The Winchester Model 59....


Dave McCracken
August 22, 2004, 04:50 PM
About the time the DeSoto went out of production, Winchester came out with a Model 50 autoloader. A blowback or recoil operated action of innovative design, the 50 made little headway against the tide of A-5s and Remington 11s, 11-48s and 1100s, and disappeared from the scene to be replaced by the legendary X-1. The design included a floating chamber conceived by Marsh Williams, the moonshiner and designer of the M1 carbine.

Before all that, the folks at Winchester brought out a superb upland shotgun based on the 50 and yclept the Model 59. It had a few brand new ideas and features. That proved to be both blessing and curse.

First and foremost, it had fiber wrapped around a steel barrel liner and epoxied to produce a strong, straight barrel of much less weight than the usual barrels. One sees this method on rifle barrels now,but still not on shotguns. A shame...

Second, some of those barrels were threaded for tubes that contained various degrees of choke. While the first choke tube patent in the US was granted before the Civil War, no widely available shotgun was offered with tubes until the 59. Now, few new shotguns are offered without them.

The result of the barrel and the lightweight design was a very light shotgun, on the order of 6 lbs and sometimes less. Many were snapped up by grouse hunters in New England, whose hunting grounds mostly occur on a slant. Grouse hunters need good legs and light shotguns, the 59 solved half of it.

Among others, Frank Woolner got his hands on one and fell in love. After some modification, his weighed even less than usual and killed grouse very well. Since Frank was a widely read writer, the 59 got some good ink and attention. We can still run across some bright eyed oldsters with 59s they used since JFK was president and happy they are with them.

Of course, there's a downside.....

That light barrel means the thing's muzzle light, with the COG further back than we're used to on repeaters. I shot one a friend had yesterday, and noted it felt more like a SxS does than one of our weight forward repeaters. I went 4X4 on wobble birds, so the lack of inertia is not unsurmountable.

And a COG that far back means a quick gun, and that it was. It swung like Zorro's rapier.

But with little builtin inertia, one has to work harder to keep the swing swinging.

The light weight overall means these are best shot with lighter loads. Dropping some duck loads in this and popping them off may leave one with a new flinch and a nosebleed. This doubtless contributed to the lack of sales for the 59.
Shotgunners back then loved raw power as much as they do now. And we're a conservative lot, slow to change.

With the cornucopia of new light loads we can access, there's no need to punish ourselves with Testosterone Specials.An oz load now is more efficient than the 1 1/8 oz of 1960. These will dovetail in beautifully with the 59.

The concept of the 59 may deserve reconsideration. A light upland auto would be welcome to all us aging Boomers who find the hills steeper than in days of yore. amd the fast swing of the light,wrapped barrel could make up for our aging, slower reflexes.

Meanwhile, if one turns up for sale, snatch it up.....

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August 22, 2004, 05:03 PM
I've handled a couple examples and really like the idea. I consider it one of the more innovative things to have been tried.

Two things put me off, though. The first was the butt-heavy feel, especially compared to most of my other shotguns. It's no secret that I shoot a pretty wide array of guns, but most of them balance more or less the same. The Model 59 would be an anomaly for me. Not insurmountable, but a consideration nonetheless.

My other concern was for spare parts and service. While they seem to have a pretty good rep, they'd certainly be tougher to find parts for than an 870 Express or even a vintage Model 12 or A5.

If I didn't already have the "lightweight upland gun" niche already filled within my collection, the Model 59 might be a serious contender... especially if I was intent on only using a single gauge for everything. (Hah! Like that would happen! )

BTW, I wonder what would happen if you did some serious "lightening" of the butt-stock on a Model 59? Could you remove enough material to keep it shootable, but restore the balance of a "normal" repeater?

August 22, 2004, 05:39 PM

About that reduction in weight he he... I had the honor of shooting one. IIRC the fella did indeed use Frank Woolner's "idea".

The elder club member has since passed on. He had a about 3 of these 59's. He had a number of "classic" shotguns. He had two at the range one day and we shot some skeet together.

Oh BTW this gentleman was 82, sometimes his eyes wouldn't cooperate, don't bet against him - he would beat you like a drum. :p He shot in blistering humid heat , and freezing rain/ sleet and snow. " I didn't retire to sit on my butt or do honey-do's ". :D

He needed a break , we had helped a new young lady shooter. So they took off for the clubhouse. I was going to shoot 5 stand. "Meet me at the car gonna shoot some out of cages....shoot this one".

Folks - if this gun weighed more than 5 3/4 pounds - I'd be surprised .I think it was supposed to be right at 6 #....never weighed it, just felt 'right'. " Had this one kinda tweaked a bit" He said. " Got a load she likes'll like 'em too".

