working relationship at the time, one that had resulted in multiple lever and pump action rifles and the model 93 and 97 pump action shotguns. The story goes that Winchester thought the new autoloading shotgun design was ugly.

Browning Auto 5 shotgun humpback
Browning Auto-5’s AKA “Old Humpbacks”. Image by @mud_and_feathers

I agree that the humpback is nowhere near the sleek and sexy Browning-designed Winchester 94, but still. What were they thinking when they passed on buying his patents on this one?

Browning next went to Remington to see if it would be interested in making the ugly gun. The story told here is that while John Moses was waiting for a meeting with Marcellus Hartley, the president of Remington, Hartley had a heart attack and died. I guess that’s what happens when you leave the greatest firearms designer of at least the past 200 years waiting. No doubt frustrated, Browning next went to his new friends in Belgium. FN Herstal ran with it and ended up making the Auto 5 for almost 100 years.

F. N. Browning Auto 5 16ga
F. N. Browning Auto 5 16ga, original pre-WWII production semi-auto shotgun. (Image source: iCollector)

Ashton VSG

The Ashton VSG Enchantment is the cigar I have picked for our Browning-Auto-5 paring.

Ashton VSG Enchantment cigar
Ashton VSG Enchantment cigars. (Image source @ashtoncigar)

The VSG is made by the Fuentes in the Dominican Republic for Ashton. This cigar has a Sungrown Sumatra wrapper with binder and filler from the Dominican Republic. This is a bold, yet very refined cigar. The Enchantment vitola is a true figurado shape. The figurado shape was very popular in the US back in the middle of the last century, when the Auto-5 was king.

Shooting Notes

The Browning Auto 5 is a true classic. The humpback lines up perfect with the shooter’s eye for quick shooting. There is a distinctive feel too as the long recoil action returns to battery after a shot.

Tasting Notes

The Ashton VSG is balanced, smooth, sweet, and spicy. This is an exceptional cigar to be savored after a day in the field upland bird hunting.

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Author: Joey Webster

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