By Tom in Oregon
Durning the FNS-40 contest I decided to rummage through the safe for an FN-related object. I found what I was looking for and since I knew where its brother was, I called my buddy and got his for a photo session. A few months back, my friend and I were negotiating a deal with a gentleman for a shop full of reloading equipment, components and whatever else the gent was looking to sell. He had several guns set to go on the auction block, too. As my friend had already bought three from him at very reasonable prices, I knew I was in, too . . .
After inspecting all of the Dillon equipment he had, a price was settled upon. We loaded everything up and were walking out the door when the gent said, “reach into one of those boxes.” I did and pulled out a shotgun that looked very familiar, but in 35 years of gun shows and collecting, I had never seen one before.
It was a Browning A5 with a mag extension. The gent then had me pull another from another box. He then proceeded to give them to us. In our circle, a shiny object (or blued in this case) given, gets a shiny object in return. We each handed him our EDC pocket knives in return. Mine was a favorite Al Mar Mini SERE. I don’t remember what knife my friend handed him.
The gent got a tear in his eye and remarked that this was better than money. We parted, happy in new-found friends.
After getting home, I started using my best Google-fu to find the story behind these cool looking pieces. Seems back in the late 60’s and early 70’s, FNH made these smoothbores for the South African police. Somewhere along the line, they ended up in service during the Rhodesian Bush War. After that, Century Arms imported somewhere between 250 and 500 of them. This was back in the early 1990‘s.
As you can see from the photos along with FNH’s serial number and other markings, the three letters POL are below. This appears to verify the police issue. Also on the receiver, bolt and barrel, they are stamped and engraved RA-XXX, (with the x’s actually being 3 numbers). This also seems to verify the use by the Rhodesian Army.
Here is a picture I found regarding the Rhodesian Bush War. Notice the black fellow in the center of the picture. There is another one on the right.
The shotguns were coated with a heavy grease/cosmoline when we got them. Not being up on the inner workings of an A5 shotgun, a competent gunsmith was enlisted to take them apart, give them a thorough cleaning and test them for safety.
Their condition after return was terrific. As old as they are, they function very well, even with low brass #8. No hiccups so far.
Sights are a simple bead front sight, with a flat, grooved receiver.
Safety is a common cross bolt, set behind the trigger. Bolt release if it is locked back is a familiar button on the right side of the receiver just below the charging handle.
A unique feature is the magazine tube lockout lever. If you load the tube with 7 rounds and flick the lever rearward, you can then load one round at a time in the ejection port and fire. Flick the lever forward and it releases the tube magazine to freely auto load the rounds.
It is a heavy beast, coming in at 8-1/2 pounds empty. Depending on what you load, add 8 rounds of 2-3/4″ 12 gauge ammo and it’s just under 10 pounds.
I think one full oak tree was cut down to make each shotgun. As you can see in the photos, that is a large piece of oak fore-end.
In reading past articles on these, I found that they were frequently issued to the point man in a unit. I can’t imagine lugging this beast through the jungle, but what a formidable weapon it is. It now makes a fine home defense weapon, and it matches the furniture to boot! Honey Oak.
I hope you enjoyed this brief bit of info and pictures on a couple of pieces of fine FN history. And no, they aren’t for sale. But if you find yourself up in my neck of the woods, I’ll gladly let you shoot it.