The Winchester 101 Field – Initial Thoughts

Winchester 101 Field Over/Under Shotgun
Winchester 101 Field Over/Under Shotgun

It’s been a long time coming.  I have been looking at over/under shotguns for quite a long time, all the while, pinching pennies and biding my time. In that several year period, I had too much time to gawk, lust, fondle and sometimes even shoot different guns. I finally pulled the trigger (pun intended) on the new Winchester 101 Field and I couldn’t be happier with my decision.

Several friends asked the question, “Why the new Winchester 101 Field?”

I thought that was a pretty good question, and although I plan on writing a more extensive review somewhere down the road to help others who are looking at the Winchester 101, here are some of the reasons that led me to my decision to buy the Winchester 101 Field Over/Under Shotgun.

Winchester 101 Field
Winchester 101 Field

 

Preface – My needs

I am under no illusion that every hunter is the same and even more specifically that everyone looking to buy an over/under shotgun is the same. I am a pretty normal guy who likes to get out, walk around, and find quail. Often times, the terrain that I am in can be pretty brutal on my body and on my gun. I wanted a hearty, stout field gun, that looked nice, built like a rock, and at the end of the day, I would not have to baby. Now please don’t get me wrong, spending this kind of money on anything, means that I am going to take care of it, but I like to use my hunting and fishing equipment, not just look at it. My price range was in that $800-1,200 which put me in the position of buying a lower-mid range “new” gun or buying a higher quality used gun. You can easily get a payday loan for benefits on $1,000 or more and while the payment can take around 3 days or so to get delivered to you, some providers even offer the express payment option so that you can get the payment within one single day.

Here are some of the things that stood out to me and ultimate pushed me to the Winchester 101 Field Over/Under Shotgun:

1. Made by FN – The new Winchester 101 shotguns are being made in Belgium. FN Hertal has a history of high quality gun manufacturing since the late 1800s.

2. Quality walnut stock and forend – Although their are finer pieces out there, the Winchester 101 is definitely the finest gun in my safe.

3. Interchangeable chokes – I liked the idea of interchangeable chokes, ready to go out of the box.

Winchester 101 Field
Winchester 101 Field

4. It fit me – I’m not a qualified gun fitter. Neither was the guy behind the counter. Having said that, I mounted a bunch of shotguns up to my shoulder with my eyes closed and opened my eyes. On the Winchester 101 when I opened my eyes, I was consistantly looking down the vent at the bead on the end. Again, not a professional, but I felt comfortable with the gun and the fit.

5. Price – My price range was in that $800-1,200 which put me in the position of buying a lower-mid range “new” gun or buying a higher quality used gun. I felt like the FN built Winchester split the difference. The FN name and reputation is extremely strong while the “new” 101 hasn’t picked up that Browning price tag yet.

6. 12 gauge – I like hunting, but I also like to eat. In my opinion, the 12 gauge is a better gauge for me because I feel like I bag more birds. It also has unlimited possibilities for other quarry. Ammunition is also readily available

7. Overall weight- At 7.2 pounds, the Winchester is not the lightest shotgun on the market. In my case though, I was already toting my 870 which is about the same weight. I hemmed and hawed about finding something in 20 gauge, just so it would be lighter. I eventually grew a pair and decided I could mange to carry 7 pounds around.

 

After a couple times out for dove and several rounds of clays, I really feel like I made the right decision. The Winchester 101 Field is a beautiful gun with a solid feel to it. I’m looking forward to quail season and really putting it to the test.

WingWorks Upland Vest and Winchester 101 Field Over/Under
The WingWorks Upland Vest and Winchester 101 Field Over/Under: The perfect match for a day of breaking clays.

 

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56 Responses to “The Winchester 101 Field – Initial Thoughts”

  1. DJ

    Thanks Ben. I’m in the market for a double gun now so your timing is spot on for me. Are the barrels built for steel shot? That’s a consideration of mine since I’d like to hunt for the next fifty years and it looks like that’s where we are headed.

    Reply
  2. Steve Z

    There’s something about an O/U that just seems right when out in the field after birds. Congrats on the purchase.

