Review: PW-87 Shotgun

The PW-87 shotgun is a Chinese copy of the Winchester 1901 chambered in 12 Gauge, 2 3/4 inch shells as imported by Century Arms. Which in itself is a revised version of the Winchester 1887 lever-action shotgun for use with smokeless shells. This shotgun, as well as the Chinese copies of the double barrel Coach gun, the Winchester 1893, and Winchester 1897 were introduced as replicas suited for Cowboy Action shooting matches. This shotgun is an inexpensive alternative to similar Browning copies from Chiappa and Taylor’s & Company. Where from a retail establishment the PW-87 goes between $300-400, competing shotguns go from $900-$1200.

Reliability is finicky with the PW-87 shotgun. With cheap aluminum low-brass shells such as from Academy had multiple feeding issues. Often, hulls were getting crushed inside of the action and often required assistance with a screwdriver or a knife blade for extraction. For other types of shotgun ammunition from cheap Winchester and Federal bird and target loads, to high quality ammunition such as high brass Federal, a lot of force is necessary to cycle the action and eject the spent shell. This makes follow up shots difficult. If the lever is used lightly, then spent shells would not be able to extract and clear the shotgun. This makes cycling in any position that isn’t standing, kneeling, or crouching very difficult. After running the shotgun through a competition, the magazine retention assembly became dislodged and backed off, requiring disassembly and reassembly of the shotgun to get it to function again.

Magazine tube retention failure after roughly 400 rounds of firing

Fit and finish is rough with the PW-87. There are many rough edges inside of the internal mechanism of the shotgun. This contributes to reliability deficiencies inside the shotgun. Gloves are necessary for use with the shotgun, as the user’s hands could easily get cut when trying to load and shoot the shotgun. The overall bluing of the shotgun and the finish of the stock and forend are functional and adequate. For use beyond a range toy the PW-87 needs to be broken in extensively and the action needs to be polished.

For close ranges the accuracy is adequate for the PW-87. When shooting targets at distances up to approximately 15 yards the PW-87 can knock down steel competition targets just fine with Number 8 birdshot. When pushing to long distances such as 50 yards with slugs the PW-87 struggles, the bead sight isn’t user friendly when aiming at those distances and when Federal 1 ounce VitalShok Truball slugs are used, the shots tend to hit approximately 8 inches right of the point of aim.

For practical use the PW-87 falls a bit short compared to a pump action shotgun that is priced similarly. Original design flaws and rough craftsmanship make for a bad combination. While the shotgun can be loaded with up to 7 shells, it is difficult to load more than 2 shells at a time after the initial ammunition is expended. The action must be opened, and cannot be “topped off” as smoothly as a traditional pump shotgun. With the high bore axis there is plenty of felt recoil, and with higher powered loads it is much less forgiving especially without a rubber or leather butt-pad. Its rough fit and finish can lead to cuts on the user’s hands, and gloves are necessary to prevent those. The barrel must be clamped down by hand and the rest of the shotgun needs to be braced against the body to cycle relatively smoothly, with bare hands this process is extremely painful once the barrel gets hot. For larger framed users the short length-of pull is a problem, and for smaller framed users the rough action needs plenty of strength to cycle. If in a competition or defense situation, it might be better to bring a different shotgun. When the PW-87 is in use, one wonders if it would be useful to shoot targets with.

As a range toy the PW-87 is pretty fun, the lever action shotgun is pretty unique. If a large lever loop, a rubber or leather buttpad, and a leather for the forend is used, it could lead to a much better shooting experience. The PW-87 wouldn’t be that bad if the action is extensively polished and broken in. A neat gimmick that can be accomplished with the shotgun is the “spin cock” technique as seen in The Terminator 2 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, at the expense of pointing the shotgun right behind the user and flagging people at the range. It is not recommended to search for “spin cock technique” on the internet, as you wouldn’t be able to find results for shotgun spinning.

At the retail price of roughly $300-$400, a traditional pump action shotgun is much better. As a range toy it seems to be pretty fun as long as gloves are used and high-powered rounds are avoided.


Contributor with experience as a handgun instructor and US Army armorer. Fueled by meme magic.

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