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bgavin

Lever Action Shotguns

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Is there any wide spread use of lever shotguns in SASS?
If so, are these reliable and serviceable, or fragile and delicate?

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The Winchester 87 has a, relatively, small but devoted following.   Folks who use them love them, but you don't see them as often as 97's or SxS's  

I have 2 87s, a real Winchester and a modern made Chiappa reproduction in "Terminator" configuration.   My Winchester had some issues when I got it, but I was able to have them repaired for a reasonable price, so they are serviceable.   Mine was well over 100 years of age when it "failed" and even with it's issues it was still usable, so I guess that's pretty reliable.   I have not fired the Chiappa yet, but it runs dummy rounds just fine.

 

The thing with an 87 is that you have to "run it like you stole it."  You can't be gentle with them, or they just won't work.  That being said, you don't have to be Arnold to be able to get them to work right.  You just have to remember to work the very long lever throw with authority.

When all is said and done, I find them to be a lot of fun to shoot, and in the hands of an expert, they are as "competitive" as any shotgun in our game.   If you have a real Winchester, it's a black powder only gun, but the modern reproductions can handle smokeless just fine.   It has been said that the reproductions while having chambers long enough for modern 2-3/4" shotshells, have the exact same dimensions as the originals.  For that reason, more than one shooter of them has recommended to me the use of 2-1/2" shells in these things.   Not a problem for me as I run Magtech all brass of that length almost exclusively for SASS.   Your mileage on this may vary.

 

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22 minutes ago, bgavin said:

Is there any wide spread use of lever shotguns in SASS?
If so, are these reliable and serviceable, or fragile and delicate?

 

1. Yes

 

2. If you get the right brand and have a gunsmith that knows them tune them yes. Original Winchester(no longer producing), IAC(no longer producing) and Chiappa(currently producing) are the only brands you want. Run, don't walk, far away from PW87(CAI I think). Lassiter and Slater are the only two that I know of that still tune these up and both do a good job; there may be others but I haven't heard of them.

 

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Thanks.
Evidently the amount of race action in SASS is inherently hard on the SxS barrel hinge.
A high number of Stoegers (and mine) have broken the barrel hinge lug.

I'm still hunting for a reliable 12-gauge for SASS.
Perhaps I'm overthinking this, but the more I dig into the histories of the cheap ones, the more problems I find.

My 870 pump is the epitome of reliability, so I'm wondering about pump or lever for SASS as well.

Chiappa makes the Charles Daly 512T, which got a nice write-up in the current Cowboy Chronicle.
I have no idea if this will last, or just be another Stoeger.

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It's the Stoeger design/materials/workmanship that are prone to severe failure, and Stoeger's virtually non-existant repair  service that are to blame.

Good quality side-by-sides continue to run for years in SASS matches.

 

SKB or BSS are the tops.  A Miroku 500 is excellent value.

 

If you are going to an 87 shotgun to have less failure and heart break, you are going the wrong direction, unless you are DEVOTED to both a great initial setup of the 87 and lots of practice.

 

Good luck, GJ

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I have 2 IAC 87's. Both have the drop 2 mod done. As said before they are great fun to shoot, but when they go wrong , they go way wrong. If you do decide on an 87 and want to get it worked on,  Lassiter did the work on mine and it works great. And yes it does take lots of practice.

Jax T

106617L

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'87s have a high fumble-factor.  They are not as intuitive to use as a SxS or pump, but they certainly are fun.

To get good with them takes a fair amount of practice, and you can still mess up, especially under the time pressures of a match.

That said, there are some very good shooters using an '87.

 

It's all in what you practice with.  The Chiappa is the best of the reproductions.  With the IAC Norinco right behind it.

Norinco-made guns are only available on the secondary market.  Parts are very hard to find.  (I need a screw for mine!)

Both could benefit from the ministrations of a 'smith like Lassiter.

 

As for SxS shotguns, anything you buy can break.  Personally, I've never had luck with Stoeger.  I have a black cloud over me where they are concerned.

But, I have had many good years with SKBs.  With 4 matches a month and practice, they are still going strong.  

 

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27 minutes ago, bgavin said:

Perhaps I'm overthinking this,

Pard, you are. 
1000s os Stoegers are used every week in SASS matches along with every other kind of shotgun legal to use. Nothing lasts forever. Anything will eventually need repair or replacement. If you want cheap and reliable get a single barrel. I’m not kidding. With practice you could be as fast with it as my friend Evil Dogooder. He can outrun many folks shootin their 97s or SxS. Again, not kidding. 

