The Winchester 1300: The Fastest Pump Gun?

Winchester first became known as a company that made the best lever action rifles. These were the guns that won the West. At the turn of the last century, they became the pump shotgun company with the Winchester M1897, which was followed up by the Model 1912, or simply the Model 12. The Model 12 became known as the perfect repeater, a title I also agree with. The problem was it was expensive to produce. The parts and receivers were forged and machined. 

Remington came out with the 870, and Mossberg had the 500. Both designs were simpler and more affordable and made use of modern construction techniques. The 870 even used dual-action bars, which was new in that era. Winchester needed to compete and thus turned their sights toward the future. The future would be the Model 1200 series in 1964. These made use of modern production techniques to lighten the cost and improve production capacity. 

The Winchester 1300 profile
The Winchester 1300 is a good-looking shotgun, to say the least.

The 1300 isn’t much different than the 1200 series. Over time Winchester made improvements to the 1200 series, and these culminated in the 1300. For example, the 1200 series premiered with 2.75-inch chambers only but would later also come in 3-inch varieties. When the 1300 series came around, they adopted all those small changes into a distinct gun and also made some changes to the furniture, disassembly procedure, and finish. 

Winchester didn’t just copy the 870 or 500 with their designs. As usual, they produced something a bit different. The gun became quite well-known and would obtain a reputation for being the fastest pump-action shotgun out there. 

The Winchester 1300 Defender 

I love shotguns, and retro shotguns, in general, tease my appetite. I recently got my hands on a mint condition Model 1300 Defender. The Defender variant of the 1200 and 1300 was aimed at military, police, and home defense use. It features an 18.5-inch barrel and a full-length seven-round magazine tube. The sight is a simple bead, and it’s a fairly standard tactical shotgun from the 1960/70s/80s. 

Winchester 1300 shotgun stock
If the stock was a little shorter it would be a bit easier to run it fast.

Mine has classic wood furniture, which, let’s be honest, just looks absolutely fantastic. The corncob forend is tough to beat in style, and while smaller than modern designs, it’s that retro setoff that’s wonderful. The 1300 Defender series might be a bit older, but it would still be fine as a defensive shotgun. 

With all that in mind, I wanted to see exactly what made this the fastest pump-action shotgun. How exactly can a pump action be designed to be just faster than most? It was known as the Speed Pump, so it clearly had some kind of technical magic to it. That, or it was some form of marketing that was made to distinguish the Model 1200/1300 series from the 870 and 500 series guns. 

Winchester 1300 pump
The pump is simple but easy to hold onto when running the gun fast.

Marketing can be magical, and to most people, pump action shotguns are all the same. Well, not to me! Also, not to my wife, who dutifully listens to me describe their differences in detail. (Love you, babe.) 

What makes it the speed pump? 

A basic examination reveals the supposed source of the speed pump design. Most shotguns have standard bolt designs. The Winchester 1200 and 1300 series use a rotating bolt, making it one of two pump action shotguns I know of that use a rotating bolt. 

shotgun pump action bolt
The rotary bolt not only helps unlock the pump but also makes extraction more reliable.

Also, if the gun is uncocked or if you hold the pump release, the action will partially open with no force. My Remington does that, too…but it also has a 17.8-ounce Surefire DSF equipped to it. The light corncob pump weighs nearly nothing, but the pump still opens with no force. 

This might not sound like much, but if the gun comes partially opened when unlocked, it could make a difference. Oh boy, it does. When you fire the gun, the rotary bolt disengages from the barrel extension and the recoil helps propel the pump rearward. At first, it’s an odd feeling, but once you learn to go with the flow, you can run that pump rearward incredibly quickly. 

pump release
The pump release is well-palced, but incredibly small.

Nothing helps you propel it forward, but the action is slick and grit free. You can run that slide forward and get the gun in action without issue. It’s a slick and smooth operation, and with a little practice, you can get lightning fast with the pump design. That little extra oomph acts as a mental ‘go’ to throw the slide back and forward. 

Going Fast

If you run the 1300 against another gun with a timer, you can get a little more objective data. I fired five rounds from a Mossberg 590 and five from the Defender as fast as I could. Same ammo and all. Over and over again, the Winchester 1300 was slightly faster, tenths of a second faster, with the biggest difference being a quarter second faster. 

It bears mentioning that my 590 has a shorter stock and a bigger forend. I’ve owned it for nearly seven years and fired many hundreds of rounds through it. It’s set up in a much more modern configuration but couldn’t beat the Winchester 1300 in a speed contest. Heck, it’s even heavier and should have less recoil, making it easier and faster to use. 

Winchester 1300 shotgun on wood
The Winchester 1300 is a classic pump-action shotgun.

The Winchester 1300’s little assist, in the beginning, makes a nice and easy transition from push/pull to pull/pull. This results in a very fast pump gun. It certainly earns the name Speed Pump. 

The Rest of the Gun 

The Winchester 1300 might seem old, but it’s not older than the 500 or 870 in design. The Winchester 1300 is just out of production, and that gives it a bit of a vintage appeal. This model was most certainly made before my 870 and 590, but it still keeps up with them without issue. It lacks a lot of features we see on popular shotguns these days, but at the end of the day, the design is still fully functional. 

If something goes bump in the night, I’d feel no problems grabbing the old 1300 Defender or really any 1300 shotgun. It’s a shame Winchester and U.S. Repeating Firearms went bankrupt. These days, the closest you can get to the 1300 is the SXP, which is now Turkish-made. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but there is something oh-so-sweet about an American-made shotgun from a classic company. 

Maybe for the next comparison, we can get our hands on an SXP and do a head-to-head with the Winchester 1300 Defender? If that sounds good to you, pipe in below and let us know! 

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner and a lifelong firearms enthusiast. Now that his days of working a 240B like Charlie Parker on the sax are over he's a regular guy who likes to shoot, write, and find ways to combine the two. He holds an NRA certification as a Basic Pistol Instructor and is probably most likely the world's Okayest firearm instructor. He is a simplicisist when it comes to talking about himself in the 3rd person and a self-professed tactical hipster. Hit him up on Instagram, @travis.l.pike, with story ideas.

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