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Winchester 1300: A Classic Shotgun for Hunting

Winchester 1300
Winchester 1300. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Why the Winchester 1300 is a classic: The old song by Hank Williams Jr. told us, “I got a shotgun, rifle, and a four-wheel-drive, and a country boy can survive.” 

Well, I have the shotgun and the rifle, but I no longer have my four-by-four pickup truck – I traded it in when I moved from Texas to Washington, D.C. this year. There is just too much traffic, too many narrow streets, and too many pedestrians for a large truck to maneuver the urban areas of the East Coast – so I’m no longer a country boy. 

But Williams is right: You can engage in many different firearm modes and address most of your needs by owning just a deer rifle and a shotgun. Let’s indulge one part of the country song and discuss my Winchester 1300 12-gauge shotgun

Why a Shotgun? My Experience with the Winchester 1300 

My Winchester 1300 is of the “speed pump” variety, with a brown synthetic stock and pump. The shotgun is in a traditional hunting configuration (not meant for home defense) and has no rear sight. The 1300 does come in a home-defense mode that is shorter, with front and rear rifle sights. The Winchester 1300 Coastal Marine edition has corrosion-resistant finish, a 7-round magazine, and fiber-optic front sight. 

I bought my Winchester 1300 in the late 1990s, originally for turkey hunting in West Virginia. Unfortunately, I never bagged a turkey in the Mountain State after many attempts. But I have taken several deer, in two different states, with the Winchester 1300. 

Now, I know what you are thinking: Why would I take a shotgun to hunt deer? One reason is game rules. There are ten shotgun-only states for deer hunting – many of them are in the Midwest, such as Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, and Minnesota. Of these states, Southern Illinois is one area where I have successfully hunted deer with my Winchester 1300. In 2023, Illinois will start allowing hunters to use high-powered rifles in various calibers

Another reason I hunt deer with a shotgun that has no rear sights is that I believe it is more sporting and challenging. Maximum effective range is only about 50 to 100 meters. You have to wait until they come in closely, borrowing techniques used by bow hunters to mask your scent and reduce noise. Hunters have to be accurate when using a 12-gauge slug for that first cold-barrel shot, and you have to be quick with a follow-on shot if you need it.

West Virginians Love Their Deer Rifles

People in some states would never hunt deer with a shotgun. This is especially true in West Virginia. When I first hunted deer there, my friends made fun of me. In fact, they wouldn’t even let me go into the field with my 1300. I had to borrow a rifle before they let me hunt, because I left my own deer rifle at home. I know you should always be prepared, and bring along a deer rifle when you head out on a hunt, but I just think it is more sporting to use a shotgun. I still hunt deer with a shotgun in Illinois and Kentucky. In West Virginia, I switched over to a deer rifle.

Safety Concerns  

Another reason to hunt with a shotgun is safety. Rifle shots can travel for miles, so if you hunt in an area with houses, it is dangerous to use a deer rifle. Hunters need a safe backstop. You obviously do not want to take an errant shot that could hurt someone. A deer slug will lose its effectiveness after 100 meters, so it won’t endanger people living in houses that would normally be in range with a rifle. I do my deer hunting strictly from Kentucky now, and the speck of land I use has too many houses. This dissuades me from using a high-powered rifle.

I love my Winchester 1300, but my one complaint is reassembly. Disassembly is easy, but reassembly is tough because of the tight and unorthodox fit of the bolt. I recommend watching a YouTube video like this one the first few times that you reassemble after maintenance and cleaning.

If you deer hunt in a state that is shotgun-only, I recommend the 1300 in traditional hunting mode. Loading and unloading shells is a breeze. The pump action is easy. The recoil is manageable. Follow-on shots are quick. With these advantages, you should be successful in a deer hunt without a deer rifle.

Try a shotgun with a slug for a bigger hunting challenge. 

Expert Biography: Serving as 1945’s Defense and National Security Editor, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/ International Relations.

Written By

Now serving as 1945s New Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer.