1911Forum banner

Getting an education on older Winchester model 12s.

526 19
I got a good price on an older 1920 made Winchester model 12 shotgun a couple of months ago, a twenty gauge. Subsequently I learned that the 20 gauge guns made back then only had 2-1/2" chambers. However, I also learned that that particular gun runs just fine with 2-3/4" shells.
Fast forward to yesterday when I found a pretty clean and attractively priced Winchester model 12 in 16 gauge made in 1921. Well as it turns out these 16 gauge guns up until 1927 only had 2-9/16" chambers. Tried it out today with 2-3/4" shells and the hulls get hung up on the ejection port when I go to cycle the action after firing a round. The receivers are identical with ejection ports also the exact same size.
Now I have been running Winchester shells out of the 20 gauge and today ran Federals out of the 16 gauge. I am thinking that maybe the Winchester shells are shorter. We will see going forward. :unsure:
Musical instrument Wood Floor Door Flooring
Air gun Wood Trigger Shotgun Gun barrel
1 - 20 of 20 Posts

· Registered
Joined
·
332 Posts
Winchester finally chamber all Model 12's by 1929ish, on 16 ag & 20 ga receivers were marked 2 3/4" below or on top of serial #. Now have known 16 ga and 20 ga short chamber owners/shooters that shot 2 3/4" in those short chambers without issues and others had the chambers lengthen to 2 3/4".
As far as the 16 ga difficulty ejecting is due to the steel base hull; the barrel and chamber ring so tight these issues and complaints by shooting the new steel base hulls, FYI Federals are the worse, try Winchester. I have not heard of any model 12 owner have work done by a gunsmith yet to fix the problem.

Best source of info on model 12's is Shotgun World web site Winchester forum.
 

· Premium Member
Joined
·
1,148 Posts
USMM—the older guns were probably designed with nothing but paper hulls in mind, which were pretty much the norm back then. They are really thick, and I wonder if a much thinner plastic hull really doesn’t take as much space ahead of the chamber (or offer the same amount of constriction) even though it is slightly longer?
 

· Registered
Joined
·
29,982 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
USMM—the older guns were probably designed with nothing but paper hulls in mind, which were pretty much the norm back then. They are really thick, and I wonder if a much thinner plastic hull really doesn’t take as much space ahead of the chamber (or offer the same amount of constriction) even though it is slightly longer?
I hear you loud and clear Michael. I find it interesting that the 20 gauge runs fine, while the 16 will not. The hulls hang up on ejection from the sixteen gauge.
But interestingly enough the ejection ports on both guns are identical. Now I was firing Winchester brand shells out of the 20 and today I tried Federal and Remington shells out of the 16 to no avail. I have to try and find some 16 gauge Winchester shells, they may be shorter than Remington or Federal. The Paper shells were also just crimped as opposed to folded like the newer plastic shells. But that does not appear to be an issue.
 

· Premium Member
Joined
·
1,148 Posts
I hear you loud and clear Michael. I find it interesting that the 20 gauge runs fine, while the 16 will not. The hulls hang up on ejection from the sixteen gauge.
But interestingly enough the ejection ports on both guns are identical. Now I was firing Winchester brand shells out of the 20 and today I tried Federal and Remington shells out of the 16 to no avail. I have to try and find some 16 gauge Winchester shells, they may be shorter than Remington or Federal. The Paper shells were also just crimped as opposed to folded like the newer plastic shells. But that does not appear to be an issue.
Sounds like the diameter and crimped material of the fatter 16 gauge is just enough longer after being fired (1/6-1/8”?) to hang up in the ejection port?!
 

· Registered
Joined
·
332 Posts
While model 12's were designed when paper shells was primary hull material; 12 ga 2 3/4" have never been an issue when plastic hulls were manufactured in the 50's. Model 12 3" Heavy Ducks had issues ejecting 3" plastic hulls as paper hull mouth forgiving upon ejecting over plastic. While the ejecting port could be an issue the new steel base hulls causing these issues with a variety of older shotguns. The true test is to shop for older brass base 16 ga hulls plastic and paper hulls to test if eject properly. I have read other model 12's owners replacing the ejector spring and ejector due to ejecting issues not related to size of ejection port.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
162 Posts
Remington 16 gauge shells are the shortest of them all.

Here is my 1975 Y model skeet gun I picked up a while ago. Look at that wood.

Table Wood Tree Outdoor furniture Wood stain


A friend at the club has a older 16 gauge M12 that won't eject 2 3/4" shells. He tried a box of my 2 1/2" reloads and they ran great.

