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Old May 14, 2002, 10:55 AM   #1
Oleg Volk
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Winchester 1300 20ga "Lady Defender" review

I plan on placing this review on my site, with illustrations. While my server is down, I'd like to get feedback. Did I cover everything of interest? Suggestions?

People buy shotguns for a variety of purposes: hunting, self-defense, sports such as skeep or trap. I wanted a shotgun as a learning tool. Since pump shotguns are such common weapons, especially in police hands, I reasoned that it would be useful to know how to operate one.

My prior experience with shotguns had been limited. I've fired 12 gauge pumps (Mossberg 500, 590) and autoloaders (Remington 11), found the recoil harsh. I've also witnessed an accidental discharge with a Remington 870 which stemmed from the placement of the slide release button (right in front of the trigger guard). With that in mind, I decided that I wanted a 20 gauge shotgun or some model other than an 870.

Winchester Defender seemed like a good fit. For $270, I got a weapon with an 18.5" barrel, seven-shot tube magazine and synthetic furniture. Fiberoptic front sight was already installed. Slide release button was located behind the trigger guard. For comparison, the lowest grade of Remington 870 in 20ga retailed for $290 and came with only a plain bead sight and a four-shot tube, dimpled to prevent extension.

1300 has a non-glare aluminum receiver. It is rust-proof and light. Some people prefer the steel receiver of the 870 without realizing that the Remington bolt locks into a recess in the receiver. In the Winchester, the bolt locks into the barrel extension, similarly to the AR15. The receiver is not subjected to much stress. The rotating bolt unlocks on recoil. That makes the gun very fast to sycle and reduces the kick. However, it also makes firing from a bench awkward and works poorly with whimpy promotional loads. With very light charges, the bolt doesn't always fully unlock, requiring the use of the slide release button.

Take-down and cleaning on the 1300 are fairly simple. In general, the gun requires very little maintenance inside: the action stays quite clean. The barrel, on the contrary, is prone to developing surface rust when exposed to dampness and should be oiled for storage.

Although the cost of ammunition in 20ga is similar to 12ga, the variety is definitely lacking. For the purpose of experimentation, I bought a variety of inexpensive shot and slug loads. All ammunition except for Winchester Super Speed (promotional) shot worked fine. The white-box promotional loads sometimes failed to extract due to the very light charge and poorly made casings (the extractor would occasionally tear through the rims).

Accuracy with basic rifled slugs (Sluggers, Federal Classics) was suprisingly good. All brands would produce touching holes at 25m. Recoil with slugs was brisk due to the light weight of the gun but not painful. The front-heavy balance of the Defender keeps muzzle rise down to a minimum.

Cylinder bore turned out to be ill-suited for most purposes. Except for Winchester promotional ammo which patterned very poorly, all other brands worked reasonable well but produced very open patterns. With buckshot, plated or unplated, the pattern opened up to a torso width at 10-12m. In trap shooting, close shots were easy but far shots often failed due to the poor pattern density. My scored improved by about 20% with the use of a IC choke 12ga. I've shot numerous rounds of trap with this shotgun and took two defensive courses. I found it to be a handy weapon.

Reliability has been excellent: I've fired a hundred rounds of trap rapidly yet the 1300 worked fine. The barrel got so hot that I've seriously considered adding a ventilated shroud to it.

The fiberoptic sight is a very singificant plus: easy to see under all light conditions and suprisingly robust. Unlike brass beads, the sight doesn't have a bright highlight which alters the sight pisture depending on the angle of the light source.

The main down sides have to do with the manufacture of the stock and the machining of the receiver. In my extensive use of the gun, I found every sharp spot on the gun (stock moulding seams, stock/receiver bundary, area next to the loading gate) and those abraded my fingers. I tried to smooth the plastic using sandpaper but was only partly successful. Several people complained about the smooth, recessed nature of the slide release. I have not had any problems with it.

