I realized a while back that, apparently, have a thing for classic shotguns. If you look in my gun closet, in addition to the two 12 gauge single shot break actions that my father in law gave me, I also have a vintage Remington 870 from the 50s, The Frankenshotgun, and now I have my great grandfather’s 1897 Winchester pump action.
Ever since I saw this gun in my dad’s collection, I’ve wanted to get my hands on it; for some reason there is something about the lines and the way the ’97 Winchester handles that makes me enjoy shooting it much more than I enjoy shooting other pump action shotguns.
The ’97 Winchester was an upgrade to the to the model of 1893, the primary new function was that the newer model was designed from the ground up to handle the new (at the time) smokeless powder shotgun rounds, which produced a higher pressure than the more common black powder rounds. The shotgun was produced in two different gauges, 12 and 16, with the 12 gauge guns fitted with a factory standard 30 inch barrel, and the 16 gauge guns fitted with a 28 inch barrel.
My gun is the 16 gauge variety, which scores even more cool points, because hey, let’s face it, 16 gauge is just that cool. Sadly, the gun I have right now is broken – so as soon as I can find a good cowboy action gunsmith, it’s off to the fix-it shop with this gun. The ’97 Winchester model is extremely popular with cowboy action shooters, and although this gun won’t be seeing any of that action, someone who fixes and slicks up those shotguns is going to the “the guy” for me to fix mine.
On my example, the blued finish has faded to that nice “old gun” brown; there are no rust spots and very little pitting – the gun looks like it has sat in storage for the last 50 or so years (which is probably pretty accurate). I’m looking forward to getting it up and running, just so I can shoot a round or two of trap with my old school shotgun.
Plus, for some reason, it sure does photograph well. Here’s the picture that I liked so much I made it part of my rotating header. Click to enlarge. And of course, the final “good thing” that the ’97 Winchester has going for it is the designer…as Tam would say: “You know who designed that gun?”
John Moses Browning, that’s who.