Winchester Model 1897

Discussion in 'General Shotgun Discussion' started by jhawk73, Jul 1, 2010.

  1. jhawk73

    jhawk73 New Member

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    I inherited my father's 1897 12 Ga. The action is very interesting and unusual to me. however the barrel appears to have been sawn off at some point, either by my father or someone else. Does anyone know the barrel lengths that came in the 1897, and how they are measured to confirm it? I can't seem to locate a barrel from parts suppliers on the net. The gun is complete and in fair shape, I would like to put it back the way it was built. Any history or experience with this model would be greatly appreciated

    Thanks
    Jerry
     
  2. amoroque

    amoroque New Member

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    Last edited: Jul 1, 2010

  3. UnderFire

    UnderFire New Member

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    The Winchester model 1897 or model 97 or M97 are all the same shotgun with interchangable parts for that particular model. Just make sure chambering is the same for the shotgun you own. The civilian model was chambered in 12 and 16 gauge with 28" or 30" barrels. The M97 (military issue) had shorter barrels for the trenches. You have a great piece of American history there.Oh BTW the 97 (12ga) will only chamber 2 3/4" or small 12ga. shells. Don't attempt to use modern size 12ga. shells in it. Enjoy-
     
  4. UnderFire

    UnderFire New Member

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    The 20" barrel was standard on the M97, military issue only.
     
  5. jhawk73

    jhawk73 New Member

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    Thanks for the info all! The 1897 has sure been around. Glad to have it and hope to locate a barrel
     
  6. BillM

    BillM Active Member Supporter

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    It might also be a riot gun. Short barrel, no handguard or bayonet mount.
    Are there any markings on it that might indicate it was used by a police
    department, military guards, or a prison?

    How short is it? Cowboy action shooters use cut down 97's, there may be a market for your old barrel, or even a trade for a full length one.

    Is it a takedown or solid frame? (There is a joint just forward of the receiver
    on the takedown). That will make a BIG difference in how hard it is to fit the new barrel.

    How to measure: Measurement is from the front of the bolt with the action closed to the end of the muzzle. Drop a wooded dowel down the barrel until it hits the bolt face, mark at the muzzle, take out and measure.

    What's the serial number? (use x's for the last few numbers). With that you can find the year of manufacture.

    Try Gun Parts (Numrich) or maybe Jack First for a barrel.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2010
  7. steve666

    steve666 New Member

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    My original 97 Trench Gun mfg in 1911 has a barrel length of just 18"
     
  8. UnderFire

    UnderFire New Member

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    It could have...
    The M97 Military Issue will have an emblem on the receiver depicting it's use for military. There's other types of model 97s, it was widely used in it's era. Law Enforcement also used the model 97 with short barrels.

    Does yours have a military emblem on the receiver?
    I believe the M97 was used mostly in WWI.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2010
  9. jhawk73

    jhawk73 New Member

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    Thanks for all the info fellas, why i am fairly certain it is cut off is the fact that the barrel is not cut square and the end of the barrel is not chamfered by machine it looks like wear chamfered it and it is not blued. I am going to get it out and check for the markings you mentioned and for a serial number I will keep you all posted

    Thanks again
     
  10. 30-30remchester

    30-30remchester New Member

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    Hello UNDERFIRE in your statement above you warn against using modern sized ammo? The 2 3/4" shotshell is the standard shotshell used throughout the world. It is the most fired and reloaded round in the world by a vast margin, military use excluded. What do you consider modern sized? Are you one of those guys that like shotshells as long as a maidens leg? Anyway I have enjoyed your previous posts. As to barrel length of 1897 Winchesters I have never heard of a factory 18" (doesnt mean they dont exist its that after my fairly extensive reading I have never heard of this length). The 20" was avalable in cylinder bore, made both for the military and civilian markets. Improved cylinder barrels were 26" modified were 28" full were available 30" and 32". It is easy then to determine if it is original lenght. Measure your barrel and then check choke markings on the barrel. If it doesnt match the length for choke indicated then it has been shortened.
     
