View Full Version : Winchester 97 questions

12-07-2005, 7:41 AM
Just received my Winchester 1897 12ga. Made around 1908, "D" Takedown model. It's definitely not a collector, so I want to use it as a shooter. Hammer is an obvious replacement as well as that link from the forearm to the receiver, but the bore is real clean and shiny. I just bought a Norinco stock set to replace the cracked and well worn set that's currently on it.

General questions:

1) What kind of ammo to use (2.75" or 2.5")?
2) How loose is too loose for the barrel (takedown). When assembled, it takes about 10 pounds of pressure from my thumb to wiggle the barrel in the receiver. Good enough?
3) Is there something I can do to make it tighter?
4) What are the operational checks I should perform on it before I shoot it? I don't want to blow up the 97 nor myself.



12-07-2005, 2:47 PM
It should have an adjustment for barrel tightness...look on the front lower part of the receiver.


12-17-2005, 1:36 AM
it should be 2.75" (mine is)
Two things to check out.
1) make sure the gun is NOT a damascus barrel, very important, you don't want to fire modern ammo down a damascus barrel. Some of the early 97s are this way and it is really dangerous. Basicly look at the barrel and look for a twist pattern in teh steel of the barrel.
2)as long as the bolt closes securley and there isn't too much play in the barrel it should be fine as shotgun pressures are relativley low.

Don't take the barrel on and off frequently or it will continue to loosen the tolerances. If you have even a shade of a doubt about the gun take it to a gunsmith to have it looked over.

12-17-2005, 10:49 AM
I also have a model 97 inbound.... do you adjust barrel fit the same way that it is done on a model 12???

12-19-2005, 9:27 AM
I'll check the barrel, but as far as I can see, it's a smooth bore barrel.

The barrel tightened up well. I downloaded a parts diagram and was able to figure out how to tighten up my takedown barrel. I also took out a dent in the magazine tube.

The stock kit from Ivanhoe's worked out well. The forearm is a different color than the stock though (darker). I shortened the stock about 1.75", ground down the plastic buttplate to fit.

Haven't shot it yet, but everything is nice and tight.

Any markings on a "Damascus" barrel? My barrel does not have any rifling what-so-ever (smoothbore).



12-19-2005, 9:33 AM
It's not actually rifling. The actual metal of the barrel is swirled. It's an old process they used to use to make the barrels The bore itself is smooth but you can faintly see twists in the metal itself. It should be fairly obvious if you have it.

here's a link to a REALLY obvious example

you would notice if you had it, so you should be all good. Most people that see them that don't know they are damascus barrels complain that their bluing is rubbing off in a weird way or something along those lines =).

Also, if you're concerned about the diferent colors you should be able to find unfinished furniture for it on someplace like brownells or natchez or someplace like that.

12-19-2005, 9:41 AM
The barrel is damascus.. I have been warned by people not to shoot steel shot throough it.. The later barrels are marked "nickel steel" and are a little stronger...:D

Mssr. Eleganté
12-19-2005, 11:46 PM
If the barrel is damascus, then you shouldn't shoot anything through it.

I think the three areas of shotgun barrel lore are getting mixed up in this discussion.

Damascus vs. Fluid Steel
Black Powder vs. Nitro Proofed
Lead rated vs. Steel Rated

Damascus barrels could be made very strong, but because of the way they are made they have a tendancy to rust from the inside out. They can look perfectly fine on the outside of the barrel and have a shiney as new bore, but be totally rusted on the inside. Sometimes people think that Damascus steel barrels are only unsafe with modern loads because they were only proofed for black powder loads. But there is no good way to tell if they are safe to shoot, even with moderate black powder loads. Many of the later damascus barrels were proofed for nitro powder, but there is no way to know if these are still safe to shoot.

And having a nickel steel barrel does not mean a shotgun is rated for steel shot. Nickel steel barrels have been around for over 100 years, but barrels rated for steel shot have only been around a few decades, ever since bans on lead shot around wetlands started being enacted. The steel shot vs. lead shot thing isn't really about the strength of the barrel but rather the wear resistance of the barrel.

12-20-2005, 1:28 AM
I was told to be careful about shooting modern power steel loads through a damascus barrel if it has a full choke. The barrel might come apart at the choke. They didn't say "Oh my God... it WILL blow up in your face...." More of a warning about a possible failure. I was also warned about doing the same thing in the model 12 with the "nickle steel" barrel. The only difference is that on the mod.12 it would just shoot the choke out instead of possibly fracturing. :eek: If the barrel has been cut, as it is on the mod 12 I am picking up this week, then I gues it is a non-issue.