Jim
 

· Registered
Joined
·
1,856 Posts
I've owned two Model 12s and have had ongoing lifetime experience with my huntin' cousin's Model 12 12 gauge.

I have enjoyed this Model 12 Skeet Grade 12 gauge since the late 1980s when I bought it from its original owner who special ordered it from Winchester in 1941 to include the rare Winchester offered factory option of the Cutts Compensator with choke tubes. This Cutts is not aftermarket. The barrel is especially manufactured to receive the Cutts. It's rare, but it's also hideous looking. It does work as advertised though (with loud raucous report) and curiously enough, recoils even less with heavy high brass loads than it does when used with light target loads.


With the improved cylinder installed it's deadly on ducks shot over decoys, or doves shot on Texas stock tanks. It's my favorite shotgun to hunt with. Old scanned photo of an after hunt duck haul.


Regarding the 16 gauge Winchester Model 12s made prior to standardization on 2 3/4inch chambers, I can only offer this.

Same friend who sold me the Model 12 Skeet Grade also had a "teens" Model 12 16 gauge that had been in his family since new. It was carefully used and well maintained so exhibited much of the original finish. He told me how he had the chamber lengthened to accept the longer 16 gauge shells sometime after 16 gauge standardization, though he claimed the gun worked perfectly with the newer shells in the short chamber prior to chamber conversion.

My son picked up a 1917 vintage Model 12 16 gauge at a gun show some years ago. This gun has heavy honest wear that is somehow appealing to look at. It also still has its 2 9/16-inch chamber. Despite the experiences thst my old gun club friend related to me I was still chary of my son shooting quantities of modern 16 gauge shells in the now 116 year old Winchester. He's persisted in using the gun for everything and has shot the gun a lot. Hey, I've even shot the gun some. The unmodified 16 gauge Winchester has always given perfect satisfaction since he's acquired it.

Here, son's 16 gauge Model 12 is shown on a cold, rainy December day at our duck slough with another golden oldie, a Remington Model 11 12 gauges I also bought from my old gun club friend years ago. He bought it new in 1931.


One last story.

Don't do this at home kiddies.

I once had a 1914 vintage Winchester Model 97 Black Diamond trap gun. It was well worn but shot a treat. I enjoyed using it for some years. It really was pretty good for trap shooting.

One one occasion as NRA Class C shooting coaches a friend and I had taken a bunch of 4-H youngsters to a skeet range. After instructing them and running them all through we settled in to some skeet shooting fun with their dads.

I had brought the Model 97, for what I don't know, but it was present. It was no great shakes at skeet, but was a hoot to try. The friend asked if he could fire a few shots through it and I said: "Sure, there are some handy shells in the top row of that CaseGuard 100 tote."

Well, he went nosing into the bottom row of the shell box. Came trotting over to me after firing a single round saying that the fired shell wouldn't eject in my old gun. I scrutinized things for a minute, confused by what I was seeing. I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer sometimes.

Finally I determined I needed to cut off the shell in order to get it out, still not honing in on what the problem was (mind like a rapier, I don't have). Got the shell out after chopping at it enough with my pocket knife through the gun's ejection port to extract it.

It was a green Remington Express 3-inch Magnum load of 6's, left over from a duck hunt!

He must have opened the action and dropped the shell directly in the chamber before closing the action and firing, for I don't think the '97s feed mechanism would have fed 3-inch shells from the magazine. The 1914 Winchester handled the wretched excess of the punishment perfectly by all appearances. It wouldn't eject the empty shell however. My friend didn't even notice any additional recoil he was sure to have felt.

Here's an old scanned photo of the '97 from the story and a brace of mallards it took one uncharacteristically snowy day at our old place on the lake. The shotgun was choked "fully full."


Is it safe to shoot over length shells in shotguns? I don't know and can't say. Older Winchester repeaters apparently handle it though.
 

· Premium Member
Joined
·
1,148 Posts
I've owned two Model 12s and have had ongoing lifetime experience with my huntin' cousin's Model 12 12 gauge.

I have enjoyed this Model 12 Skeet Grade 12 gauge since the late 1980s when I bought it from its original owner who special ordered it from Winchester in 1941 to include the rare Winchester offered factory option of the Cutts Compensator with choke tubes. This Cutts is not aftermarket. The barrel is especially manufactured to receive the Cutts. It's rare, but it's also hideous looking. It does work as advertised though (with loud raucous report) and curiously enough, recoils even less with heavy high brass loads than it does when used with light target loads.


With the improved cylinder installed it's deadly on ducks shot over decoys, or doves shot on Texas stock tanks. It's my favorite shotgun to hunt with. Old scanned photo of an after hunt duck haul.


