I’ve got a 1897 on my hands, and tried to find out what exactly it is. This turned into a dive in the rabbit hole… Which is how I ended up here.
I’m not really interested in its value (it’s not mine, but I took a liking for it and even if it ends up being mine I will definitely keep it), but I’d really like to understand what we’ve got there.
12 Gauge, made – I think – in 1907, take-down, very little finish left, dents and gouges and rusted patina, matted receiver, no visible Trap or Pigeon marks, matching receiver and barrel serials.
Straight grip, checkered walnut stock with a heavy coat of old shellac, missing buttplate, diamond ebony inlays. Action is smooth and tight, trigger crisp and light. 24″ barrel, spotless and shiny bore, marked CYL.
When I measured it I was not aware that 1897s didn’t come in 24″ length, so I didn’t pay close attention to the muzzle end, but I’m a gunsmith and if there had been obvious signs of a hacksaw job I’d have spotted them.
I started researching 1897s because I really like this ol’ missus: even though it’s heavier than modern pumps, it handles very well, has a balance to it that you don’t get with light receivers and plastic pistolgrips.
So… What is it? Cut barrel, “upgraded” wood? Remnants of a two barrels set, with one of them cut? Remnants of a two barrels set, with one being a special order in 24″ cylinder? Personally, I think that 24″ for a cylinder on that gun is just right: less barrel and you get and earful at every shot, more and you lose indoors manoeuverability.
Let me know what you think, thanks!
Serial in the picture below. I measured the barrel outside, from breech to muzzle with a tape, just to have a ballpark dimension. I’ll get a rod and get an exact measurement from bolt face to muzzle. I’ll also check the bead-to-muzzle distance, this is one piece of knowledge that would help separate seed from chaff, thanks… What is the factory standard? Also, any marks I should check for on the internals?
The bead to muzzle distance should be precisely .500 (1/2) inch. If the barrel is 26-inchs with a CYL marked bore, that indicates that it is a Brush Gun barrel. I suspect that it is a piece together gun, but if so, it was put together a long time ago. The good news is that the CFM records office has the original factory records for this serial number. I will send them a request to get that information, and that will answer the questions about its original as built configuration.
WACA 6571L, Historian & Board of Director Member
Update: afterall, it is a Trap Gun… I found the inscription just by wiping the bolt clean. There was a fine coat of dark grime on it, just enough to hide the lettering, especially in bad light.
Then, the barrel is an original Winchester custom job. Bert was kind enough to send me the CFM details, and the necessary info to check the barrel. There is a job record for work done at factory corresponding to this barrel and its markings, and the muzzle/bead relationship is correct to Winchester practices.
So this gun is an original Trap Gun, Black Diamond, with a factory-fitted 24″ CYL barrel, and missing the original 30″ barrel. And missing buttplate. And missing quite a bit of the original finish. And with over a century of history, and dings and dents earned along the way…
Can live with that… ?
Glad to have found this site, and thanks Bert!