GUNS Magazine June 2013 Digital Edition - Page 12

Holt found the CIA M1887 worked fine as long as the action was worked with “gusto.” WinchesTer’s remarkaBle model 1887 and now Century arms imPorts an inexPensiVe Version oF tHis leVer-aCtion 12-gauge sHotgun. holt Bodinson I f there ever were a shotgun with an iconic image, it’s Winchester’s big lever action. Known as the Models 1887 and 1901 and chambered in both 10 gauge and 12 gauge, it was John Browning’s response to Winchester Vice-President T.G. Bennett’s request for a lever-action shotgun that would complement and enhance Winchester’s extensive lever-action line. to operate and better-looking.” On the other hand, speculation has it that Browning had just been handed a $50,000 check from Bennett for his 1886 rifle patent so he might have been feeling somewhat solicitous that day toward Bennett. In any case, less than a year later, Browning had been issued a patent for a perfectly functional, compact, lever-action shotgun, which Winchester dubbed their Model 1887 and put into immediate production. A remarkable fact is that in three successive years, Winchester Repeating Arms had purchased and placed into production three of Browning’s greatest designs: the Model 1885 single-shot rifle, the Model 1886 lever-action rifle and the Model 1887 lever-action shotgun. In March, 1887, at the age of 32 and married with two children, Browning was “set apart as a Mormon missionary to the southern states.” He had never seen a production model of the 1887 since it was not released until June of that year, and Browning had left on his mission in March. In a window of a southern sporting store, John Moses Browning finally got his first glimpse of the Winchester Model 1887. He entered the store, picked up the shotgun, mounted it and rapidly cycled the action before Browning’s companion told the flabbergasted owner the man operating gun invented it. UNIqUE ACTION Like most of Browning’s designs, the action of the Model 1887 is unique and distinctive with a minimum of moving parts. The humped-back action is actually compact when you consider that the shotgun was chambered for the 12- and 10-gauge shells. The secret to its compact design is that it is a true, enclosed rolling block. As the lever is opened, the breechblock rotates rapidly away and down from the chamber. As the lever is closed, the breechblock rotates up and forward, another shell is positioned to be chambered by a lifter being fed from a 5-round tubular magazine, and the recessed hammer is fully cocked. There is an interference built into the parts so that the lever must be fully closed and locked before the gun can be fired. The hammer features a 1/2-cock safety notch, which is engaged by lowering the hammer as the trigger is pulled. It’s a fast action to cycle. In an era when single- and double-barreled shotguns prevailed, the 1887 provided an astonishing level of firepower—six quick shots to be exact—one in the chamber and five in the magazine. The Winchester proved popular Browning’s first reaction, however, was to try to dissuade Bennett from pursuing a lever-action shotgun. Browning had been working on a slide-action design (later to see light as the Model 1893), and he felt strongly that his pump gun “would be easier The compact action is based on the rolling block principle. With 5 in the magazine and 1 in the chamber, it’s a 6-shot. The recessed hammer will be brought to the full-cock position when the action is cycled. The safety is a half-cock notch. 12 W W W. G U N S M AG A Z I N E . C O M • J U N E 2 0 1 3

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