|Winchester Model 1912 shotgun|
Winchester Model 12 12-gauge pump-action shotgun manufactured in 1948
|Place of origin||United States|
|Used by||United States Army, United States Navy, United States Marine Corps,|
|Wars||World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War|
Thomas Crosley Johnson
|Manufacturer||Winchester Repeating Arms Company|
|Produced||1912–1964, with special production runs until 2006|
|Number built||nearly 2,000,000|
|Caliber||12 gauge, 16 gauge, 20 gauge, 28 gauge|
|Feed system||6-round tubular magazine (see text for more details)|
The Winchester Model 1912 (also commonly known as the Model 12, or M12) is an internal-hammer, pump-action, shotgun with an external tube magazine. Popularly-named the Perfect Repeater at its introduction, it largely set the standard for pump action shotguns over its 51 year high-rate production life. From August 1912 until first discontinued by Winchester in May 1964, nearly two million Model 12 shotguns were produced in various grades and barrel lengths. Initially chambered for 20 gauge only, the 12 and 16 gauge versions came out in 1913 (first listed in the 1914 catalogs), and the 28 gauge version came out in 1934. A .410 version was never produced; instead, a scaled-down version of the Model 12 known as the Model 42, directly derived from scaled drawings of the Model 12, was produced for .410.
The Model 1912 (shortened to Model 12 in 1919) was the next step from the Winchester Model 1897 hammer-fired shotgun, which in turn had evolved from the earlier Winchester Model 1893 shotgun. The Model 12 was designed by Winchester engineer Thomas Crosley Johnson, and was based in part on the M1893/97 design by John M. Browning. It was initially available in 20 gauge only (12 and 16 gauge guns were not sold until late 1913). The Model 12 was the first truly successful internal hammer pump-action shotgun ever produced. Its tubular magazine was loaded through the bottom of the gun. Empty shotgun shells ejected to the right. Depending on the particular wooden transformer plug installed in the magazine, two, three, or four shells could be stored in the tubular magazine. The magazine holds six 2¾-inch 12 ga. shells, when no plug is installed, unlike most shotguns of today which hold four or five shells. With forged and machined steel parts, the ultimate reason for discontinuation in 1964 was that it was too expensive to produce at a competitive price. The primary competition at this time came from the much less expensive Remington Model 870, which had been introduced in 1950. The majority of "modern" Model 12 shotguns manufactured after 1927 were chambered for 2¾-inch shotgun shells only, although some specialized models such as the Heavy Duck Gun Model 12 were chambered for 3" Super Speed and Super X shells (basically a 3" magnum). The early 20 gauge Model 12 guns had chambers that were 2½", and the 16 gauge Model 12's were chambered for a 2 9/16-inch shotgun shell. To add further confusion, some of these early Model 12's have subsequently been modified, with their chambers lengthened to accept 2¾-inch shotgun shells, while others remain in their factory-stock chamber lengths. Careful inspection by a gunsmith is always recommended to determine whether or not it is safe to fire a modern 2¾-inch shotgun shell in older Model 12's.
Special production examples were produced by Winchester, the U.S. Repeating Arms Company, and Miroku after 1964 through 2006 through specialized gun collector purchase programs, but the Perfect Repeater shotgun was never mass-produced after 1964. The U.S. Repeating Arms Company (a subsidiary of F.N.) announced a complete closing of the New Haven, Conn factory facility in January 2006, thus ending the Model 12's long and illustrious career at the age of 95 years.
The United States armed forces used various versions of the Model 12 in World War I, World War II, Korea, and in the early part of the Vietnam War, until inventory was exhausted after the Model 12's initial production ceased in 1964. Versions of the Model 12 were type classified as the Model 12 or M12 for short. Approximately 20,000 Model 12 trench guns were purchased by the US Army in World War I, differing from the civilian version by having a shorter barrel, a perforated steel heat shield, and a M1917 bayonet adapter.
More than 80,000 Model 12 shotguns were purchased during World War II by the United States Marine Corps, Army Air Forces, and Navy, mostly for use in the Pacific theater. Riot gun versions of the Model 12, lacking the heat shield and bayonet, were purchased by the Army for use in defending bases and in protecting Air Forces aircraft against saboteurs when parked. The Navy similarly purchased and used the riot gun version for protecting Navy ships and personnel while in foreign ports. The Marine Corps used the trench gun version of the Model 12 to great success in taking Japanese-occupied islands in the Pacific. The primary difference in Model 12 shotguns between the World War II trench gun version versus the World War I trench gun version was that the original design, containing six rows of holes in the perforated heat shield, was reduced to only four rows during 1942.
During the Korean War, the Marines used the Model 12 extensively. Likewise, the Marines and Army used the Model 12 during the early part of the Vietnam War, until, due to the Model 12's production ending in 1963, and the high rate of wartime use, the Model 12 shotguns in inventory were consumed. The Ithaca 37 soon filled the void caused by the end of the Model 12's production, especially among U.S. Navy SEALS.
Unlike most modern pump-action shotguns, the Winchester Model 12 had no trigger disconnector. Like the earlier Model 1897, it too fired each time the action closed with the trigger depressed. That and its 6-shot capacity made it effective for close-combat. As fast as one could pump the action, another shot would be fired.
- Fawcett, Bill. Hunters & Shooters: An Oral History of the U.S. Navy SEALS in Vietnam. NY: Avon Books, 1995. ISBN 0-380-72166-X, pp. 79–80, especially.
- "Give Us More Shotguns!" by Bruce N. Canfield, American Rifleman, May 2004
- "Sequence of Take-down and Assembly Operations Model 12 Slide Action Repeating Shotgun", A. A. Arnold, Olin, Winchester-Western Division, New Haven, CT, October 1957
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