Here at the Truth About Guns, we often review the latest and greatest in firearms. Typically older guns fall into the Obscure Object of Desire category. What about guns that are old but still common, cheap, and out there readily available?
We’re talking about guns like the Winchester 1300 series shotguns. It’s been out of production since 2006, but Winchester made so many of them that they’re still commonly available and affordable. I picked up this nearly mint condition model for a mere $250. Is it any good? Most reviews of it come from the offline gun rags, so why not publish an objective one here?
I love shotguns and I’ve made it a goal to collect many of the classics. I’ve picked up an Ithaca 37, a Winchester Model 12, plenty of Remingtons and Mossbergs, and finally, this Winchester 1300 pump gun. There are lots of variants of the model 1300 series around. Today’s model is the Winchester 1300 Ranger Deer Model. As far as I can tell, there were two configurations of this gun, one with a rifled barrel and a smoothbore version.
This is the smoothbore version with a 22-inch barrel. Other than that, it’s not much different than the standard Winchester Model 1300 shotguns. One of the defining features of this model are the rifle sights on the barrel, which is my favorite shotgun iron sight configuration. It holds five rounds of ammo, but comes plugged to hold only two rounds.
The Winchester 1300, A Culmination
It’s nuts to think Winchester went from the lever action rifle company to the pump shotgun company. The Winchester 97 made quite the splash. Later they produced the Model 12, also known as the perfect repeater (if you want a review of the Model 12, let me know). Following the Model 12, they produced the mass-production-friendly Model 1200. The Model 1200 was a nice shotgun that competed with the Remington 870 and later the Mossberg 500.
Over time Winchester made a few improvements to the Model 12 design. Eventually, they made it choke-ready and added a three-inch chamber, made it easier to disassemble. Finally Winchester decided they had made enough improvements to the gun for a new model designation. The Winchester 1300 is the culmination of all of the additions and upgrades made to the Model 1200.
Much like most modern pump-action shotguns, the Winchester 1300 platform was a do-it-all shotgun. Winchester produced field models with long barrels, the Defender with a short barrel and full-length magazine tube, and of course, the Deer Model we have here.
What you see is what you get with the Model 1300 in terms of controls and design. There isn’t much to it that’s different than any standard pump action gun. The safety sits in front of the trigger, and the pump release is behind the trigger on the left-hand side. The gun loads from the bottom and ejects out the right side. This Winchester features wood furniture, which is very nice for its price point.
The pump forend features an American walnut design that’s big and beefy. It grips easily and makes running the gun easy. The stock is all wood and it’s what you’d expect. Predictably, the stock has a 14-inch length of pull.
Where the Model 1300 shines is how the pump action moves. Inside the gun, we have a rotating bolt. As the action pulls rearward, the bolt exerts both rearward and rotational force on the shell, which guarantees positive ejection. This bolt design is also a bit of a forceful unlock, and the pump seems to want to move by itself.
It kicks backward a bit, and it starts your rearward action. The pump action moves extremely smoothly and you can pump this thing really flipping fast. It just glides rearward and back again, making this shotgun both quick and enjoyable to shoot. I can run this thing faster than I can run other pump-action shotguns by some fractions of a second.
At the Range With a Deer Gun
I really love rifle-style sights on shotguns. Mounting the sights to the barrel reduces your sight radius, but on a shotgun it’s worth it to me. These are nearly identical to the safari sights we find on rifles used on, well, safaris. The idea here is accurate sights that are quick and easy to acquire. Shotguns work great at close range and with slugs, that range is extended. Rifle sights allow you to take full advantage of that.
Sadly, rifle sights aren’t too popular on shotguns these days. With the Winchester 1300, I was reminded just why they’re so great. I can throw slugs with excellent accuracy out to 50 yards and good accuracy at 100 yards. I could hit a deer behind the front leg at 50 yards, and I could certainly hit the deer in the chest area at 100 yards.
With buckshot, I ran a series of close-range drills. Starting at the low ready and attempting to hit a B8 target at ten, fifteen, and twenty yards. I ran them under a shot timer and aimed to get the majority of my buckshot in the black in about a second. At ten and fifteen yards it was easy. At twenty yards I was a little slow a time or two, but out of five shots, I accomplished my goal three times.
Taming the 12 Gauge
Recoil is what you expect from a pump gun, and throwing in a little push/pull ensured I could keep the gun under control. It can be brutal if you aren’t careful. The gun weighs less than seven pounds, which is fairly impressive for a 22-inch barreled shotgun.
In terms of reliability, I shot mostly cheap buckshot and a fair bit of cheap birdshot and had zero issues. I’ve heard minishells work well in the Winchester series, but they seem to work in the 1300 as good as they work in any other gun.
Specifications: Winchester Model 1300 Shotgun
Barrel Length: 22 inches
Overall Length: 42.75 inches
Length of Pull: 14 inches
Weight: 6 ⅞ pounds
Caliber: 12 gauge
Capacity: 5 rounds
MSRP: Out of production – Between $200 and $500 used, depending on configuration and condition
Ratings (out of five stars)
Accuracy * * * * *
The Winchester 1300 and its rifle sights deliver excellent accuracy that pairs well with its speed. Accuracy with shotguns isn’t a huge concern, but the 1300 is an above-average contender.
Ergonomics * * * *
The controls are solid and the pump moves rapidly and smoothly. The main problem is its longer length of pull. Smaller framed shooters may want to get the stock cut down.
Reliability * * * * *
When it comes to standard ammunition, the Winchester 1300 eats and eats. It ejects, fires, and loads the next round without any complaints.
Overall * * * * *
It’s not perfect, but I think this gun deserves five stars anyway. It’s a shame Winchester only imports Turkish shotguns these days. The Model 1300s were excellent pump guns and are missed.