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Trez 04-20-2012 08:23 PM

Winchester M1911 "Widowmaker"
Came across this neat article on the Winchester M1911 shotgun..


For those of you who came in late, the M1911 was Winchester’s attempt to knock off the Browning Auto-5. When John Browning and Winchester couldn’t come to terms on Browning’s new autoloading shotgun — Winchester had turned to Thomas C. Johnson, designer of Winchester’s “Self Loading” line of rifles (Models 1903, 1905, 1907 and 1910) and said, “Build us an Auto-5.” The trouble was that Winchester’s own lawyers had so tied up the Auto-5 with patents, which were now assigned to Browning, that just about the only features Johnson could borrow were the Auto-5′s long-recoil operation and kinda-sorta humpbacked profile.

Browning’s patents even covered the cocking handle on the bolt! So Johnson designed the M1911 to be cocked — now, get this — by one’s grabbing the barrel and jerking it sharply backward. A short section of the barrel near the muzzle was even knurled to provide a sure grip.

If this sounds awkward to you, you’re right. Most long-recoil shotguns, the M1911 included, contain a rather large recoil spring to push the barrel back into battery after a shell is fired. Cocking the M1911 involves compressing this spring, and it ain’t easy. Common practice in the old days was to rest the gun’s butt on the ground and use both hands to cock the barrel using a downward motion. This left you momentarily looking down the barrel of a loaded, cocked 12-gauge shotgun. Hence the “Widowmaker” nickname. :eek:

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