Winchester 101


Dear Technoid,

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.

Dear Reader,

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.

Best regards,
Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid

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3 Responses to Winchester 101

  1. Donald Ignozza says:

    I have been shooting a Winchester 101 Diamond grade Trap combo for Three years now. Its a great gun once you get it fit to you properly. Yes originally it did beat me up. I needed a pitch change and added 10oz of weight to the stock and now it is a real pleasure to shoot. For me it shoots pretty softly weighs in at 9lbs 13oz. I’m very happy with it would ‘nt think of selling it.

  2. murray says:

    Ive had one for 40 years, shot everything with it, rough, wildfowl, driven and clays inc the occasional slug at Bambi, still have all my teeth so recoil not a particular issue, very reliable (one ejector hammer welded and one top lever spring replaced), probably near to 80k cartridges thro it on the original firing pins and altho most of the surface finishes are gone I guess Ive just been lucky, funnily enough Ive two friends and a son with nearly as old 101s and they’ve been lucky too.

  3. Pat McGill says:

    I have been shooting a 101 at Trap for 30 plus years, at least 60K targets. Other than cleaning I did no special maintenance; no failures or other issues. Recoil was not much of an issue until folks (including the Technoid) stated telling me it was. Then it was. I finally replaced it this year and am trying to adjust to a new gun. Time will tell if I have chosen wisely.

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