  11. 30-30remchester

    30-30remchester New Member

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    I need to clarify my above statement on barrel lengths and choke markings. I posted above from memory. My memory isnt near as good as it used to be, and it used to be terrible. Anyway after rereading my reference books the model 1897 had 4 lengths of barrels. Twenty inch riot and trench both cylinder choked, 26" cylinder bore "brush gun" 30" and 32" modified and full.
     
  12. BillM

    BillM Active Member Supporter

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    In 12 gauge, in the US, yes the 2 3/4" shell is the standard, and has been so for a LONG time, since before 1897.

    16 gauge is a different story. The more common shell before WWII was the
    2 9/16". Firing 2 3/4" in a 2 9/16" gun works, but has the potential for
    high pressures. I've got a 1913 16 ga '97 in the shop right now getting the
    chamber lengthened to 2 3/4".
     
  13. Hawg

    Hawg Active Member

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    Standard length until the 30's was 2 1/2 inches. There's plenty of original 97's around with 2 1/2 inch chambers.
     
  14. UnderFire

    UnderFire New Member

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    It was just a warning...
    Yes, the 2 3/4" 12ga. shell has been around for probably a century now. Before the 2 3/4" length, 12ga was 2 1/2" length (good luck finding that size). When using a vintage shotgun one needs to know that these model 97s are for low base or field loads only, not for high velocity ammo! high velocity ammo = modern shotshells
    Although 3" shells have been around for 40+ yrs. they should not be attempted to be used in this shotgun (Win. model 97) either.

    Don't get me started about 3 1/2" shells, because yeah that's my favorite load. So I guess I am "one of those guys that like shotshells as long as a maidens leg".
    I never stated there was an 18" barrel length for the model M97.
    steve666 did. I only agreed since he said he owns one, but I believe it would be more of a Law Enforcement model rather than the M97 military model. Either way there would be markings on the receiver depicting LE or GI.
    Actually, there is a 28" barrel for a civilian model 97. My experiences with reference books is that they don't give a full account of what is actually original equipment for a particular product from the past, but are more of a good basic reference.
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2010
  15. 30-30remchester

    30-30remchester New Member

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    UNDERFIRE while many people use these forums for "chest thumping, Im smarter than you are" ego trips, I view them for exchanging imformation. This leads many times into heated exchanges. This is not my thing. I learn much, but actually go on searches for more imfo on a particular subject. Your above posts about modern ammo doesnt ring true from my research. The 12 guage 2 3/4" and 3" were always loaded to a MAP of 11,500 psi, from my research. Does anyone have any other imfo? The model 1897 has been using modern ammo for many years. The 97 wasnt discontinued till 1957 well into modern times. The shorter shells werent standard till WWII, Winchester changed over to 2 3/4" in both 20 and 16 guages in 1926. I read a study once that was done in a labratory about using 3" shells in a gun chambered in 2 3/4" chambers. From my memory this didnt significantly increase pressures. This really shocked me. I wish I could remember where to find this data. I will agree that many reference books simply repeat others words. However I try to find the best imfo avaliable. I am not a very knowledgable 97 authority. However the barrel lenghts I quoted came directly fron The Winchester Book. Very little imfo was available on the 97's. Can you direct me to a site that states a 28" barrel? I always viewed any barrel length not listed in factory litrature as a cut gun. This is just MY OPINION. I have myself over the years cut off aftermarket choke devices thus leaving the barrels slightly shorter than standard.
     
  16. BillM

    BillM Active Member Supporter

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    Interesting. From my Blue Book of Gun Values, 30th edition: "The model
    1897 was the first Winchester shotgun chambered for 2 3/4" smokeless
    ammunition"

    Not saying they don't exist, but I've seen a few hundred 97's from
    pre 1900 through the mid 50's and I've never seen one marked 2 1/2".

