This week’s Gun of the Week, the Winchester 6500, brings back happy memories for Becky McKenzie.

Becky took her first ever shot with the Winchester 6500, and was instantly hooked!

I started shooting back in 2005, using my husband John’s Winchester 6500, a 12 gauge 30in fixed choke Sporter. This one was also left handed! I had only shot once before, many many years before with my dad. 

John took me down to our local ground at Sawley in Derbyshire, now known as East Midlands Clay Sports. Back in the day we knew it as ‘Bob’s’; then it was taken over by our good friend Glenn Buckley, and it’s now run by Clive Bramley of Doveridge Clay Sports. It’s a very small ground, with a couple of Skeet layouts, a DTL and a 50 bird Sporting, which may even be 75 now. That’s where I learnt to shoot.

The gun has a solid feel and despite relatively light weight has low perceived recoil

John bought his 6500 in 1984 and still has the cardboard box it came in! Back then Winchesters were made in the Kodensha plant in Japan. The predecessor to the 6500 was the famous Winchester 101, which had started production in the early 1960s. Back then many shooters felt that the 101 set the standard  that all other mid-priced factory made shotguns would be judged by.

The Winchester 101 remained in production for 20 years, ending around 1987. That wasn’t because there was anything wrong with this gun – it was truly superb. The 101 was followed by the 6500, and one of the last models to come off the production line in the Kodensha factory was the Model 6500 Sporter that we have here.

Back in the early 2000s when John bought this one, the 6500 cost around £750 new. Many shooters believed it was the finest handling Sporter of its time. It came in 28 and 30in barrel lengths, multichoked or fixed. John’s has fixed chokes of a quarter and half.

The wood on the 6500’s stock was considered rather plain and straight grained, built for strength and stamina. On our model the stock is factory left handed, and is rather a good looking bit of timber. She weighs in at just over 7lb 11oz.

It has a simple, plain, polished silver action, a small amount of engraving on the hinge pins, and the name ‘Winchester’ engraved underneath. The action is similar to the Super-Grade. We have never had any problems with this particular gun. It has stood up for many thousands of cartridges over the years, both clay shooting and game shooting alike.

My first experience with this gun was on the Skeet layout at East Midlands. I was somewhat nervous, expecting a loud bang and a good old thump in the shoulder! John taught me the correct way to hold it in my shoulder – obviously very important – called ‘pull’, closed my eyes and pulled the trigger. And do you know what, that clay broke! From that moment on, I was hooked on shooting.

The gun has fired many thousands of rounds with barely a hiccup

I shot this gun many times before I decided I wanted my own Winchester 6500, but with 28in barrel length. I travelled all the way down to Lampeter in Wales to fetch my very first gun. John warned me “Don’t bring it back if it doesn’t fit.” Oh it was coming back, and it would fit!

My 6500 had multichokes, and I bought a set of ported Teague chokes for it. I shot so many cartridges through this poor old thing that I had two ejectors snap on me, although John never had a problem with his 6500. I was very proud in 2006 to win my very first competition, just a small charity shoot, but I still won a trophy!

Shooting the 6500 back in the day was a lovely experience. The gun has a truly solid feel, and even though the guns I shoot today are considerably heavier, the old 6500 doesn’t have too much perceived recoil. It patterns just as well, if not better than some of its more modern family members.

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