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No easy answer-- both are "good."

The Miroku guns have harder barrels-- and the later production is mostly screw-choked. Doesn't make them "better," certainly not more collectible, but makes them more versatile.
 

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I personally think the Belgium A5 is better, but for your waterfowl hunting the Japanese A5 would be better(steel shot compatible).
 

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The earlier "round knob" Belgian guns have a level of crafstmanship, fit, and finish that we aren't accustomed to today of any production guns. Browning couldn't keep that level of fit and finish up though, and starting with the glossy stocked, square knob, short tang guns in the early sixties,,,,,that quality level declines. But,,,,if you want a piece of jewelry you can shoot,,,the early Belgian guns are beyond comparison. The early Belgian guns are for those of us that not only shoot the gun, but also sit around and admire the thing. The Belgian steel used was soft. No steel shot can be used. Ever. But, for lead loads they work as well today as they ever did.

Now, all the late Belgian guns and all the Japanese guns were high quality, well made, shoot for three lifetimes reliable workhorse guns. The later Japanese guns had screw chokes and probably better quality steel used throughout. They are for shooters. They are probably better as shooters than the earlier Belgian guns, especially for steel shot.
 

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There are no short tang-long tang A-5's. They are all the same. True the Belgian guns of the late 60's through most of the 70's are not up to the A-5's standards but that was more than fixed with the move to Japan. That said there are no bad A-5 years. The worst ones are still way above any other autoloader out there.
 

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I pretty much agree with all of you guys. My favorite A5s, for looking, are from the early 1950's. When I head out to the field, a Miroku gun is on my arm, though. I like to waterfowl with Hevishot and like to be able to change chokes.

My favorite Grade IV A5 is a 1937 Sweet Sixteen with a Circassian walnut stock. This gun has the older style green and yellow gold inlays and is seldom seen in that configuration. Mostly a gun for looking but I shoot it now and then.
 

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When I decided to get an A5 I specifically set out to find a Japanese version with standard invector chokes. The main reason was that my BPS uses invector and I wanted to be able to use my existing tubes. Also, when I got my BPS for my birthday back in 1986, the dealer told my dad that the Japanese Brownings were actually better made than the Belgian guns. I have no idea if that's true, but I've kind of believed it all these years.
 

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Sure he told him that, Trying to sell a gun.

I have both Japanese and Belgian guns in different gauges. There is no question the Belgians are "better" made, that is fit, finish etc. Grip is smaller, forend thinner, gun seems lighter etc.

I have put my Japanese barrel on my Belgians before too. Especially on Sweet 16, the Belgian gun much better fit, so if I am going somewhere I need non-tox, then I usually just swap the barrels.

As far as better mechanically or durability? I think both will out live you.

Why Browning does not "re-make" this gun is beyond me. They would sell more than the new Maximus or Maxus or whatever. (although I handled one last week, very light weight, I liked it)
 

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My Japanese guns have a much better fit and finish than several of my later Belgian guns. But the best one is the one you get the best deal on. When replacement screw in choke barrels were cheap and easy to get many times you were better off getting a nice pristine Belgian gun and just buying another barrel. Now you are probably better off looking for the exact gun you want and not thinking you will buy the first nice gun and simply pick up the barrel you want. Barrels are getting pricey.
 

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For a flat out, kick butt, waterfowling piece, i don't think you can beat an A-5 Mag Stalker. No better auto in my opinion. May not be as pretty as a nice wood belgian, but they pattern good and seem to function better in adverse conditions than any other auto I've ever used.
 

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I too have A-5s in all gauges, models and configurations in both Belgian and Japanese versions. I have to tell you, the belgian guns are lighter, smoother and just seem to shoulder better. The barrel walls the thinner, and the forearms are also thinner as well. I also think the factory LOP is just a hair shorter on the belgian guns. I carry a belgian in the field.

I agree, browning needs to re-make the A-5, and roll out a 28ga and 410 version. Up to 1999, they kept tring to replace it and failed......B-80, B2000, a500, ect All inferior to the A-5. And all autoloaders since since, just can't compare. I read that they discontinued it because the manufacturing costs toward the end exceeded all other models. The receiver was milled out of a solid piece of steel and all parts were machined, not stamped like other guns.
 