    Reply
    • azwanderings

      Thanks Steve. I couldn’t agree more. I’m looking forward to that first covey rise.

      Ben

      Reply
  3. Joel Wagner

    Nice write-up, Ben. I’m glad to see you like it so far. I’ve also been considering a 101. Great website. I’ve been enjoying your reviews for a while now since “A” turned me on to your site.

    Joel

    Reply
  4. Sparty

    Ben, What kind of choke set-up do you use. Improved cyl with second barrel with Improved modified or full. Usually quail hunt with my Benelli autoloader, having said that can probably count one one hand the times that I have bagged a bird with the 3rd shot. Selective barrel feature is definately a plus with O/U.

    Thanks,
    John

    Reply
    • azwanderings

      John. I have mine set up just like you said, improved and a modified choke. I definitely noticed the difference when dove hunting and felt I shot a bit better than usual. But you are exactly right, that third shot can come in handy sometimes.

      Ben

      Reply
  5. Mike

    I’m looking at the 101 Field myself for exactly the same reasons. I’m also currently toting an 870.

    It’s been a couple months since you shared your initial thoughts. Anything else you can tell us now that you’ve had it for awhile?

    Reply
    • azwanderings

      Great to hear from you Mike. Nothing really new to add other than that I really like it. I am 100% happy with my purchase and feel that I made the right decision. I’ve probably put between 3-400 shells through it between clays and getting out about every weekend for quail without any issues. Time will tell how it continues to perform, but I have no reservations about it. It mounts and swings really nicely. It’s definitely the nicest gun that I own so I’m pretty careful with it, although with all the use it gets, it definitely won’t be a safe queen.

      Keep me posted on your decision. I’d be interested to hear what you think. If I can answer anything specific, let me know.

      Ben

      Reply
  6. yourcousin

    I grew with my dad toting a 101, for my brother and I it was “the gun”. When I decided it time to get “serious” ie stopped half assing things and bumming one of my dad’s multiple shotguns or using my 30″ bolt action 20 gauge which is older than I am the 101 was what I wanted. Though obviously with a recession in full swing I decided I would buy a more practical Mossberg auto or some such nonsense. My dad would have none of it since it was in his will that I got a 101 when he died he surprised me with a new 26″ barrel 101 (perfect for grouse here in CO).

    So that was a longed winded preface for my question. Comparing the new 101 to the old 101 the trigger guard is about half inch further back which means that when I shoot the new 101 if I’m not careful the trigger guard rests against the middle finger and hurts like hell after a full day of shooting. After opening weekend in Kansas my dad’s finger was purple and bruised. Just a question to see if you experienced anything similar.

    Reply
    • azwanderings

      Nice to hear from you. I haven’t had that issue. What might have helped me out was that I bought the 101 prior to the season and it’s the only gun I’ve shot for the past several months. I’ve gotten pretty used to it and am feeling pretty comfortable with it.

      Sorry to hear about your finger. Do you think it’s something that you’ll get used to?

      Ben

      Reply
  7. yourcousin

    For me I just pay attention and keep my hand further back on the stock, but my dad is taking his to a gun smith to get his modified ( I should note that my dad used the opportunity of getting me a new 101 to get himself a new 101 as well hence he also has the same problem with the trigger guard).

    Reply
    • azwanderings

      Sounds good. Other than the trigger guard, what do you think of the new 101 overall compared with the older model?

      Ben

      Reply
  8. yourcousin

    You know the main thing is just the “newness” of it as compared to the old 101. It doesn’t just fall open with the ease and smoothness of the old 101 even when oiled, which to be expected as it will be the last gun I ever own unless I somehow get rich enough to start acquiring multiple guns (which would be nice but not expected). I suppose it’s like a Filson tin cloth garment since it is built for a life time so it is natural that it takes some time for it to get broken in.

    Like I said, for me this is the gun that represents an upland hunting tradition that I cherish. The walnut and steel are synonymous with open Kansas plains and logging roads draped in falling aspen leaves so I am very happy with my 101 and am glad to see a quality O/U get some good press.

