Thursday, May 26, 2022

More than just Sales off for Memorial Day - Founders Cigar Company

More than just Sales off for Memorial Day - Founders Cigar Company

Amidst five pages of Memorial Day sales one company stood out for me... a cigar company.  

Founders Cigar Company did something different promoting a partnership with Operation: Cigars For Warriors

The program is a “purchase and donation” promotion that will allow customers to “buy a cigar for the troops” - For only $8.50, a customer can purchase a cigar, which is then matched by Founders with an additional stick (cigar) and sent every month to Operation: CFW’s Operations Center for inclusion in care packages. To hear more watch this video below.

If you just want to try some great cigars, hit their site at to buy some great cigars from a veteran operated business.

Monday, May 16, 2022

NiBx Browning A5 12 Gauge - Resurrecting a Legend - Part 3

NiBx Browning A5 12 Gauge - Resurrecting a Legend - Part 3

We get all excited over the newest shotgun with an extra big bolt release button, phallic symbol length magazine tube, and a charging handle about the size of a baby arm, however in reality, the Browning A5s will still be around 100 years from now long after the others lay broken in a gunsmith’s parts bin. This is the last article of a very long-term nearly five-year three-part series focused on resurrecting a 1926 Browning A5 12-Gauge shotgun. In this part 3, I am cutting the barrel down to a 18.5-inch, reducing magazine capacity to standard 4+1, finishing up the furniture, doing some final tuning and attaching a sling.  Don’t worry, there is more A5 fun to come. I have two more cheap A5s no one wanted which I have converted to Shockwaves with two Sarco virgin Belgium A5 receivers. Yep, my next projects will be making non-NFA “Shockwave Firearms”. If you are an A5 fan read on.

In Part 1 of my Browning A5 12-gauge resurrection, I deep cleaned and updated the 1920s vintage Browning A5 with new recoil and action springs and friction rings, a Browning Speed-Feed lifter parts set was added for faster and smoother reloads and a giant amount of magazine capacity was added in the form of a Nordic Components MXT tube extension to a 9 +1 total capacity. 

In Part 2, the entire gun was disassembled and WMD NiBx (NiBo + Teflon) coated which frankly is about as amazingly awesome as any 28-inch barreled A5 can get. The WMD coating process made every part look new. The problem was the MXT extension nut stripped out after a few hundred rounds and shot the magazine tube across the range like a spear gun. Nordic sent out another under warranty which was used in Part 3.

That was well over four years ago and now we have the final format, a Rhodesian style Browning A5.

The Browning A5 was used in both World Wars as a trench and combat shotgun and they learned a lot about what worked in warfare, which was more capacity and a shorter barrel with open improved cylinder choke. The Rhodesian model was really the pinnacle design of those defensive needs.

The un-officially named A8 was actually produced for the Rhodesian military so named for its 8+1 capacity and shorter 23-inch barrel with improved cylinder choke. There is some conflicting information that FNH and Remington also made some additional international police models with some shorter 20” barrels versions which only held 7+1. The Rhodesian was so named for its extensive use in the Rhodesian South African war 1964-1979. Technically, the shotguns were FNH Belgium made, shipped to South Africa and smuggled into Rhodesia. The actual Rhodesian models were sterile with no labeling, and were just hand “Rack Numbered” with a vibrating steel pen. These were produced by FNH with eight shell magazine tubes and amazingly long forends. 

Allegedly there were less than a 1000 ever made, some say less than 500, since the serial numbers only indicate a three digit numeric rack number. In the 1990s only about 300 were ever imported by Century Arms into the US. The result is they are VERY rare and expensive when they do come up for sale. Finding and buying a Rhodesian Browning is akin to buying Vibranium Armor - since that does not actually exist, you get the idea. The last Rhodesian I was able to find sold for over $5000 about ten years ago. It was the 1960s factory equivalent of a Browning 3Gun A5.

The insane 32-inch overall barrel length (28-inch barrel plus a 6-inch corn cob compensator/variable-choke) was pointless when 90% of the time I was blasting away at 25 yards or less. The insane barrel length was far from a handy length.

After the Part 2 A5 Resurrection build article, I found that the reality of an already heavy all steel Browning A5, obscenely long barrel, and ten total rounds loaded was so heavy it was a body building exercise to shoot. The two times MXT mag tube extension failure was also a motivator to rethink capacity. Most of the time, I was only loading about seven rounds so why have a gun that could hold ten and weigh 10.5-lbs loaded. Another MXT failure had me thinking the stock steel magazine tube cap was the only reliable option. Sadly that meant this Rhodesian style build would only be 4+1 rounds. 

As shown in this Part 3 Rhodesian build with the shortened magazine tube, correctly fitted and shortened solid walnut butttock, and mounted sling, the gun is now down to 8.4-lbs empty and balances perfectly mid-receiver with an overall length of 37.5-inches. I could probably hog out another half pound of walnut from the buttstock, but the balance is really nice at this point.  Break out the hacksaw, we are going to talk though a lighter shorter beast. More on the magazine extension later.

