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View Full Version : Should I hack up a Winchester 1897?


Edge
08-27-2009, 1:37 AM
I recently purchased a Winchester 1897 and found that it's too long for my stature. I guess that's a polite way of saying I bought a gun that was too big for my britches. Anyway, it's manufacture date is around 1916 and I really hate to do anything to alter it, but it's nearly useless to me right now. I would have to shorten the stock about an inch and the barrel maybe four inches to make it comfortable and useful as a home defense weapon.

Should I do it? I know that the 1897 is fairly common and not all that valuable, it's not like I'd be defacing a $1000 gun, but a part of me says you don't mess with a gun that old.

What do you all think?

SDgarrick
08-27-2009, 1:46 AM
I think you ought to let it be, If it doesn't work for you sell it and buy a model 12 or an 870. No need to hack up a piece of history just because it doesn't fit well. having said that, the trench sweeper 1897s are pretty badass, especially with the 20" barrel and barrel shroud.

thefifthspeed
08-27-2009, 1:57 AM
I think you ought to let it be, If it doesn't work for you sell it and buy a model 12 or an 870. No need to hack up a piece of history just because it doesn't fit well. having said that, the trench sweeper 1897s are pretty badass, especially with the 18" barrel and barrel shroud.

Spot on.

But end the end it's your property, just don't do something you'll regret later on down the road.

Asphodel
08-27-2009, 2:50 AM
Edge, there was a very recent 'thread' here about shortening the 97 to the factory 'riot gun' length........go search, have a look.

As to the stock, its highly probable that if you advertise here or on other gun-related sites, particularly the Winchester Collectors' site, someone who has an issue about 'originality' would 'jump at the chance' to trade you a 97 stock which has already been cut for a recoil pad, for your original stock.

Good quality re-makes of the original red Winchester logo rubber recoil pad are available 'off the shelf' from Brownells, and having one fitted to the stock would be relatively inexpensive if you haven't the ability to do it yourself.

Obviously, if the 'cut for pad' stock you get is still too long for you, with the pad, you can cut the stock a bit shorter til you get the 'feel' you prefer, with the new pad.

One minor nuisance is that 'cut for pad' stocks will sometimes be found with the cut done incorrectly. (I've re-done a couple which appeared to have been cut, off-angle, with a dull hand saw)

Cutting a stock for length is a simple table saw operation. Use masking-tape or similar tape at the cut location to minimise any splintering, and use a *very sharp* crosscut type blade, feeding slowly, 'delicately', and gently.

Set the mitre gage by placing the butt end of a factory un-cut stock against the rip-fence, to get the angle needed in that plane.

Since the stock isn't 'parallel', you will need to adjust the blade angle relative to the table, that is, tilt the blade a little if a tilting-arbour type of saw, or the table if a tilting-table type.

When cut, the cut should be at right angles to the centre-line of the stock. Check this by putting the cut surface on the table saw table, and placing a square on each side of the stock. The centre of the 'ring' configuration of the stock mounting to the receiver should be centred between the squares.

Matching the blade-to-table angle to an uncut stock will get you very close.....you may need to adjust blade or table angle by a degree or two for and 'shave' the wood slightly with another pass after checking the angle in that plane.

The reproduction pad, as supplied, won't be quite flat on the hard rubber surface which goes against the wood. Flatten it first with coarse, then medium fine emery paper on a good flat surface such as a surface plate or the table saw table, taking care not to let it 'rock' and create a radius. (I prefer to 'ease' the centre of the pad mounting area by a few thou, to have the pad bearing at its periphery.....say, 3/8" width, or so, of bearing area)

Drill as necessary, and fit the pad, using the regular butt-plate screws. Protect the wood with masking tape, and work the pad down even with the taped wood with a belt sander.

Now, for the 'tricky' part. Take the pad back off the wood, and go over it, polishing it down just 1/32nd" with the finest available grit of belt on the belt sander. The standard practice at the Winchester custom shop was to fit a pad so that the wood will be 1/64" to 1/32" 'proud' or 'high' relative to the receiver or buttplate.

(If you wonder as to the source of that info, George Madis told me so himself, some years ago)

cheers

Carla

Dr. Peter Venkman
08-27-2009, 3:04 AM
Hack up an original trench? No way! Sell it and get something that will fit you better. They aren't making anymore of them!

Asphodel
08-27-2009, 3:17 AM
Well, lets hope that the 97 he is talking about isn't an original 'trench gun' from WW1.

