a weapon for the Terminator and more …

Here it is: “Winchester” M1887 – one of the iconic examples of American small arms in the hands of the Terminator …

At first sight and sight
It seems not difficult thing –
Luxurious this plain
Cross the horse slowly.
But we, unfortunately, know
Like hawks are torn from the chain
How crowded it can be to death
And in the most endless steppe.
(“The Man from Boulevard des Capucines”, Julius Kim)

Weapons and firms. This is the third part of our ballad, and in it we will tell about what happened after the famous “Winchester” of 1873 was created. What happened is that in 1878, John Moses Browning, who by that time already owned a family arms company, received a patent for his single-shot rifle with a vertical bolt, controlled by a lever, which turned out to be very good. After that, the Winchester Repeating Arms Company drew attention to it (and to its creator), and that’s how it all began. Winchester bought the rights to it for $ 8000 and began to produce it as the Model 1885, while Browning, already in 1883, began to work closely with this company. And although these rifles were produced less than 200,000, they were in production from 1885 to 1920.


The large-caliber double-barreled gun was a very popular weapon in the Wild West. Scene from the movie “Stagecoach” (1986)

But it was not with this rifle that he glorified himself and the company for which he worked, but above all with the Winchester lever-type shotgun Model 1887. It is with him in his hands that the “cutie” Arnold acts in the second episode of The Terminator, and the fact that he was armed with this particular gun is not at all surprising.

Weapon for marksmanship


The Browning M1885 rifle had an original reloading bracket combined with a pistol grip!

The fact is that all “Winchesters” before him were, in fact, cavalry carbines and were only copies of Henry’s rifle. Apparently, this dependence to a certain extent weighed down the owners of the company, and they decided to release something completely new and not connected with it in any way. And most importantly, it was supposed to be a large-caliber shotgun – at that time a popular weapon among hunters, travelers, police officers and sheriffs.


And this is how it leaned back down to reload!

And the M1887 just became such a weapon, and it was truly the first successful large-caliber multi-charge shotgun, produced for such a long time. At the same time, at first, John Browning intended to equip the new shotgun with a pump-action reloading mechanism, in his opinion, more suitable for such a multiple-shot rifle, but the vice president of the company T. Bennett said that Winchester is known as a “company that produces weapons with a lever mechanism”, and therefore a new gun must also be “lever-operated” to be easily recognizable. They say that a recognizable brand will have the best sales, and in part he was right. It was only later, after the introduction of smokeless powder, that Winchester adopted the Model 1893 Browning pump-action shotgun (an early version of the Model 1897) and began producing it.

The very first shot – on the spot!


Model 1887

Well, the M1887 shotgun with Henry’s reload bracket, as before, fired 12-gauge cartridges with black powder. Moreover, Browning came up with a completely unique design that did not exist before him. True, Browning himself did not really believe in the promise of a shotgun with Henry’s staple, but there is an order, and it turned out that this was exactly the option people were waiting for at that time. Shotguns began to be bought by hunters, postal workers, policemen, but, however, still not in such quantity as rifled models. Moreover, as Browning suggested, as soon as guns with reloading using a moving forend appeared, sales of the 1887 model went down sharply.


M1887. The shutter is closed. The trigger is pulled

The M1901 shotgun lasted a little longer, most likely due to its unusual caliber – the 10th. But even these guns from 1901 to 1920 were produced only 14.5 thousand. And the M1887 was produced from 1887 to 1901 and made a total of 65,000 copies in the “plain” ($ 30) and “fancy” ($ 48) versions.

It is interesting that outwardly the M1887 is similar only with its lever, but in general this gun is unusual both in appearance and in design. Moreover, it is the device of this gun that causes admiration for both its functionality and simplicity.


And this is how Arnold shot him …


The reloading lever travel was, of course, very large, but the locking mechanism turned out to be quite light and durable. Everything according to Newton: you win in strength, you lose in distance!

To begin with, for a 12-gauge rifle, it has a very short bolt box, and there is no window for loading the magazine, as well as for ejecting spent cartridges. There are no large moving parts in the design, and the shutter itself is small and does not move back and forth, as in a classic “hard drive”, but in an arc. And when it opens in this way, the cartridge case is removed from the chamber, and it is thrown not backward, not in the shooter’s face, but … up, and even twisting …


M1887 semi-pistol grip and its butt

The shape of the rifle’s stock is, in general, traditional for American rifles with a Henry bracket, but, on the other hand, it is unusual in that it creates a “humped silhouette” at the rifle. In working with a gun, this form turned out to be convenient and ergonomic, although due to the high line of the barrel, the M1887 gives an increased toss of the barrel when fired.

The weapon is unusual in many ways …

It is also charged in an unusual way, namely through the shutter. To do this, the bracket is lowered down, the bolt is opened and … ammunition is inserted into the opened opening of the store. That is, it is charged directly through the top of the receiver. In this case, you can insert one cartridge into the chamber, and the other five into the tubular magazine.


The scheme of action of the gun М1887

The designer also provided protection against accidental shots: a small protrusion was made on the trigger, so that until the shutter was closed, it would not have been possible to press the hook to the end.

An interesting design feature was the following: the cartridge from the store could not get onto the feed tray until the shooter pulled the trigger. It turns out that by closing the bolt and pulling the bracket, it was impossible to send the cartridge into the chamber. It was also necessary to pull the trigger. That is, an idle descent is required. And again, it is important to remember that the mechanism requires a clear and sharp development of all the movements necessary for recharging. And the lever must be withdrawn as far as it will go!


M1887. The shutter is open (two extractor teeth and the feeder lever are clearly visible at once). But the reloading lever is not fully pulled down …

By the way, the trigger on it was traditionally open, and it could be gently pulled down and then put on half cocking. Thus, the gun can be safely carried with a cartridge in the chamber, and just “cocking” the trigger before firing. The hammer itself (both when cocked and in the deflated position) practically does not protrude from the bolt box, which, together with its original shape, does not allow it to catch on to anything, and at the same time cock and release it safely, holding it with just one finger.


And here the lever is already retracted to the end, the pusher of the store is visible, which presses on the feeder tray

As noted above, the active production period for the M1887 was relatively short. The advent of pump-action shotguns made Henry’s staple shotguns a second-rate weapon. But be that as it may, this “Winchester” also left a mark in history. Well, in our country he became known after the demonstration of the film “Terminator 2”, in which it was he who became almost a constant companion of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Well, it is clear that there were immediately found companies that began to produce it years after its production was discontinued.


М1887 of the Italian company Chiappa. Price: $ 1,539.00 (Photo from the company’s website)

Currently, the 1901 reproductions are produced by the Australian company ADI ltd and the Chinese company NORINCO (12 gauge). The Italian company “Chiappa”, specializing in the production of copies of antique weapons, also took care of its production. The company produces weapons of the highest quality and at the same time … considerable cost. In addition, you can shoot from it, that is, feel like the Sheriff of the Wild West, and even Arnold himself. By the way, the famous Bonnie and Clyde also used this gun.


But this gun is just from “Terminator 2”. Also “Chiappa” and price: $ 1,449.00 (Photo from the company’s website)

Well, the creative collaboration between Winchester and John Browning did not end there. He then made the Model 1897 pump action shotgun and modifications to the traditional M1886, M1892, M1894, and M1895 hard drives, as well as a Model 8 semi-automatic rifle for the Remington company. Many of these are still in production in one form or another, even today. But we will tell you about all these “hard drives” next time …

PS Photos courtesy of Alain Daubresse, owner of the Littlegun website

To be continued…

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