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Thread: Browning Auto 5 shotgun manufacture date

  1. #1
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    Default Browning Auto 5 shotgun manufacture date

    I have a Belgium (FN) made Browning Auto 5 20 ga. which has a serial number whose nomanclature is not listed on the Browning web page. The serial number has two rows of numbers, the top being 71Z and the bottom 5xxx1. Can anyone tell me when this shotgun was manufactured and any other information about it. Any information would be appreciated.

  2. #2
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    By that format, according to Browning;

    In 1969 Browning started using two digits for the date of manufacture which was followed by a four digit code that identified the type of Auto-5:
    M=standard weight
    G=light weight
    This was then followed by the serial number beginning with 1000.
    Example: 69G1000 = A 1969 Auto-5 Lightweight 12 ga.. shotgun with a serial number of 1000.
    Yours should be a 1971 vintage, serial number 5xxx1.
    Nothing shows what a "Z" code should be, M being a "standard" and G being a "light". They reference those to 12-gauge, I wonder if Z would be a code for one of the 20-gauge versions, or some manner of "limited edition" model.

    Also, there have been unique limited edition models that did not follow our regular serial number configurations and they are not included in this listing.

  3. #3
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    Also from Browning:

    Add a piece of history to your firearm! For $39.95 (Shipping included), our Browning Historian will research your firearm and type a historical letter.
    Historical Letters include: Date of manufacture, invoice number, date of sale, to where the gun was shipped, and a description of the firearm.
    All letters come on official Browning Historic Letterhead which is authentically stamped & signed by the Historian and are enclosed in a plastic cover.
    For more information, please contact Browning Customer Service at 1-800-333-3288

  4. #4
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    Lastly, I love my A5, replace the recoil spring in it every decade or so. I replace the bolt return spring about every 15 years or so. Both get worked very hard in use. If the springs get weaker (they do) and the gun continues to see use, they tend to eventually batter the locking rocker assy out of the top of the bolt assy. I do not have the "minimum resting length" of those springs handy just now, but it is written down downstairs.
    When the recoil system is set for "heavy" and it cycles my trap loads, here's a clue the springs are tired.

    You will find the hammer pivot bearing wears egg-shaped after 15 or 20 years of hard use too, replace the hammer every couple decades (or 30,000 rounds or so).

    My Belgian Light 12 has an estimated 70,000 rounds fired, so far, in her life and continues to splat Pheasants, Quail, and Clay Pigeons every year.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the info Oldstuffer. The trigger is gold plated, has a ventilated rib barrel, it has the nicer grade of wood stock (nice checkering and very shiny finish), and the receiver has some nice engraving (BROWNING with a small picture of John below and Twenty written in script near the top). Does this identify it in any way?

  6. #6
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    Not to the limited data at my disposal.

    The Gold Trigger is a comon touch, even on my "Grade 1" (the "standard field grade"). Long worn off the finger face of mine, the vent ribs were an option on most (especially ours age), but I think it was more comonly selected than the plain, and I think it looks better.

    There were 2 "limited editions" the "Classic" (prod. 5,000) and "Classic Gold" (prod. 500) but they were grey receivers (not blued) and among the inlays was the "One Of Five Thousand (or hundred). These were a 1984 production, so not yours. A call to Browning for a letter will get you all you can find out.

    You probably have a "Grade III", if they were still optioning them that way. My info has those "upgraded decorations" stopping with a 1949 model change.

    A5's date back to 1902, fully to 1999. MANY different versions made over the decades.

  7. #7
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    My reference shows the 'Z' code as a light weight model. This was used in the 20 gauge Auto 5 numbering system.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oldstuffer View Post
    ...My Belgian Light 12 has an estimated 70,000 rounds fired, so far, in her life and continues to splat Pheasants, Quail, and Clay Pigeons every year.
    Wow, for more than one reason, I am impressed and jealous at the same time...
    Seen on U.S. Forces bumper sticker:
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  9. #9
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    When would a LT 20 Z3 sn: 7xx78 have been made? This thing look WELL worn, but shoots like a dream.
    "A gun is a tool, Marian; no better or no worse than any other tool: an axe, a shovel or anything. A gun is as good or as bad as the man using it. Remember that." -- Shane




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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by LewR View Post
    Wow, for more than one reason, I am impressed and jealous at the same time...
    Well, adding up hunting trips is a nightmare, BUT, for 4 years in the 1980's, year-round, she & I went trap shooting 2x a week, usually 2 boxes a night, which alone is 20,800 rounds.
    For another 2 years, I was shooting "eliminations" (aka "knockout") with some folks every wednesday evening under the lights, year-round. Average was 75 shots a night (some over 100, a few, 5 shots, period), making another 7,800 rounds.
    Busting clay targets on my own with friends and a hand or ground thrower, hunting trips. MANY boxes burned up scaring turtledoves (not that many doves hit lol)
    15 years ago, when I had a better handle on it, I reached the 50,000 mark, and felt rediculous.
    The last 2 octobers, at my trap club, in one day she devoured 10 boxes of shells, without a hiccup.

    The bluing is GONE, I think about re-bluing her sometimes, I don't care about "collectable value". She's a workhorse, and will either be turned over to some deserving child after my time is done to be used and cared for, or FINALLY sold, again, to someone to enjoy using her (unless I just have her burried with me).

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by shucks View Post
    When would a LT 20 Z3 sn: 7xx78 have been made? This thing look WELL worn, but shoots like a dream.
    Z3 or 3Z?
    Z3 does not fit info on Browning's website for S/N dating the A5.
    3Z DOES fit (assuming as info says above that "Z" was used in the 20-ga designations) 1958 to 1967.

    Going with Jag's information and the above, yours MIGHT be a 1963 Light 20.
    On closer looking, your Serial Number, being a 70,000 S/N, IF it is a "Light 20", indicates a 1957 model.
    G23001-85000
    My Light 12 is a 1957 that dad bought New:
    4G
    S/N 28xx9
    1957Serial Numbering System changed again. M=Standard Weight. G=Light Weight.M22000-M85000
    G23001-85000
    Last edited by Oldstuffer; 12-26-2010 at 09:15 PM.

  12. #12
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    The info I have shows the 3Z as a light 20 gauge made in 1963

  13. #13
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    I'm following this thread and after I looked up my number on the Browning Ser. # charts, I'm not sure what I have.
    Little help here?
    First Line 0M
    Second line 17822
    If the M is standard weight (and the gun is), what is the 0?
    How do I decipher this one?
    "It's not that we're better than everybody else, it's just that everybody else sucks."


  14. #14
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    The "O" prefix shows your gun was made in 1960, it is a standard weight 12 gauge.

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