Before the hatemail flows of - “you idiot, you hacked a museum quality A5!” This specimen was originally sold at an estate sale for about $150 to my FFL and to me for $200 - it never was a museum piece. Even if it was, John Browning would be in favor of building something unique with one of his creations. With that noted after the WMD treatment, I actually had someone offer me $3000 as it seems to be the only NiBx coated A5 in existence. With the WMD coating it could in theory be submerged in salt water for 50-years and still come out operational.

What I wanted was a faster, shorter and lighter version like a Browning Rhodesian. What the A5 does need to function is typically a minimum a 1-⅛-ounce load. Lighter loads had not been invented back then so the A5 shotgun was not designed to cycle them well. I can get super light 1oz load stuff to cycle, but it requires removal of friction rings on this build.

I do see a lot of armchair A5 “Expert” forum jockeys note the A5 needs the barrel length and weight to be reliable, yet this 18.5-inch barreled chop job runs great. With the correct load, right spring and friction ring setup, the A5 will run just fine with an 18.5-inch barrel. Most of the time my setup is left in the “heavy” spring/ring configuration.

The capacity was scaled back to 7+1 rounds with the Nordic Components MXT +2 magazine tube extension. Esthetically, the magazine tube length matched perfectly with a 18.5-inch barrel, looked fantastic, but well… shot down range like a harpoon spear again - alas another stripped MXT nut. I love Nordic, but the adapter should have been made from steel to handle the goofy recoil and less than perfect thread on the magazine tube. Back to the proven Midwest Firearms all steel swivel sling magazine tube cap and stuck with 4+1 capacity.

Looking back, I do wish I would have done some beveling and smoothing work on the magazine reloading port area before nibx coating. The abrupt edges around this area do seem a little harsh after getting used to competition tuned shotgun reloading ports. On the next A5 builds, the reloading ports all received a lot of smoothing and beveling.

In theory chopping the barrel is pretty quick, but doing it correctly to deliver a uniform shot pattern involves more than a hacksaw and a file and should include a recrown. According to ATF standards, the barrel length is measured from the closed bolt face to the end of the barrel with any chokes removed. Measure, tape, cut, and file… but, crowning proved an issue. Generally, I use Pacific Tool & Gauge gunsmithing tools and they sell the roughing muzzle cutter and the finishing crown cutter. You technically do not need both, however the roughing cutter is designed to chew down wonky hacksaw cuts and the finish crown cutter is not very tolerant to that initial mess. 

The barrel was cut and leveled as good as my eye could get. What I thought was an amazing hand file job on the crown was, of course, considerably off square after using both Pacific Tool crowning tools. So $150 in on more specialized tools, I had a beautifully square 11-degree crown on a 18.5-inch barrel. I will not this crowning delivered such concentric patterns that I thought heavily about recrowning all my shotgun barrels.

After handling many A5s since purchasing this one, I realized the furniture on this model was actually stunningly good and had some character without being abused. I decided to flip from the polymer stock shown in the other builds back to the original wood version, do a bit of steaming out the dents and trimming the original wood buttstock and buttstock replaced with a limbsaver pad and the stock drilled for a swivel stud. 

After citrus stripping, the checkering was cleaned with rubbing alcohol and a toothbrush was all that was needed to prep the furniture for a re-lacquer. Some people go nuts with sanding hand checkered vintage furniture and they usually end up losing a lot of detail. Both the buttstock and handguard were sprayed with high quality satin lacquer. That light refinishing was all that was needed to make them look amazing.

Just as I wish I would have beveled and rounded the reloading port area before sending to WMD for coating, I wish I would have thought through the barrel length thing and also brazed on a front bead mount. With the insanely slick WMD coating, I could not use regular brazed sights and instead had to use a long Williams shotgun sight pipe with VHB tape which has held. Seems pretty well stuck after testing with a few boxes of shells.

This is a blast to shoot, handles great and the crisp and true crown seems to pattern really well for the point blank to 35-yards with various birdshot and buckshot out to 50-yards. Though I don’t expect to shoot an abundance of slugs, 4-inch 50-yard groups seemed consistently easy and my stick on front sight ended up closely zeroed. With the new action and recoil springs and friction rings, the recoil was very well managed by the A5 design to be one of the softest shooting shotguns available and then there it the fact that it remains an insanely fast cycling that will float five empty hulls in the air before one hits the ground.

I own and review many shotguns which most would consider some of the best modern shotguns on the market, however there is just something so cool about shooting something that was designed and patented over 120 years ago and produced nearly 100-years ago that still feels every bit as modern as the newest shotgun available. The sound, feel and cycling of the A5 is really unique and the cycling speed will give my Mossberg 940 JM Pro a run for its money. 


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