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2 minutes ago, Riverboat Red, SASS #71733 said:

Pard, you are. 
1000s os Stoegers are used every week in SASS matches along with every other kind of shotgun legal to use. Nothing lasts forever. Anything will eventually need repair or replacement. If you want cheap and reliable get a single barrel. I’m not kidding. With practice you could be as fast with it as my friend Evil Dogooder. He can outrun many folks shootin their 97s or SxS. Again, not kidding. 

 

This^^^

 

You can leave the ejector in place and have fun trying to hit the TO  :lol:

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I do love to pull out the single shot 20ga every once in a while, just to mix things up.  Get some good distance with the shells popping over your shoulder if you aim it right when you open it!  

 

+1 to running the 87 like you stole it.  I have a 87 in 10ga, lots of fun, but if you dont work that action with authority, it just aint gonna be a good stage.

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47 minutes ago, bgavin said:

I'm still hunting for a reliable 12-gauge for SASS.
Perhaps I'm overthinking this, but the more I dig into the histories of the cheap ones, the more problems I find.

My 870 pump is the epitome of reliability, so I'm wondering about pump or lever for SASS as well.

 

Many good comments on the 87 lever have been made, so I won't say anything more there.


The 97, the only SASS legal pump gun, is a good choice.   I have 2 real Winchesters, a 20" and a 30" barrel.   The 30" is my normal main match shotgun.  I know I am very much in the minority there, but I prefer longer barrels on my shotguns.   I also have a 93, the 97's predecessor, which is not SASS Legal, a reproduction 97 Trenchgun and a 93-97.  That's basically a 97 made to look like a 93.  For some reason it's not SASS legal either.   The Trenchgun is okay for Wild Bunch, but not SASS.   All of these guns work well, and only the 30" Winchester has required any fine tuning, mostly due to age than anything else.

A word about Winchester 97's, they only have 2-5/8" chambers.   They are stamped 2-3/4", but they measured differently back then.  So, you'll either want to run short shells in them, or have the chamber and forcing cone lengthened.    The reproductions handle the modern shells just fine.   Most Winchester 97s are take downs, all reproductions are solid frames.   

With practice, I have seen 97 shooters who can run them blazingly fast, so in the long run they will not hurt you.

As far as a SxS goes, I have only one word to say on that subject.  Parker.

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37 minutes ago, Riverboat Red, SASS #71733 said:

1000s os Stoegers are used every week in SASS matches along with every other kind of shotgun legal to use. Nothing lasts forever.


My new Stoeger lasted for 12 shells then broke the barrel lug.
Yes, under warranty, No not acceptable due to another $75 FFL, another $40 background, another $25 safety course renew, another shipping both ways, and another 10-day waiting period.

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I've been shooting Stoegers for 20 years, never had a problem! I have two right now! I alternate between the two. They've both been slicked up and they work great!

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50 minutes ago, Garrison Joe, SASS #60708 said:

It's the Stoeger design/materials/workmanship that are prone to severe failure, and Stoeger's virtually non-existent repair  service that are to blame.

Good quality side-by-sides continue to run for years in SASS matches.

 

SKB or BSS are the tops.  A Miroku 500 is excellent value.


As always, thanks for the wisdom.
I am still kicking myself for losing that Miroku 500 on GunBroker because of the displayed ending time being East Coast, and I am in Pacific.
It sold for less than I was willing to pay.

Capt. Baylor likes the Daly 512T (Chiappa) and suggests I get one directly from Lassiter after he works his magic.
Less hassle with the CA silliness that way, rather than me buy first and sending to him.

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17 minutes ago, bgavin said:

I asked this question here, because I do not want to make another shotgun mistake.

Then buy your next shotgun from a ‘known’ cowboy gunsmith like Fast Eddie or Johnny Meadows. You’ll pay a bit more, but if something breaks they’ll make it right. It’s hard for me to get Eddie to even accept money for parts. We had a spring in one of our SKB’s wear out, after 500+ matches things do wear out, and he resisted me compensating him for the cost of the part. I insisted.

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Howdy bgavin.

 

There is some good info posted for you.

Here is my .02

 

SxS:   many of the top shooters and those who strive to use the 'best' equipment in our game seek out

the SKB and BSS.   I think the SKB, based on talking with some SxS users, is the favored.

