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Old March 26, 2012, 05:19 PM   #1
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Win Model 12 safe to shoot?

I just acquired a Winchester model 12 from 1918 or 19. Gun is a take down model. It locks up tight when everything is together. I noticed some rough spots in the bore. All I use this for is shooting clays. I usually run Win white box or federal equivalent. Maybe someone can tell me if this is normal wear on a 90 year old gun? It shoots great by the way. Also love the slam fire. I can try a pic but don't know if it will turn out. I do have a smith that is close than can look it over also. The barrel is marked Nickel Steel if that helps any. Mostly wanted to say that I'm enjoying my new toy.

Last edited by kemassey; March 26, 2012 at 05:42 PM.
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Old March 26, 2012, 05:32 PM   #2
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Older Winchester Model 12s are well-known for shooting themselves loose relatively quickly when fed a steady diet of high-pressure shells. Target loads should be OK, but not too many of those, either.
Never try to educate someone who resists knowledge at all costs.
But what do I know?
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Old March 26, 2012, 05:32 PM   #3
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If it's in good mechanical shape it's safe. I think all the model 12's had 2 3/4 chambers except some later models had 3 inch. You might want to have that checked tho and have the forcing cone lengthened for modern shells.
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Old March 26, 2012, 05:44 PM   #4
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It's in good mechanical shape. I will just run the lower pressure target loads. It has good feeding and ejection. I looked at a shot shell to see if the crimp was feathered out. It all looked ok to me. I do love my Model 97 and 12. Thanks for the replies.
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Old March 26, 2012, 06:26 PM   #5
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I have collected, researched, and shot Winchester model 12's for more decades than I care to admit. Some misimformation exists and has been repeated here, and I will try to clear up these misunderstandings. First all model 12's in 12 guage were chambered for 2 3/4" shells until 3" chambers were added in 1935 to their heavy duck guns. Second the fallicy that you should stick with light trap loads. Most trap load have similiar chamber pressures as do magnum load @10,000 to 11,000 psi. Just because it doesnt kick as hard doesnt mean the pressures are less. Next all manufactuers, after producing a gun fire a "blue pill" pressure round to proof the gun. These proof rounds are customarily loaded to 10% to 15% greater pressures than factory loaded ammo. The SAMMI maximun pressure for a 12 guage is @13,000 psi. Forgive me if I am a little off on this figure as my memory isnt as good as it used to be, however I am close. So most manufacturer had custom proof loads loaded 10% above this maximun psi figure. Some suggest light loads? Winchester proofed each gun with loads 330% above maximun psi. That is NOT a misprint, 330% above maximun psi. Reference Winchester model 12 historians Midas's book "THE WINCHESTER MODEL TWELVE" page 24. AS for "shooting loose", in my decades of shooting model 12's I have never witnessed a loose model 12 from shooting. An old friend and trapshooter has a trap gun made in 1950 that shoots many thousands of rounds a year for 62 years and it is still tight. Unlike modern mass produced guns of questionable quality, model 12's were milled from solid billets of steel. No plastic, potmetal or stamped tin parts. These are the tanks of the pump gun world. Now for some unsolicited advise. Dont take the gun down in half too often. I have witnessed one model 12 that had been taken down so many times the threads were all but gone. The owner would wrap what was left of the thread with black tape and shoot it a few thousand times before the tape gave way. Next STOP slam firing these guns. They were never meant to be slam fired. Just because they can be does not mean they shoud be.
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Old March 27, 2012, 10:35 AM   #6
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A GOOD gunsmith will be able to look it over and tell you for certain. It is worth the $20 or so...
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Old March 27, 2012, 02:42 PM   #7
.300 Weatherby Mag
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I generally shoot mine with 1 oz Estate Supersport Target or game loads... I leave all the hot 2 3/4" loads for other guns... Unless it goes Dove hunting the gun probably sees less than 200 rounds a year.. I don't see it wearing out any time soon... If Federal Gold Medal Paper was cheaper I would run it for the sake of lower pressures and nostalgia.. Also, when I do take it down, I take care to align everything correctly and oil the threads before reassembly...

