Y stands for why? why? why did they make these POS? Just kidding. Some look down upon these later M-12's but some very good shooting has been done with these guns.
Even though they sound like a bad gravel road when working the action compared to most of the pre-64' guns. JMHO
The Letter Y was required by the 1968 gun control act, all firearms must have a serial number and a letter in the serial number. All model 12s that are known as Y models will have a serial number over 2 million. Guns that have a serial number under 2 million and a Y were produced after 1968. Guns with the serial number over 2 million have cast receivers and a different type of rib, personally I like Y models the best they tend to shoot a little higher, and I think better steel.
I own two pre 64s and two Y models. Some people look down on Y models but I am not one of them. The only real difference in a"Y" model and a pre 64 is the manufacture of the receiver. The later receivers were "pressed" using modern engineering processes instead of being machined from a solid block of steel. I had a Win. factory guy tell me they are actually stronger and less prone to fatigue than the older receivers. The Model 12 is a true work of art! Sadly the reintroduction of the model 12 in the early 70s was soon followed by the post Vietnam war recession and folks were reluctant to pay the extra money for the Model 12 leaving the door open for a huge market for the less expensive and already popular Rem. 870, which had been out selling the Model 12 since it's introduction in 1950. That coupled with the downsizing and bean counter crunch of the firearms manufacturing business spelled the doom of the production of the Model 12. Don't get me wrong! The Rem. 870 is a great gun and probably the most bang for the buck in a trap gun but, in pure craftsmanship and balance, nothing in the pump gun line can match the old Model 12! I firmly believe if they were still making them today they would still be selling them But, it would be at a much steeper price!
I have a few Model 12's, had a couple "Y" models also, they usually have a lot nicer wood on them ... The "Y" model are the latter years of production and had stamped versus milled recievers ... The pre 64 Model 12's would fan fire if you held the trigger and kept pumping until it was empty, the "Y" model would not unless they were worked on due to Federal guidelines (restrictions) .... I never did it but know of people who had the interupter worked on by some of the gunsmiths who would get the gravel road feeling (sound) out of them ... There is no such thing as a bad Model 12, just some better than others ... I got the "Pigeon" Model 12 out of the safe that I shot to the 27 yardline, probably start shooting it again in the future ... WPT ... (YAC) ...
Production costs had risen out of sight with the hand fitted pre '64 model 12's due to rising labor costs. Winchester Olin had two choices, either kill production altogether or reengineer production methods using less labor intensive modern technologies, they chose the latter ending up with a better stronger gun.
Most pre '64 model 12 guy's complain about the post '64 Y's because the action isn't as smooth as the hand fitted action bars on the early models, this is no big deal as the Y model can be made as smooth as the old guns with a little lapping compound and elbow grease on the stamped action bar.
Given a choice, I would always choose a Y model over a pre '64 they're just a better gun, right GR
I like Y Model 12s. They do not have the balance and smoothness of a 2-pin; however, they are smoother than most pre-64 field grade guns. Very nice examples of Y models can be found for decent prices. If you find one in good shape for a good price, don't scoff it, scoop it up and take it home. Early Y models, 1972 through about 1976, are buffed out and finished better. As they near the end of production in 1980 the buffing and wood gets sloppy. Had a NIB 1979 model a few years ago that looked like it had been buffed out on a course grinding wheel. The investment cast receivers never where a detractor to me. They do sometimes have a plum hue to them which was common with investment cast bluing at that time.
Okay, steel or iron? Winchester went to cast iron receivers post-64 for the Model 1894 after they found that the cast iron was less expensive and more durable than the steel. Offhandedly, I would imagine they would have opted for the same approach on the Y models.
I knew a gunsmith who was known in the area as a "model 12 man". He told me that the Y model 12's were actually over all a better gun. I asked him "if someone offered you a nib pre 64 model 12 and a nib Y model what gun you you take"? He said the pre 64. Enough said.