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WW I Model 1897 Trench/Riot Gun - Kinda/Sorta
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August 19, 2020 - 4:59 pm
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Bert H. said

Chuck,

To the best of my knowledge, none of the Model 1897 Riot/Trench Guns were ever parkerized, even when returned to the arsenal for repair.

Bert  

Here is what Bruce said about the arsenal question when I asked him about being stamped when returned for repair.

 

“I doubt that was the case. I don’t recall ever seeing a martially marked WW1 era M1897 trench gun that showed signs of rebuild. Interestingly, even WW2 M97 trench guns that were subsequently rebuilt were rarely, if ever, Parkerized. Almost all M12 rebuilt trench guns were Parkerized. Go figure.”

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August 21, 2020 - 6:38 pm
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Tom D said
I believe Andrew has a trench gun receiver that has had the barrel replaced as well as the buttstock.  The serial number puts the received right in the trench gun serial number range.  Also, the hand stamped “US” and Ordnance bomb marks are characteristic of the trench guns.  Most of the riot guns were in an earlier serial number range and don’t have any US markings on them. 

I don’t believe the hand stamped marks were applied during arsenal repair because I have seen too many WWI trench guns with those marks that are in excellent condition.   One was even an unissued trench gun in 99% condition.

My data shows that most of the WWI hand stamped “US” and Ordnance bomb marked trench guns are in the 670,xxx serial number range.  Then few show up with the hand stamped markings until the serial number range of Andrew’s shotgun where there are several marked that way.  

Wow, guys – many thanks for all the responses! ?

I agree with Tom D that my gun started out as a trench gun, but has been ‘converted’ with a different barrel and stock.

Here are some of my notes from reading both the 1992 and 2007 editions of Canfield:

On the WW I marked vs unmarked trench guns: “The guns that were actually issued before the end of the war would likely have been inspected and “passed” by ordinance inspectors prior to acceptance into service, hence the added markings. The guns that remained in packing crates after the war were not issued, thus there was no need to stamp them with martial markings.” (Canfield, pg 52, 2007 edition).  

“Third, a cache of 74 WW I production Model 1897 trench guns that came to light in 2004 sheds a bit more light on the subject. The Richmond (Virginia) Police Department received these trench guns circa 1924 from the Virginia National Guard (via the U.S. Army). The Richmond PD retained the guns for the next 80+ years in essentially the same configuration in which they had left the factory. While these guns were unquestionably made under military contract, they were never actually issued to Army units during WW I, hence the lack of martial markings.” (Canfield, pg 53, 2007 edition).

On the trench gun markings vs riot gun markings: “Most of the confirmed original WW I riot guns were stamped with a small ‘U.S.’ on the left side of the receiver and a very small ‘flaming bomb’ on the barrel and also by the serial number on the receiver. Unlike the the martial markings found on some WW I-vintage M1897 trench guns, the riot guns marked appear to have been factory stamped prior to final heat treating of the metal.” (Canfield, pg 55, 2007 edition).   Canfield’s pictures of riot gun marking on page 46 of the 1992 edition and page 55 of the 2007 edition show that those are quite different from trench gun markings.

By the way, the 2007 edition has twelve pages of “Collector Notes, World War I  Combat Shotguns” (pages 49-60), quite a bit more than the 1992 edition.

Anyway, I am still having great fun with this research.  I have sent a note to the Phoenix Police Museum to see if they have any records on my gun.  Not expecting much, but who knows. . .

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August 21, 2020 - 6:42 pm
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Bert H. said

The barrel is marked correctly for a 1918 production Model.  If it is newer than the receiver, it is not by much.

Bert  

Thanks, Bert!

How does one date a barrel with no serial number?  Are the patent dates a clue?

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August 21, 2020 - 6:59 pm
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What do people think is the story of the stock?  Clearly not WW I.  Looks like WW II stock, complete with sling swivel (with “factory quality” inletting).  But none of the proper WW II markings/cartouches.  I saw something in the 1992 edition about post-war refinishing removing those markings, but were they so shallow that a refinishing would have completely removed all trace (as is the case with my stock).   Hmmm!

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August 21, 2020 - 7:11 pm
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TXGunNut said
Andrew-

 I have what the Brits call a “bitsa” (LOVE that term!) 1897TD that I was pretty sure was built as a riot gun. … If you have moderate gun repair skills and passable IT skills there are a few good YouTube videos dealing with disassembly and repair of the 1897TD. The 1897 is moderately complex and some of the videos are pretty much useless but after several hours of videos and fitting attempts I had mine running like it should.

Mike  

Mike, thanks!  I do have a Mechanical Engineering degree and have built my own PC’s since the 90’s.  Gunsmithing is not one of my skills (dealing with 1973 Mini Coopers is though. . .).  If I can’t find a local gunsmith with 1897 expertise, I and a collector friend (and former Marine rifleman) might go down the route you suggest.  Now, off to Youtube to bypass SU Carburetor overhaul videos for 1897 videos – more fun!

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August 29, 2020 - 9:39 pm
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Bert, what is the general serial number range for the WW I trench guns?  There was one the Wards auction lot # 4273 684921 the other day.  The only thing I wasn’t sure about in the pictures was the length of the barrel in relation to the bayonet mount.  It seemed to look more like what a WW II would look like?

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August 30, 2020 - 12:11 am
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Chuck,

Serial number 684921 is in the correct range.  I have surveyed them in the 654000 – 705800, though they are sparse until 668900.

Bert

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August 30, 2020 - 4:35 pm
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Thanks Bert.  It sold for $2500.

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August 30, 2020 - 5:36 pm
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My ‘former Marine’ friend and I dismantled, cleaned, and oiled my gun yesterday.  Well, he did the work, I “supervised”.  Not a 100 percent disassembly, but pretty much all of the bolt assembly and carrier assembly.  No real problems found.  We may take it to the range this next week and put a few light loads through it.

The Youtube animations of the 1897 action now make a lot more sense!

Did not remove the barrel, but with the magazine tube out of the way, I found some markings on the bottom of the barrel.  Nothing that looked like a serial number or military markings.  There is an “IRI” (second “I” pretty faint) overlaid/underlaid with a “WP” mark in an oval.  Unlike the “WP” marks elsewhere these letters are in a horizontal versus vertical orientation.  There are also an “X”, a (maybe) “Q”, and a triangle stamped on the underside.  If any of these mean anything, I would appreciate.

Two pictures of the barrel underside have been added to the album noted in the first post.

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August 30, 2020 - 5:59 pm
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Andrew,

The markings you found on the bottom of the barrel are inspection stamps.

Bert

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August 30, 2020 - 9:50 pm
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Andrew-

I’m glad the disassembly and cleaning went well. Good to have some experienced “help”. Hopefully the extractors and ejector were intact. If not they’re readily available. Good luck on the range trip, I’m toying with shooting a round of skeet with mine someday just for giggles.

 

Mike

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