The other limitation has to do with the terminal ballistics of available defense loads. Birdshot has no penetration at 25m and insufficient at 12m (the furthest distance at which the pattern is no wider than a human torso). #3 buck, the most common 20ga load delivers twenty quarter-inch pellets. Penetration is adequate at 12m and insufficient at 25m. Unlike 00 buck, none of the shot loads for 20ga penetrate any cover reliably. In short, the only defense load in which I would have much confidence at ranges exceeding in-house distances would be slugs. It appears that inexpensive ammunition works as well as the high-priced varieties.

Winchester calls this model "Lady Defender". It is a mis-nomer. For one, every lady I know uses a 12ga shotgun. For another, if this weapon was intended for women, it should have had a short stock. The existing stock is fine for me (6'1") but likely too long for many women. A shorter stock with option pads to make up the length would have been better.

For in-house handling, the gun is compact enough and may be fired with one hand without injury to the user. However, an M1 carbine is appreciably more handy in confined spaces. Recoil is relatively heavy for a 20ga (due to the light weight) but muzzle rise is tame and that's a great improvement from most 12ga shotguns. Ammunition is lighter than 12ga but most ammunition cariers with loop are made for 12ga and don't hold 20ga securely.

At this time, I have fired at least 1500 rounds of birdshot, 200 rounds of buckshot and 100 slugs through the gun. None of the parts broke. I recommend it for people who wish to have a light, easily portable 20 gauge shotgun. It is a good learning tool, so long as you are aware of its limitations for long-distance work with shot loads.
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Old May 14, 2002, 02:42 PM   #2
Dave R
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Very well written. More thorough than most reviews I read anywhere. Coupla thoughts, though:

-Whimpy=wimpy. No "h"

-Might mention that other barrels are readily available, so you could convert to a hunting-length barrel in seconds.

-FYI you can have a gunsmith add a replaceable choke tube to your 18.5" barrel. I had a local one quote me $40 for my brother's Defender. Then you could choose your choke, and improve patterning.

Patterns on yours sound pretty bad. Torso width at 10M? My 870 patterns 00 buck about 10" at 25 yards, but that's with a 27" barrel and modified choke. The mod choke patterns 00 tighter than full choke at 25 yards. The full choke probably deforms pellets too much.

I have talked to several experienced shotgunners about hunting with the 18" barrel Defender and replaceable choke tubes. No one has said it was crazy. Several have said it would be great for upland game, esp. doves. Kinda like a Marlin Guide Gun smoothbore.
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Old May 14, 2002, 04:40 PM   #3
Oleg Volk
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Longer barrels won't fit without also changing the magazine tube...all others are set up for short tube.
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Old May 14, 2002, 04:44 PM   #4
fix
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Oleg. Not sure about the 20ga, but you can purchase the 22" Winchoke Barrel used on the Camp Defender for a 12 ga. Fits fine.
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Old May 14, 2002, 04:54 PM   #5
Dave McC
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Good writeup, Oleg. A coupla things...

Remington 870 bolts lock into a recess in the bbl extension, not the receiver.

I'm having trouble figuring out how the placement of the slide release on an 870 contributed to a ND. Please elaborate.

You should explain how you measured penetration and how much the #3 buck and other loads had at whatever range.

Getting the forcing cone lengthened will reduce kick by a small amount and probably tighten patterns as much as one increment of choke would.

Cy;inder bore 20 gauges work fine for upland stuff provided one uses the proper load at reasonable range. And that can be up to 25 yards if you have sufficient pattern density and pellet energy.

All small shot runs out of gas fast. While the first couple up in the HD 870 are 8 shot, that's strictly in house.Outside,it's buck or maybe slugs.

