Sweet Sixteens

Discussion in 'Browning Auto A-5' started by Rudolph31, Aug 4, 2015.

  1. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 20g

    The Sweet Sixteen is a specially lightened 16 gauge Auto-5 which debuted as a test-market item in 1936 and went into regular production in 1937. Only about 8 ounces of weight was saved over the standard model, so it was more of a marketing gimmick than anything else.

    Here are two similar versions. The top one is from 1938 and still has the 2 9/16" chamber. The bottom is from 1948 and is one of the early 2 3/4" guns.

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    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018
    SHOOTER13 likes this.
  2. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 20g

    In the above photos you can see that twice as much of the barrel extension is visible on the later gun. That's indicative of a 2 3/4" chamber and one way to tell at a glance what it's chambered for. Converted guns often have a bit of the unblued extension showing, or if it's been re-blued, a discernible difference in color.

    You'll note that neither gun is engraved "Sweet Sixteen". The name appeared on the left side of the receiver beginning sometime in 1948. Unmarked guns are known as "Stealth Sixteens" or "Ghost Sixteens" -- at least on the Internet forums. Early versions are identified by their gold plated safeties and triggers.
  3. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 20g

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    Last edited: Jul 4, 2017
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  4. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 20g

    These two guns are even closer in appearance than they look in the pictures. The most obvious differences are the wood color and the re-plated gold parts of the '48. Also, the 1938 unfortunately has a recoil pad.

    Internally, the big difference is that the early gun is a First Generation Sweet Sixteen. These guns were lightened by removing metal from the receiver and barrel ring, and hollowing out the stock. The First Generation guns had 5 holes drilled into the barrel ring, later it was changed to three. Also, while the later versions had two rather large holes drilled into the buttstock, the early gun's stock is considerably more hollow.

    1948 with 3 lightening holes:

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    1938 First Gen with 5 holes:

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    Last edited: Jul 4, 2017
  5. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 20g

    Two views of the buttstock with recoil pad. Jostam was an old company, so I'm guessing it was added by the original owner. Amazingly, it's still soft and pliable after 77 years. This gun is a soft shooter.

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    Last edited: Jul 4, 2017
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  6. SHOOTER13

    SHOOTER13 Guest

    Very nice Rudolph...thanks for sharing !!
  7. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 20g

    It helps to have jewlers as friends. We learned the hard way that the parts must first be copper plated or the gold will wear right off.

    Before:

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    After:

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    Last edited: Jul 4, 2017
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  8. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 20g

    Replating these parts made such a big difference in appearance that the seller accused me of having it re-blued! Here are the before and after shots:

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    Last edited: Jul 4, 2017
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  9. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 20g

    Speaking of re-bluing, I don't recommend it for guns made prior to the early 1960's. Up until then FN Rust Blued their guns. This color is referred to as "Belgian Blue". The later Salt Blue just turned the steel black.

    I don't think replating the trigger & safety hurt the value, but I'm going to leave the 1938 alone.
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  10. SHOOTER13

    SHOOTER13 Guest

    Turned out very nice...
  11. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 20g

    Thank you Shooter!

    I've made a couple of edits and added a few pictures.
  12. In The Ten Ring

    In The Ten Ring .270 WIN

    I may try for a 16 gauge A5 this year or next.
  13. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 20g

    You will like the 16 gauge. John Browning didn't just scale down the 12 gauge Auto-5 to make the 16 -- he redesigned it. His philosophy was the only reason to shoot a smaller cartridge was to have a lighter gun. He stopped development on a 20 gauge version when he found that it couldn't be made significantly lighter than the much more effective 16. The 20 gauge Auto-5 didn't appear until 1958, 32 years after the inventor's death.
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  14. In The Ten Ring

    In The Ten Ring .270 WIN

    Wow, that is great! I will try and get one.
  15. jryser

    jryser .22LR

    Love the suicide safety on those old ones!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  16. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 20g

    NOT a suicide safety. These trigger guard safeties are similar to those on the Garand and M14. Your finger stays outside of the trigger guard to engage it. The prototype and the first year guns did have suicide safeties in that they were entirely inside the trigger guard. Not the safest of safeties.
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    Last edited: Sep 20, 2017
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  17. jryser

    jryser .22LR

    Thanks - I wasn't perusing so I missed that!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  18. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 20g

    This is my "Shooter Sixteen" a 1957 in excellent mechanical, if not cosmetic, condition. Unlike the my other Sweet Sixteens, this one actually has the name engraved on the receiver.


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    Last edited: Jul 4, 2017
  19. blackduck

    blackduck .22LR

    Nice postings R31! Just want to ask your thoughts on swapping a straight stock and trigger group fron a '24 16ga to a '59 Sweet Sixteen. Do you think it is compatible. I love the old straight stock guns. Can pick up the '24 at a price of 400 Great White North dollars. TIA.
  20. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 20g

    Thank you, Blackduck. I like straight stocks too, and believe the 1924 trigger plate will drop right in. I've got a plate for a straight stock that I'd like to put on pre-WWI 16 but can't find the wood.

    Be sure to post pictures when you're done.

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