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Old February 18, 2006, 09:03 PM   #1
hippo
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Join Date: February 18, 2006
Location: PA
Posts: 29
Winchester Model 50

I like the old stuff. Unfortuantely the old stuff is now younger than me. With that written, can anyone provide information, or a path to information, on the Winchester Model 50?
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Old February 18, 2006, 10:09 PM   #2
James K
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I'm not sure what you want to know. The gun came out in 1954 and was made until 1961. Some 196,000 were made. It was considered fairly successful by Winchester standards of the time. Winchester hyped the fixed barrel, which was an innovation at a time when all other semi-auto shotguns were long recoil operated and had a moving barrel. (Gas operation was still a few years in the future in 1954.)

Winchester achieved a fixed barrel by using a floating chamber, similar to that used in the Colt Service Model Ace .22 version of the Model 1911 pistol. That, combined with a heavy inertia rod used to compress the spring (in the buttstock) while providing operating power, allowed a fixed barrel and a fairly light perceived recoil. Although there is something of a "shuffle" feeling, it is much less than that of the Browning A5. It is worth noting that the principle designer was David M. ("Carbine") Williams, who designed the WWII U.S. M1 carbine.

Despite praise by gun writers and others, the floating chamber idea failed to catch on and turned out to be a dead end as gas operated guns proved both simpler and easier to keep clean. As I recall, the gun's marketing was not made easier by Winchester's lackluster stocks which were dull and of only mediocre wood quality. Checkering looked like it was done with a dull pocket knife.

They show up on used gun racks from time to time, and make a decent hunting gun, but there is no one beating down the door for them and they do not have a high collector interest compared to most other Winchester guns. They usually run about $600 in top condition, with a Pigeon grade going 2-3 times that. A vent rib, trap or skeet model, and a 20 gauge model will bring a premuim.

The same action was used in the Model 59 (1960-65) which was pretty much the same gun but with a light alloy receiver and a light steel barrel wrapped with fiberglas (called Win-lite). It featured the first use of interchangeable choke tubes, necessary due to the way the barrel was made. It was less successful, selling only about 83,000. While the gun was certainly light and easy to carry, many shotgunners considered it too light as the swing tended to go past the game. It had the same drawbacks as the Model 50 in terms of appearance, plus the barrel was covered with a plastic coating that resembled paint, and the receiver had a black anodizing that also looked like paint. All in all, in an era when "blue steel and walnut" was still the norm, not an attractive package, especially compared to the Remington gas operated guns then coming on the scene.

Hope this helps.

Jim
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