Mysterious very early Browning Auto-5 buttplate

Discussion in 'Browning Auto A-5' started by Biz, Dec 7, 2017.

  1. Biz

    Biz .22LR

    Hello everyone,
    A couple years ago I acquired an early Auto-5, serial 21758. The shotgun had a silver colored buttplate. I removed the buttplate and the buttstock to find that the buttplate, made of cast metal, was an exact copy of the hard rubber plate found on very early Auto-5. The serial number of the buttstock did not match the gun, it was 4739. That raised the obvious question, is that a FN production or an after market buttplate or a home made reproduction. Any clues

    Left original rubber buttplate Right cast metal
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    SHOOTER13 likes this.
  2. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 20g

    Biz, you come up with the most interesting stuff! All I can think of is that this is a male mold for the rubber part. Maybe it was discarded when FN changed to bone butt plates and an employee took it home. The fact that even the rear of the plate was duplicated reinforces my guess. It’s curious that the metal plate is significantly shorter, but the screw holes align.

    What are your thoughts?
  3. Biz

    Biz .22LR

    Rudolph, your hypothesis is very attractive. I think the after market buttplate also make sense. Those early hard rubber buttplate were not very resistant, I can imagine some small business investing into the fabrication of mold to produce several metal cast buttplate. However, in my proposed scenario, I don’t see what was the advantage of duplicating the rear compartmented part of the buttplate?

    The metal buttplate pictured above is shorter because unfortunately someone altered it to make it fit on a shortened buttstock.
  4. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 20g

    Well, if they used the rubber plate to make a mold, the rear would come out as it did.
    Seems like a lot of trouble for a small market to me. Maybe you can get Sauerfan to do the research...

    Looks like someone had this shotgun on the parade ground and smashed up the toe. Probably destroyed the rubber one along with the original stock doing the Queen Anne Drill and had to switch to metal.
  5. Biz

    Biz .22LR

    Rudolph, I am not knowledgeable about making mold. I thought you could make a two sided mold. One side will receive the liquid (like a cake pan) than the lid to go over the top will provide the shape of the other side. With this in mind that was my thought in saying there is no point to reproduce the compartmented back part.

    In the present situation we have a faithful reproduction, which make it a more probable FN production. In this context, would it be possible that those metal buttplate were installed on military or police special order Auto-5, knowing that the rubber buttplate will not be reliable on extreme situation like combat zone or riot situation.
  6. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 20g

    Anything is possible, Biz. And as an early gun it may very well have been in the trenches where the metal plate would be more practical. I was kidding about the Queen Anne Drill, but now I think I might have been on to something.
  7. Biz

    Biz .22LR

    Yes Rudolph, I was inspired by your Queen Ann Drill. They has been stormy debate on the French forum TCAR regarding the possible use of the Auto-5 during the First World War.
  8. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 20g

    I’ve seen pictures of French soldiers carrying Auto-5’s.
  9. Biz

    Biz .22LR

    There is no doubt that the Auto-5 was present on the front but I think is was a very limited usage unlike the Winchester M97 and the Remington M10 that the American troops brought in 1917. I have read some document where it’s mentioned that the “poilus” (That was the name given to the French soldier like the tommies for British soldier) were using shotgun, especially when they venture behind the enemy lines.


    Returning to our main topic, in the Shirley and Vanderlinden second edition book at page 56, it is mention that in the 1903 Browning catalogue a Messenger Gun is advertised. I wonder if those law enforcement gun could have been equipped with those metal buttplate??


    Rudolph you mention that you have seen pictures of French soldiers carrying Auto-5. By any chance do you still access to those pictures? If so would you mind posting them.
  10. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 20g

    Sorry, Biz. I tried to find it last night and couldn’t. I remember it was was an officer in a kepi. He was at an airfield, and I honestly don’t remember if I was researching WWI aviation or Auto-5’s.

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    SHOOTER13 likes this.
  11. SHOOTER13

    SHOOTER13 Guest

    Poilu (/ˈpwɑːluː/; French: [pwaly]) is an informal term for a French World War I infantryman, meaning, literally, hairy one. It is still widely used as a term of endearment for the French infantry of World War I.

    The word carries the sense of the infantryman's typically rustic, agricultural background. Beards and bushy moustaches were often worn. The poilu was particularly known for his love of pinard, his ration of cheap wine.

    The last surviving poilu from World War I was Pierre Picault. However, French authorities recognised Lazare Ponticelli as the last poilu, as he was the last veteran whose service met the strict official criteria. Lazare Ponticelli died in Le Kremlin-Bicêtre on 12 March 2008, aged 110.
  12. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 20g

  13. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 20g

    Biz:

    I found the picture, but you’ve seen it before. YOU posted the link on SGW!

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  14. Biz

    Biz .22LR

    Yes I recall now. Two questions,
    -Is it a clay pigeon thrower on the table?
    -On the far background of the pic, the man whit the leaning head, is he an American soldier? His hat ressemble to the one that the soldier are wearing on that picture below

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  15. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 20g

    I wondered about that machine myself. It’s appears to be bolted to a board, and the soldier next to the shooter would naturally be the trapper, so my guess is yes, it’s a trap.

    That certainly looks like an American Campaign Hat. Only Drill Sergeants in the U.S. Army wear them now, and if a trainee knows what’s good for him, he won’t call it a Smokey Bear hat. Your picture shows General “Black Jack” Pershing, commander of the A.E.F.

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