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M-99 Article

 

The Shotguns of Coyote Cap

by Captain George Baylor, SASS 24287 (Life)

 

          I’ve known Coyote Cap for several years and have used his gunsmithing services for three of my competition shotguns.  He is one of the premier Cowboy Action Shooting gunsmiths.  His Winchester ’97 work is legendary.  Additionally, I’ve known him well enough to know he’s a man of his word and a man of honor.  Sometime back his expertise in the Winchester ’97 came to the attention of the importers of Chinese-made ’97 clones.  He had been working on the first imported ‘97s, guns that came with many flaws.  This began a consultation that resulted in the production of some of the finest Cowboy Action Shooting shotguns on the market today.  He has made several trips to China and re-engineered virtually all of their shotguns, and he was critical in the development of their 1887 Winchester clone.  I could probably do an article on the saga of the development of these guns, with translation problems, a SARS epidemic, the loss of an importer, more translation problems, etc.  But let’s concentrate on the shotguns.  There are three basic types, coach guns, lever action guns, and pump guns:

The Classic Cowboy Shotguns:

          I call these two Classic Cowboy shotguns because Classic Cowboy requires either a hammer double, or a 1887 lever gun. Cap sells two excellent shotguns for Classic Cowboy, the 1887 wse-18 Coach Gun, and the 1887wcse-18 lever action shotgun.

          Additionally the black powder categories don’t allow 1897 pump shotguns, so these look inviting for those categories, too.

1887 wse 18 Coach Gun

          Cap’s website gives a good description:

          “I completely re-designed the model 99 double barreled shotgun, specially to my specifications as a full blown competition shotgun for use in Classic Cowboy or Frontier Cartridge category in SASS events.  Every one of these new shotguns have my re-designed and MUCH taller hammers, lower opening levers, (that clear the right hammer), much shorter (real coach gun) barrels, re-designed Sporting clays recoil pads, (turned down 4-degrees neg. for CAS). Really nice American walnut stocks, (from Missouri), a very large (brass) #4 front sight bead and chambers which are deliberately (and very slightly) larger than 12 gauge, (more like an 11-7/8 ga.,) to make sure even the black powder spent hulls come flying out, every time.

          “Additionally, and of good news to the Cowboy Action community, is that the troublesome cross-frame safety on the old model 99's has been eliminated on these new 1887wse-18 coach guns! 

          “These new "Coach guns" have a re-designed manual tang safety, coupled with a newly designed factory tuned rebound spring set-up, that operates as an automatic safety device on each barrel. The only way these guns can fire is if the triggers are deliberately pulled, because my new automatic safety will stop the hammer at half-cock, should your thump accidentally slip off the hammer.”

          The shotgun sent for testing lived up to all the claims.  It was competition ready out of the box.  It was easy opening.  I’m left-handed, and all doubles are designed for a right-handed shooter.  Opening the gun is much easier with the right hand due to basic anatomy.  Squeezing your thumb toward your forefinger exerts more force than you can exert pushing your thumb away from your forefinger.  You’re using more muscles.  Thus a stiff lever is a real problem to left-handed people as well as women, children, guys with arthritis or repetitive motion injuries, and big, strong guys who want to be able to flick the shotgun open as quickly as possible.  This one passed my test.  I could operate it quickly.  Cocking the hammers, either by sweeping the heel of the hand rearward in one motion or cocking one hammer as the shotgun is opened and the empties ejected and the other as the new rounds are inserted, the gun closed and swung onto target, was easy and sure.  I didn’t put a trigger pull gauge to the triggers, but they were light and crisp.

          I fired several black powder loads at spring-loaded knockdown targets.  These required less work than true knockdowns since they were self-resetting.  I’m of the opinion that all SASS shotgun targets should eventually become true knockdowns, though, just to stop the bickering.  “I didn’t see enough orange.”  “You barely moved that one.  I’m calling it a miss.”  “Your load bounced off the center of the target, and it didn’t move much.”  “Whine, bicker, nitpick.”  Up is up.  Down is down.  Jeez.