    Reply
    • azwanderings

      “for me this is the gun that represents an upland hunting tradition that I cherish. The walnut and steel are synonymous with open Kansas plains and logging roads draped in falling aspen leaves”

      Well said. Sounds like we are on the same page for sure. Thanks for the comment.

      Ben

      Reply
  9. David

    Greetings Ben,

    Regarding your Winchester-101, field O/U – FN. I’ve looked everyplace for a shot gun like yours. What year was it made or what year was it first featured in a Winchester catalog? The only O/U field grade-101 that I can find all have a high-gloss shinny finish, a metal pistol grip plate and a white liner thing on the recoil pad. I want one like yours – but cant find any with that satin finish stock and wood pistol grip. Thanks for any information you may offer.

    David
    California

    Reply
  10. ron loomis

    I just picked up my 101 today. I have been looking around at o/u’s for a year because my 14 year old son has latched onto my sx3. I was never seriously looking at otbers but did do my research and keept it in the winchester line. Cant wait to get to the range and hopefully one more trip for pheasants.

    Reply
    • azwanderings

      Ron,

      I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. I really enjoy shooting my 101 and after 2 years of hunting with it, I know I made the right decision. Best of luck in the field.

      Ben

      Reply
  11. John foster

    Recently found your blog and enjoy your postings on quail and trout greatly.
    I appreciate the thoughtful and unbiased reviews. I prefer the 20ga. With the 1oz load, however the 1 1/8 and 1 1/4oz loads of the 12ga. definately give you the confidence that makes all the difference sometimes. Enjoy you Winchester

    Reply
  12. Eph Martin

    I have a 101 Trap. The bottom barrel shoots 8 inches high at 40 yards and the top barrel is dead on at 40 yards. Its a good shotgun for $2000

    Reply
  13. David T

    I have a question for y’all. I just bought my first 101 and brought it home, cleaned it and checked it out. When I dry-fired it after, only one cylinder would fire, is this normal? Does it need to be loaded to fire both without re-cocking? Just want to make sure I don’t have a defective weapon before going to the range.

    Reply
    • azwanderings

      David,

      That’s normal. The 101 will only shoot one barrel at a time. With live shells, the force/recoil of the first shot “sets” the trigger up for the second barrel. Definitely read up on your user manual and get to know the shotgun. It’s a great gun and I know you’ll get lots of mileage out of it.

      Ben

      Reply
      • David T

        Thanks for the quick reply Ben. A group of us hunt in Maryland each year, Quail, Geese and sometimes ducks. Been doing this for many years. I had a semi-auto for geese/ducks and an old side-by-side for quail but when the semi-auto failed, I wanted something with less moving parts and the 101 had not only your recommendation but several others as well.

        Reply
  14. Steve Hodges

    Great blog!! I am presently trying to decide between a NIB 101 and a Browning Citori 725. The 101 is almost $1K less expensive, but finding reviews from real users is hard to do. You have a lot of nay sayers on the various shotgun sites who do not like the gun but seem to have a blind love for the B guns. From reading your experiences I think I will order the 101, thanks, Steve

    Reply
    • azwanderings

      Steve,

      Great to hear from you and glad my review was helpful. I’m happy to share my humble thoughts and experiences on the 101. Best of luck and let me know what you think.

      Ben

      Reply
  15. David

    Hello,
    Two weeks ago I bought a new Win. 101 from Cabela’s. The next day I was doing some mounting drills and I noticed that when I raise it to my shoulder, I feel something moving in the trigger area and hear a slight clicking sound. Any thoughts on this situation? I contacted Win., but they claimed it was nothing to be concerned about. Thanks for any help you can offer!

    Reply
    • azwanderings

      Wish I could help David. I’d recommend taking it to Cabelas or a gunsmith for a more intense inspection of the gun. Best of luck.

      Ben

      Reply
  16. David

    I have a few friends that are competitive skeet shooters. I built a skeet range on my land so I could shoot often, and without much time expended getting to and from the shoot. I have a bunch of nice shotguns but recently bought an FN Winchester 101 with Invector Plus chokes, I like what I read about the back bored barrel, and am waiting for cooler weather before I start shooting again. It’s too bloody hot now. My friends all shoot Kolar shotguns. They are certainly a high quality gun, and have nice features. However I seriously doubt that (beyond fit & finish) the Kolar offers anything that I don’t have in the 101. They have adjustable comb and butt plate. However I am one of the lucky Americans who shotguns fit well.

