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Legendary or Lacking? Winchester 101 12ga Shotgun Review

shotgun review Jun 23, 2022


Today we're looking at the Winchester Model 101 Deluxe Over-under shotgun in 12 gauge. I have been shooting the 101 for a long time. Back in the day, I was sponsored by Winchester so the 101 was my go-to over-under. No longer sponsored by any shotgun brands, I get to speak openly about my thoughts on shotguns. The video above breaks down the Winchester 101 and my thoughts, but if you prefer to read, you can get a good summary of the 101 below.

Side Note: One of the top-performing Gould Brothers videos is actually a trickshot edition using the 101.


MSRP is $2,149 but you'll find a great deal on a 101 at Reeds Sports

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  • 12 gauge (Older productions have sub-gauge models but current production is only 12ga)
  • 3" chamber
  • 28" Barrel (26" option)
  • 6lbs 12oz  
  • Length of Pull 14 1/4" 
  • Drop at Comb 1 3/8" 
  • Drop at Heel 2 3/8"
  • Comes with 3 flush mount chokes


  • 5lbs 10oz (Average pull weight)
  • Not terrible
  • It was a bit heavier than I expected but it felt decent


  • Deluxe Maple
  • Pigeon Trap
  • Pigeon Trap with Adjustable Comb
  • Sporting Model
  • Field Model


  • This is a really nice feeling gun in the hands
  • Basic easy-to-use safety - I like that it doesn't have the auto-safety function
  • I enjoy the slender pistol grip
  • The forend has 20 lines per inch checkering that looks and feels good. 
  • The balance was good! Winchester claims the 101 Is "A thing of design, balance, and beauty"... so far this is true
  • Ivory mid bead and brass front bead
  • The receiver has some awesome engravings featuring quail, ducks, and pheasant


  • The Grade III European Walnut stalk looks great and the engraving is also pretty slick looking
  • When the action is broke open, I experienced a good amount of wiggle at the hinges. When I say good, I mean it's L O O S E. Way to loose for my liking. This gun is a few years old but doesn't have a ton of shots through it. My best guess is maybe 2000-3000 rounds fired.
  • Also, when the action is closed, I am able to pull the forend straight back towards the stock to expose another unfortunate tolerance as the forearm grip slides. I did take off the forearm and look everything over good to see what might be causing the slide. 'm sure there are solutions that I have not yet exercised but I just feel like it shouldn't happen this soon
  • The last thing worth pointing out is that the same day we were filming this review, a crack developed in the forend grip ;( 


  • Recoil is one of the unfortunate downsides of this model 101. It's pretty heavy-hitting, often feeling the recoil most in my face.
  • Recoil is sometimes relative to gun fit so you may experience recoil different than me - OR you could invest in a recoil reduction pad like a Falcon Strike like I did and make it much more enjoyable to shoot.
  • No issues with the Ejectors


  • I was able to accomplish shooting 2 hand thrown clays in 1.04 seconds

In summary, I truthfully enjoy shooting this gun. I enjoy the way it looks, and I like how it feels. A feeling I wasn't particularly fond of was that of the recoil punching me in the face. Luckily I had put a Falcon Strike on for this video. It's no secret that this 101 has some kick. I am also curious as to why there are so many little things acting up already.  Mind you - I have had other 101 shotguns that have not had the same issues and you may have a completely different experience with your brand new 101. If you make the decision to buy a Winchester 101, check out REEDS SPORTS and let us know what your experience is!

Whether our targets in the field or our targets in life, we will only hit what we are focused on so live the #targetfocusedlife 

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