The Winchester Model 1300: The Forgotten Shotgun

By Luis Valdes

The Model 1300 Shotgun, the final Winchester shotgun from the fabled gun valley of Connecticut.

In the the 1950s, Winchester was doing fairly well with the post war economic boom. American Suburbia was growing and men and boys now had leisure time. Hunting went from a necessity to sport and the company’s flagship, the Model 12 was selling like hotcakes.

Except Remington entered the field with the incredible Model 870 Shotgun and undercutted the Winchester in production costs while still maintaining quality.

By the 1960s, with the rising cost of skilled labor was making it increasingly unprofitable to produce Winchester’s classic designs, as they required considerable hand-work to finish involving machined forgings. Winchester could no longer compete in price with Remington’s cast-and-stamped Model 870 . So in the early 1960s; S. K. Janson had a new Winchester design group be formed to to advance the use of “modern” engineering design methods and manufacturing principles in gun design.

The result was a new line of guns which replaced most of the older products in 1964. The immediate reaction of the shooting press and public was overwhelmingly negative: the popular verdict was that Winchester had sacrificed quality to the “cheapness experts,” and Winchester was no longer considered to be a prestige brand, causing a marked loss of market share.

But all was not lost in 1964. One of the new designs to replace the classic Model 12 was the Model 1200 introduced in 1965.

The Model 1200 was doing well and became popular as a field and police shotgun. While not achieving the sales figures of the Remington Model 870. The Model 1200 was popular as a “2nd Place” shotgun and was known for it’s quality and lightweight handling due to its aluminium receiver.  

But by 1979-1980, labor costs continued to rise and there was a prolonged strike that ultimately convinced Olin that firearms could no longer be produced profitably in New Haven, Connecticut. On December 1980, the New Haven plant was sold to its employees, incorporated as the U.S. Repeating Arms Company, and granted a license to make Winchester arms. The Winchester ammunition side of the business was retained by Olin. In 1989, U.S. Repeating Arms itself went bankrupt and it was acquired by a French holding company who then sold to Belgian gun company; Fabrique Nationale d’Herstal (parent company of FN and Browning Arms Company).

With the new ownership and reorganization; FN allowed U.S. Repeating Arms Company to continue to produce firearms under license at the New Haven Plant and during this time. The Model 1300 was born. An updated design of the Model 1200. One of the biggest differences you might ask? The chamber was lengthened to accommodate 3″ shells.  

Winchester always claimed that the 1300, which they nicknamed the “Speed Pump” was a faster design than what Remington and Mossberg offered in their designs, and I can actually agree. According to the manual; after the shotgun is fired, the locking lugs of the rotary bolt begin disengaging from the barrel extension and the recoil forces assist the slide in moving rearward. You can actually see this when you hold up a empty unloaded Model 1300 muzzle up. The shotgun unlock itself.

A Mossberg needs 6lbs  and a Remington requires 2lbsof force to begin moving the slide rearward. While cycling forward a Model 1300 needs 7lbs of force, while a Mossberg needs 9lbs and a Remington needs 6lbs.

Winchester made a ton of different variants of the Model 1300 from fancy Marine Coated guns for boats to basic hunting guns and capable defensive police shotguns. I personally have an 8 Shot Speed Pump Defender variant (SKU number 512104308).

Yup, that’s an actual screen capture from Winchester website back in 2005.

In my opinion, my Model 1300 handles well. The length of pull if fantastic with the factory stock, the gun is light in weight, and the gun lives up to the “Speed Pump” name. It

While I carried a Remington Model 870 as my “police shotgun” for the vast majority of my career. That was mostly due to two reasons. One, my former agencies only allowed personally owned shotguns to be Remingtons. And two, I didn’t own a Winchester yet.

I purchased my Model 1300 used from a pawn shop in Arizona selling it on Gunbroker for $289 back in 2014. It came with a Tac-Star brand side saddle and was in great condition.

It has served as a home defense gun and spent many a day in the truck and tent when camping in Tate’s Hell State Forest and it is a hoot to shoot with mini-shells.

Mine fits 11+1 and needs no modifications to work, unlike the adapter needed for the Mossberg 500/590.

Alas, while mine has had a well loved life while under my roof. For Winchester itself, as the years wore on. Winchester lost market share while Mossberg continued to gain. By January 16, 2006, the U.S. Repeating Arms announced it was closing its New Haven plant where Winchester rifles and shotguns had been produced for 140 years. Along with the closing of the plant, production of the Model 94 rifle, Model 70 rifle and of course the Model 1300 shotgun were discontinued.

The official press release sent out by U.S. Repeating Arms concerning the closure was released January 17, 2006.

U.S. Repeating Arms Company To Close New Haven, CT Facility  U.S. Repeating Arms Company, maker of Winchester brand rifles and shotguns will close its New Haven, Connecticut manufacturing facility. Many efforts were made to improve profitability at the manufacturing facility in New Haven, and the decision was made after exhausting all available options.

Effective March 31, 2006, the New Haven manufacturing facility will stop manufacturing the Winchester Model 70, Model 94 and Model 1300.

Winchester Firearms will continue to sell and grow its current line of Select Over & Under shotguns, the new Super X3 autoloading shotgun, the new Super X autoloading rifle and Limited Edition rifles. The company also plans to introduce new models in the future. There will be no change in Customer Service.

This action is a realignment of resources to make Winchester Firearms a stronger, more viable organization. Winchester Firearms plans to continue the great Winchester legacy and is very excited about the future.

While FN kept the Winchester name in and guns like the Model 70 and Model 94 production. The New Haven Plant did shutdown and the Model 1300 did see an end of production. A bastard variant has been released, the Model SXP. Which is made in Turkey and a number of parts from the Model 1300 don’t interchange.

In the end, I’m glad I have a legit US made Model 1300 in my stable of shotguns and that it is as reliable as my Remington 870, Browning BPS, and Mossberg 590 along with the others in the collection.

The Winchester Model 1300 was and is in my opinion a capable shotgun and while they aren’t made anymore and they don’t and didn’t have as big  of a market share. They’re damn good shotguns and if you run across one in good condition for a good price. Don’t let it go.