The Winchester Model 1897 Shotgun

By Tom Murphy

The Winchester Model 1897 shotgun was manufactured from 1897 to 1957. Over 1,024,000 were built during that period. This John Moses Browning design was first offered as a 12-gauge solid frame, but a takedown was added in October of 1898 as well as a 16-gauge in February 1900. The M1897 was produced as a stronger, improved version of the M1893. The one major improvement over the M1893 was the slide lock which kept the action locked until the shotgun had fired, which in turn eliminated jamming from a misfire.

The M1897 is an external hammer shotgun that lacks a trigger disconnector. This means the shotgun can be fired simply by holding the trigger back and pumping the slide. The gun will fire every time the slide is returned to battery. The shotgun was available in various grades from the plain $25.00 grade up to the Tournament grade which retailed for $100. The less expensive grades were the Brush, Brush Takedown, Riot and the gun featured here–the Trench Gun. These were intended for rough use, so they were very plain.

Military Use

When the United States entered World War I it soon became clear that this would be a brutal war fought from trenches. There was a need for a large amount of close-range firepower when assaulting trenches. The M1897 Trench Gun became the close-in weapon of choice for this type of fighting. The gun was modified by adding a combination heat shield/bayonet lug that would mount a M1917 bayonet to a 20-inch cylinder bore barrel. The heat shield was perforated to allow heat to dissipate from the barrel, which prevented the soldier from burning his hands when he gripped the barrel. The 16-inch M1917 bayonet had originally been designed for the US M1917 Enfield .30-06 rifle but did an excellent job when fitted to the M1897 Trench Gun. It was also fitted to the Winchester M1912 shotgun, the Stevens M520-30, the M620 trench gun, the Remington M10 trench gun, Ithaca M37 trench gun and the Winchester M1200 trench gun. It saw service all the way to the...

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V21N3 (April 2017)
and was posted online on February 17, 2017


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