Balanced like a O/U or SxS , tad bit ahead of hands. The loading - 11/16 oz of hard # 8 . Peters paper hulls of course.

Dang Margo...this sucker gets on 'em quick! The other 4 folks were probably too busy watching this gun, my grin, or hearing my "hell yeah's" - those folks musta have had a bad round. I did a 42/50 ...I had a ball.

The elderly gentleman quit "giving shooting advice' [ looked like flirting to me - both of 'em all googley eyed and goofy] - he was grinning ear to ear, about his gun and my shooting.

"Just put the gun in the car Steve"

NO Sir
"Steve...." ( him just a grinning)
[I] That Detective Spl in your pocket like always - huh?
[I] I'll go put your gun in your car now...Thank you Sir".
Grinning like a idiot , tapping his front pocket where that Det Spl always stayed. :D

We always cut up like that...

The recoil with 11/16 oz , cycled the gun, great patterns, and one could shoot without getting hurt. The stock was a great for me.

This old boy really liked the 11/16 oz loadings. They even cycled the SX1's we run them in.

Dave knows where that loading came from. ;)

Dave McCracken
August 23, 2004, 08:45 AM
Thanks for the responses.

TR, doing a 59 like the 1100 Special Field with a straight grip stock and then hollowing out the wood would move the balance point forward some. Make it even lighter to boot. I do think it would be hard to move back and forth betwen a 59 and a normal weighted and balanced shotgun without practice. Still might be worth it.

sm, sounds like a very practical gennulman....

August 23, 2004, 10:20 AM
I know there were some nasty accidents with model 50s and to some extent with model 59s that prompted them to be called widowmakers.
Folks would get into the habit of leaning over the muzzle of the gun while using the knurled barrel to chamber a shell and this led to some deaths and disfigurments.
The model 59 added a cocking knob on the bolt but people still chambered the guns using the barrel with the same disasterous results.
The guns were not noted as being very durable either and should you choose to shoot one today and break something, the gun will be all but kaputsky because the cost to repair it will far outweigh any value that it may hold.
At one time you could send one of these blasters in to Winchester and they would exchange it even up for a 28" plain barrel Model 12.

Dave McCracken
August 23, 2004, 01:26 PM
Onmilo, that sounds more like Winchester's Model 11 or 1911 self loader, which did have a knurled barrel and a sordid rep.

59s are not good candidates for dedicated clay guns, shot thousands of times a year. Hunting shotguns are oft shot less than 100 rounds a year, even one less well built than the 59 can hold up to that.

Numrich, among others, carries parts.

August 23, 2004, 05:51 PM
Well since I'm probably the one who started all this talk about the 59 I figure I might as well post some pictures of mine :D .

The two close ups of the barrel are my pitiful attempt to show the inner steel wrapped by the fiberglass. Unfortunately the focus on my camera isn't that great close up so those are the best ya get from me on it :P .

And yeah I just realized I should have made them smaller.

August 23, 2004, 06:31 PM

Thanks for posting the pics! If that 59 could only talk...

I was going to ask earlier - forgot. How is the trigger on that thing? Sweet I bet.

I admit , I'm an old hard head when it comes to Blue&Wood SGs. I have soft spot for the older designs. Darn things have soul , character , held up and worked. I like the new designs based on the proven of old. 59s > SX1 > Sx2. Beretta 302> 303> ...

I'm waiting to see how the new stuff holds up. I don't expect Boyds to ever have any stocks for Nova's ( oops) .

Gonna be rush on for these wood and blue guns with proven actions some day- too bad I ain't rich - I'd be stocking up .

Since you have the camera - we need a pic of GWAG new shotgun - Please:)

She was grinning so big in the pic above - the glare from the grin didn't allow a good view of her gun . :D

August 23, 2004, 06:50 PM
Anapex, that receiver looks very familiar.

Its very easy to see the pedigree which spawned my Winchester 1400.

BTW, nice looking gun.


August 23, 2004, 07:46 PM
Dave, my bad, I was indeed thinking of the 1911 when I made my post.
So few of these older semi automatic shotguns seem to have survived the ravages of time and the pictures that were posted allow me to see the mistake.

August 23, 2004, 10:11 PM
sm: The trigger is quite nice imho and throw that in with the rest of the gun makes for a fantastic package. Shot 50 rounds of AA 1 1/8oz "lite" target loads loads through it the other day without any bruising. Recoil didn't seem any worse then some of the other 12 gauges I've shot. I'm glad I risked the wrath of GWAG buy bringing it home. Heck I'll risk it again by saying it's a better gun then her Beretta :D . I'm gonna definitely keep my eye open for more of these babies, my boys need shotguns after all!

August 24, 2004, 12:38 AM
the model 50 was introduced by Winchester in 54 it lasted till 61, less than 197,000 were made in both a steel and aluminum frames in 12 & 20 gages.

the model 59 came out in 60 and lasted till 65, less than 83,000 were made with the aluminum frame in 12 gauge only.