    I’d love to hear from owners of Kolar or Krieghoff that would like to tell me why the higher priced gun shoots better.

    Confused but enjoying the game.

    Reply
  17. Steve Hodges

    Its all about gun fit and the shooters skills and not the gun. Last night I was at the trap range shooting. One guy in my squad was shooting a 1895 Parker 12 Gauge with Damascus Barrels. He shot a perfect 25. Another guy was shooting a $6K CG trap gun. He shot a 21. So much for shotgun development in the last 110 years!

    Reply
  18. Robert Lamparski

    Thank You again for the Great review. I finally got the my new 101 the range to bust some clays. The 101 performed effortlessly in its duties. I utilized the modified under the improved cylinder. If you are in the market for a high quality O/U shotgun the 101 is a must have! Bass Pro has three left!

    Reply
  19. Colin

    I am considering a 101 but have not justified the extra $500 from the Stoeger Condor. I do not hunt, yet, so this is just a clay sports gun for me one or two times a month. Do you have any opinion on this? I am also wondering what your shot count is after this time. Thanks C

    Reply
  20. Christopher

    After much searching I too came across the 101 field on sale at Bass Pro. I couldn’t be happier with my decision. Since you’ve had yours for some time now, how is it holding up? Have you had any shells fail to eject or fire? Does it still lock up tight, and has the action lever become a bit easier to work?

    Reply
    • azwanderings

      Great to hear Christopher. My 101 has held up great. No problems with shells ejecting or firing. The action has loosened a little bit with time but is still solid. It doesn’t fall open but isn’t so tight that it takes much force. I hope that helps. Best of luck this season with the new shotgun.

      Ben

      Reply
      • Christopher

        Thanks for the update Ben! Great to hear its holding up well. Makes me feel better. Have a good season too, BTW great site!!

        Chris

        Reply
  21. Eric

    Does the Winchester 101 ultimate field come with automatic ejectors?

    Reply
    • azwanderings

      Eric,

      Thanks for the comment. I bought my Winchester 101 Field at Cabelas and it does have ejectors. A quick google search leads me to believe that the “ultimate” model you’re talking about is sold at Bass Pro. If I had to guess, I’d say that it does have ejectors. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help. Good luck in your purchase.

      Ben

      Reply
  22. Guy C

    I just bought a 101 Competition at Bass Pro. I have shot skeet but this is the first O/U I have owned. I will mostly use it for Sporting Clays and Skeet (I am too old to be a real competitor) and maybe upland game birds despite the length (30″). It is new and the lever is stiff and so is the hinge stiff-opening and closing. I used O/Us for skeet before; Browning’s and Berettas; but they were club guns and well broken in. What can I do to make the action easier? I suspect it is all about lubing correctly and use. Please help.

    Reply
    • azwanderings

      Congrats on the new shotgun Guy. The action on mine was pretty stiff in the beginning. And you’re right. After two seasons of hard use it has loosened up a bit. The action won’t fall open on mine, but it’s definitely not as stiff as it was. I’m a bit of a nut and clean it after most hunts. I always put a bit of grease on the hing points after I clean it.

      Best of luck in the field. Take care.

      Ben

      Reply
  23. Chuck

    Great article! I was very close to going with the win 101, but instead went second hand. Beautiful gun, love the figure of the wood. Side question, what kind of pack are you using? Looks pretty great. let me know. Thanks!

    Reply
  24. Drlib

    Hi just read all this, great read thanks. Just pick up a 101 Field for $650.00 with box 3 chokes and 250 shells. was use less than 100 rounds. Cleaned and oiled it up and looks like new. How’s your still holding up?

    Reply
    • azwanderings

      Thanks. My 101 is holding up great. It’s been a great purchase and I’m looking forward to passing it on to my kids one day.

