The Winchester Model 1887 and Model 1901 lever action shotguns became eminently successful in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, both as a hunting arm, when fitted with the long 30¼-inch barrel, and as a fearsome defensive and offensive weapon in the hands of lawmen and railroad guards when sporting the lever gun’s shortened 22.25-inch barrel and a magazine full of double aught buckshot. Fully loaded the Winchester had the capacity of a six-shooter and in a practiced hand nearly the speed, but with far more deadly results for those on the wrong end. Sawed off models with even shorter barrels of 12 to 18 inches, and stocks cut off just below the wrist were wielded by sheriffs, marshals, city policemen, prison guards, Texas and Arizona Rangers, and others on both sides of the law, the latter of which finally led to the National Firearms Act in 1934 limiting the barrel length of a rifle or shotgun to no less than 18 inches for civilians.
More than 125 years later ArmiSport Chiappa began introducing striking copies of the Winchester Model 1887 including the most recent version, a sawed off guard gun with an 18½-inch barrel and stock cut and rounded off at the pistol grip. This latest Chiappa 1887 is offered in three models; Deluxe with color casehardened receiver and lever, high-polish blue barrel, walnut stock and forend — much as they would have appeared in the late 19th and early 20th centuries — an all-blued model with wood grip and forearm (similar to the Model 1901, which did not have a color casehardened receiver), and a more contemporary matte black with a soft touch rubberized finish on the shortened pistol grip stock.
In the 1890s and early 20th century American West, the Winchester lever gun, designed by John Moses Browning, was regarded by most on either side of the law as the great equalizer of odds. First offered as a 12 gauge in 1887 and then in both 12 and larger 10 gauge models, the Winchester lever action shotgun was an unrivaled success until the advent of Winchester’s slide action 12 gauge shotguns in 1893 and 1897.
For more on this see Issue #74 of Guns of the Old West