If he were to cut 4" or so from the original 20" barrel of one of those, it would be technically illegal, aside from foolishly destroying a piece of history.

cheers

Carla

a.tinkerer
08-27-2009, 7:59 AM
Sell it and buy a brand new mossberg or similar pump gun.
The gun you're talking about is a chore to handle compared to a hammerless gun and it won't take much shooting with modern high-energy shotgun ammunition.

You could get enough from it to buy a mossberg 500 and a pile of ammunition.



Cheers
Tinker

smle-man
08-27-2009, 8:18 AM
I recently purchased a Winchester 1897 and found that it's too long for my stature. I guess that's a polite way of saying I bought a gun that was too big for my britches. Anyway, it's manufacture date is around 1916 and I really hate to do anything to alter it, but it's nearly useless to me right now. I would have to shorten the stock about an inch and the barrel maybe four inches to make it comfortable and useful as a home defense weapon.

Should I do it? I know that the 1897 is fairly common and not all that valuable, it's not like I'd be defacing a $1000 gun, but a part of me says you don't mess with a gun that old.

What do you all think?


If it is a run of the mill 30" full choke worn finish standard grade 97 - there are a bunch of these around. They aren't particularly collectable or extremely valuable. If you are going to modify it, pay a professional to do it and then have fun with it.

Charlie Foxtrot
08-27-2009, 9:38 AM
.
Edge, you can get a very good Chinese IAC version of the Winchester 1897 with a 20 inch barrel for about $400. Many believe the modern metals, methods, and modifications make the "Chinchester" a superior shooter. I use one successfully in SASS competitions.

I'd never want to hack up a historical 1897 like the one you are lucky enough to have.

IMNSHO, I wouldn't want to use a '97 as a HD weapon. The modern 870s and 590s are orders of magnitude more reliable and capable.
.

Edge
08-27-2009, 10:22 AM
To clarify, this is a standard 30" (?) barrel 1897 in pretty good shape. I was thinking about getting a second barrel for it that I could shorten, but then the stock is still an issue. Maybe if I took off the recoil pad and used low-recoil loads?

Then again, I see these going on Gunbroker all the time for about the price I paid for it that have been modified...

I was originally thinking of a Mossberg 500, but I love the look of the wood stock and exposed hammer.

bohoki
08-27-2009, 10:30 AM
i say go ahead its your gun throw it in a lake as far a s i'm concerned anything you do to yours makes ever original go up un price a little

sigfan91
08-27-2009, 10:32 AM
I agree with Charlie Foxtrot. Put the original away, preferably a safe to protect a piece of history. Go to Big 5 and buy the Chinese copy of 1897 for less than $400. Hack it up however you want to make it work. Do not mess with old guns. They should be protected and cherished.

Charlie Foxtrot
08-27-2009, 9:39 PM
.
As a user of Win '97s, I've got one word for you if you are contemplating using it as a home defense weapon: DON'T.

As much as I love my '97 for SASS shooting, using it all these years has taught me that it is a fickle, temperamental, black-hearted, untrustworthy beast. It's absurdly easy to short-stroke the splattergun, and the amount of potential failure modes are ridiculously high. I've heard of long time '97 shooters turning their guns into tomato stakes or firewood.

When I get home from a match, the '97 goes into the safe, and I rely upon a modern pump shotgun for my self protection.
.

Spiggy
08-27-2009, 10:25 PM
.
As a user of Win '97s, I've got one word for you if you are contemplating using it as a home defense weapon: DON'T.

As much as I love my '97 for SASS shooting, using it all these years has taught me that it is a fickle, temperamental, black-hearted, untrustworthy beast. It's absurdly easy to short-stroke the splattergun, and the amount of potential failure modes are ridiculously high. I've heard of long time '97 shooters turning their guns into tomato stakes or firewood.

When I get home from a match, the '97 goes into the safe, and I rely upon a modern pump shotgun for my self protection.
.
+1 here

Even though I use a chi-com one for HD/SD ;)

midvalleyshooter
08-27-2009, 10:52 PM
Talk to the guys at River City Gun Exchange. They will point you to a smith to trim your 97. Have the stock fit to you and the barrel cut to your liking. It won't hurt the value one bit. 97's are still plentiful so there is no historical loss.

Keith

bplvr
08-30-2009, 11:06 PM
Before you cut up a Winnie ,cut your Johnson . In 20 years you would regret cutting the Winnie more. OK ,well maybe it will be a toss-up.

