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Winchester 23? Opinions?

Discussion in 'Shotguns' started by hq, Dec 8, 2019.

  1. hq

    hq Member

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    Not that I'd need yet another shotgun, but I've realized that the 1942-vintage Sauer & Sohn boxlock I've used for pheasant hunts doesn't seem to handle high volume shooting too well. When it gets hot it starts to bind and on top of that the fixed M/F chokes aren't ideal for the job. Its case hardening is very nice but anything but weatherproof and even a meticulous waxing can only do so much to protect it from the elements.

    I thought about getting another Mts111 to match my wife's gun, but their hammer prices in auctions have started to resemble phone numbers lately. So do those of the more recent (say, 60's and up) British doubles. Winchester 21 to a degree, too.

    Enter the model 23.

    I've browsed European sites and it seems that especially in the UK 23:s are relatively affordable, equivalent of $800-1400 for pigeon grade or even super grade examples. Single trigger and fixed C/IC/M chokes or winchokes are a big plus in my book.

    These guns seem to have a very decent reputation, they're not quite at "best gun" level as far as exclusivity is concerned but close enough for invitational hunts, and quite a bit more weatherproof than vintage guns. I think it could double as a grouse gun, too.

    Is my reasoning far off from reality? Does anyone have experience of the 23 in high volume hunts, maybe 80-200 shots in an afternoon? Opinions? All input is much appreciated.
     
  2. cdb1

    cdb1 Member

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    All I know is they were made in Japan and I gather they are excellent shotguns that stand up well to high volume shooting.
     
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  3. Virginian

    Virginian Member

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    All of the examples I have seen, owned, or shot were excellent. But, even in the straight stock versions they are still a bit heavier built than an English game gun. I am still quite fond of them in certain configurations. An acquaintance has a Heavy Duck that has blazing away with all kinds of heavy loads for close to 40 years with no ill effects, and I had a 28 gauge that certainly got tested.
     
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  4. hq

    hq Member

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    Thank you for the comments. In this case no news is good news, meaning no horror stories about their durability, problems or something I may have overlooked.

    Time to start arranging the paperwork and looking for a particularly nice example, a 23 may well be in my future for some of next season's hunts.
     
  5. SwampWolf

    SwampWolf Member

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    For whatever reason (doubtless its Asian heritage), the Model 23 never received the rightful praise I think it deserved. Imo, the Model 23 is put together nicely, holds up as well as most other doubles with heavy use, handles superbly and exhibits excellent workmanship-especially given its reasonable price when new and, today, as used. Though no Model 21, the Model 23 is a way better shotgun than the Model 24 (which has been described as looking like a cheap Model 37 with double triggers) and was made by the same people who built the Model 101 O/U and the Parker reproduction double shotguns for Winchester, the Olin-Kodensha Company in Japan.
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2019
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  6. PapaG

    PapaG Member

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    I think you mean model 24.
     
  7. PapaG

    PapaG Member

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    Darn good gun. Lot like a Browning BSS, I believe. Not a 21 but 100X ahead of a 24.
     
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  8. SwampWolf

    SwampWolf Member

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    That's exactly what I meant and I edited accordingly. Thanks, PapaG, for the help in keeping things right.
     
  9. Bianchi

    Bianchi Member

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    I currently have a Model 23 Custom which I bought new in the 80s. It has a raised rib, chambered for 3 inch, Winchokes and 27.5 inch barrels. It has no engraving (which I like), a pistol grip with a metal end cap, beaver tail forearm, excellent checkering and very nice wood. Being long armed I had a recoil pad and small spacer installed and the gun fits me perfectly.

    Back in my heavy shotgunning days I owned several versions of the Model 23 in 12 and 20 gauges, but this is the only one which had screw in chokes. My most beautiful one was a 20 gauge with 25 inch barrels (as I remember it) and gorgeous wood. When Winchester was discontinuing the Model 23 and Model 101 the prices were so good I had a half dozen NIB stashed under my beds as there was no room in my overcrowded safe for them. They were eventually sold one by one except for the beautiful 20 and this 12 gauge with screw in chokes. Needing another gun of some sort I eventually sold the beautiful 20. Back to my current and only Model 23. For years I used it a lot to shoot skeet, many doves, crows and the miscellaneous garden destroying groundhogs. Not unusual for me to shoot a hundred rounds or more in an outing so over time it has fired a lot of rounds.

    I have been out of shotgunning for about 12-13 years and recently returned to clays and will again add bird hunting. Besides my two trap guns the first of my shotguns that I started shooting again is my Model 23, which I love. In the past I have owned a couple of beautiful Spanish 20 gauge sidelock side by sides with straight grips. Lovely guns with a great feel, but I doubt they would have stood up to the pounding my Model 23 has absorbed. But, maybe I'm wrong. I've seen a couple of people describe the Model 23 as "clunky", which is only a personal opinion and not a fact. Mine doesn't feel a bit clunky to me.

    On YouTube there is an English site, The Gun Shop, which has a review of the Model 23 Pigeon grade. It is worth watching if you are at all interested in the gun. In one part of the video John shows how to remove the forearm and check for wear or tightness of the barrel to frame. In checking same thing on mine I find there is no wiggle whatsoever even after running a lot of shells through it for years. But I have never fired a 3 inch shell through it and never expect to. Here is a link to that Gun Shop review:



    My first post here. As I said, I've been out of shotgunning for several years and am glad to be back and glad that I've found this forum site.
     
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  10. hq

    hq Member

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    Thank you for the comments and welcome to The High Road.

    I've never shot or even handled a 23 so this is a bit of a pig-in-a-poke -proposition. Stock may need some fitting as usual, but it won't be a problem as long as the gun itself is mechanically sound. Light loads are a norm for upland fowling so there won't be a need to shoot 3"/76mm shells, regular 2¾"/70mm are fine with 32-36g #6 loads. Maybe 40g #5 for larger grouse. The chokes just can't be too tight, many shots are taken at close range and at 20 yards full choke wreaks havoc when you're shooting for meat.

    I'll probably contact a shop or a broker in UK, have them inspect the gun(s) and handle the paperwork and shipping. I've tried my best to avoid transfers at all UK airports when flying with guns. I've heard too many horror stories and even witnessed a couple of incidents when things have gone terribly wrong - thanks to UK officials either not understanding or giving a damn what the paperwork and permits mean. All the way to having to lend my US hunting buddies shotguns and rifles when they're at my cabin in Lapland and all their guns are stuck for days somewhere in Manchester. :confused:
     
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