May 25, 2014

Weapons of Choice: Model 1887 Lever-Action Shotgun

Winchester-Browning Model 1887
In 1887, Winchester introduced the lever-action shotgun and again produced a model in 1901; designed by American gun designer/inventor, John M. Browning. It was the first successful repeating shotgun that was lever-action like the famous Winchester Model 1873 rifle.
In 1893, Browning designed the pump-action shotgun, an earlier production of the Model 1897.
Shotgun shells at the time used black powder, so the lever-action 1887 was chambered for less powerful black powder shotshells and both 10-gauge and 12-gauge versions were offered. As smokeless powder was developed with more pressures developed, Winchester had to redesign its shotgun to a strong one in 1901, but it was offered in 10-gauge only. A 12-gauge smokeless chambered shotgun was not offered in the lever action because Winchester did not want it to compete with the Winchester Model 12-gauge 1897 pump-action shotgun. The Model 1901 also featured a two-piece lever, the Winchester trademark stamp moved to the upper tang behind the hammer, and the serial numbers rand from 64,856 to 79,455.
Although the lever-action shotgun was a rugged design, the pump-action models were most popular with the public, as John Browning had predicted.
Over the years, a number of companies tried to re-produce Model 1887 and Model 1901 shotguns, chambered for the modern smokeless 12-gauge shotshells; which became especially popular in Australia where semi-automatic rifles and shotguns, including pump-action were prohibited; but still allowed bolt-action and lever-action rifles and shotguns. The Chinese arms manufacturer, Norinco, currently produces the Model 1887 shotgun chambered for smokeless 12-gauge shotshells and a 20” barrel version is manufactured by the Interstate Arms Corporation (IAC) in the United States, exporting to Canada and Australia. 
The shotgun produced by Norinco is poor quality and do not recommend it. The following video demonstrates Chinese poor quality manufacturing: Recommend the Italian made replicas like Pedersoli. - sold by Taylor's Firearms who only deals with quality firearm manufacturers. Chiappa is also okay.
Save your money and purchase an American-made better quality lever-action shotgun.
"Bootleg" Model 1887 with 18.5-inch barrel
The Italian firm, Chiappa Firearms and Taylor's Firearms offers several configuration of the Model 1887 shotgun.
It is widely used by the western reenactment groups and the cowboy action shooting competitions. The pump-action continues to overshadow this dependable repeating shotgun.
Personally, I like the semi-auto version with magazine; however, when it comes to choice between the pump- or lever-action shotgun – it is hands down, the lever-action chambered for modern 12-gauge ammunition.

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