April 15, 2012
Century Arms is known for giving shooters a good value for the money. The 12 Gauge Coach Gun is no exception. For those of us who grew up in the heyday of the western tv shows and movies you’ll be very familiar with this powerful gun.
For you youngsters out there the name coach gun came from the guard on the stagecoaches of the old west. If you ever wondered why people holler shotgun when they pile into a car that’s where it came from. Most double barrel shotguns were used for hunting and general use with longer barrels but the guard on a stagecoach always used a shotgun with short barrels for easy aiming at targets 360 degrees around the coach.
The Century Coach shotgun is true to the older shotguns of the era with double “Rabbit Ear” hammers as well as a manual safety between the hammers.The Coach Gun also has double triggers. This is by far my favorite configuration for a double barrel shotgun. This model has 20 inch barrels and a thick pad to cushion recoil. There are also sling attachments on the stock and between the barrels.
This shotgun has nicely finished wood with a standard blue finish. Now it’s not a $2000 Browning but for a shotgun of this type and use as a fun gun or home defense gun it’s just right. At $250.00 I don’t worry about an occasional scratch from walking the woods or practicing on the range.
One thing I noticed as soon as I unpacked the shotgun is the barrels are choked down pretty tight. In fact the owner of the gunshop asked me why I got a 20 gauge:-) What this means for the shooter is a tight group of approximately 4 to 5 inches (depending on the load) at 15 yards. This shot spread is fine with me since most of my shooting is done from fairly close range. You can fire any load with this shotgun with the exception of slugs. The manual cautions users not to fire slugs period! The reason of course is the barrels are choked down for a tight grouping with buckshot.
This shotgun also breaks down into three pieces. The front grip is removed by releasing a latch which connects the grip to the barrels.Then the barrels can be removed from the receiver. It’s simple and easy to do which means you can pack the gun into a small space if you take a four wheel drive, boat etc. on a camping or hunting trip and need extra space for all your gear.
Since I received this shotgun from Century I’ve shot it a good deal. I’ve fired everything from birdshot to 00 buck with no malfunctions or problems of any kind. The recoil pad is fairly thick and helps with the recoil when firing 00 buck from these short barrels. In fact after several hundred rounds with 100 of those 00 buck the shotgun is as tight as when I first shot it.
This is just one enjoyable shotgun to shoot clays, swinging targets or what have you. It’s also proven itself reliable and very durable. If you want to own a piece of history at a very reasonable price the Century Coach gun is a good choice!
My reviews for GFS have been moved to “The Firearm Blog”
Hello all I wanted to announce I will be writing gun reviews weekly for the online gun shop and accessories dealer Guns for Sale.com. These reviews will be posted from now on at “The Firearm Blog”—link above:-) I will still post on Gunners Journal.
My ethics that apply to the blog will be in place as always so the reviews you read on Guns for Sale.com will be 100% correct and honest to the best of my ability.
Your questions and comments can be posted on their website and I will respond as quickly as possible as has always been the case here. They are good folks and I encourage you to look over the guns they stock at very fair prices.
The first article should be out in the next week or so.
March 22, 2010
Norinco’s version of the Winchester model 1897 shotgun in 12 gauge riot gun version
Videos at the bottom of the article showcasing the old west shotguns of J. Browning
I’ve always had a real love for older military weapons and shotguns are no exception. The Winchester model 1897 has always been of particular interest to me. I started looking for an original Winchester 97 a few months ago but having found only one in fair condition. I had just about given up since the ones in shooting condition were higher priced than the budget would allow. I did notice a few Norinco clones in my daily GunsAmerica list. After looking at them and checking them out on the importers website I decided this was a good alternative. List price on this model is $450 however they can be found for less. Now the military version with bayonet mount and heat shield is higher at a retail of $550 but again can be had for less.
An original military Winchester 1897 from WWI
I know some will say that it can’t be a Norinco because imports of this brand have been halted by the government. That’s true to a point but the ban did not include shotguns. They can be difficult to find but they are out there. The riot gun model I bought is also very popular with Cowboy action shooters. In fact the best gunsmith for the model 97 is nicknamed Coyote Cap in the Cowboy action game. He’s actually very fond of the Norinco version of the 97 and provides a service of smoothing the action for competition at a cost of $130.
