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Old February 28, 2019, 02:08 AM   #1
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Winchester Model 50 20g ammo selection?

Just picked up a 1957 Winchester Model 50 20g semi-auto shotgun [with Cutts' Compensator and Cutts Modified choke on end- and I kind of dig the weirdness.]

I have picked up a service manual to get insight into this shotgun, but it doesn't list anything regarding ammo selection.

It has a 2 3/4" chamber- so, obviously, no 3" shells.

However, what 'range' of speed/weight was this shotgun designed around?

I assume I shouldn't use anything faster than 1375fps, or heavier than 1 1/8oz.

But, is there a minimum speed and/or weight?

I know- test it. I will. However, I am in California and ammo selection/availability is being affected by new ammo laws. I don't want to wait forever to try something, and have it not work- but it be a known 'fail' speed/weight.

I am hoping that the 7/8oz loads from Winchester or Federal bulk target stuff will cycle it reliably- as they are cheap. [around 1200fps, I think?]

Second ammo-type question: For hunting where lead is not allowed, what type of shot is generally recommended for these older shotguns [remember- it has the Cutt's Compensator with modified choke attached].

This ammo question is also something that I am interested in for some older SxS shotguns- like LC Smith and Parker, as well as late 1940s FN made Auto-5 shotguns [modified choke].

All three have fixed choke barrels- as was the norm then.

I have been told to 'never use steel' by some, but others have said 'steel can be used if choke is Modified or more open, and shot size is 5 or smaller'.

Is there something that is really the cat's meow for these older classic field hunting 12g shotguns?

thank you for any insight
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Old March 7, 2019, 08:51 AM   #2
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I sometimes use a 12 GA model 50 for trap shooting. I stick to using Winchester AA #7.5 heavy trap loads. This correlates to your maximum of 1 1/8 oz. of shot at around 1300 fps.
I've never experienced any problems, but have considered putting new springs in my Model 50 as a JIC. Model 50's are all over fifty years old with some as old as sixty five years old.
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Old March 7, 2019, 05:47 PM   #3
Jim Watson
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Sorry, I got locked in on 12 gauge.
I think a M50 will handle any 2 3/4" 20 load on the market.

There are a couple of non-lead shot materials available for pre-steel era guns. Bismuth is one, Tungsten Matrix the other. More expensive than lead or steel, but legal on waterfowl and easier on the old guns than steel.

Last edited by Jim Watson; March 7, 2019 at 07:56 PM. Reason: Wrong gauge.
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Old March 7, 2019, 09:52 PM   #4
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In theory a Model 50 should shoot any 2-3/4" 20GA ammo.

My uncle had a 12GA that was very ammo sensitive. I don't remember what it liked and didn't like but it only ran with certain types of ammo with regard to how the ammo was crimped. Bear in mind this was 40 or so years ago.

He's long gone so I can't ask him.
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Old March 7, 2019, 10:30 PM   #5
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I had a 20g M50 for several years, plain FC barrel. My standard 20g ammo was Win 23/4"
hi brass #6 shot. Had A5 20 Lite at same time and used same ammo in both with no issues.
I did use same loads in Rem ammo too. I've never owned any 20g target loads so I can't say about function with them. Fine rabbit guns for this area.
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Old March 11, 2019, 01:32 PM   #6
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keep in mind, that gun was designed when paper wads were the only thing around. all newer plastic wads tend to make chokes on the gun a little tighter across the board.
try not to put high fps in the gun. it tended to crack receivers and wear out main springs faster. enjoy it.
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