12-20-2005, 6:07 AM
Damascus barreled 1897's have a MUCH higher collectors value.

At the time, ordering a 1897 with a Damascus barrel just about doubled the cost. The shotgun cost about $25NIB at the turn of the century. The Damascus barrel option was about $15 on top of that.

You may wish to have yours appraised before you do anything.

12-20-2005, 6:53 AM
This is a good place to ask a question about your shottie http://www.shotgunworld.com/bbs/index.php?c=8 There is a guy that posts under the name "winchestersonly". He is a library of info on old takedown winchesters.... :D

Sgt Raven
12-30-2005, 10:28 PM
Even if your 97 has a 2.75" chamber it may be "short" chambered. I use a 16ga '97 for CAS and my barrel is marked 2 3/4" and I had to have the chamber lengthened for reliability.

01-19-2006, 1:49 PM
Some pics of damascus barrels

Damascus Twist Barrels - Barrel tubes built up by twisting alternate strips of iron and steel around a fixed rod (mandrel) and welding them together in varying combinations according to the intended quality and the skill of the maker. The rod was withdrawn, the interior reamed and the exterior filed until the finished tube was achieved. Damascus barrels may be recognized by any of a variety of twist or spiral patterns visible in the surface of the steel. Before the 20th century, barrels were typically built in this manner because gunmakers did not have the technology to drill a deep hole the full length of a bar of steel without coming out the side.

Damascus barrels were usually intended for use with black powder---the standard of the day. The contour of the barrel wall thickness, intended for the fast explosion of black powder, was quite thick at the breech and tapered thinner towards the muzzle. It is not advisable to shoot modern smokeless powder in a damascus barrel. Apart from giving due deference to the age of such barrels and to the method of their construction, smokeless powder burns more slowly, lowering the pressure at the breech end, but considerably raising it further down the barrel to a level such barrels were rarely designed to handle
From the Griffin & Howe (http://www.griffinhowe.com) website.

01-29-2006, 9:41 AM
OK. Finally shot it yesterday. Shot 50 rounds while playing with the clay thrower (trap). Nothing loose. Shoots where I point it. The spent shells come out looking like a flower at the end. Is that ok? Should it be straight?

All I gotta say is "Ouch!". My shoulder is really hurting.

But I feel better than my brother-in-law, who slipped while setting up the thrower and had it hit him in the shin.

Anyways, I only hit 2 clays out of 50. It's harder than it looks.

Any words of wisdom as to how to aim better?

I think I'll put a recoil pad on the stock. Any recomendations? I was thinking of a Limbsaver small grind to fit.



01-29-2006, 9:57 AM
there's all kinds of info out there about shotgunnning, about learning how to lead your target, passing through the target, following through. It's one of those things that some people can do instinctivley and others have to learn through practice. The best piece of advice I ever got about shotguns, which took me a little while to understand was "don't aim a shotgun, point it." Don't try to sight down the barrel to the bead like you would a rifle (the bead is a refrense, not a sight really, instead remember you're sending a small "cloud" of shot down range that can be 36" in diameter and several feet long, you are trying to hit the clay with that cloud. Direct that cloud.
When I was begining the thing I found really helpfull was to set up the clay thrower and try the best I could to have it throw the exact same clay everytime (smae direction and speed). mount the shotgun pointed down range, call pull and track it and shoot. Eventually you'll get a feel for how the gun tracks and shoots. once you get a few you'll be nailing every other one.

Limbsavers are good the other good ones are called kickeez or something like that, burnell's carries em. I would avoid those honey comb lookin ones, they don't seem to age real well.

Mssr. Eleganté
01-29-2006, 12:54 PM
There is also a leather lace-up slip-on recoil pad that looks ok on olde timey shotguns like the 1897. My girlfriend has one on her Norinco 1897 cowboy action shotgun. Cabela's sells them.

01-11-2009, 12:04 PM
I just received a Winchester model 1897 C. The Wooden grip for the pump is broken , and one of the three screws that secures the wooden grip to the slide is missing. Does anyone have an idea, where I might find these parts or have them made?

Not that I want to sell this gun. But any clue what something like this is worth?

Best Regards,

John Wheeler
530 417 3711