Exclusive: Lever-Action PW87 Shotgun From Century Arms…

Is A Throwback To Wild Times

By Dave Workman

Skip right past “The Terminator” and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s use of a lever-action shotgun while riding a motorcycle, and head farther back into history when Old West lawmen and buckaroos occasionally needed some firepower they just couldn’t get from a sixgun or a double-barrel shotgun.

Century Arms today offers a replica of an iconic smoothbore. The Model 1887 Winchester is definitely a throwback to simpler times. It’s not quite the oddball some people might think, and when one considers the state of repeating arms at the time, having a lever-action shotgun made lots of sense to anyone who had developed motor skills and memory reflexes using a lever-action rifle.

The PW87 12-gauge shotgun (if one looks around social media enough) has received mixed reviews from various users over the years. It’s one of those designs people either like or dislike, with not much in between.

The first time I personally handled one of these lever-action scatterguns, the first thing that got my attention was the weight. At nearly 8 lbs., thanks to lots of steel and a fairly heavy stock, this is no fragile tool. The PW87 has a 19″ barrel with a bead front sight and fixed modified choke, and a tubular ¾-length magazine that holds five rounds. It is chambered for 2¾” shells, and as I recall from snooping into the history of firearms, back in those days brass shotgun shells were pretty common, while plastic hulls were unheard of.

The specimen I handled belonged to a dealer friend who had acquired it for a client, but my pal liked it so much I believe he ordered one for himself. While the action was a bit rough, I’m told they smooth out over time with repeated use.

All metal surfaces were richly blued, and the stock was hardwood with an oiled finish, essentially matching the specifications of original 19th century guns. These guns were not just for defensive or law enforcement purposes, but also doubled as game getters. With a modified choke, it’s easily conceivable somebody on the plains could use one of these lever-actions to put sage grouse or other game in the bag. Loaded with buckshot, a deer within 40 yards would go down rather handily, too.

To load one of these guns, the action is opened and shells are pushed into the magazine tube past the elevator. The last round goes into the chamber as the lever is raised and the action closes in a rolling block motion.

The original gun was designed by John Moses Browning, and that, at least for me, says it all. The guy was a genius, and even though a lever-action shotgun may not be everyone’s line of country, it has become an iconic fixture among cowboy action shooters. The PW87 appears faithful to the original design.

Now, for people who just can’t walk away from an old side-by-side, Century also offers a dandy little scattergun on that platform. The JW-2000 Coach Gun is also chambered for 12-gauge shells, in this case 3-inchers, and it has fully functional exposed hammers and double triggers.

The gun has 20-inch barrels, checkering on the forearm and grip, oil-rubbed walnut-stained hardwood stock and rubber butt pad and the steel is blued. The front sight is a brass bead.

Full confession time, I’m a sucker for double-barrel shotguns, so while the PW87 is an interesting novelty, I’d be a little quicker to open my walled for this coach gun model. Just sayin’.

The PW87 has an MSRP of $334.99. For more info: https://gunsmagazine.com/company/century-international-arms-inc/

Century Arms
Ph: (800) 527-1252

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5 thoughts on “Exclusive: Lever-Action PW87 Shotgun From Century Arms…

  1. Tom Tucker

    I’ve shot a period lever action 12 gauge. I’ve also shot a bolt action 12 gauge (Sears used to sell one for about 20 bucks). Both will kick the living crap out of you.

  2. Jim L

    I can’t directly speak about this gun just a similar one I had. I had purchased it for Cowboy Action shooting SASS. Operation was difficult with empties getting stuck and it required a long hard throw. Mr Tucker also mentioned kick. It was a bit stout unless you used light duty shells. The gun has a great cool factor but I would like to try this one before making a purchase.

  3. Anthony J. Kohler

    Had one of the Australian versions. It worked quite smoothly and dependably, and it got a lot of looks on the skeet field sitting in the rack with the action open. At the same time, and admitting it’s a far, far cry from a nicely-balanced Italian over and under, it has to be the clunkiest shotgun I’ve ever handled. When I quit SASS shooting, I sold it. For twice what I paid; the Aussies are collector items.


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