Regarding the 16 gauge Winchester Model 12s made prior to standardization on 2 3/4inch chambers, I can only offer this.

Same friend who sold me the Model 12 Skeet Grade also had a "teens" Model 12 16 gauge that had been in his family since new. It was carefully used and well maintained so exhibited much of the original finish. He told me how he had the chamber lengthened to accept the longer 16 gauge shells sometime after 16 gauge standardization, though he claimed the gun worked perfectly with the newer shells in the short chamber prior to chamber conversion.

My son picked up a 1917 vintage Model 12 16 gauge at a gun show some years ago. This gun has heavy honest wear that is somehow appealing to look it. It also still has its 2 9/16-inch chamber. Despite the experiences my old gun club friend related to me I was still chary of my son shooting quantities of modern 16 gauge shells in the now 116 year old Winchester. He's persisted in using the gun for everything and has shot the gun a lot. Hey, I've even shot the gun some. The unmodified 16 gauge Winchester has always given perfect satisfaction since he's acquired it.

Here, son's 16 gauge Model 12 is shown on a cold, rainy December day at our duck slough with another golden oldie, a Remington Model 11 12 gauges I also bought from my old gun club friend years ago. He bought it new in 1931.


One last story.

Don't do this at home kiddies.

I once had a 1914 vintage Winchester Model 97 Black Diamond trap gun. It was well worn but shot a treat. I enjoyed using it for some years. It really was pretty good for trap shooting.

One one occasion as NRA Class C shooting coaches a friend and I had taken a bunch of 4-H youngsters to a skeet range. After instructing them and running them all through we settled in to some skeet shooting fun with their dads.

I had brought the Model 97, for what I don't know, but it was present. It was no great shakes at skeet, but was a hoot to try. The friend asked if he could fire a few shots through it and I said: "Sure, there are some handy shells in the top row of that CaseGuard 100 tote."

Well, he went nosing into the bottom row of the shell box. Came trotting over to me after firing a single round saying that the fired shell wouldn't eject in my old gun. I scrutinized things for a minute, confused by what I was seeing. I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer sometimes.

Finally I determined I needed to cut off the shell in order to get it out, still not honing in on what the problem was (mind like a rapier, I don't have). Got the shell out after chopping at it enough with my pocket knife through the gun's ejection port to extract it.

It was a green Remington Express 3-inch Magnum load of 6's, left over from a duck hunt!

He must have opened the action and dropped the shell directly in the chamber before closing the action and firing, for I don't thing the '97s feed mechanism would have fed 3-inch shells from the magazine. The 1914 Winchester handled the wretched excess of the punishment perfectly by all appearances. It wouldn't eject the empty shell however. My friend didn't even notice any additional recoil he was sure to have felt.

Here's an old scanned photo of the '97 from the story and a brace of mallards it took one uncharacteristically snowy day at our old place on the lake. The shotgun was choked "fully full."


Is it safe to shoot over length shells in shotguns? I don't know and can't say. Older Winchester repeaters apparently handle it though.
I’ve both a 97 and a model 12, and I’ve enjoyed both. To me the model
97 is much easier to load, but the model 12 is smoother and simpler?!
Great stories to go along with those fantastic shotguns!
Automotive tire Wood Air gun Bumper Shotgun

Wood Road surface Automotive tire Gas Flooring
 

· Registered
Joined
·
1,856 Posts
My "huntin' fishin', shootin' cousin and I were both 14 (he being born five days after I was and introduced to me during a joint photo session we had in his crib just after he got home from the hospital) when his dad, my huntin', gun nut uncle was struck and killed by lightning while on a fishing excursion in summer of 1971. My uncle's favorite shotgun, of many that he had, was a mid-1950s Model 12 12 gauge field grade with 28-inch modified barrel which went to my cousin.

Growing up together, we both roamed the wilds of the old family place, which was large acreage on the lake. We lived in the country when I was a kid so he'd also come down as a teen and we'd dove hunt on our stock tank and roam the countryside together He'd bring along the Model 12. I had the use of a Savage 755A automatic (basically a Browning patent recoil operated design with a rounded off hump) 12 guage shotgun.

Even into adulthood and right up to the present my cousin still heavily uses that Model 12. It's seen lots of adventures. We've gotten up to lots of mischief over the years. Still do.

I liked that Model 12 better than I did the Savage with its factory 32-inch full choke barrel. I developed a real affinity for the Winchester Model 12 back then, one I still enthusiastically retain today.

During that period of our lives we also came to learn that there were few problems that could not be solved by the application of 12 gauge.