HTH, and good job....
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Old May 14, 2002, 05:00 PM   #6
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I have never heard of a shotgun game called "skeep." I have heard of skeet, however.
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Old May 14, 2002, 07:13 PM   #7
Oleg Volk
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I stand corrected on the 870. For some reason, I thought that it used lockup similar to Winchester 12. We have an 870 here, will look at it. Why would Remington use a heavier steel receiver then?

18.5" cyliner bore is the sole option for the 20ga version.

I am going to re-run patterning tests as soon as I get the gun back from a loan: maybe I mis-remembered and the pattern really covered head width and not torso width at 12m...

Penetration: I tried an old 14.4 modem with a plastic case. #3 buck would penetrate the case and bounce off the first circuit board. #7 wouldn't even dent the plastic. Slugs penetrated completely. I consider that degree of penetration insufficient because most in-house cover is no less resilient. IMO, 00 buck penetrates enough but smaller pellets do not.

That isn't a 20ga specific view, though. Today's tests with .410 (#4, 6, 8) and 12ga (00, 7 1/2) confirmed my view that small pellets become rather ineffective against cover once they leave the shot cup at 3-5 feet.

870 ND -- person was cycling out shells and his hand slipped from the release latch onto the trigger. Not really a design fault of the 870 but, given my inexperience with shotguns at the time, it biased me away from that model. Today I wouldn't have thought the same way.

I will hold off on publishing this till I get my SG back, re-run the ammo tests and take new photos. Thanks all for the input.
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Old May 14, 2002, 07:33 PM   #8
Dave McC
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IMO,Rem went with the steel receiver for durability and tradition, Oleg. The 870's predecessor, the 31, came in a 31L version in the smaller gauges with an alloy receiver. Obviously, they knew how to do it but didn't want to.
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Old May 14, 2002, 08:44 PM   #9
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Volk:
Hows this for a Defender
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Old May 14, 2002, 09:59 PM   #10
Benjamin
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Quote:
That makes the gun very fast to sycle and reduces the kick. However, it also makes firing from a bench awkward and works poorly with whimpy promotional loads.
I don't intend to nitpick, but if this is intended for publication on your page, I believe the word is "cycle".

Excellent review, sir.
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Old January 29, 2021, 12:10 PM   #11
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I bought a Lady Defender for my wife years ago, I hate the slide release button behind the trigger guard. It is to small and hard to use in a hurry. Does anyone have a replacement for it? Also is there a mag extention for it?
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Old January 31, 2021, 10:45 AM   #12
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Holy thread resurrection
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Old January 31, 2021, 02:14 PM   #13
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Really.
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Old January 31, 2021, 02:18 PM   #14
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Mossberg 500 is a better design for a shotgun and more widely available. Get a wood stocked 20 guage with the dual barrels. One a field barrel for shooting skeet and trap for training and one an 18.5 inch security barrel. The combos are out there. I believe the winchester has the floppy loading gate. The 500 has a carrier that is up out of the way. A browning BPS may also be a good choice. The youth model with 22 inch barrel is a bit heavy which will tame recoil. I wouldn't worry about extended magazines etc for home defense. Just worry about learning to shoot the shotgun reliably. A mossberg holds 5 in the tube on the standard gun. Most other shotguns hold 4 in a standard tube.
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Old February 1, 2021, 10:51 AM   #15
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19 year old thread !!
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Old February 1, 2021, 07:57 PM   #16
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That gun isn't made any more and last I heard Savage is importing Chinese copies of it.

Tony
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Old February 25, 2021, 07:40 AM   #17
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Old thread - So what - Winchester SXP Today

The Winchester SXP is a fundamentally a redesigned 1300 action, although parts are not interchangable. Indeed the Compact, (13" LOP), and Youth, (12" LOP), are available in 12 gauge, (as well as 20 gauge). This reflects the current market availability of low recoil offerings for the 12 bore, most importantly in buckshot and rifled slug ammunition.

See:

https://www.winchesterguns.com/produ...-Products.html

Last edited by RMcL; February 25, 2021 at 07:50 AM.
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