Both used a short recoil system different from other non-gas autos as the barrel is fixed to frame and doesn't recoil, the floating chamber in side the barrel moves back with the inertia block giving a very mild recoil compared to brownings famous double shuffle.

August 24, 2004, 01:23 AM
anapex ,
I figured the trigger was sweet. :)
You keep Badmouthing the wifeys gun - she is gonna shoot all your ammo and make you sleep on the couch. :D

Post a pic of her Beretta.

huntman -

Thanks for history and descriptions. I don't the folks were ready for something "this" ahead of its time. I was trying to recall what was Win newer offering after the 59.

When did the Rem 11- 48 come out? Did this offer competion to the 59?

August 24, 2004, 01:28 AM
!!!!Thread drift alert!!!!

Since you bring up the 11-48... what's your opinion of them?

There's a .410 in good condition available locally. The price seems high... mid $500s IIRC, but that's still less than half of a Model 42.

August 24, 2004, 01:50 AM
I like them , great shooters. Sure do get folks heads a scratching about that "loose" bbl . :D

I really really like the model 42. I know they are hard to find and pricey- but dang it, they are that good.

Recall the day when the 1300 came in 4 gauges? Granted - not a Model 12 or 42. Have to say tho, the 1300 in 28 ga and .410 were nice. You NEVER see these for sale - where'd they go? Guess folks hoarded them. That would be another inquiry for a .410.

I had some reference books on shotguns, they are all gone, missing...somehow. I need to replace so I can have a reference on dates and such. Probably the 'Net has this - jsut not searched real hard .

Anyone tried one of the new 870 Express in the little critters? I have seen one thread on the 28 ga version - none on the little critter.

I have a hankering for a single shot Steven's with the lever in a little critter. I'm going backwards on stuff for sure.

August 24, 2004, 01:58 AM
It's a way cool gun!

Perfect for a dove blaster! I think the Remington model 58 was out around then. Also very nice but not nearly as unusual design as the Win.

I had a really nice 20ga model 58 that had some upland bird engraving and grip cap. It was a perfect dove shooter as well. Also a gas adjustment at the magazine tube cap for heavy or light loads.

I think the 1100 was the next one after the 58 wasn't it?

I always wanted to play with that Win 59, but could never find one when I had the $$$...

Lucky guys there, better enjoy them!


Fred Fuller
August 24, 2004, 08:24 AM
OK, someone with their firearms library close by, help me out here. The web has failed on this one.

My feeble drain bamaged brain keeps insisting that it was David Marshall 'Carbine' Williams who had a big chunk of the design of the Model 59 to his credit, notably the recoil mechanism. I know he worked directly for Winchester for a time, and I know his 'floating chamber' design was responsible for things like the Colt Ace .22 conversion unit for the 1911A1.

All my books (including my copy of the 1 of 1000 Sandlapper Store- published biography of Williams) are packed up elsewhere, I have NO references at all save the web, and there are about 5000 mentions of that @#$%^%$ movie but NONE I could find that offer decent useful information about the man's designs/patents.

So, did he or didn't he? Damaged brains want to know.....

lpl/nc (just down the road from Willams' old stomping grounds)

Dave McCracken
August 24, 2004, 08:59 AM
A couple things about Anapex's 59...

The trigger's good, much better than those on new shotguns today.WEG, less than 5 lbs. Clean and on the good side of crisp.

It has a plate not a pad. Kick with my pet 7/8 oz load was miniscule.

Onmilo, there's a fair amount of these still out there. They just do not hit the market often. People keep them.

Huntsman, thanks for the dates and production numbers.

TR, the 11-48 is a good one also. Sole minus, they tend to crack forend wood. Painting a thin layer of epoxy inside cures this. A 410 11-48 would make a nice skeet gun, and many did.

Lee, I believe the old 'shiner helped on this. Can't cite a source, though.

August 24, 2004, 04:02 PM
Lee acording to The American Shotgun (david butler lyman-1973) mr williams did patent the floating chamber that the md50/59 was based on. It goes on to say the design team headed by williams was made up of winchester toolmakers and designers,it seems williams worked like J garrand & J browning preferring to work with metal rather than on paper.Williams machined the parts of the md 50 until they "looked right" then carfully fit them together, he kept testing and modifying the mechanism until satisfied with performace.It was then the responceabily of the rest of the team to diassemble parts make drawings an try to come up with a way to mass produce the gun.

the remmington 11-48 was a complete overhaul of md11 it was done so It could share common parts with the new pump the 870, the 11-48 came out in 49 and used the same long recoil system of the browning.It lasted till 62 when it was replaced by the md58 remmingtons first gas operated gun.