After I reached adulthood I soon acquired a Model 12 of my own, a 1958 field grade 12 gauge with an aftermarket Poly-Choke installed for a "deal." Didn't like the non-originality nor the looks of the Poly-Choke, but it sure could come in handy on a general purpose shotgun. That Model 12 provided many happy game filled years, before opportunity was presented to acquire the Model 12 Skeet gun in the late 1980s.

I'm sounding all old and garrulous now. Anyway, the Model 12 is the finest pump action repeating shotgun ever produced in my opinion and I hold it in high esteem.
 

· Premium Member
Joined
·
1,148 Posts
My "huntin' fishin', shootin' cousin and I were both 14 (he being born five days after I was and introduced to me during a joint photo session we had in his crib just after he got home from the hospital) when his dad, my huntin', gun nut uncle was struck and killed by lightning while on a fishing excursion in summer of 1971. My uncle's favorite shotgun, of many that he had, was a mid-1950s Model 12 12 gauge field grade with 28-inch modified barrel which went to my cousin.

Growing up together, we both roamed the wilds of the old family place, which was large acreage on the lake. We lived in the country when I was a kid so he'd also come down as a teen and we'd dove hunt on our stock tank and roam the countryside together He'd bring along the Model 12. I had the use of a Savage 755A automatic (basically a Browning patent recoil operated design with a rounded off hump) 12 guage shotgun.

Even into adulthood and right up to the present my cousin still heavily uses that Model 12. It's seen lots of adventures. We've gotten up to lots of mischief over the years. Still do.

I liked that Model 12 better than I did the Savage with its factory 32-inch full choke barrel. I developed a real affinity for the Winchester Model 12 back then, one I still enthusiastically retain today.

During that period of our lives we also came to learn that there were few problems that could not be solved by the application of 12 gauge.

After I reached adulthood I soon acquired a Model 12 of my own, a 1958 field grade 12 gauge with an aftermarket Poly-Choke installed for a "deal." Didn't like the non-originality nor the looks of the Poly-Choke, but it sure could come in handy on a general purpose shotgun. That Model 12 provided many happy game filled years, before opportunity was presented to acquire the Model 12 Skeet gun in the late 1980s.

I'm sounding all old and garrulous now. Anyway, the Model 12 is the finest pump action repeating shotgun ever produced in my opinion and I hold it in high esteem.
“I’m sounding all old and garrulous…” No—those “Adventures” are what it’s all about, and how we learn and grow! I look back on a lot of things now and count them as blessings, even though I didn’t realize it then!
 

· Registered
Joined
·
3,173 Posts
I took a rather circuitous route picking up a Winchester Model 12.

I first bought a Model 25, basically a non-takedown version of the Model 12, and not understanding how the shell in the mag tube is held in place by the loading gate and not a separate tab, immediately brought the gun back to the store. They didn't know of that peculiarity either and pronounced the gun in need of repair. I quickly snagged a Model 12 with a Pachmayr comp on the end, did the (C&R FFL) paperwork and left before realizing it was a 16 Gauge and not a 12 Gauge. Really didn't feel like going back with a 2nd "oops, my mistake" so I kept it.
 

· Premium Member
Joined
·
1,148 Posts
I took a rather circuitous route picking up a Winchester Model 12.

I first bought a Model 25, basically a non-takedown version of the Model 12, and not understanding how the shell in the mag tube is held in place by the loading gate and not a separate tab, immediately brought the gun back to the store. They didn't know of that peculiarity either and pronounced the gun in need of repair. I quickly snagged a Model 12 with a Pachmayr comp on the end, did the (C&R FFL) paperwork and left before realizing it was a 16 Gauge and not a 12 Gauge. Really didn't feel like going back with a 2nd "oops, my mistake" so I kept it.
I had a very nice model 25 years ago, and like the model 12, I find myself struggling to get the shells past the follower, and sometimes depress it and end up ejecting shells already loaded. The 97 is so much easier for me; you just stuff shells up the mag tube until it won’t hold any more; I can do it in the absolute dark. If I used the model 12 more, I’d probably get use to the routine, but the feed system on the model 97 has spoiled me!
Wood Air gun Trigger Gun barrel Shotgun

I had a gunsmith friend cut the barrel on my Model 25 to 26 inches and hammer roll a Modified choke with his choke forging equipment for Black Powder shotguns. Put a extra large brass bead on it, and I cut the stock a 1/4 inch and changed the angle of the butt plate to better fit me. Reblued the whole thing, and it was a very slick quail and grouse gun. Pictured above are a couple Hungarian Partridge taken with her.
 
1 - 20 of 20 Posts
Top