Following up on a legend is hard to do, yet that’s just what Winchester attempted with the Model 1200. While the venerable Model 12 had been the most popular pump action shotgun in America for decades, high production costs and the introduction of Remington’s Model 870 bit into Winchester’s market share. In response Winchester introduced the Winchester Model 1200 in 1965 as a low-cost successor to the Model 12.
The Model 1200 was available in 12-, 16-, and 20-gauge versions, and was able to hold four rounds in its tube magazine. The shotgun became popular with military and police forces around the world.
In 1983 the Model 1200 was supplanted by the Model 1300, which featured a six-round magazine. Nearly two million Model 1200s and 1300s were produced over the gun’s lifetime, with production ceasing in 2006 when the US Repeating Arms Company went bankrupt. The successor to the Model 1300 is the currently produced Winchester SXP.
While the Model 1200 initially faced difficulty replacing the universally loved Model 12, it eventually sold nearly as many models as the Model 12, although it came nowhere close to the sales of the Remington 870.
Advantages of the Model 1200
1. Low Cost
It’s not uncommon to find a Model 1200 for sale for $200 or less. They always played third fiddle to the Mossberg 500 and Remington 870, and now that they’ve been discontinued there isn’t a terribly heavy demand for them on secondary markets. At some point they may become collector’s items, but for now they’re in a real sweet spot where you can pick up one in great condition for not a lot of money.
2. Smooth Operation
With its rotary bolt and shorter slide travel, the Winchester 1200 and 1300 were marketed as being quicker to pump than their competitors.
Disadvantages of the Model 1200
1. Unknown Parts Availability
While there are still plenty of aftermarket and replacement parts available for the Model 1200 and 1300, who knows how long that will last. The Winchester name lives on but it’s no longer the same company that originally produced the 1200. Instead, the trademark is owned by the Olin Corporation which licenses the name to Fabrique Nationale (FN) to produce the Winchester SXP. Whatever parts are in the pipeline are all that’s left, so don’t bet on being able to find small parts 20 or 30 years down the road. You’ll have to stock up for yourself.
2. Plastic Parts
Some key parts of the Winchester 1200 and 1300 are made of plastic, including a feed throat that is prone to breakage. This can result in difficulty feeding and cycling rounds through the shotgun.