Winchester shotgun review.
Over the years, Winchester have had an on-off relationship with the break-action shotgun.
An American favourite was the Model 21 side-by-side, and custom grades, available as late as 1993, now change hands for up to $17,000.
More of Europe fell in love with the 101 series of over-unders, which went out around 20 years ago, then there was a long gap until the Supreme was introduced in 2001. In the intervening years the Winchester company had changed hands. What was once the pride of the American rifle industry was disposed of by the Olin Corporation, to be taken over by Browning of Belgium.
Now, the majority of Browning shotguns are made by Miroku in Japan, but the Belgian company went back to its roots for the new gun, and started building it on their own plant in their home country.
“At the time the design of the gun was a bit of a revolution for Browning.”
Gone was the tall action with its full-width hinge pin, and in came a new frame which looked a bit (well, actually quite a lot!) like a Beretta. It was shallow, hinged on stub pins, and locked with a fork-shaped bolt passing through the breech face to locate with holes in the shoulders of the top barrel.
But was it a hit with shooters?
It did well enough, but its balance and handling came in for a bit of stick, so in 2004 these matters were addressed and it was re-launched as the Select Energy series. Slowly but surely, shooters started to take to it.
A good reference point for the range is the Browning website (www.browningint.com) where you will find seven basic versions and a selection of barrel lengths. There are Sporters (including one with an adjustable stock), two differently-stocked trap guns, two field models, and the posher ‘Select Platinum’ grade.
Simple, low-profile action hinged on stub pins, as previously noted.
Hammers are hinged from the trigger plate, with sears hanging from the top strap.
Powered by coil springs.
Single, selective trigger.
Barrels, built on the monobloc principle, have spring-loaded electors.
Lengths are 28 or 30in for Sporters, 30 or 32in for trap, and 30, 28 or 26in for field versions. All are multichokes with 3in chambers, with extended chokes on competition versions.
Woodwork is relatively plain, but strong, and with an unusual chequer pattern. Stock dimensions vary from version to version, but a typical sporter has a length of just over 14.5in, with drops of 1.75 and 2.5in at comb and heel respectively.
Fair choice of models for all kinds of shooting.
Greatly improved balance and handling.
Reliable, long-established manufacturer and importer.
No major mechanical faults have yet emerged.
Early ‘Supreme’ versions didn’t balance as well as newer guns.
WHAT TO PAY?
With so many deals around on new guns it is difficult to be exact. Certainly no more than £950 for a simple sporter, and £1,300 for the adjustable stock version.
Field versions are cheaper.
UK SALES: 01235 514550