Hello....I am interested in getting a moderately priced Model 21 at some point, but I have very little knowledge about them...First are they fun to shoot and what to look for as far as being original, etc....to keep from making a bad buy? Thanks, WC
They are great guns but in my experience, they kick pretty good. Mine was a 30" single trigger, auto ejector field gun. The prices have gone up since I sold mine and there seems to be no shortage of them for sale in publications like Shooting Sportman and The Double Gun Journal.
I shot some of my best rounds and won some tournements when I was a kid with a 21 fine gun, however the new overunders are just as good and softer shooting just depends on what you want. More of a collectors item in my opinion.
Some would say...The Best American made SxS Ever..As for Moderately Priced...You Get What You PAY 4...with 21's...One should Look at Top Lever Postion along with barrel facing fit and Tightness....And be SURE to RING barrels for LOOSE Ribs...Any repairs on ribs will Blow your Budget WAY out the Water.
All of the Above are from Hands on Experience and Sadness...Other than that Shoot Well..Shoot Often
They are great guns, but light. Mine is set up for sporting, has Briley tubes, and I "enhanced" it a bit. 32" trap grade with Tom Smith wood and Bill Mains engravings. Re blued and trigger job by Giacomo.
The Model 21 mystique has gotten more than a few shotgunners in trouble.
You asked for advice and I am going to give it. Buy only from a truly reputable dealer with years of experience in Model 21s. Just because a dealer has a lot of Model 21s in his inventory does not make him reputable!
Like in Real Estate where location is all that matters, Originality of Condition is all that matters with 21s. If a M-21 has all of its original parts and dimensions and has been re-blued and had its wood refinished, it is still a Winchester but it has much less value than an all original gun. PROBLEM:not all novices are skilled in knowing the difference. Let me put it this way...a restored or reconfigured or reproduced M-21 is VERY, VERY easy to buy(there is one behind every tree)but they are VERY, VERY HARD to sell. A really nice all original M-21 has its own intrinsic value, dollar amount notwithstanding. It is arguably the finest shotgun ever built. Owning a clone may be OK for some folks, but it will make you miserable in a very short length of time.
M-21s were, in many cases, built to order and because of that you should be able to find one with the dimensions that will meet your needs, but that factor is going to make your search more exhausting. PROBLEM:if you buy an all original M-21 that doesn't fit and you have a custom buttstock installed, you will have destroyed both the intrinsic value and the original condition value.
From my experience, a Winchester Model-21 that fits and is in excellent original condition is a priceless shotgun and a thing of beauty that will give a lifetime's pleasure.
I've seen pictures of your Ithacas and I think you know a lot about collecting shotguns. I'm just guessing, but I'll bet if you were offered a completely original, unmolested Model 21 and a Model 21 with custom wood installed and the original set as a part of the deal, you would choose the former because you wouldn't have any question marks in your collector's mind about the "overall" veracity of the piece. It's kind of like archeology (and virgins):most of us want to be the first one into Nefertiti's Chamber.
Kit, The enhanced M-21's have their own market. Twice I've been offered more for my 21 than I have in it. There are a lot of people out there that don't want to mess with all the wood/engraving/choke/and trigger work, but they want a masterpiece. My 21 was a $4,800 plain-janer with 32" barrels when I bought her. After looking at many guns, non were stocked to fit (1 1/4" drop and 15 1/8"LOP) or had the POI, and although she was a "21", she was not a head turner.
So I elected to take her to the beauty shop.
She doesn't bite as bad as she use to, she shoots where I look, and I'm proud of her. And....she's not for sale. At the last large shoot I was at there were 5 enhanced 21's. No originals
They are notorius flat shooters in their original form, and usually short stocked and uncomfortable pitch. If you're gonna shoot it, might as well enjoy it.
I've never met a Model 21 that I didn't love. I've owned my fair share of them and was always able to sell them for more than I paid. When I was younger and had a little "walkin' money," I bought a nearly perfect straight stocked, checkered butt, 20-ga. Model 21 choked WS-1 and WS-2 from the original owner who ordered the gun per his specifications. It fit me like a glove and it had lines that would have made a grown man weap.
To me, the 21 is the greatest shotgun of all time. When Mr. Smith sold me his, I felt like I had ascended to a higher place. There were nights when I would wake up at 3:00AM and go to the closet, take out the case, and just look at that little gun. In no way do I mean to demean or besmirch any Model 21 in any way but that gun was my Nefertiti and I've never felt the same about a gun since then.
Your experience confirms that a 21 that fits isn't terribly unkind to either the cheek or the shoulder, thus a new stock makes all the sense in the world to the shotgunner who wants to use the gun all the time. My little 21 was a "special" gun to me for a number of reasons. I knew where it was born. I knew its Momma and Pappa. I knew where it had played and who it had played with and those things made it more valuable to me than any of my other M-21s. When the day came that I had to choose between it and food for my children, I cried like a baby.
Mine was un unshootable junker when I bought it for C$600 in 1978. I sent the metal to the Winchester custom shop who resoldered the bbls, rebuilt the triggers and reblued the whole lot. I had the origianl wood (which was so oil soaked it damn near dripped) duplicated in English Walnut by the Harry Lawson Co. of Tucson, AZ and then had it chequered in the factory pattern. Owned and shot it for 30 years and sold it for C$2500.....