August 24, 2004, 04:32 PM
The cost of shotguns in 1957 as per my Gun Digest:
Field grades
model 50 -$127.95
remington 11-48 -$117.10
browning A5 -$121.50
browing doubleauto -$123.00
jc higgins 60 -$94.95
savage md755 -$105.50

The cost of shotguns in 1963 as per my Gun Digest:
Field grades
model 59 -$149.95
remington 11-48 -$129.95
browning A5 -$134.50
browing doubleauto -$149.00
jc higgins 66 -$104.95
savage md750 -$137.50

as you can see the winchsters were a few bucks more but not priced out of sight of the others.
Oh and a pump gun back then would have cost;
md12 -$99.95
870 -$81.95

August 24, 2004, 04:59 PM

Thank you again for sharing. It is great to have another valuable resource here.

Larry Ashcraft
August 24, 2004, 05:35 PM
I've got a 11-48 I bought in 1971. Had a part break several years ago and the gunsmith fixed it but said I would have to retire it next time because the parts weren't available. Now I've heard a couple of times that some of the parts are interchangeable with the 870.

Also, I believe the 11-48 was developed in 1948, hence the name.

Also, mine kicks like a mule. I had the smith fit it to me and that made it a little better, but my Citori is much more pleasant to shoot.

September 5, 2005, 10:11 PM
hate to drag up an old thread like this but info on the Winchester 59 is hard to find.

my stepfather showed me his old shotgun today and i had to figure out what it was.

from the look and engraving of it i can tell it is a model 59.

does anybody have dissembly instructions for this fine piece of equipment?

its been in a closet for close to 20 years and needs a good cleaning.

any parts to keep an eye on for wear or damage?

again, sorry for dragging this one up again and thank you for any information you can give.

Dave McCracken
September 5, 2005, 11:27 PM
Welcome aboard, muaddib. Harley Nolden probably can help more than I. Most of what I know is already on this thread.

Tom Held
September 6, 2005, 07:51 AM

Winchester made a few 59's in 14 gauge but could not get public acceptance. I think in the late 50's. Cabelas had a couple for sale a few months ago. I never saw one.


Dave McCracken
September 6, 2005, 04:03 PM
Thanks, Tom, once again you're a fountain of info. 14 gauges are scarce, and a Model 59 thus chambered has never shown up on my radar. I didn't know one was ever made.

Do you have a 59? You seem to own at least one example of every classic.

Tom Held
September 6, 2005, 05:12 PM

I found this one in the Cabelas Gun Library. It's an interesting shotgun. Way over my budget for shotguns that have no available ammo.

I still have the Model 50, 20 gauge that my father bought for me when I was 12 years old and picked up a 12 gauge skeet and a field gun somewhere along the way.


Dave McCracken
September 6, 2005, 06:30 PM
Wow, Tom!! Ask and Ye shall receive....

Actually,it has some merit.

Consider it, a super light shotgun with no ammo interchangeability so citiots could not touch off a goose load and need medical intervention to put their shoulders back on.

Betcha it would have flown better as a 16. Common ammo but no magnums short of those old Western 1 1/8 oz goose whackers.

The 1100 Special Field was a similar attempt at a lighter upland gun, and didn't sell all that well either.

Figured you'd have one, at least.

Thanks, see you at PGC soon, I hope....

September 6, 2005, 08:49 PM
now, i'm obviously no expert, but i've got this vision of someone with a 14ga auto loading up with 16ga shells and having the action get all messed up. or the shell slipping into the barrel, catching on the forcing cone, the user loading another round, and THEN the fun begins.

but i have no solid grasp on the dimensions here, so maybe it wouldn't be an issue... experts, enlighten me?

Dave McCracken
September 7, 2005, 04:55 AM
No expert, but....

Chances are 16 gauge ammo would feed and fire, but you can forget reloading those hulls. Not enough difference in size for a 16 gauge to slip in far enough so that another rounds can be chambered behind it.

Touched off a 16 in a 12 once. Even got the bird.

September 21, 2005, 04:21 AM
I bought a Browning Double Auto new in 1962 and still use it. Most of my upland bird hunting (with the exception of the occasional foray to South Dakota for pheasants) is for grouse and woodcock in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan (where grouse are known as "pats") and the little Browning is hard to beat for shooting (or at least for shooting at :) ) fast birds in heavy cover.

The 59 and the Double Auto are close cousins when it comes to their intended purpose and how they handle. Someone wanting a 59 and not having any success in finding one might consider getting a Double Auto. Though both shotguns are scarce in the extreme, through the years I've seen a lot more Double Autos than I have 59s at the gun shows.

As an aside, for the past few years I've mostly used my little 20 ga. Merkle double but, every so often, I take the little Browning with me. With it, I'm better reminded of old dogs, old places, old friends and of my youth-all long gone.

