The Winchester Model 1887 lever-action shotgun was very popular in the late 19th and early 20th century, both as a hunting arm and as a fearsome weapon in the hands of lawmen. Fully loaded, the Winchester had the capacity of a six-shooter and, in a practiced hand, nearly the speed. Winchester 1887s with various barrel and stock lengths were carried by lawmen and outlaws alike into the early 20th century.
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More than 125 years after Winchester introduced the Model 1887, Chiappa introduced a striking copy of it. Among the latest Chiappa variations is a sawed-off “Bootleg” 12-gauge lever-action shotgun with an 18.5-inch barrel and a pistol grip. It is available from Taylor’s & Co. Firearms in three versions: the Deluxe, with a color-casehardened receiver and lever, a blued barrel and a walnut stock; an all-blued model with a wooden stock; and the more contemporary T-Series, which features a matte black finish and “Soft Touch” rubber on the pistol-grip stock.
Since there is no shoulder stock to support the gun, the Bootleg is best fired offhand at close range. The support hand has a big job here, as this 27.5-inch-long 12 gauge kicks hard. The Bootleg is otherwise easy to handle, with the lever action quickly ejecting the spent case and chambering the next round. But the lever must be worked smartly, and with that comes a sound that will turn most individuals with any sense of self-preservation on their heels. There is only one caveat that must be adhered to: the Bootleg is not chambered for magnum (high-brass) shells; you can only load 2¾-inch shells.
But what can really make this a viable tactical weapon for defensive use is the SGR1 Plain Barrel Shotgun Rail from Command Arms Accessories (CAA). Made of high-grade aluminum, it fits barrels up to 12 gauge and provides a 2.25-inch Picatinny rail compatible with any number of compact lights and lasers for fast targeting. (866 611-9576; caagearup.com)
To test this mount, I added a FoxFury AWL-P Laser-Tac light/laser unit. AWL series models have separate on/off switches for the light (on either side of the housing so that it can also fit around the forward edge of a triggerguard on pistols) and laser (on the underside of the light/laser housing). For shotguns, this makes it easy to activate the laser with the support-hand index finger while grasping the underside of the magazine tube. The 140-lumen light is easily activated with the thumb and can be used in temporary on (by pressing and holding the switch), strobe or continuous modes.
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Thanks to the CAA mount, the FoxFury AWL-P was a perfect fit under the barrel of the Bootleg 12-gauge lever-action shotgun, just forward of the magazine tube and flush with the muzzle. Together, it was very easy to get on target with the Bootleg. (foxfury.com; 844-369-3879)
- GAUGE: 12; 2¾-inch chamber
- BARREL: 18.5 inches
- OA LENGTH: 27.5 inches
- WEIGHT: 6.6 pounds (empty)
- GRIP: Walnut
- SIGHTS: Brass post front
- ACTION: Lever
- FINISH: Blued, casehardened
- CAPACITY: 5+1
- MSRP: $1,189