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Vintage Winchester Model 12 -- What to Look For

This is a discussion on Vintage Winchester Model 12 -- What to Look For within the Non-XD Handguns forums, part of the Other Handgun Talk category; Seeking info on the fine points of the venerable Winchester Model 12. Long story short: I'm reasonably knowledgeable about shotguns in general and used to ...

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Old 09-02-2008, 12:29 AM   #1
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Vintage Winchester Model 12 -- What to Look For

Seeking info on the fine points of the venerable Winchester Model 12. Long story short: I'm reasonably knowledgeable about shotguns in general and used to collect antique guns. Hunted with a friend and his father for years--ducks, pheasants, quail, etc. in the Midwest. Friend's father had an old Model 12, 16 ga. I used it on occasion. Lately, I've been keeping an eye out for one, preferably a 20 ga. I know about original condition, and the general check list of what to look for. However, one can always learn more--especially when contemplating laying out a bunch of cash for a legendary gun that might have had some help in being rebuilt or jazzed up to get a better price.
I'm not interested in a 12 ga, loads of them around, most are trashed. Book says although over 2 million were made the attrition rate is over 33% from hard use and getting lost.
A week ago I came across a sweet 20 ga Model 12. Blue is original, approx. 90% plus. Crisp action. Stock MAY have been refinished (well done) with no sanding based on the wood/metal fit. Great bore. Owner says mfg. date is 1931. No vent rib, barrel appears to be standard 28", 2 3/4" chamber, full choke. Serial number on loading tube and front underside of receiver match. Clear stamps and proofs. I don't think this shotgun was used much.
The price is $500 which seemed pretty reasonable based on book values.
He's not a dealer, but does buy and sell guns.
Question to the online wisdom bank: What am I missing? Comments and opinions very welcome. Thanks.
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Old 09-02-2008, 05:43 AM   #2
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Sounds fair for a 20 gauge in great condition, I'd snap it up before someone else does. A rib adds considerably to the value but if you can live without one go for it. Remember they probably will never make them again.
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Old 09-02-2008, 10:25 AM   #3
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If its tight and not rusty...500 bucks for a 20 gauge Model 12 is not bad at all. I'd LOVE to have one in 20 gauge...but whenever one shows up for sale - its sky high or a basket case.

I have a 1935 Model 12 12 gauge and a 1920 Model 12 in 16 gauge that belonged to my Grandfather. Both are fantastic shooters. I also have a near mint 1952 Model 42 (410 ga) with the factory skeet rib. I am a VERY big fan of this design and think it is the best pumpgun ever made.

The 12 gauges are a tad heavy but the 16 and 20 gauges are light enough for dove/quail hunting. My 16ga Model 12 is a great dovegun....I use it every dove season and love the 16 gauge for upland game.

Theres really not alot that goes wrong with the Model 12 Wincehster. Make sure the action/barrel connection is good and tight and it ought to be fine. I HAVE seen loosey-goosey M12s that still ran fine.

They stopped making the Model 12 not becauee the design was out-dated...but because it was VERY expensive to produce. The best materials went into the Model 12. Everything was hand fitted and all parts were machined from barstock steel. The barrels were nickel steel. The stocks were American walnut. The best materials, period.

Another great thing about the M12 was the fact that while other pump-gun makers had one receiver size for all gauges, Winchester had 3 receiver sizes - the 12, 16 and 20s all had their own scaled down receivers. The Model 42 410 also had a slimmer scaled down receiver. Therefore a 16 or 20gs M12 feels lighter and wings better than a 12 gauge. It makes for a better clays or bird gun. The heavy 12ga M12 does make a good waterfowl ot turkey gun. I shot a 23 pound gobbler with my 12ga M12.

So yeah...for 500 bucks...I'd snap up a nice 20ga M12 in a hurry! I really think the 20ga M12 is not all that common. Most used M12s I see are 16s and 12s. I don't see many nice used M12s period these days and if they're in good shape, they start at around 650 bucks.

I always thought the earlier M12s had nicer, slimmer stocks that fit the hands better than the ones made after WWII. My 16ga has alot slimmer and nicer feeling stock than a buddy's 1950s made 16 gauge.

