Browning’s Gold Hunter Shotgun
by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

 

 

 

When someone mentions a Browning auto loading shotgun, most shooters think of the classic Browning Auto-5.  This is the gun that has endeared the name of John Browning to generations of shotgunners. That is not surprising given the fact that the A-5 was in production for almost a full century. The A-5 is still revered by many shooters and collectors, and is a fine shotgun. It works on the long recoil system, and while that design is a good one, most shooters today prefer a gas operated shotgun for versatility, reliability, and soft recoiling qualities. The A-5 was dropped from the Browning catalog a few years back, but Browning has found a worthy successor in it’s gas operated autoloader; the Browning Gold.

Browning introduced their Gold model shotgun in 1995, so it has been with us for a few years now. Browning makes numerous variations of the Gold, from dedicated target guns to field models, in 20, 12, and even  the 10 gauge. The target models are chambered for 2 ¾ inch shells, while the field models are chambered in three or three and one-half inch versions. The Gold is offered with both wood and synthetic stocks, in a variety of finishes from bright blue to camouflage.

The subject of this article is the Gold Hunter model in 12 gauge. It has a three inch chamber and a 26 inch vent-rib barrel with three screw-in choke tubes. It uses Browning’s Invector Plus tubes, which are longer than most on the market. It has a magazine capacity of four 2 ¾ inch shells or three 3 inch shells, plus one in the chamber.

One of the best features of the Gold is it’s reversible safety button. This is particularly important to me, as I shoot from the left shoulder. The location of the safety is just behind the trigger guard and easily reached with the trigger finger. Also, the shape of the trigger is very comfortable, with a more rounded shape than most, conforming nicely to the shape of the human trigger finger.

The particular gun shown here has exceptional wood for a hunting grade shotgun. The walnut shows some very nice grain with good color and a gloss finish. The pistol grip and fore end wears well-executed cut checkering. The wood is what sold me on this gun. I wasn’t really in the market for a new shotgun at the time, but when I spotted the gun while on a trip through Cody, Wyoming, I had to have it. Browning does a good job of furnishing nice wood with their shotguns, even their field grade guns.

I have had this Gold Hunter for almost two years now, and it has never malfunctioned even once with many, many shells run through it, from light target loads through three-inch magnums. The gun is easy to keep clean, disassembling quickly to clean the gas system. I take it down, clean it with Break-Free CLP, and leave it wet. It takes about five minutes total. The gas system is self-adjusting on the Gold, with no valves to turn, friction rings to flip over, or o-rings to change. Just load and shoot.

The Gold Hunter is very easy on the shoulder. The gas system and recoil pad do a great job of softening the punch, allowing the shooter to fire a couple of hundred shells without discomfort.

A great little feature that is exclusive to the Browning Gold is the speed-load. With the bolt locked rearward, as it does when empty, inserting a shell into the magazine tube sends it immediately to the chamber, making the Gold ready to fire instantly, without pressing any buttons. This is a worthwhile feature when the shooting is fast, as over an active dove field.

The balance and handling of the Gold Hunter is with a slight bias towards the front end, steadying the swing and allowing for quick handling without being too light and whippy out front. It comes up quick and swings very smoothly. The gun weighs seven and one quarter pounds, but feels a bit lighter due to the excellent balance. While this particular model is not listed as a target gun, the slight muzzle-heavy feel along with the gun’s ability to reliably cycle very light target loads, would make this gun very suitable at Sporting Clays. For a gas gun to handle both hunting and clay sports, I can think of none better than the Gold Hunter. Using the same gun for shooting clays and hunting should improve scores in both areas.

After being around for a few years, I think that Browning has a real winner in the Gold auto loading shotgun.  It is a good successor to the venerable old A-5, and worthy to wear the Browning name. I think that John Browning would be proud.

Check out the complete line of Browning Gold shotguns at:   www.browning.com

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.

 

The Gold Hunter balances very nicely with a slight bias toward the muzzle, which the author found to be helpful on swing and follow-through.

 

 

Browning's Gold Hunter features a proven gas operation that is both smooth and reliable.

 

 

The trigger of the Gold Hunter is more comfortable than most, and the excellent reversible safety is a Godsend for Southpaws like the author.

 

 

Browning uses a very nice selection of wood, even on their field-grade guns, and checkering is flawlessly executed.

 

 

A very effective recoil pad is nicely fitted to the buttstock.

 

 

Browning's Gold Hunter shotgun is a worthy successor to the legendary Auto-5.

 

 

Author considers the Browning Gold Hunter to be the finest gas-operated hunting / Sporting Clays shotgun available in today's market.