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Special thanks to BullCreek Arms for rebuilding this 1939 Baltimore Police Fugitive Squad Winchester model 1897,12 gauge shotgun. It came to us as a literal basket case and was put back together by BullCreek. Along side BullCreek, a special thanks goes out to Worth-A-Shot for helping us getting the gun parts back to Baltimore, she offered to send it on to BullCreek for us, but we felt she did enough and didn't want to take advantage of her good nature.
Side Inscribed Baltimore Police Fugitive Squad
Winchester Model 1897
The Winchester Model 1897, also known as the Model 97, M97, or Trench Gun, is a pump-action shotgun with an external hammer and tube magazine manufactured by the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. The Model 1897 was an evolution of the Winchester Model 1893 designed by John Browning. From 1897 until 1957, over one million of these shotguns were produced. The Model 1897 was offered in numerous barrel lengths and grades, chambered in 12 and 16 gauge, and as a solid frame or takedown. The 16-gauge guns had a standard barrel length of 28 inches, while 12-gauge guns were furnished with 30-inch length barrels. Special length barrels could be ordered in lengths as short as 20 inches, and as long as 36 inches. Since the time the Model 1897 was first manufactured it has been used by American soldiers, police departments, and hunters.
The Winchester Model 1897 was designed by American firearms inventor John Moses Browning. The Model 1897 was first listed for sale in the November 1897 Winchester catalog as a 12 gauge solid frame. The 12 gauge takedown was added in October 1898, and the 16 gauge takedown in February 1900. Originally produced as a tougher, stronger and more improved version of the Winchester 1893, itself an improvement on the early Spencer pump gun, the 1897 was identical to its forerunner, except that the receiver was thicker and allowed for use of smokeless powder shells, which were not common at the time. The 1897 introduced a "take down" design, where the barrel and magazine tube could easily be separated from the receiver for cleaning or transportation, the ease of removal of the barrel becoming a standard in pump shotguns made today, like the Remington 870 and Mossberg 500 series. Over time, "the model 97 became the most popular shotgun on the American market and established a standard of performance by which other kinds and makes of shotguns were judged, including the most expensive imported articles". The Winchester Model 1897 was in production from 1897 until 1957. It was in this time frame that the "modern" hammerless designs became common, like the Winchester Model 1912 and the Remington 870. The Model 1897 was superseded by the Winchester Model 1912. However, the gun can still be found today in regular use.
Improvements from the 1893
While designing the new Model 1897, many of the weaknesses present in the earlier Model 1893 were taken into account and remedied. These improvements included:
The frame was strengthened and made longer to handle a 12 gauge 2+3⁄4-inch shell, as well as the 2+5⁄8-inch shell.
The top of the frame was covered so that the ejection of the fired shell was entirely from the side. This added a lot of strength to the frame of the gun and it allowed the use of a 2+3⁄4 inch shell without the danger of the gun constantly jamming.
The action could not be opened until a slight forward movement of the slide handle released the action slide lock. In firing, the recoil of the shotgun gave a slight forward motion to the slide handle and released the action slide lock which enabled the immediate opening of the action. In the absence of any recoil, the slide handle had to be pushed forward manually in order to release the action slide lock.
A movable cartridge guide was placed on the right side of the carrier block to prevent the escape of the shell when the shotgun was turned sideways in the act of loading.
The stock was made longer and with less drop.
Of these improvements, the slide lock is the one that made the Model 1897 into a safe firearm. This improved slide lock kept the shotgun locked until actual firing occurred which prevented it from jamming in the case of a misfire. The slide lock "stands in such a relation to the body of the firing pin as will prevent the firing pin reaching the primer until the pin has moved forward a sufficient distance to insure locking of the breech bolt". This prevents the action sleeve "from being retracted by the hand of the gunner until after firing, and hence rendering the firearm more safe".
The Winchester Model 1897 and the Winchester Model 1893 were both designed by John Browning. The Model 1897 is an external hammer shotgun lacking a trigger disconnector. This means that the user can hold the trigger down while cycling the shotgun and once the action is returned to battery the shotgun fires. The firearm itself is classified as a slide action pump shotgun. It was the first truly successful pump-action shotgun produced. Throughout the time period the Model 1897 was in production, over a million of the type were produced in various grades and barrel lengths. 16-gauge guns had a standard barrel length of 28 inches, while 12-gauge guns were furnished with 30-inch length barrels. Special length barrels could be ordered in lengths as short as 20 inches, and as long as 36 inches. Along with various grades and barrel lengths, the Model 1897 came in two different chamberings. One was the 12 gauge and the other was the 16 gauge. The shells should be of the 2+3⁄4 inch or 2+5⁄8 inch model. Any shells larger are not recommended. An average Model 1897 can hold 6 shotgun shells in the magazine tube. When working the action of the Model 1897 the forend (fore grip) is pulled back, forcing the breech bolt to the rear which extracts and then ejects the spent shell while simultaneously cocking the external hammer by pushing it to the rear. When the forend is slid forward again, the breech bolt pushes a fresh shell into the gun's chamber and locks into place.
The Chinese company Norinco has made an effort to reproduce this firearm. The Norinco 97 is an almost exact copy of the Winchester 1897, produced in both Trench and Riot grades, yet lacking in the fit and finish of the originals.
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