September 22, 2005, 11:32 PM
Darn I didn't know the 59s were very scarce. I seem to trip on them all the time for some reason. I even have my eye on a third with an extra barrel. Gotta arm my boys you know ;)

Dave McCracken
September 23, 2005, 09:25 AM
Go for it, with three you have spare parts just in case. I just envisioned a 5 person wobble squad,you and yours...

BTW, did you get that button?

Bwana John
September 23, 2005, 11:37 AM
My first shotgun was a Mod 50 my grandfather left me. I have owned 2 more, and most of my buddies that I grew up with also have one, they are kind of a cult gun with my contemporarys.

For some reason the 59 got almost ignored, probley the fiberglass barrel.

September 26, 2005, 10:13 AM
Dave, I probably will go for it, just have to convince Erica that I need a third of the same shotgun :) . We also got the button which is gonna be great for when the "yet to be named one" shows up. We'll get a group picture when that happens though.

Dave McCracken
September 26, 2005, 03:30 PM
..."Just have to convince Erica".....

I'm confident of your persuasive abilities.

Waiting on the pic, we thought the button a better idea than a newborn shirt with BA/UU/R on it.

October 14, 2005, 10:54 PM
1962 Winchester - Western Catalog

October 17, 2005, 02:09 PM
Dave: Well I ended up persuading her on another shotgun. That's for another thread though. I'll start it up once I pick the gun up and get some photos.

Gevarm: Welcome and thanks for that ad! I love these shotguns and it's nice to see stuff from it's past.

Dave McCracken
October 17, 2005, 07:31 PM
I can't stand the suspense!! Whaddya get THIS time?.....

January 25, 2006, 06:38 PM
Hello All. I also hate to dig up an old post, but I agree that info on the Winchester 59 is hard to find. I've got one that my grandfather gave me (seems to be a recurring theme with people). Apparently he traded 2 radios and a black and white television for it back in the 60's sometime. Anyway....most info on the Winchester 59 indicates that it takes interchangeable choke tubes. I can't seem to find any threading in the end of the barrel on my 59. Did Winchester also make a Model 59 with interchangeable barrels? If so, if anyone would have any leads on some of those it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!


March 16, 2006, 02:59 PM
The Winchester Model 59 was available with the usual modified, full and improved cylinder barrels and also a barrel with the Versalite interchangeable choke tubes that had a compensation system like the old Cutts.

When the gun came out, the "American Rifleman" did a review and tested the strength of the fiberglass/steel barrel by duplicating several kinds of "common" shotgun accidents.

They put a 20ga shell into the forcing cone, chambered a 12ga behind it and fired ot with a lanyard.

The gun did not burst, but drove the 20ga round out the muzzle!!

Then they plugged the muzzle with a wad of mud/ice and again fired it with a lanyard. It blew the plugged muzzle clean off the barrel, but again it didn't burst.

Aside from being more than a little radical for the traditional blued steel crowd, the problem was that the barrels didn't dent . . . the epoxied fiberglass wrap cracked and was unrepairable.

For a while, Winchester replaced the damaged barrels but that didn't last too long.

I modified my 59 along the lines suggested by Frank Woolner in his "Grouse and Grouse Hunting" book.

Shortened the forend, slab-sided it, cut off the pistol grip and drilled out the butt stock. Cut the barrel down to 21" cylinder bore. It weighs 5 1/2 pounds.

You can walk around all day looking for grouse without feeling the weight!


Dave McCracken
March 16, 2006, 09:23 PM
Welcome aboard, Peter, and thanks for posting that. With the current fashion of long, light barrels I'm a bit surprised the fiberglass wrap hasn't been revived.

A Woolnerized 59 is rather a specialized tool, but extremely good at its mission. That is, carried lots, fired little but fast when needed.

One of these days I may Woolnerize an 870.With the Light Contour barrel, I should be able to get a 12 gauge down to 6.5 lbs without going below 26" in barrel length.....

March 17, 2006, 01:19 PM
Hard to believe, but after several divorces (2) and several marriages (3), I've mislaid two extra barrels for the Model 59. Full and modified. Original, unmodified and virtually unused. I know they're here somewhere . . . :confused:

I do have an original butt stock and (if you'll forgive the expression) a forend. Anybody interested??


May 1, 2006, 11:16 AM
Well, Peter, I don't have a lot of interest in the stock or forend, but I would be interested in talking more if you find the barrels. I've already got a modified, but would be very interested in a full choke.

Let me know if you find them.



January 12, 2007, 12:15 PM
When I was a boy my father and I would duck hunt, he always let me use his 59. Recently he passed away and willed me this beautiful firearm. It is in great shape still as my dad took great care of all his firearms. If anyone is intereted in this beautiful piece of equipment, drop me an e-mail and we'll talk.

