POTD: Winchester’s Model 1911 Semi-Auto Shotgun – The Widowmaker
Welcome to today’s Photo of the Day! Here we have a firearm legend in its own right. The Winchester Model 1911 shotgun. This semiauto shotgun was introduced to compete with Browning/FN’s Auto-5 shotgun. It is fair to mention that Winchester rejected the Auto-5 design basically because John Browning wanted royalties for it. The Winchester 1911 is a long recoil shotgun just like the Auto-5, but it lacks a charging handle in order to stay away from patent infringement. The Model 1911 was doomed from this sidestep. Eventually, it became the early 20th century equivalent of going viral for being a “suicide gun” or a “widowmaker” due to the style of cycling. Knurling was introduced on the barrel in order for the operator to grip and pull the barrel to the rear to “rack a round” so to speak. This legend of the gun being a “widowmaker” is most likely a telephone game sort of situation. People who did not have the upper body strength or were wearing thick gloves would place the butt of the gun on the ground and use their whole upper body to push the barrel downward. When released the bolt would be allowed to fly forward into battery and in the extremely unlikely scenario of a malfunction the gun could go off and kill the user.
“The Model of 1911 was introduced on October 7, 1911. It was Winchester’s first self loading shotgun and used a unique method of charging the shotgun, instead of an independent slide, the partially knurled barrel was used to chamber the first round. This model was discontinued in 1928 for safety reasons with about 103,000 guns sold. It features a blade front sight with square notch sight groove, full choke and tubular magazine. Smooth grooved forearm and pistol grip stock with checkered black plastic Winchester buttplate. Length of pull is 14″.”
Lot 1580: Scarce Winchester Model 1911 Sl Self Loading Shotgun. (n.d.). Rock Island Auction Company. photograph. Retrieved October 13, 2021, from https://www.rockislandauction.com/detail/59/1580/scarce-winchester-model-1911-sl-self-loading-shotgun.