Is This the Finest Factory Engraved Winchester 1887 Shotgun Ever?
By Joel R. Kolander
One of the firearms on my bucket list is a Winchester Model 1887 shotgun. They’re big, distinct, beautiful, pack a lot more rounds than the coach guns of the time, and still evoke that lever-gun era of America’s past. I also have a recurring daydream where I take it on a pheasant hunt. Everyone would stand there with a Beretta, Citori, Model 21, or maybe even a Caesar Guerini and I would watch their eyes bug out of their heads as I uncase my unorthodox, John Moses Browning designed repeater. Nevermind that I would need the Model 1901 to fire smokeless powder rounds. Whose daydream is this anyway?
There just so happens to be a real sweetheart of an 1887 in our upcoming June Regional Auction. Unfortunately, if I would like to remain married, it will be going to another deserving collector. Not that my wife takes our wedding vows lightly, she just always thought that the “death” in “til death do us part” was a timeline of her choosing. That in mind, if I can’t have it, I thought I’d get out the good word about this rare and attractive Winchester scattergun so it has the best possible chance of ending up in a good home.
First of all there are all the regular reasons you should want this shotgun:
- It’s an Old West era Winchester.
- Lever guns Winchesters are classic Americana.
- It was designed by a pretty smart guy named John Moses Browning.
- If you enjoy the sound of running a pump action shotgun, you’ll love using a lever action shotgun.
Then there are the reasons that this shotgun is something special.
It was manufactured in 1888
Not only does that make this extremely early in the production range for the Model 1887, which ran from 1887 – 1901, that also makes it an antique, and we all know the benefits of buying antique firearms.
It is one of five made.
According to Winchester records, only five Winchester Model 1887 shotguns were engraved at the factory, making this one very rare collector’s piece. That engraving is listed as “$4.00 engraving” by Winchester.
Special Order Features
Besides the beautiful engraving, the gun has numerous other special order features. Take a look at that fancy grain stock, the ample checkering, rubber butt pate (instead of the standard steel), the barrel listed as “fine Damascus,” the gilt trigger, the “WHW” monogram in the engraving, and the elongated forend.
It is the possibly the most richly engraved Model 1887 ever.
In the book Winchester Shotguns & Shotshells by Ronald Stradt he shows us a “Fancy Finished” Model 1887, serial number 6728. The caption describes it as “likely the most ornate Model 1887 extant.” After seeing this gun, I would certainly beg to differ. The WHW monogram on this example knocks the socks off of the standard Winchester Repeating Arms monogram, though the panel scenes of the hunting dog are on equal par. In my personal opinion, the punchdot sections around each panel scene on the model being offered by RIAC, fill each side more fully and provide a striking contrast. It is not listed in Stradt’s book whether SN 6728 features a gilt trigger and lever, but both shotguns do feature engraved levers. Take a look below and judge for yourself. One thing’s for sure, both are prize Winchesters.
Destined to be outdone by pump action shotguns produced soon thereafter, the Models 1887 and 1901 were a short-lived experiment by Winchester to allegedly maintain their brand recognition as a lever gun manufacturer. About 64,855 Model 1887s were made and only around 13,500 of the Model 1901/01. They’re not exactly rare, but they’re certainly did not enjoy the popularity of other Winchester guns, either. For me, they’re a big, beefy shotgun with a fascinating design that nearly drops the entire action of the gun to cycle it. So please, somebody out there give this shotgun a good home. I would do it myself if I could, and who knows, you just might have the most elaborately engraved 1887 ever made.