The Winchester Model 1887

The first successful repeating shotgun pays a return visit, courtesy of the PW87 from Century Arms.

by Chick Blood

Back in the day, when few US Marshals were as big as Matt Dillon and even fewer saloon owners as hot as Miss Kitty, there was a guy riding shotgun on every stage coach in or out of town. The gun carried across his lap was usually portrayed on TV and in movie westerns as a 10 or 12 gauge double. Frequently, it had drastically sawed off barrels.

I shouldn’t have to remind you that a pump shotgun with a legally short barrel (18 inches) has become favored by many as an ideal home defense gun. First, it is among the most devastating of close-in weapons. Secondly, should any household member be shy of firing it, the easily recognized sound of a pump being cycled can scare off all but the boldest, or dumbest, intruder. Yes, I speak from personal experience here.

If there was a limitation to the fearsome double gun it was its capacity of two rounds at close range. “Close” can be defined as anything from about 40 yards away from a violently moving stage to a bandit hanging on the coach itself. When sawed-off barrels were present the 40 yards might be expecting too much even when 00 buck was the load. There was another factor, but this one not based on personal experience but resulting from frequent observation of motion pictures and televised images. Bad guys wearing black hats rarely attempt to rob a stage coach solo. They move in on their objective as a group that most often exceed two dusty and highly hostile types wearing kerchiefs over their scruffy faces. So the folks riding shotgun, the companies they rode for and LE guardians of not quite peaceful towns started looking around for more firepower.

Primarily in response to their search the first repeating shotgun came to be: The Winchester Model 1887.

Read more in our March 2013 issue. Back issues are available.

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