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Guns of Pop Culture: “Lone Wolf McQuade” & the Browning Auto 5

Oh boy, I could fill article upon article on Chuck Norris. 

My dad was a super fan, and to this day, I know the plot of most episodes of Walker Texas Ranger. But did you know that before he was Walker, Texas Ranger, he was Texas Ranger J.J. McQuade? 

Chuck Norris as Lone Wolf McQuade (1983)

Lone Wolf McQuade followed the Dirty Harry route of a .44 Magnum revolver as his preferred sidearm, but today we are talking about his favorite shotgun, the always cool Browning Auto 5. 

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Lone Wolf McQuade is all ‘80s action goodness. The film is far and away one of the zanier aspects of the period’s cocaine-fueled Hollywood. 

Chuck Norris portrays the lone wolf Ranger, who actually has a pet wolf, as he faces off against an illicit arms trafficker, Rawley Wilkes, played by karate expert David Carradine. 

This film is a mix of buddy cop drama and action revenge flick. The bad guys make the mistake of harming McQuade’s daughter, so it becomes quite personal. 

From there, it becomes a romp around Texas as McQuade’s teamed up with a Texas State Trooper as they worked their way up the ladder to find Wilkes. 

It’s a run movie that’s tough to take seriously. The action, and well, the entire film is over the top. As such, you see a lot of era-appropriate guns, including bad guy favorites like the MAC series, a Ruger Mini 14, and plenty of Colt SP1 rifles. 

Wilkes with a MAC-10
Wilkes with a MAC-10

McQuade’s arsenal is made up of a Smith & Wesson Model 29, a Steyr SSG 69, and of course, the Browning Auto 5

The Whippet Gun 

The Browning Auto 5 isn’t your grandpop sporting piece. No, sir. It’s a “sawn-off” short-barreled shotgun. 

McQuade loading his Browning Auto-5
McQuade loading his Browning Auto-5

In fact, it resembles the so-called Whippett gun used by Clyde Barrow of Bonnie and Clyde fame. The stock is still half there, and the barrel is trimmed as far back as possible.

It creates a short little firearm out of the Browning Auto 5. 

Shotguns don’t get the penalty for velocity that rifles have, so making one short doesn’t necessarily make it less effective. Short shotguns and tactical shooting go together like peanut butter and chocolate. 

McQuade firing his Auto-5 with one hand
That doesn’t stop McQuade from firing his Auto-5 with one hand though.

John Browning designed the Auto 5, and it’s one of the first successful semi-auto shotguns. Part of its charm comes from the long recoil action that has the barrel move rearwards with the bolt for a short distance for the weapon to cycle. 

It’s a neat and historic 12-gauge that remained in production for 70 years. It’s certainly not an odd choice for the time period. 

McQuade with his Browning Auto-5
McQuade with his Browning Auto-5.

How It’s Handled 

Well, it’s a 1980s action movie, so don’t expect it to be handled well.

In my favorite scene, McQuade’s partner, Ramos, watches in wonder as McQuade practices at his home range. His training includes trick shots, rolling around on the ground, and all sorts of bizarreness. 

In this sequence, a shirtless Chuck Norris wields the Auto 5 with confidence, but not super effectively. It’s always from the hip, and somehow he always scores his shots. Except for that time, he fires the weapon one-handed and actually seems to aim it. 

In the final assault against the bad guy, he wields the Auto 5 for most of it, and well, he doesn’t do much better.

His shots from the hips always hit, and the bad guys just can’t seem to aim well. It’s a silly, over-the-top action flick, but it’s a lot of fun to watch. 

McQuade with his Browning Auto-5
McQuade with his Browning Auto-5

Final Thoughts

Good ol’ Lone Wolf McQuade. It’s a fun flick that would later inspire Walker Texas Ranger. I’m surprised we didn’t get a half dozen sequels. 

Not to mention we got the ever-popular Chuck Norris memes!

Nope, but Chuck did go on to a successful film and TV career and is now the Glock spokesman. 

Did anyone else enjoy those crazy Orion and Cannon films of the 1980s? Does anyone else think the ole humpback Auto-5 is a sweet semi-auto shooter? Let us know below. For more guns of pop culture, check out last week’s look into The Winter Soldier & the M249 SAW.

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