The Winchester Model 1300 Defender
While perusing my favorite Internet Gun Emporium, I noticed a a clean old Winchester 1300 Defender. I was issued a Winchester Model 1200 ‘riot gun’ in 1980 and I recalled it being a good, slick-working shotgun. The 1200 was also military issue at one time and saw combat duty in Vietnam.
I purchased the 1300 in short order. Mine is a 12 gauge with the standard sporting-length magazine tube, an 18 ½” ‘Defender’ marked barrel and utilitarian wood furniture. It came equipped with an unmarked, all steel +2 extension that has proven absolutely reliable in use. Per Winchester, my 1300 was made in 1990.
My wife and I shot some clay birds that afternoon. The 1300 is light and fast in the hands and a natural pointer from the hip or the shoulder. As long as I snap-shot clays quick, my hit rate with the 1300 was near 100%. The Winchester pad worked surprisingly well and this gun isn’t punishing at all.
I patterned the 1300 at 25 yards on the 11×17 steel plate. This is one round each of Universal #8, one Federal 2 3/4″ Magnum 00 buck and a Super X slug. A good spread with birdshot, 7 of 9 buckshot on the plate and the slug printed just a couple of inches above the bead, though I pulled it bit right.
The old bead on this shotgun was more pumpkin-shaped than spherical, so I dig through my 3-56 beads to find a replacement. I originally tried a Bradley, but it was so big my slug groups at 100 yards grew a foot. I also went from not being able to miss a clay bird with it, to missing them half the time. I found a good, round 1/8 inch silver bead in the parts box and replaced the Bradley with it.
Range time to check the results… This target represents 1 round #8 Universal and 1 round Remington #0 12 pellet buckshot, 25 yards. I used Remington 2 3/4″ slugs this time; one each at 25, 50 and 100 yards. Then I fired one from across the pasture, a measured 196 yards. I held 6 o’clock on the bowl without thinking and it landed low-left on the paper. We don’t typically think of a bead sighted shotgun with as having this much reach, but you could sure make somebody leave you the hell alone at two football fields.
The 1300 Series has some. Winchester advertised the 1300 as the ‘Speed Pump’ because its rotary bolt essentially unlocks on firing and if you’re holding back on the forearm a little, the action will open and the fired shell will eject. The temptation is to slam it forward; but if haven’t pulled the forend to its rear limit, you will short-stroke closed on an empty chamber. Forget the ad hype and run the 1300 like any other pump shotgun.
Another 1300 gremlin manifested itself in this shotgun- double-feeds. Should this misfortune find you, put the gun on safe, point it in a safe direction and punch out the pin that secures the trigger assembly. Remove it and clear the action from the bottom. Double-feeds occur when the primary shell stop has released a shell onto the carrier and the secondary shell stop fails to control shells remaining in the magazine. This is pretty easily remedied by tweaking the hook on the secondary stop toward the center of the shotgun; and it worked fine on this one. Why Winchester elected to bolt these onto the trigger assembly, instead of encasing them in receiver slots (870, 500) is beyond me. It was a recipe for failure, with icing provided by the next gremlin.
Remington brazes the magazine tube into the receiver of the 870 and I have long hated them for this. Mossberg gets it right by simply threading them into the receiver. On the 1300, Winchester used a plastic ‘magazine throat’ insert, pressed into the the receiver. When the 1300 was introduced, plastics were not nearly as advanced as they became 10-12 years later. So the 1300’s magazine throats are fragile. They also house the critical front end of the shell stops mentioned above; so a fracture in the magazine throat becomes a big deal. I must also mention Winchester hasn’t made the 1300 for 10 years and they aren’t making replacement parts. If you get in a bind and need parts, Midwest Gunworks is a factory recommended supplier who also has magazine throats. I may order one just to have it on hand.
In my opinion, the 1200-1300 Winchesters were too fragile for military or police issue. This certainly does not disqualify them as hunting or home defense shotguns. They are light, they handle well and they have very slick actions. I particularly like they way they are stocked. For me, they are very comfortable to shoot and operate. This 1300 threw excellent patterns for a duty/defense shotguns and despite its Spartan sights, it is downright deadly with slugs. It it needs a little TLC, I can do that. I like it and expect it has found a home here.