There are atleast 3 well known, highly reputable gunsmiths who's names are mentioned as

favored gunsmiths:   Fast Eddie (GA), Doc Noper (MI) and Johnny Meadows (I think AZ).

 

87:  Those who know how to run em fast and reliable are VERY competitive.   And their work

has a good reputation:  Lassiter (OH) and Slater (TN).   Both can 'run the hound' out of their 87's,

which have been set up nicely.

 

97:   This is my favorite, mainly because I have a great smith set mine up (Curly Bill in TN), and also

because I never could get the hang of the SxS.

With the 97, one of the best advices I know to share is to get a smith that knows what they are doing

with all the interactions of the 97.   My 97's were never set up to be 'super slick' by removing and

over polishing metal.  But rather, it was set up for reliability.   And trust me..... they are reliable.

In speed competition, they are 2nd to none.   My main 2 97's have been working great for me

for probably over 10 years now.   And I run em hard, like a rented mule.

 

Bottom line:  get the right shotgun and match it up with the right gunsmith, and you should find

yourself in the future on the Wire bragging about your 'reliable' shotgun and the gunsmith who

helped make you happy.

 

..........Widder

 

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I you decide to buy a new 87 buy it direct from Lassiter or Slater. If you buy a used one buy one that one of those two smiths set up. I own 4; two set up by Lassiter and two that are stock but have had their internals polished. Biggest thing about an 87 is that the LOP needs to be a lot shorter than any other shotgun so that your arm can properly work the lever.

 

Most 97s need a little TLC from a CAS gunsmith to function reliably and even than they will fail occasionally. There are a lot of parts inside a 97 that all have to do their part for it to function. There is also a learning curve to cycling the action properly.

 

If you are going to shoot a SXS and are not going to buy an SKB or BSS buy a Baikal.

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The '87 lever is the coolest. 

Steep learn'n curve and you need to be a good gunsmith to keep'em run'n. 

My wife:wub: and I have been run'n them for many years.

I also learned how to work'em over buy the man who got'em to be imported when no USA maker would touch the project.

Have you even fired one yet?

OLG 

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No.
I've fired 97s at our local matches, and Stoegers.

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Just as an FYI, if you’re going for style points it’s hard to beat an ‘87, at some point I’ll pick one up myself. If you want speed you’ll be better served by a double or a ‘97. 

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I personally like my L.C Smiths, even if they are beaters. My kids both have Stoegers, haven't had any problems with tehm yet, one being used for 3 years and teh other maybe half that.

  Someone correct me if I am wrong, but if a gun is defective and the maker sends you a new one, do you have to go through all the FFL stuff again? Never sent a gun in for repairs myself, nor had one replaced.

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Yes.
New serial = new $75 FFL, new $40 background check, new $25 safety course renew (if expired), shipping delays both ways, and 10-day waiting period in CA.

 

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45 minutes ago, Captain Bill Burt said:

Just as an FYI, if you’re going for style points it’s hard to beat an ‘87, at some point I’ll pick one up myself. If you want speed you’ll be better served by a double or a ‘97. 


At this point in time, I'm just going for, "able to show up and shoot."
This is far more important to me than style points.
 

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Here's Lassiter with his '87. He works on them & runs them very well. Lots of practice needed, but this is what they are capable of.

 

 

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I have a century arms pw87. The cheapest one on the market because I didn't know if I'd like it well enough to spend $1000 on a shotgun to just sit in the safe. Paid $360 new. Polished the internals myself which was extremely easy. Spent something like $275 to ship it off to Lassiter and have the the drop 2 mod done. It's as reliable as any of the other makers imo. It's really fun to shoot but as everyone has said it takes a steep learning curve to make it run fast. I used it exclusively for about 6 months and still couldn't match the speed of my hammered double. No fault to the gun purely on the operator. There's people that can make them sing. I'm not one of them. 

As for the stoegers breaking..... You'll have that unfortunately. For an entry level shotgun priced as such they're a decent gun. I've used several with no issues. My pops used the same one for 10 years in cas never an issue. If they make it right with you I'd say they're customer service would warrant there brand a second chance if that's the price point you're wanting to work with. But maybe this time but one directly from a cas Smith already worked over. Or for a little more $ check out the new Charles Daley I've heard good things about the ones being turned out by cash gunsmiths. 

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To the OP:  when set up properly, they’re rugged as hell.  At least mine has been. As already noted, steep learning curve to run like the Lassiter video, but it can be done. 
 

Since you’re new to the game, I’m thinking you’ll be happier with a s x s. Try before You buy. 

