I took your advice and purchased a Beretta 391 about 8 months ago…..very satisfied! I have owned a 1100, 11-87 and Benelli Super Black Eagle and think the 390 is by far the best of all the autoloaders. Since you didn’t steer me wrong with the Beretta I would value your opinion about the Winchester 101’s.
I own a 12 gauge Model 101 XTR lightweight with 27″ winchoke barrels…weighs about 7 lbs. I have owned this gun for about 10 years and have not used it very much. I thinking about having the stock fitted and using the gun for dove, quail and pheasant hunting (my Beretta 391 is a synthetic stock version and is a bit heavy for upland bird hunting).
Anyway, I have checked the archives and have not found any letters concerning 101’s….look forward hearing your opinion.
I have mixed opinions about the 101. My opinion, and that of most of the other shooters I know who have put a bunch of rounds through them, is that they are absolutely the hardest kicking O/U ever made. In my experience, nothing else has ever come close. I think that I still have the Winchester logo imprint in my shoulder from my time with a 101.
101 reliability under the constant stress of clay target shooting is varied. Most people could not stand to shoot them enough to really test their structural integrity. Those who did found them to be about average. Lots of loose ribs, plus bits and pieces breaking here and there. The gun was not as reliable as its contemporary Charles Daly (now Browning Citori) if you were going to shoot it a whole bunch. It was not in the same league with the Belgian Browning.
That said (fudge factor coming to preserve my life and limb), the 101s that I had (a couple of three barrel sets and a 12 gauge very early Winchoke model), were absolutely first rate as field guns. The were nicely balanced- even the first Winchoke guns- which is a long way from many of the nose heavy factory screw choke guns of today. I have always thought that the Winchester pistol grip was the best in the business. My three barrel sets (built on the 20 gauge frame) were little beauties, ideal for field, but too light for serious target. The sub-gauge 101s are commanding a very nice price on the used market- far better than they did when new.
I think that your 101 would be just great for wild quail and pheasant. They are great in the field and adequately light for a good bit of carrying. Personally, I would prefer the long sighting plane of your 391 for dove, but you may hunt them a bit differently than we do. I would definitely NOT take the 101 dove hunting in Colombia where you can shoot up to four cases a day. It will pound you into the ground like a tent stake. The 391 is built for that sort of shooting.
Bottom line: For many types of upland hunting, your Winchester 101 is just about ideal and would certainly be worth proper fitting. I do not consider it an all around clays and game gun, but that really doesn’t matter just as long as it does its primary field job well.
Shotgun Report’s Technoid