May 2014

Pumpgun Renewal: The SXP Fills Big Shoes of the Model 12

The latest descendant of the venerable Winchester Model 12 lived up to the reputation of what many consider to be the best pump-action shotgun ever made, edging out two others.

While there may be some shooters who might question the claim that the Winchester Model 12 set the standard for pump-action shotguns, no one can dispute the popularity of the smoke pole introduced in August 1912 and discontinued in May 1964. There are still many, many of the old Model 12s in use today — truly a testament to the craftsmanship of the fine firearm.

The Model 12 was discontinued because, with its forged and machined steel parts, Winchester deemed the shotgun was too expensive to produce at a competitive price. Filling in the void among pump-action fans was the less expensive Remington Model 870, which is still produced today and also has a huge following among shooters both young and old. Both the Model 1200 and Model 1300 were introduced over the years as Winchester pump-action offerings, but never gained the popularity of the Model 12. Fast forward to 2013 when the Winchester SXP came on the shooting scene as what is billed as a shotgun capable of the fastest follow-up shots of any pump on the market — three shots in less than half a second.

We decided to get some hands-on time with the Winchester SXP and compare it to a couple of pumps it competes with in the field — a Weatherby Model PA-08 and a Browning BPS Stalker. Shooters who favor pump-action shotguns, whether for nostalgia or economic reasons, generally agree that their smoke pole will not be as balanced or handle as well as high-end over-and-unders or semi-automatics. The pumps are workhorse tools, but can be evaluated on more than just their ability to send lead downrange in a safe and effective manner.

Our test session focused on function, but also took into account balance and appearance in determining which firearm we favored. To give us a good sense of performance, we checked out the trio on the patterning board using both lead target loads and steel waterfowl loads. For handling clay targets and birds, we patterned Federal Game & Target 23/4-inch loads with 11/8 ounces of No. 8 shot and an average muzzle velocity of 1200 fps and Winchester AA Xtra-Lite Target 23/4-inch loads with 1 ounce of No. 71/2 shot and an average muzzle velocity of 1180 fps. Our steel loads in the test were Winchester’s new Elite Blind Side 3-inch loads with 13/8 ounces of No. 2 shot and an average muzzle velocity of 1400 fps. Here are our findings:

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