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4 hours ago, bgavin said:

No.
I've fired 97s at our local matches, and Stoegers.

 

Then don't buy one,  until you have shot a full match with one.

Good luck,

OLG 

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I like to cover my bases by  trying different shotguns, my main go to is the SKB double but I also dabble with a hammered IAC & recently picked up an IAC '87 which now has the load  2 mod, shortened stock with a better butt pad, lever & stock covers, new bead 001.thumb.JPG.7095372f27aa61f35c6b7b2b88409393.JPG & Chiappa fore -end timber.

I have designed my own ammo belt as I normally use a Bandoleer but left hand loading for me doesn't work with the '87 so I'm going with adjustable double loops which can be pulled at about the 2 o'clock position with the right hand.

I think the Chiappa would be the pick as it is designed on the 10g frame & gives that extra bit of clearance for loading , like anything with practise an '87 would be a great gun to use & Lassiter for one proves that.

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87's work just fine with Lassiters drop 2 mod. As far as needing lots of practice show me a SASS gun you don't need practice to run well. If you have trouble runnin a double for any reason try an 87. When Lassiter brought me my 87 he told me to practice with it before I used it in a match.

I got permission to try it in on an empty stage a shot it much faster than I could a double. You have to run it. Having said that I have nothing against doubles, I have several. I also have one of the CAI 87s. After Lassiter worked on it it runs great.

kR

PS It has a little wider pattern than my Chiappa so it gets used more.

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Howdy,

I find it hard to believe nobody mentions Coyote Cap.

He is the go to guy as he merged existing designs into one and got

the lever shotguns produced in China.

I met him in 2002 and sat in his kitchen while he outlined what he was

about to try. I ordered two lever shotguns and got on his substantial no deposit

waiting list.  After too much waiting I dropped out but was still very interested.

So do some searches on the SASS wire and on the web.

His shotguns with his serial numbers are good to go afaik.

The other lever shotguns were made to different specs.

I had Cap work over several guns for me. I never got a  lever shotgun

as my back has limited my shooting a LOT.

All this info is a bit out of date.

Good luck with finding a reliable lever shotgun. They do exist.

Best

CR

 

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My IAC runs great after Lassiter worked on it. It is rugged and reliable. He's going to work on my new Chiappa and anticipate it will be even better than the IAC. There are few parts to an 87 and if properly set up, will probably outlast you. I can run a 97 better than a double, but they do require periodic maintenance. My IAC hasn't required any work after it was fine tuned. I'm not that fast, at best maybe top 25 or 30% finisher, but I like to have fun. Having guns and ammo that work makes for a more harmonious outcome.

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1 hour ago, Chili Ron said:

Howdy,

I find it hard to believe nobody mentions Coyote Cap.

He is the go to guy as he merged existing designs into one and got

the lever shotguns produced in China.

I met him in 2002 and sat in his kitchen while he outlined what he was

about to try. I ordered two lever shotguns and got on his substantial no deposit

waiting list.  After too much waiting I dropped out but was still very interested.

So do some searches on the SASS wire and on the web.

His shotguns with his serial numbers are good to go afaik.

The other lever shotguns were made to different specs.

I had Cap work over several guns for me. I never got a  lever shotgun

as my back has limited my shooting a LOT.

All this info is a bit out of date.

Good luck with finding a reliable lever shotgun. They do exist.

Best

CR

 

 

Please reread my first post here. 

CC spent a bunch of time at Winter Range, teaching me the way of the 87.

If it wasn't for him. There would be no '87 levers today.

BTW, all 87's made today are based in the 10ga.

The IAC's that CC got made/imported are based on the 1901 version(twin extractors).

OLG 

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Speaking of Coyote Cap, he's the guy who fixed my original Winchester.   I mentioned above how it had some problems.   In a nutshell, it would not feed from the magazine.   Worked fine as a single shot, but I wanted it to work the way it was supposed to.   I specifically said I was not interested in a "drop two" I wanted the magazine to be fully functional, which I understand doing the drop two mod causes you to be unable to use the magazine.   He fixed it and it works fine.   He also lengthened the chamber and the forcing cone while he was at it.

But as an interesting side note, while mine does not have a drop two, I have found that I can push the carrier down and, well, drop two.  I can't do this with my new Chiappa.   

In either case, Cap was great.   I never never communicated him other than with e-mail, but he answered my questions and was very patient with my ignorance.   Kudos to him.

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