I found mine at K&R guns. Why I hadn’t noticed it before is beyond me but they do carry a lot of shotguns:-) I was able to purchase mine for $360 NIB. The early Norincos were not particularly popular since they used the same cheap wood that is used on the Chinese AK’s. Now they use first quality Missouri Walnut thanks to Coyote Cap makiing a trip over to the factory and convincing them of the changes needed to make the gun not only more authentic but much more attractive. A few internal changes were also made to update a few parts for better function. If you watch “Lock and Load” with Gunny R. Lee Ermy he did an episode a few weeks ago on military shotguns designed by John Browning of which the 97 is one of them. You can also get the older 87 model in lever action as well as the double barrel coach gun all from Norinco. In fact he used Norinco shotguns for this episode. If you do a Google search you can find a downloadable copy of this episode–it’s very informative and entertaining. As you can see the bluing is very high quality as is the wood and finish on the walnut. It’s really a very attractive shotgun. One other option if you want the “trench” gun version you can buy the bayonet heat shield part for about $30 and convert the riot model to the military model.
Tom Sizemore in the movie Pearl Harbour with a model 97
If you do another Google search you’ll find a lot of movies that feature the old model 97. It’s been a popular shotgun for a very long time. I enjoy the unique features of this shotgun. The exposed hammer you can lower with a round chambered as well as a trigger disconnect that allows you to fire a round each time you work the slide as long as the trigger is held back. That’s some serious firepower with five in the tube and one in the chamber. It also handles well with the short 20 inch barrel and 14 inch pull.
A real beauty!
At first the action was a bit stiff but after removing most of the heavy grease the Chinese tend to use for shipping it smoother up some. Then I used a liberal amount of Slip 2000 carbon remover to remove anything else hiding in the tight spots. I followed this up with Slip 2000 lube and that really helped. The best cure is to go out and shoot a good number of rounds to break it in. The tolrences are pretty snug and shooting it also helped. I’ll admit that an action job to smooth the internals would really make a significant difference. Now that I’ve fired 80 or so rounds I’m satisfied with the action. There is one caveat in using this shotgun and that’s working the slide action. Don’t choke up to much on the stock when chambering a round because the action will bite your thumb pretty good. It’s not really a problem though. After you do it once you won’t do it again! Now I’m shooting it without any thought to the action getting my thumb. It just takes a bit of getting used to. One addition some may want is a recoil pad if you plan on shooting any slugs in the Deer woods. With a plastic butt there is no protection from the heavy recoil of a 1 1/2 ounce slug. Even though I’m not very recoil sensitive it did get my attention a bit.
I took it out to the range with a mix of buckshot, slugs and target loads. I shot a total of 75 rounds of all types and had no malfunctions. The collar that secures the feed tube to the barrel loosened up after shooting a fair number of slugs. I tightened it up and it never came loose again. Not much can be said about accuracy with a shotgun except with slugs. I did back off to 35 yards and grouped 5 slugs into a 4 inch group. Not to bad at all with a bead sight. The shot spread with double 00 buck was about shoulder width at approx 25 yards.
Even though this is new shotgun it is a piece of history and a lot of fun to shoot. If your thinking about getting into the Cowboy action shooting game this would be a great shot gun to use. In fact one funny term the Cowboy shooters use for this particular shotgun is “Norchester” for Norinco Winchester:-) I don’t shoot Cowboy matches but it’s such a neat shotgun to just take out and have a relaxing time I would recommend it just for the enjoyment factor even though it would sure fill the need for a home defense shotgun. Heaven knows I’ve avoided some bad situations on duty just by racking a round into the chamber of my issue shotgun.
For some real custom work at a reasonable price go to this link for Cowboy Cap. His story of trips to China to improve the model 97 Norinco makes is very interesting and informative. Link to Cowboy Cap
IAC importers of Norinco old west shotguns LINK
Lock and Load with R. Lee Ermy
Norinco quality has certainly gotten a lot better!
October 6, 2007
The 12 guage shotgun is probably the most useful and effective weapon you can have. I know the current trend of everything AR15 is all the rage for home defense, police work etc. While the AR15 is a very capable weapon system and is a favorite of mine nothing can outperform a shotgun in effective defense at close to medium range. Whether you use 00 buck or slugs you have the most effective weapon there is for CQB. With slugs you have a very large rifle.
In the times we live in police officers need the AR15 for situations where they are faced by suspects with AK47’s or AR15’s. This is a change in weaponry that is long overdue. However, the AR15 should be an addition not a replacement for the shotgun. I once had a Lieutenant that would remind us in roll call to check out a shotgun before we went on duty. I’ll never forget what he said ” If you need a shotgun you’ll need it more than anything you have ever needed in your life”. This is a very true statement!
The Remington 870 was our issue shotgun and my personal favorite. Nothing has a greater psychological effect on a suspect or a large group of angry people than racking a round into a pump shotgun! I have defused many situations on duty by using this very tactic and it does work very well.