Last edited by .300 Weatherby Mag; March 27, 2012 at 02:49 PM.
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Old March 27, 2012, 04:55 PM   #8
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When a friend told me he had put 230,000 rounds through his trap grade Model 12, I believed him.

His was made, IIRC, in 1930-something.Who knows how many rounds it's handled before he became its custodian?

There's a lot of old 12s out there still working. Meat guns, trap and skeet guns, waterfowlers.

They aren't delicate or tempermental. Some are tired and need R&R at some resort like Simmons Guns or Nu Line.

Most though, just need regular PM and exercise.

To the OP, I suggest taking this to a good smith for a lookover and deep clean.

Enjoy your fine shotgun....
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Old March 27, 2012, 07:24 PM   #9
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I still have/shoot my grandfather's Model-12 from 1928. My father used it through the late 40s-50s
wherein I still have his National Skeet Shooting Ass'n Champion 5-Man team patch and his Remington
100-Straight patch -- and continuously thereafter.

He gave it to me in 1970 and I've used it continuously for skeet, trap, dove, quail, duck, goose
and rabbit.** It remains the slickest/fastest and most naturally swinging shotgun I have ever shot... none.

Do not fail to have the same faith in yours. Do it the honor of letting it show you what the
most Perfect Repeater was... and still is.

** Dad put a Cutts Comp/Choke System on it in the mid-late `40s -- and always worried that his own Dad would rise from the grave to curse him to for what he did to that trap gun. But 70 years has proved Dad's decision to be superb.

Last edited by mehavey; March 27, 2012 at 07:35 PM.
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Old March 27, 2012, 07:29 PM   #10
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Yep, those who are bad mouthing the model 12 just simply don't know what they are talking about.

Great gun, plain and simple!

Keep em coming!

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Old March 27, 2012, 08:21 PM   #11
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My father had a Model 12 field grade gun that he turned into a trap gun (changed out the wood and barrel) and he put 10s of thousands of rounds through that gun before he let one of his trap buddies buy it from him. He fired a minimum of 300 rounds per week out of that gun from April-October or so every year and it was still going strong until the guy that bought it died. I'd love to know where that gun is now, I'd buy it back in a heartbeat. Dad always said the Model 12 was the perfect pump gun and I'm inclined to believe him, now if only Nu Line had a shell stop for my 20ga. So in answer to your question as long as the gun is mechanically sound keep shooting it, if you need parts for it try

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Old March 29, 2012, 10:01 PM   #12
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Ah the good old Winchster model 12, it's one of the most cherished, sought after and as some say the best shotgun Winchester ever made.

Some say it's the best shotgun ever made period.

I've known a few old duck hunters in my day and you could not trade them out of their model 12's.
One old duck hunter I knew said that when his model 12 felt a little sluggish, he would unload it, slosh it around in the water, drain the water out, load the gun and go back to hunting.

I know of another gentleman that had a model 12 with the barrel cut down. He did not want to cut the barrel shorter but when an unknown obstruction was shot out of the barrel it split the barrel at the muzzle.
This fella was not one to waste money on things he felt he could do himself, so he cut the barrel off with a hack saw and trued the end with some file work (he really did a good job).
Then he taped a pencil eraser on the barrel for a bead (home gunsmithing 101) and continued hunting with the gun.

To the OP, I'll bet your model 12 is good to go, as I've never seen one that was not.
However, it's never a bad ideal to have an older gun checked over by a competent gunsmith if there's any question in your mind about the guns condition.

Best Regards
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Old March 31, 2012, 12:21 AM   #13
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I own 2 model 12's and 2 model 42's. It's too bad Winchester doesn't have the capability to produce a gun of this quality anymore.
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