January 16, 2007, 10:49 PM
hey guys, I stumbled upon this thread while doing some research on the Model 50 and 59 shotguns that my grandfather has always been so obsessed with. I am not informed enough to identify one from the other in a picture such as this, but maybe some of you can help me out. How can you visually tell the 50 from the 59?

these are the guns in the top left, grandpa has always called them the "Pheasant grade" guns.

higher resolution picture

If you have been looking for guns like these to no avail, I apologize for my grandfather's obsession :evil:

Thanks for all of the info on these models, they are quite a cool gun I can see!

January 17, 2007, 02:55 AM
The trigger guard. Shiney 59's.

January 17, 2007, 08:49 AM
I'll have to check and see how many of them are 59s then. I can't tell from my picture to identify any of the bottom rack, plus there are two additional spinning racks of Winchesters as well.

Dave McCracken
January 17, 2007, 09:45 AM
The model should be on the receiver, and the fiber wrapped barrel looks different than blued steel.

Now we know where they all went. Great collection....

January 17, 2007, 01:41 PM
I'll report back when I have a chance to get a solid count of 59s.

Grandpa has been collecting them since I can remember, and I'm 23 now. I always wondered what the passion was for these shotguns! :D

January 26, 2007, 07:05 AM
I was in the Cabela Gun Library in KC, KS in Feb 2006 and saw a Model 59
14 ga. prototype and two 20 ga. prototypes.

The 20 ga.'s were absolutely awesome. Price tag was $7000 each.

Don't know what happened to them.

April 6, 2007, 04:42 PM
I have always understood that the 50 and 59 Winchester shotguns operated via the "floating -action chamber" with a non-recoiling barrel ,yet, at least a couple of well-known and respected gun scribes ( Norm Nelson and John Barsness ) have described them as being gas-operated. Am I missing something here or is it just a case of semantics?

April 9, 2007, 10:12 PM
I have always understood that the 50 and 59 Winchester shotguns operated via the "floating -action chamber" with a non-recoiling barrel ,yet, at least a couple of well-known and respected gun scribes ( Norm Nelson and John Barsness ) have described them as being gas-operated. Am I missing something here or is it just a case of semantics?

You are correct. The barrel mates to the receiver with an interrupted thread there's no gas ports or any way to bleed off gas. The "floating chamber" is the chamber and forcing cone together, I’ve never tried it but I bet this gun could be fired without a barrel but the shot would wipe out the shell tube below.

December 23, 2007, 09:57 PM
I'm looking for 12ga steel barrel for Winchester model 59. Please advise where to find it.
Thank you

November 30, 2009, 04:36 PM
I'm a newbie to this forum, so if I'm in the wrong place, please let me know.

I have a Win Model 59 full choke I hunted with as a kid back in the 60's. I recently used it for sporting clays and did poorly. I assummed it my my lack of practice for the last 25 years. I shot pretty well with the high shots but went 0/20 with the bird going down into a valley. Other than my lack of skill...I wondered how the gun's pattern was so I took it outside and shot it at a target from about 45 feet. It consistenly shot high left. I had to make the bead dissappear to get the elevation correct. Do you think there could be a problem with the gun? I know full choke on sporting clays was not good, but its all I have at this point. I want to use it hunting birds so I want it to shoot well. I will get an O/U for clays. Thanks. Jerry

November 30, 2009, 07:18 PM
I know where I can get a pretty decent condition 59 for $225 BUT the durn thing has a full choke! The barrel is to this to be reamed out IMHO and How would one hack one off to cylinder and put back a bead properly? An open choked (modified or Imp cyl) would be perfect for the use I want to give it. I could even live with Cylinder.

December 1, 2009, 11:01 PM
I have an uncle who picked up a nice 59 a few years ago. He shoots trap on a regular basis, and one day he took the 59 out. On the plus side, he shot as well or better than he has with any gun, and with the gun being so light he could shoot more rounds before getting tired. On the minus side, it whanged empty hulls straight into the noggins of those unfortunate enough to be standing to his right. He puzzled for a while on how to add a shell catcher, without success, and went back to shooting his Browning superposed.

Dave McCracken
December 5, 2009, 04:13 PM
Any auto loader, including the 59, can be made trap friendly with a shell catcher. Since none is made commercially for the 59, one can use a rubber band around the receiver to trap the hull before it dings up the Purdey held by the guy next to you.

Gordon, I'd not be in a hurry to shorter a fiber wrapped barrel. Think about it...

jgunn, a session at the patterning board is in order here. If your shotgun truly isn't shooting where you look, misery is your lot. A bit of time with a fitter can clear things up, or use the archives here to find out what to do.