DONT!

Edge
08-31-2009, 12:39 AM
Before you cut up a Winnie ,cut your Johnson . In 20 years you would regret cutting the Winnie more. OK ,well maybe it will be a toss-up.

DONT!

:eek: My Johnson is already a Winnie! If I cut it I won't have anything left but a Stubbie!

I'm thinking of selling it and getting something more useful to me. I love the idea of collecting old Winchesters, I have a 1906 and an 1890 in WRF, but I shoot those. I'm sure I wouldn't shoot this 1897.

Richie Caketown
08-31-2009, 2:22 AM
No pics yet ?? wtf

cousinkix1953
08-31-2009, 3:24 AM
I think you ought to let it be, If it doesn't work for you sell it and buy a model 12 or an 870. No need to hack up a piece of history just because it doesn't fit well. having said that, the trench sweeper 1897s are pretty badass, especially with the 18" barrel and barrel shroud.
Sell the old Winchester model 1897 to a collector who appreciates it as an original firearm. Then buy yourself a Mossberg 500 for a lot less money. These use both 2 3/4 and 3 inch shells. Twenty inch barrels and 8 round magazines are made for them too. There are so many options available with the Mossberg 500 series. You won't have trouble getting a shortened buttstock either.
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/dc/Shotgun_Mossberg_590.jpg

See more pictures of the Mossberg 500 series here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mossberg_500

Edge
09-01-2009, 12:15 PM
[QUOTE=cousinkix1953;2996178]Sell the old Winchester model 1897 to a collector who appreciates it as an original firearm. Then buy yourself a Mossberg 500 for a lot less money. These use both 2 3/4 and 3 inch shells. Twenty inch barrels and 8 round magazines are made for them too. There are so many options available with the Mossberg 500 series. You won't have trouble getting a shortened buttstock either.

That's pretty much what I was thinking. But then again, I picked it up again the other day, and as long as I don't try putting my left hand on the pump, it doesn't feel all that bad.

Pics coming soon....

prob
09-01-2009, 12:31 PM
I agree with Charlie Foxtrot. Put the original away, preferably a safe to protect a piece of history. Go to Big 5 and buy the Chinese copy of 1897 for less than $400. Hack it up however you want to make it work. Do not mess with old guns. They should be protected and cherished.

I agree. Trust me, it never pays to cut up guns. Never.

5hundo
09-01-2009, 1:29 PM
I recently purchased a Winchester 1897 and found that it's too long for my stature. I guess that's a polite way of saying I bought a gun that was too big for my britches. Anyway, it's manufacture date is around 1916 and I really hate to do anything to alter it, but it's nearly useless to me right now. I would have to shorten the stock about an inch and the barrel maybe four inches to make it comfortable and useful as a home defense weapon.

Should I do it? I know that the 1897 is fairly common and not all that valuable, it's not like I'd be defacing a $1000 gun, but a part of me says you don't mess with a gun that old.

What do you all think?

No, I would not do that to an 1897...

What you could do, though, is get a spare barrel and stock on gunbroker (or ebay, or something...) and shorten them to your liking. That way, you have the pieces to make the shotgun original, and you'll be able to make it suit your purposes...

However, I think that the prvious suggestion of buying a Mosberg 500 is a better idea...

Argonaut
09-01-2009, 1:39 PM
My step son has a good (read not a collector) early M97 that has the barrel cut to 20"......good shooter, worn finish. He want's 450.00

Scout106
09-01-2009, 4:03 PM
Please don't.

cousinkix1953
09-01-2009, 11:56 PM
The Mossberg Defender will do everything he needs in a shotgun. Some dealers will sell them with an extra 28-30 barrel, in case the buyer also wants to hunt with the same weapon. It doesn't take a lot of extra tools to switch barrels and magazines either...

hawk81
09-02-2009, 5:53 PM
It's yours, do as you please.

Cranium
09-13-2009, 8:50 PM
As to the stock, its highly probable that if you advertise here or on other gun-related sites, particularly the Winchester Collectors' site, someone who has an issue about 'originality' would 'jump at the chance' to trade you a 97 stock which has already been cut for a recoil pad, for your original stock.



OK, I'm not a collector, just an oversized shooter... Can I be the first to jump?
Oh wait... Then what will I use to make my PG '97 a la Bullit?

Actually, not wishing to threadjack... Has anyone ever seen a PG available for the '97?