One Of America’s Most Popular Shotguns Can Still Be found Afield.
I’ve owned a lot of nice doubles and over/unders and still do, in fact. Nothing quite has the feel and dynamics of a well-balanced double. It’s a very personal type of gun, and if it fits you right, it will make you look like one of the smoothest, most deadly and debonair gunners extant. Yet, when the dove and quail seasons break open, and I find myself and my dog out in the field at the edge of dawn, it’s just as possible I’ll be carrying an old Model 12 Winchester pump in 16 or 12 gauge. Old habits are hard to break, and fine, old shotguns seem to improve with age. It’s hard to believe, but Winchester’s Model 12 is enjoying its 100th anniversary this year.
Pump shotguns are a uniquely American design. While the Model 1897 Winchester exposed hammer shotgun was highly successful, selling over a million, the sporting public at the turn of the 20th century was clamoring for a more contemporary and modern-looking repeater. In fact, because of increasing urbanization with a parallel decline in big-game hunting, there was less and less demand for high-power rifles and more and more sporting demand for rimfire rifles and shotguns.
Winchester had already produced its sleek, hammerless repeating rifles, the Models 1903, 1905, 1907 and 1910 and even for a brief period, an auto-loading shotgun, the Model 1911, which looked a lot like an enlarged version of their self-loading rifles but failed to compete commercially with John Browning’s design.
By Holt Bodinson
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