January 7, 2010, 01:53 PM
I have a model 59 i used to use to pheasant, dove, quail and rabbit. Someplaces I go now require steel shot. I am hesitant about shooting steel from the fiberglass barrel. Any suggestions?

Dave McCracken
January 7, 2010, 05:16 PM
I think it was Brister who had a 59 barrel tested and found it was stronger than most steel barrels.

However, maybe it's best to check with whatever's left of Winchester.

And if you do, use the open chokes....

January 7, 2010, 07:12 PM
it does not have the interchangable chokes. It is a full choke. Probably should just stick to lead and not risk it. Thanks for the advice.

January 7, 2010, 07:20 PM
I saw one in a shop the other day for $350.

March 23, 2010, 12:19 AM
When I was 12 my grandfather passed away and I inherited his model 59. Even though it looked absurdly large for me at the time, I killed my first pheasants with it that year and made some of the greatest shots of my life hunting on the family farm. I don't care about techno babble about weight distribution the types of loads it can handle, or any of the other excuses why people can't shoot. The thing is a fabulous shotgun and I'd put it up against anything the snobby skeet shooters use. In my opinion wing shooting success isn't measured quantitatively, but I can say I haven't missed very many shots with the gun on pheasant, quail, or doves and that means more than how many I can hit out of fifty from prearranged positions knowing the pigeon is coming. When you have to make a quick shot, the light barrel and good sight picture make it a hell of a field piece. I've shot all kinds of stuff and I still feel that it's among the finest shotguns I've ever held. I retired the piece years ago in lieu of pump guns because I was afraid that the 2 3/4 inch magnums would destroy it and it has sentimental value. I will admit that I shot hundreds of Remington Nitro mags through it over the years with no trouble at all. Wow, now I wanna go shoot it again.

Dave McCracken
March 23, 2010, 04:09 PM
Go shoot it again, Doc, with suitable loads. The 59s are great field guns, as you well know....

April 3, 2011, 07:06 PM
I know that this is really an old thread to bring up, but it seems to be THE Model 59 resource/thread for this site.

Before I lose anyone's interest with a giant wall o' text, theres an article on the Model 59 in the 2011 Gun Digest that might be worth looking at to those with an interest.

A PDF copy of the owner's manual (along with LOTS of other manuals) is listed at:
This outfit lists a few Model 59 barrels (lots of other shotgun barrels, too) for sale:

I am not connected or affiliated with any of the above; they're just things I've uncovered while researching
I'm the somewhat proud, somewhat apprehensive new owner of a Model 59. So, I'm looking for information. Found it at the Rogers, MN Cabela's yesterday and got hold of it for $195 before tax. I've been kind of keeping an eye out for one for a little while and swooped down on it. There's reason for that price; it's got several scuffs on the barrel, the stock doesn't have a lot of finish left and I'd be willing to bet that it was hunted with for a number of seasons without cleaning, judging by the heavy powder fouling caked all over everything visible in the action.
It's got a fixed choke barrel in Full, and the bore looks just fine. Additionally, there's very little finish wear on the action and the finish wear on the wood appears to be more a matter of flaking and handling than of scratching and gouging.
For what it's worth, the Gun Digest article, describing the barrel's construction, talked about the steel liner being wrapped with the glass thead set into a polyester matrix, heated to bond it together, then being wrapped in black-colored glass cloth and finish machined. On another gun forum I frequent, searching turned up an old thread where someone claimed the glass thread was dark blue to give the finished product its' coloration, but what I'm seeing with these scuffs would tend to support the GD version; the deepest are brown at the bottom.
So, is there any possiblity of painting over the barrel scuffs? Since we're talking fiberglass, I was wondering if epoxy with black pigment mixed in would be a good idea, not only for coloration but to avoid any chance of having the glass start to unwrap?
Any thoughts?

Oh, one last thing. I saw 'way back in the early days of this thread where there was some drift and someone asked about the small gauge 870 Expresses. I picked up one in .410 and another in 28 back when they were on closeout at Holiday back, oh, I'd say something like 18 years ago. Had the chokes on both opened up to Skeet and set them up with the magazine endcap weights Remington had for the actual skeet models (Numrich, GPC, whatever had the weights back then). I could just about interchange my 12 and 20ga scores for the 28, but I sure got an education in why some call a .410 an "idiot stick" on the skeet field! Finally burned out on skeet shooting and consigned them off. Wonder where they ended up?

Pete D.
April 4, 2011, 06:25 AM
I picked up a model 59 earlier this year. A nice shooter, easy to carry.
I am looking forward to upland season; this is a gun that I can carry all day.
Fixed modified choke. 12 gauge.