      Ben

      Reply
  25. Carl Fiorletta

    Thanks for all your input on the 101.
    FedEx tells me that my 101 Pidgeon Trap will arrive at my FFL tomorrow.
    Looking forward to picking it up. The 101 got on my bucket list when I was in college, but couldn’t afford it then. Did a lot of trap shooting in Dallas and Chicago with an 870 trap. Then came kids, etc. Just now getting back to shooting, after MANY birthdays and 6 grandkids. Maybe one of them will end up with tomorrow’s 101.

    Thanks again for all your input.

    Reply
    • azwanderings

      Right on Carl. I hope you enjoy the 101 as much as I do. Take care.

      Ben

      Reply
  26. Casey

    Ben, Thanks for the review of the Winchester 101. I came to Yuma, Arizona in 1985 when I was in the Marines. I could hunt dove and a few quail ten minutes from my front door. Then ducks and a big bass….well I was hooked. Still here in 2018. Great to see your site. Seems we have to work harder for quail these days.

    Reply
    • azwanderings

      Thanks Casey. It’s a solid shotgun and one I look forward to handing down to my kids someday. Thanks for the kind words.

      Ben

      Reply
  27. Chris Penland

    I’ve been researching these new Winchester 101s in 30” Ultimate Sporting that appears available exclusively at Bass Pro and came across your review and experiences with the Field model. After 5 years from your original post, how is yours holding up. Any new observations on how the gun is doing from field use? Are you still happy with the decision to buy it? I’ve gotten into mostly sporting clays, some skeet and some five stand. Every few years – a quail, chukkar and pheasant hunt, but I use a 20 gauge for that to minimize damage to the meat. With clay games, I need all the pellets I can use, lol. Your original reasons for buying the 101 are inline with my own. How does the gun pattern? I know the 30” barrels will more than likely perform differently, but I’m curious. I’m also trying to figure out what the differences are from the Field and Sporting – besides the 30” barrels.

    Thanks,
    Chris

    Reply
    • azwanderings

      No real new observations. The gun is seeing its fifth season. Its seen its fair bit of rough country for quail, grouse, and dove here in Arizona, and I use it for a sporting clays a couple times a year. Any of the bird hunting posts on my website will typically have a shot of the 101. I don’t baby it in the field, so theirs a few handling marks on the wood and the blueing is starting to wear where I carry it. The action is still solid and the gun always always gets leaned before going in the safe. I’m still very happy with my decision to buy it. It’s a really solid gun that fits me extremely well and subsequently, I shoot it fairly well. I don’t plan on ever selling this gun. I’d like to hand it down to one of my kids someday. Having said that, I’ve been thinking of picking up a lighter SXS or O/U in 20 gauge, if I can find something I like and that fits me well.
      As far as patterning, I shot it at paper when I first bought it, but honestly can’t remember what it looked like. I shoot it with the improved and modified chokes and feel it shoots true. I’m not too sure about the differences between the Field and the Sporting. If the Field is anything like the Sporting, I’m confident it will serve you well. Feel free to let me know if I can answer any other questions and I hoped what I offered helped a bit. Keep me posted on what you decide. Thanks.

      Ben

      Reply
  28. Guy C

    Chris,
    As you can see I also purchased the shotgun you are looking at and asking about. I would recommend it for the sporting clays. It is a competition gun. One thing you may want to look at is fit, I put a stretchable sleeve on the butt to get the right set. If you are looking at hunting, regardless of the gauge you prefer (I like a 20 too for smaller birds but a 12 for larger birds and small game) I would highly recommend the gun that Ben has. I believe that for field birds and walking down small game, there’s nothing like an o/u and the Winchester is both affordable and not so fragile you don’t want to take it out. Good luck. Ben, by the way, I worked the action with lube in the proper places and it does get easier, it just takes a while. Thanks.

    Reply
  29. Dan Waud

    Just about to make the plunge to buy my first o/u. Your article has convinced me to shoot turkeys with a gun from Belgium. I have hunted with an SBE for years. Thanks for the continuing 5 year discussion. So much more useful and more real than the gun editor one and done.

    Reply
    • azwanderings

      Thanks for the kind words Dan and I’m glad that this post continues to help others. Best of luck and keep me updated on your turkey hunt. Take care.

      Ben

      Reply

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