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 Winchester 1887 Ammo
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New Member

64 Posts

Posted - 10/05/2002 :  05:12:08 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Does anyone know what size shells these guns use? (10 or 12 gauge) Is it still available?



Junior Member

222 Posts

Posted - 10/05/2002 :  12:55:11 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I presume you already have an 1887 Winchester shotgun; your inquiry wasn't very specific.
From "1998 Standard Catalogue of Firearms" by Ned Schwing:
"In 1885 (Winchester) purchased the patent for a lever action shotgun designed by John M. Browning. By 1887 Winchester had delivered the first model 1887 in 12 gauge and shortly thereafter offered the gun in 10 gauge.
Both gauges were offered with 30" or 32" full-choked barrels, with the 30" standard on the 12 gauge and 32" standard on the 10 gauge. A Riot Gun was offered in 1898 both in 10 and 12 gauge with 20" barrels choked cylinder.
Both variations of the Model 1887 were offered with plain walnut pistol grip stocks with plain forend. The frame was casehardened and the barrel blued. Between 1887 and 1901 Winchester sold approximately 65,000 Model 1887 Shotguns."
Standard shotgun
Excellent - $1,700
Very good - $1,200
Good - $850
Fair - $500
Poor- $300

Riot shotgun
Excellent- $2,000
Very good - $1,500
Good - $950
Fair - $600
Poor - $400

Gatofeo notes ---
Dont' fire smokeless shells in that 1887, since it is well over 100 years old and originally designed for black powder.
In 1901, Winchester replaced the Model 1887 with the Model 1901, which was designed for smokeless powder shells.
Before firing your 1887, have it checked by a gunsmith familiar with such arms. There may be a hairline crack in any one or more of its parts that only a trained eye might spot.
If a gunsmith pronounces it fit, use only black powder or equivalent (Pyrodex) loads in it.

I don't know who makes black powder shotgun shells. I searched Old Western Scrounger's website but only blank 10 and 12 gauge black powder shells were listed. I seem to recall that Dixie Gun Works sells black powder shotgun shells but don't have the catalogue handy.
Perhaps a separate post in this website asking who sells black powder shells might help.

As to gauge of your 1887 Winchester shotgun, "Flayderman's Guide to Antique Firearms" notes that 10 or 12 was marked on the breech end of the barrel after the 30,000 serial range.
If your shotgun lacks that mark, see if a sporting goods shop or a reloading friend will loan you a 12-gauge wad. If the wad doesn't even begin to fit in the muzzle, it's a 12-gauge. If it nearly fits or slip-fits in the muzzle, it's a 10-gauge. This is much safer than chambering a live round.
Under no circumstances should you fire modern, smokeless shotgun shells in that shotgun, especially modern-made 10-gauge shells which are loaded at high pressures for today's modern 10-gauge guns.
Firing smokeless shells in that fine, old Winchester could result in what we experienced reloaders call "an instant disassembly."

"A hit with a .22 is better than a miss with a .44!"
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Cancer Fighter

7699 Posts

Posted - 10/05/2002 :  5:58:32 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
we make paper hulled black powder shotgun shells. we currently have an auction stating this. if anybody needs some let big mike know at some of the odd shell lengths and the 10 gauge shells take a little work to make, but a standard 2 3/4 inch 12 gauge paper hulled round is quite easy. we will build the shell to your specs as far as load and shot size.

these are great guns. norinco is making a clone/copy that the cowboy action shooters love. do not fire this gun without an inspection by a gunsmith, and a cleaning. start out with low powered light loads. i agree with the above statement to not shoot modern loads.

What other dungeon is so dark as ones own heart, what jailer so inexorable as ones own mind.
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Advanced Member

3029 Posts

Posted - 10/06/2002 :  6:34:17 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Recently sold my old Winc. 1887 12 ga. and still miss it. I used only
my handloads with black powder or Clear Shot powder. Try a 12 ga into
it with caution. If it fits, its a 12 ga. If it wobbles all over
its a 10 ga.. Best and safest load is about 75 grs. FFG black powder
or 75 grs. Clear Shot powder, with proper over powder cardboard wads,
felt wads, and enough room for 1 1/8 oz shot with a good crimp. I used a Mec loading machine and a star crimp. This is a bit under a 3 dram load and used it for many years. Do not use any smokeless powder
loads in it. Many early ones had a 2 1/2" chamber but the 2 3/4"
reloaded plastic shells with crimp worked flawlessly. If using the
all brass shells (which are expensive) they must be trimmed down to
the chamber length and use the 11 ga wads. All wads are available
from Dixie Gun Works. If you need any more info E mail me at and will try to help you. I also have the
parts and disasembly and assembly pics ETC. for this gun.

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