          But they made good targets for the test.  These went down when the bead was on the target and my cheek was on the weapon properly.  It always shucked empties easily, even after several boxes of shooting BP and BP subs without chamber cleaning.  In a real match I clean the chamber after EVERY stage.

          The gun is HEAVY.  The reason is everything is heck for stout.  With the recoil pad and extended forcing cones and the weight it also soaks up a great deal of recoil.  So If your club “forgets” to oil its knockdown hinges and you need the 70 gr. BP 1-1/4 oz. loads to take down knockdowns, you might not be comfortable, but you shouldn’t end up bruised.

          It was also fitted with both hold open modifications offered.  Again, I’ll let Cap describe it: “1). With our new "Double Lock", the action can be locked in the full open position, to allow you to pick the shotgun up by it's barrels without the action closing up on you. When the action closes up on you, this is causing you lost time, by having to re-open the action before you can throw two shells in, when you should have been reaching for your shells in your belt during that time. 

          “The ‘Double Lock’ lock-up modification can save you about two seconds each time you have to pick it up from the vertical position, load it quickly, fire it and re-load it because the barrels are held open.

          “Unless you are a “Top Gun” shooter, then two seconds saved per stage is not a big deal, what is a big deal is saving as much as 20-30 seconds total time, in a (12) stage match.

          I’ve had this modification on my Stoeger Coach Gun for some time. When you tap the lever, the gun opens and locks open.  Insert rounds, and, as you’re coming up on target, tap the lever, and slam the gun closed.  It has helped me immensely.  Sometimes the gun must be staged in a manner that makes it easy for the gun to close up as you acquire it.  Sometimes it’ll close as you’re moving from one spot to another.  This solves it.  It takes some getting used to.  Not every shooter likes it.  No problem.  It’s a $40 option on this gun.

          “(2). The second lock-up (now Standard equipment with each gun) I invented specifically to help prevent damage to your guns while being transported inside your upright gun-cart. SASS rules state your long guns must be open while in your gun-cart.  What my 7/8th (closed) lock-up does, is to hold the barrels of your double in a slightly open position, so everyone can see the barrels are open, but the shotgun sits almost straight upright in your gun-cart, not swinging back and forth, banging into the other guns.

          “The operation of this second lock-up does not effect the operation of the opening and closing of the barrels. The modification is designed to allow the horizontal bolt to override the lock-up as the barrels are being closed. You will not notice it is even there, (except for the audible "Click" heard as the horizontal bolt slides over the 7/8th lock-up). Open the barrels very slowly and the gun will go into 7/8th lock-up and remain there until the opening lever is thumbed to the right.”

          This is an idea I like.  Designing a gun cart to carry a double fully open in a vertical position is a complicating factor, and most new gun cart designers have been bitten by it.  But with the gun barely open it fits right alongside your Winchester ’73.  On the other hand, I would expect to be challenged every time I showed up at a new place with it, and, at some places I shoot, every shoot.  Of course tapping the lever would allow the gun to open completely to silence the critic unwilling or unable to see that the gun does, indeed, have its chamber slightly open.  Scratch that.  There are critics who cannot be silenced, and confusing them with the truth is dangerous.  If you meet one, just open the lever and move on.

Conclusion, 1887 wse 18 Coachgun:

          This is a Classic Cowboy or BP category shotgun ready to go out of the box and as competitive as you are.  At $399.95 (+$40 for the lock-open mod), it’s well priced.

          Additionally, Jeff Cooper has long stated that a hammer double is the ideal home defense shotgun since it can be kept loaded and hammers down, requiring only cocking the hammers to bring it into action.  This would fulfill that role if needed and would be considerably more politically correct if held up by the prosecutor at your trial for shooting an innocent serial rapist who was misunderstood by society and only wanted a little love—and your head in his refrigerator.  A friend of mine, a pharmacist who had to repel boarders twice used a Dirty Harry .44 once and spent a lot of money defending himself.  The next time he used a double, and the Grand Jury no-billed him easily.

 

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