Nice to see somebody else around here that likes these old shotguns. I have been shooting a Mod.12 Wincehsters since I was 15 and think it was one of the best pumpguns ever made.

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Old 09-02-2008, 10:33 AM   #4
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For me it's a tossup between the model 12 or the Ithica 37 featherweight if it entails a all day pheasant hunt the 37 will get my vote every time.
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Old 09-02-2008, 02:27 PM   #5
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My dad is THE authority on Model 12's. Thats all he works on.
I will pm you his contact info.
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Old 09-02-2008, 03:21 PM   #6
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I will also add that the Model 12 Winchester seems VERY hard to wear out. Probably because of its construction of machined steel and fitting.

My Great Grandfather bought the 16ga M-12 I have in 1920 and gave it to my Grandfather when he got married in 1937. He then willed it to me in 1984.

Over the years, three hunters have blasted boxes and boxes of shells through this shotgun and its still as tight and functional as it was in 1920. I think I replaced a spring or two maybe 10 years ago but thats it. Almost all the bluing is gone and the stocks have many scrratches but I will trust it once again in a few weeks for a "hot barrel" dove session in South Texas.

That tells me another thing about this design - that not only is is high quality and smooth in the action...but it is VERY hard to wear out the old Winchester Model 12.

Go get one...it will spoil you!

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Old 09-04-2008, 09:04 PM   #7
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Model 12 Wisdom

Thanks much to the responders to my question. Very much appreciated.
Still chasing the guy that has the one I want....never home. Will post outcome and picture if it works out. We'll see.
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Old 09-16-2008, 12:56 AM   #8
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1931 Model 12 Winchester 20ga.

The rest of the story from previous post: My new, 77-year-old, Winchester Model 12 is relaxing here in its cheap Dosko plastic gun case. Spoke to the owner who brought it to last weekend's gun show and stuck it under the table until I could get there. Inspected it, and bought it for $475. It was as good as I remembered it. Getting out the door was interesting...got stopped twice by guys who wanted to know if it was for sale (inward smile). Took it out in the bush same day and put 10 shells through it. Sweet. Only way it could have been better is if Clyde Barrow would have driven by in a Model A. I've got pics, but was informed by the "you may" and "you may not" column on screen that I am not allowed to post pics. Newbie status??
Anyway, thanks again for the groupthink opinions, it helped a lot. And special thanks to Torquem for referring me to someone who knows more about these Model 12s than Winchester does.
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Old 12-02-2008, 05:00 PM   #9
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Old Model 12 and 42 etc...

Hi all..!! I'm new to this forum... found this forum in a search for info and values for some guns. I'm not interested in selling, so much as what values are for insurance both at home and particularly for shipping.

I'm about to ship the following...

Model 12 - 12 gauge.. non-vented rib, purchased used approx 1955, with 'normal' wear, and my favorite all time 12 gauge pump... besides the fact that is was my Fathers.

Model 42 - 410 gauge - non-vented.. purchased approx 1963.. in PERFECT SHAPE... and a beautiful match to the model 12.

Remington Model 1100 Skeet auto - purchased used approx 1962 in beautiful condition.

7.65 Argentine Mauser - sport modified, cut for scope.. in good shape.. I believe it to be made in the earlier 1900s but the model-date says 1893 (I believe).

Mossberg Model 144 LS .22 LR target rifle with scope (my trusty prairie-dog gun)

Savage 410 pump in good condition... purchased new about 1964.

CRESCENT FIREARMS of Norwich Conn - "PEERLESS MODEL" side-by-side shotgun - 16 gauge (I think, it is not stamped) that needs repair... this gun was bought and used but once.. it fires the second round, on-its-own, about 15 seconds after the first round is fired ( YIKES...!!!!!!!!!!) I was always tempted to disable it and hang it over the fire-place.

So far, for shipping, I'm thinking to insure the Model 12 and Model 42 for $3000 together. The Model 1100 and the Mauser.... ??? The Mossberg..??

Any info would be greatly appreciated..!!!

Thanks,

Oldm12
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