    They MIGHT have done some 2 1/2" guns for export--the 2 1/2" 12 bore
    was a common upland gun in England. If they did it was very few--The English
    really liked their double guns.

    You have any documentation to back up your statement?
     
  17. Hawg

    Hawg Active Member

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    Bill thanks for making me do some research. I found I was mistaken on origin of 2 3/4 shells. They've been around longer than i thought. They were standard from the 30's on but even 4 inch shells were around at the turn of the century. The 97 came in 2 5/8 and 2 3/4 until 1929. You wont see a gun marked for 2 1/2 or 2 5/8 because they weren't marked until shell lengths were standardized.
     
  18. UnderFire

    UnderFire New Member

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    Not my intensions at all. Hoping we're just having a discussion.

    Not sure if I'm being misunderstood?
    2 3/4" high velocity is what I'm referring to
    when I mention modern ammo.

    I disagree with you about modern 2 3/4" high velocity ammo is ok to be used in vintage shotguns. 12 gauge magnums put 10 gauges on the decline because of compared performance. So I can't agree that the performance between 3" shotshell and 2 3/4" shotshell are the same. Also, that High Brass loads & Low Brass loads perform the same either. I disagree. Do you recommend Steel Shot load use in a vintage shotgun? Modern designed ammo applies more pressure to the barrel, action and more stress is placed on the muzzle. Vintage shotguns require a reduced pressure load.

    I don't advise the use of modern high velocity ammo in vintage shotguns.
    I've seen the adverse effects of it. This has been my experience. You say it's ok. If the OP decides to use modern high velocity ammo on a continuous basis in his vintage shotgun he should come back and talk about the damage that was done to his gun.

    Federal Ammunition has an ammo line for Vintage Shotguns just for this particular reason.


    The model 1897 was offered in a variety of models: Standard Field; Fancy; Standard Trap; Special Trap; Pigeon; Tournament; Brush; Riot & Trench Gun. This gun ran in production for many years. A 28" barrel was offered at a time for one of these models I listed above, but 1897 was before my time so maybe I'm just blowing smoke through this whole thread.
     
  19. 30-30remchester

    30-30remchester New Member

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    UNDERFIRE, and I have been having a discussion on modern HIGH VELOCITY ammo compared to low velocity ammo. It would be nice to hear from others on this subject. As I understand it High Velocity ammo is loaded to the very same pressure as standard trap loads. From my memory many of the standard mild trap loads are loaded to close to 11,000 psi. This is the same chamber pressure as the High Velocity ammo. Velocity doesnt matter at all in the wear on a gun. Chamber presssure is the culprit. Since the 12 guage 2 3/4" shells have always been loaded to 11,500 psi from its inception in the late 1890's I see no reason why they would be harmful to the 97's. You also need to remember the 97 is a John Browning designed block of milled steel. No plastic, stamped tin parts or potmetal castings. As to steel shot as I understand and practice, it is never ok to shoot steel shot in any older tight choked guns but not because of pressure problems but because steel cant compress like lead does when it goes through the choke. Steel will swell the end of the barrel of anything more constrictive than improved cylinder. Would others chime in?
     
  20. UnderFire

    UnderFire New Member

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    High Velocity vs. Low Velocity

    Standard Loads/Low Velocity keep chamber pressures down.

    The typical High Brass 12 gauge shell is the 3 3/4 dram 1 1/4 load traveling a 1,330 ft per second. In shotshells anything approaching or exceeding 1,300 fps. of muzzle velocity is very fast indeed. High velocity loads allow for longer ranges with more effective impact. They carry more energy. To reach these characteristics chamber pressure has to be increased. Increased powder means more noise and recoil as a side effect of high velocity loads.

    High Brass loads of the late 1800s & early 1900s should not be confused with today's high brass loads. 100+ years ago high brass hulls were required to keep the powder from burning through the base of the paper hull. A century+ ago did have it's heavier loads than the standard of that time, but those heavier loads can not be compared to today's High Velocity loads in any shape, form or fashion.