August 18, 2011, 08:19 AM
Hi all you out there.
Iīm a Swede that got a hold of one of these guns for dirt-cheap.
When I got it two years ago, it hadnīt seen much care, so it was cycling badly, it was feeling gooey in the action and it was not reloading any good.
Since then, I have cleaned it up, gotten a new closing-spring for it, and it is now working as if new.
And, as a plus, I even got me the missing chokes for it, plus a wrench!

So, as you propably notice, I really love this gun, I have taken down quite a few large birds with it. Since Iīm a Swede, I donīt know the english names for the birds, but anyways...

My question about these guns is this: Are they safe to fire brenneke ammo with?
And of course, how about steel shot?
Regards from Dennis in Sweden

Dave McCracken
August 18, 2011, 05:39 PM
Welcome, Dennis.

Since the manufacture of the 59 preceded mandated steel shot, I'd stick to lead.

As for Brenekkes, assuming you're talking about slugs, probably. Use an open choke tube. Shot, lead or other soft stuff should be OK.


August 19, 2011, 12:24 AM
Thankīs Dave!
The steel I can manage without, since we donīt have any lead-restrictment laws here yet, other than for wet-lands and shooting ranges.
The brenneke is a slug, correct, but itīs a softer lead slug, with a wad screwed to the back of it for a gastight seal. So they donīt strain the barrels and chokes as much.
But, with my imp. cylinder for brenneke and my others for lead-shot I should be fine?
Iīm planning on using the brenneke for bore, thatīs why this question has come up.

Anyway, thankīs for the reply!
Regards: Dennis

Dave McCracken
August 19, 2011, 06:35 PM
Yes. Otto Brenekke's slug will be fine on an open choke and was designed for boar.

August 20, 2011, 02:36 AM
Again, thankīs Dave!
Really good answer, both what I wanted to hear, and also pleased to hear that it will work with brennekes.

Dave McCracken
August 20, 2011, 02:59 PM
Glad to help....

August 20, 2011, 09:48 PM
The owner at my local shop bought one (I think the price he paid for it was $500) it looks like new and wore a 30 inch barrel...He was as pleased as pleased could be.

August 21, 2011, 07:41 PM
I've had a Model 59 for over 50 years. My Dad bought it new while we were living in Japan in 1961 (paid $80.00 at Yokosuka Base Exchange).

He couldn't hit anything with it so I "adopted" it when I was in the sixth grade. I hunted with this shotgun every year for about 25 years (pheasant, quail, dove, duck, rabbits, band tail pigeons, etc.). Unbelievably reliable, I cannot remember this gun ever jamming feeding it everything from light field loads to 2 3/4" magnums for ducks (back in the lead waterfowl days).

While shooting trap a longitudinal crack a couple of inches long developed on the left side of the receiver at the tracking groove for one of the bolt follower parts. This is a weak point in the design of the model 59 which is exactly the same as the Model 50 receiver only machined out of aluminum. The aluminum is quite thin at the base of this groove.

I took it to a "reputed" gunsmith who destroyed the receiver while attempting to weld the crack. I kept all of the rest of the parts hoping one day to find a receiver to put it back into action.

While visiting a gunsmith in Stockton on another matter I casually mentioned my busted 59 receiver. He told me that a Model 50 receiver would work perfectly and had three of them in his inventory. I bought one, had him polish it and re-blue it and that allowed me to reassemble the shotgun.

While waiting for the receiver I refinished the stock. I stripped the finish off and carefully sanded it smooth. I cleaned the checkering with a toothbrush and toothpicks to remove all of the old finish. I sprayed the stock with several coats of satin Varathane wet sanding between coats.

The gun came with a 30" full choke barrel. One of the salesmen I dealt with at work had a 26" improved cylinder barrel I bought from him for $100. All I needed wa a 28" modifed to complete the set. I found one at Gun Parts Corporation for $100.00 so I ordered it. When it arrived it looked like it was 100 years old but it turned out to be a new unfired barrel covered with a preservative. Once I cleaned it up, it was brand new!

So, here is what it looks like today:

This gun is in virtually flawless condition. I have fired thousands of rounds through this gun and believe it or not, there is no adverse wear on any of the internal parts, it appears this shotgun will last forever. I have disassembled this gun regularly to clean it (as all auto shotguns get dirty with regular use) and the action can be broken down to the smallest part without tools. The only time a tool is needed is to remove the buttstock for a major cleaning (which I have done on a few occasions).

This is one of my most cherished firearms, the other being my Dad's Marlin model 1936 in 30-30.


August 22, 2011, 10:09 AM
That gun looks REALLY good!
Nice to see there are some of these still in mint condition!

August 22, 2011, 03:12 PM
Nice looking 59/50 shotgun. Winchester always knew how to make a firearm look "right". And, over the years, I too have seen Model 59 shotguns with the almost unrepairable, length-wise crack, emanating from the bolt travel groove.

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