An Overview of Lever Action Shotguns

Lever Action Shotguns

Lever action shotguns and rifles have been a favorite in Old West movies since the silent picture days. The cowboys and the Indians are always seen clutching a Winchester or some other type of lever action long gun.

The origin of the level actin shotgun stems from the real-world popularity of the lever action rifle, eventually resulting in a shotgun version.


The popularity of the lever action Winchester long rifle led John M. Browning to develop a lever action shotgun, patented by Winchester in 1886.

The first lever action scattergun cycled shells in the same way the Winchester rifles did.

The lever action shotgun had a rolling, block type bolt. The bolt slid up and closed and the camming action snuggly seated the rear part of the bolt against the receiver.

This helped lessen the problem of the day with black powder fouling the chambers.

The Winchester Repeating Shotgun Model 1887 first rolled off the assembly line and became publicly available in the summer of 1887. It was a 12-gage, but a few months later Winchester added a 10-gage model.

The large breech made it a little ungainly-looking, and sales were not as large as expected.

Even so, these guns became popular with prison guards, railroad security agents, and professional gunmen of the time.


The 1887 lever action shotguns came in 30- and 32-inch rolled steel barrels. A 20-inch riot gun was added to the Winchester catalogue in 1898.

The rifle held five shot shells in an under-barrel tube, 13 ¾ inches long in the 12-gage model and 15 ¼ inches long in the 10-gage.

The guns were sold with mostly checkered-steel butt plates, with beaded brass front sights but also available with silver or ivory beads.

Most had full choke bores, with oil-stained walnut stocks and pistol grips.

Certain upgrades such as checkered or special-size stocks were available by special order.

The lever-action series was eventually discontinued around 1920.

Lever Action Shotguns Today

Reproductions of the famous Winchester 1887 scattergun are available today. A Chinese arms giant, Norinco, even sells copies of the 1887 original.

The French firearm company Verney-Carron has a lever action model called the Veloce. This interesting gun self-unloads the fired cartridge and has a side-mounted lever to allow the gun to reload and reset the trigger.


The Turkish-made Adler A110 Lever Action Shotgun recently began a renaissance of sorts in the lever action shotgun genre.

Adler introduced the latest model at the 2017 SHOT Show. The gun got a lot of attention, noticeably due to the varieties and accessories available. For example, barrel lengths ranged from 10 up to 28 inches.

An advantage of a Lever Action Shotgun

Lever actions have shorter movements than a pump action, which requires full arm movement to chamber a round. You also use your trigger hand to lever a shell and fire, giving you some say much better control and faster cycling.

Making A Choice

Reputable online firearms dealers can give you even more information on the strengths and weaknesses of individual makes or reproductions. If you have a good idea of what you are looking for in a firearm, buying online could be a good fit for you.

Clinching the Deal

Thanks to freely available blogs and websites on the topic of hunting and rifles, purchasing firearms online are not as risky a task as it may have been in the past. The key is to research the most popular models, select a few that meet your needs and then find a reputable supplier online.