The Winchester Model 1887 and the related Model 1901 were American repeating shotguns designed by John Browning and manufactured by the Winchester Repeating Arms Company from 1887 to 1931. One of the more unusual Winchester designs, the Model 1887 was one of the first successful repeating shotgun designs in existence, with over 78,000 produced when it was discontinued in 1931.


A shotgun was intended to be produced by the Winchester Repeating Arms Company in the 1880s, and so then-Winchester employee John Browning was tasked to design a new shotgun for the company. While Browning suggested that the use of a pump action mechanism would be better suited for a shotgun, Winchester's vice-president, T.G. Bennett, refuted and said that Winchester was known more as a "lever action gun company", and as such the new shotgun would have to also be a lever-action weapon to preserve brand recognition;[1] this shotgun would become the Model 1887, although Winchester would later introduce a pump-action shotgun known as the Model 1893, essentially the precursor to the famed Model 1897.[2]

Chambered for black powder 12 or 10 gauge shells, the Model 1887 was an instant success, selling from 1887 until 1899[3] and used by a variety of law enforcement agencies; the Model 1887 also acted as a unique experimental platform for Winchester to work off from.[4] Production of the Model 1887 ended in 1899 with 64,855 produced.[3]

With the introduction of smokeless powder however, it became clear that the Model 1887's action was not strong enough to use the new smokeless shells, and so an improvement had to be made at some point. As such, the Model 1901 was designed, which was essentially the same gun as the 1887 but with a stronger alloy steel receiver specifically designed for use with the smokeless shells and chambered for 10 gauge only. The Model 1901 was not as successful as its predecessor, with only 13,500 produced from 1899 to 1931, after which production was halted.[5]

In recent years, the Model 1887 and 1901 have re-entered production, with replicas produced by Taylors & Co,[6] Chiappa Firearms, Norinco[7] and Century Arms (as the PW87).[8] The Model 1887 has also gained notoriety for its use in a number of films in recent years,[1] with some films having the stocks, barrels, or both, sawn off and sometimes modified with larger lever loops for performing cocking stunts.

A sawn-off Model 1887 was most notably used in the film Terminator 2: Judgment Day by actor Arnold Schwarzenegger; four were used in the film[9] and are allegedly original Winchester guns.

Design DetailsEdit

One of the most unconventional lever actions produced by Winchester, the Model 1887 uses a strange breech-loading rolling block lever action. When the action opens, the breechblock rotates away and down from the chamber at a high speed; the reverse happens when the action is closed, where a shell is positioned from the underbarrel tube magazine to be picked up by a lifter which sends it into battery. As the action closes, the recessed hammer is fully cocked; of note is that an interference is built into the parts which prevents the weapon from firing unless the action is fully closed and the hammer locked. As with most Winchester lever guns, the Model 1887 features a half-cock safety notch.[1]


The weapon takes either 12 gauge or 10 gauge shells; the later Model 1901 is only chambered for 10 gauge shells.


The Model 1887 has a later variant, the Model 1901. The Model 1901 is generally identical in appearance to the Model 1887 except for a alloy steel receiver and being only chambered for 10 gauge shells.



  • Allegedly, a number of Model 1887s have rifling and are chambered in the .70-150 Winchester cartridge; this has been a subject of debate among some mainly due to there being some mystery as to whether the .70-150 Winchester cartridge is more than just a "board dummy", but this theory has neither been proven or disproven.[4]


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