Love Letter

The little old men at the Redwood Tavern agree: the Winchester Model 12 is the greatest shotgun ever made.

When the cows come home, pigs fly, Hell freezes over, and the music dies, you can bet there will be a handful of old coots parked in rocking chairs on front porches holding their Winchester Model 12s across their laps. These guns are going to be Redwood’s ticket out of the apocalypse, I’m told: Oil spills in the Gulf, terrorist attacks, alien invasions, plagues—you bring it, the Winchester Model 12 will smite it.

The Model 12 is a direct descendant of Winchester’s Gun that Won the West, they tell me. That intimidating history, drawn from a beautiful and god-forsaken time of manifest destiny that carved trails of tears through what would later become a flurry of golden highways, strip malls, and Taco Bells, gave the Model 12 its grit.

Winchester Model 12’s tenacious 1912 design was something firearm enthusiasts had never seen before. And you better believe that while only available in a 20 gauge (perfection has no need for flexibility), the Model 12 would fast become the first internal hammer pump-action shotgun success story.

The United States Army scooped up 20,000 Model 12 trench guns for World War I; and 80,000 were bought by the Marine Corps, Air Forces, and Navy for World War II. In fact, almost 2 million Winchester Model 12s made their way into the hands of soldiers, housewives, hunters, and Jonny Q. Publics before the model was discontinued in 1963.

This is the kind of gun you take into battle. It’s the kind of gun you reach for after waking up in the middle of the night when something goes bump. This baby is the Cadillac of cannons; the Winfrey of weaponry; the Rolls Royce of revolvers. That Winchester Model 12 is one hell of a shotgun.

Tell the preacher to suspend all service—that gun and I are going places. Wedding veils and open roads and deep soul-searching on the backbone of the US of A with my Winchester Model 12. How-eee, the tingle of tactical perfection and love-falling. Winchester Model 12, you must be the one.