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As noted above, Belgium and Japanese A5s both have their strengths and limitations. I have several examples of both, but much prefer Belgium made (up to the early 60's). They just feel and look right. The mid- to late 50's seem to have the best compilation of finish and features. That said, I think the very early straight stockers and the '30's 3-shot versions are the neatest.

A5guy, any chance we could see a pic of your '37 grade IV sweet? That's something I'd really like to see!

Decoy
 

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My first A5 was purchased for me by my dad in 1961. It was a Belgian lightweight with 28" Mod vent rib which we had opened to skeet. Speigal Catalog for $189. A lot of money for us then and my dad made payments for many years. A few years back I bought a Japanese 20 ga. A5 when I heard they would be discontinued. I really do not see any difference in quality. I love them both and shoot them well. Many 100 straights with the 12 ga. A 99 at the CT state shoot in 1968 with a 99. For sure the only A5 on the field. Today I take the 20 ga. out once in a while on the skeet field and the pheasants just give up and jump in my bag when it goes to the hunting clubs. Great gun Belgian or Japanese. Although, it is nice to have a Belgian in a day when nothing is made where it originated. Also I have a number of Japanese Citoris and have no problem with quality, fit or finish.
 

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I have one made in Portugal and one made in Japan. Is the Portugee gun as well made as the Nip gun, in your opinion?
 

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EV, you have a made/assembled in Portugal A5? Can you post some pictures?
Thanks!
 

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evbutler said:
I have one made in Portugal and one made in Japan. Is the Portugee gun as well made as the Nip gun, in your opinion?
Are you sure the Portuguese gun is an A-5?

An A-500 maybe?
 

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It is a Light Twelve A-5 that I bought/traded for new just before they were discontinued. It has a 22" barrel with Portugal stamped on the barrel. I figured the whole gun was made there. I'll get to my safe and find it, see what the receiver has on it.
 

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It has been my experience that the Belgian made guns are better for upland game especially in 16ga, the barrels are much lighter and livelier, and as mentioned before, but for ME they just point better. Japanese guns are compatable with steel shot, waterfowl hunting is where they shine, with the invector chokes the shot and load combinations are limitless, for others these may point better for them than a belgian, we each have differing needs in gun balance and weight.
Fit and finish are very close on either, of course the mid fities Belgians are the most sought after due to the quality available at that time, professionals took more pride in their work in those days, especially in Europe.
I use a 1953 Belgian Std weight sixteen with a poly for pheasant, a 1966 Sweet with mod vr barrel for sporting clays, and now a 1955 Sweet plain barrel for upland hunting. I do not have the opportunity to waterfowl hunt at present, but given the fact that bismuth ammo is readily available, it boils down to one's own personal choice,as stated above, both are well made, practically indestructible, and will serve for many years with only routine rudimentary maintenance, the only quirk is keeping the chamber polished to prevent any cycling issues, that, is by far, less than any of the other brands of "autos" I have owned in the past.
I prefer Belgians, but that is MY preference, I beg not to choose for everyone or pit one above the other, it is a personal choice, but with the prices the way they are now, I truly believe an A5 is the best choice above all the others, whether Belgian or Japanese. A proven design for over 100 years.
 

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txrick55 said:
I do not have the opportunity to waterfowl hunt at present, but given the fact that bismuth ammo is readily available
Rick, maybe this fall we need to have a re-enactment hunt, I have a 1954 model I could use and a great place where the birds are in your face. If your interested, drop me a PM.
 

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I have a 1968 A-5 Light 12. With out a doubt it is my favorite shooter. I've compared the bolt action to new auto loaders like the Beretta and Remington. Not even close to the machined quality of the Browning.
I know the other guns are good guns, but the A-5 IMHO is the best auto made. Was made anyway.
I'm sure the *** models are great guns, but I love my Belgium.
The pattern on this gun is damn near perfect. Twice as good as my 69 Superposed for some reason. It's almost like you took the shot and placed it on the paper.
 
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