Lets talk about which type of shotgun to buy and the best configuration. Many people and police departments have switched to the semi-auto shotgun. I would rate the Benelli as number one with the Remington 11-87 a close second. Semi-auto shotguns are much more reliable than they once were but I still prefer a pump shotgun for reliability as well as the effect I mentioned earlier about racking a round into the chamber. One type of pump shotgun outperforms all others in my opinion and that’s the Remington 870 with the Mossberg 500 series coming in second. The military uses both brands with the Marines using the Mossberg and now the Benelli M4.
Benelli M4 Military and Police Shotgun
Outside of special forces the military uses only pump shotguns (the Marines are purchasing the M4 which will take some time to field). I have used the Remington 870 with an 18 or 20 inch barrel most of my police career. There was a time when I was the entry officer for our SRU team. The weapon I used was the 870 with a 14 inch barrel. Of course these are restricted and for the civilian require a federal tax stamp which will cost you $200 and filling out a bunch of paperwork:-). They are also very specialized guns and have a limited use since the shot pattern on a 14 inch barrel spreads out very fast. Mine also had a factory Remington fold over stock which I seldom used. I believe the optimal configuration is a Remington 870 with an 18 or 20 inch barrel, a side saddle attachment that will fit on the receiver to carry extra rounds readily available and a synthetic stock. A magazine extension that allows you to carry a total of 8 rounds on a 20 inch barrel, 7 rounds on an 18 inch barrel is also handy. That’s the basic configuration and all you really need. Of course there are many items on the market now allowing you to add a flashlight mount, speedfeed stock, lasers, pistol grips to name a few. The only addition I don’t care for is the front pistol grip. I just don’t see the need for one and it’s my belief they can actually contribute to short stroking the gun causing a malfunction.
This 870 is a new one for me and came with fiber optic rifle sights. I like fiber optic sights. I’ll make no bones about it when you reach 50 years old you need some help in the sight department and fiber optics fill the bill. I’m also putting a fiber optic front sight on my Rock Island Armory Tactical 1911( Novak Slide Cut). Make no mistake these sights are fast to pickup and with contrasting colors make the sight picture very clear. I intend to add a magazine extension from Choate Machine and Tool. All the other 870’s I’ve owned over the years came with a bead sight so this will be a new experience. Out to 15 yards I never used sights. We’ll see if this changes with the rifle sights. I did find a new gadget on the net today. It’s a new flash suppressor that is very close to one used on an AR15. Will this cut down on recoil? Maybe, but I’ve never been recoil sensitive so I doubt I’ll try it even though they are less than $20. They can be found at ATI along with many other accessories. Lets cover chokes. Most combat shotguns in the past have been open bore. Currently most shotguns are made with a full choke or improved cylinder choke to maintain a tight pattern at longer ranges. The only down side of this with a shotgun in police use is you can’t use sabot rounds with a choke and you must use the choke with any round. This is not an option because it will mess up the threads in the barrel. I also prefer the magnum option so you can use regular 2 3/4 inch shells or 3 inch magnums. My usual load is the first round being 00 buck followed by lead slugs making it a big ol rifle. At one time we did some experimenting at the range with an 870. Another instructor and I were interested in just how far we could effectively use a shotgun with slugs. We started at 50 yards prone/rested. We had some interesting results. We found that at 50 yards we needed to aim 2 to 3 inches high to hit dead center. We fired approximately 20 rounds and took a rest since our shoulders were suffering since we did all the shooting prone. Then we backed off to 100 yards also going prone/rested. This is where it got interesting. We were not even on target! It took a few rounds to figure it out. What we needed to do was to aim approx. 10 inches low since the round actually climbed rather than dropped. Don’t ask I have no idea why and I didn’t get into making phone calls to figure it out:-). For practice you don’t want to spend your hard earned money to shoot 00 buck or slugs. Just buy some cheap birdshot to practice close in shooting or throwing objects in the air to practice your speed on target. I do prefer Federal brand ammunition. Over the years it’s proven to be consistent and durable. When I say durable I’m talking about rounds that bulge over time which can be a big problem. Federal ammo doesn’t have this problem.
From the pictures you can see I lean into the gun to not only make recoil more manageable but makes it easier for fast follow up shots. I also use the high ready position when searching buildings or woods. This gives you the ability to maintain a good field of view as you search and provides a method that is fast getting the gun to your shoulder.
To sum things up if you haven’t tried a shotgun for anything but hunting your missing out on a great weapon for police, home protection or just a general woods gun. I’ll be posting an update when I get the mag extension on it and give the rifle sights a workout. As always if you have any questions please feel free to comment or email me and I’ll do all I can to answer your questions.