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Old December 26, 2012, 06:35 PM   #1
roguetwelve12
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WWII Winchester Model 1897 Trench Gun

Hi everybody,

My most sincere thanks in advance for any help you can provide. I've recently come into posession of a very nice WWII Winchester Model 1897 Trench Gun. I haven't the capacity to put pictures on at this point in time, unfortunately. I will be the first to say that I have always been a rifle and handgun guy, and am only now getting into military shotguns, so I know VERY little about these (and inherited this one).

First, some information about the gun:

SN: 953xxx. Barrel is marked with the "42" indicating a 1942 manufacture. Left side of the frame is marked with a "U.S." and the flaming ordinance stamp. Top of the barrel also has the flaming ordinance and the Winchester "WP"-overlaid-inside-circle proof (Winchester proof also located on top of the receiver). Right side of the barrel has the Winchester patents. Left side of the barrel has “Del 97-[Winchester Logo]- 12 GA.”- “2 ¾ CHAM CYL”. The serial number is located on the bottom of the gun [E over SN design] located jost forward of the loading mechanism. The serial number is again located about 2 centimeters further "forward" on the gun (with no E in this case). The stock Cartouche is the G.H.D.-inside-square variety, located over a cartouche of crossed cannons.

The heat-shield and bayonet lug is of the 4 hole design. 18 groove handrest. There's about 95% original bluing remaining (take this with a grain of salt... I'm better at rifle and pistol analysis! The buttplate is solid metal that is quite aged.

Just a few questions.

1) Does anything sound out of place (I know this is without any pictures, so I apologize).

2) Does this heat shield/bayonet lug sound approrpiate for this time range? I've been trying to figure this out and keep going in circles.

3) Is the buttplate right? I've heard/seen pictures of Winchester-Logo buttplates but I was unsure as to whether or not that was all Winchester trenchies, Just WWI trenchies, etc.

4) I've read about a few of the examples of Winchester '97's where the heat-shield/bayonet lug had a "W" stamped on them. I cannot SEE a W in this example, but I'm not sure A) if all of the Winchester's had this or B) if I'm even looking in the right place (AKA, where is this stamp located).

5) Is this stock cartouche appropriate?

As you can see I'm not terribly well versed in military shotguns so I appreciate all of your patience, and any help that you all might be able to give. Please let me know if I can answer any other questions to help.

-r12
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Old December 26, 2012, 07:42 PM   #2
PetahW
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It sounds exactly like the correct description in the BBGV for a post-950,000 SN, GHD-marked, Winchester 97 Trench gun - valued therein at $3500 in 95% condition.



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Old December 26, 2012, 08:35 PM   #3
roguetwelve12
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Thank you so much Petah! I really appreciate your help in this regard.

Happy Holidays!
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Old December 26, 2012, 08:54 PM   #4
Mike Irwin
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That said, you have to be VERY careful with these as there are some very good fakes out there that can fool many but the best of the experts.
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Old December 26, 2012, 08:59 PM   #5
roguetwelve12
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Trust me I know what you mean. Thanks a lot my friends.
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Old December 26, 2012, 09:14 PM   #6
roguetwelve12
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Any opinions on the Winchester buttplate and/or marked heat shield/bayonet lug?
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Old December 26, 2012, 11:59 PM   #7
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I am aware that Winchester serial number lists are not always reliable, but one dates that gun to 1950. Is the list wrong, or is that shotgun questionable? As I understand it, no military trench guns were made after 1945, although riot gun manufacture continued until 1958 or later. I don't think Col. Drewry was inspecting anything after WWII.

Jim
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Old December 27, 2012, 04:15 PM   #8
roguetwelve12
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Thanks for the reply James. I've checked several references that put the dates at the end of 1942/beginning of 1943. I've also witnessed other examples of 940xxx and 950xxx examples around the same timeframe. I'm confident in this particular example's dating.
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Old December 27, 2012, 06:53 PM   #9
PetahW
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FWIW, the known/authenticated SN range for Winchester Model 97 Military shotguns is 920,000 - 960,000.



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Old December 27, 2012, 11:16 PM   #10
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I had a heck of a time trying to reconcile the 97 production figures as given by Madis (and those who copied him) with numbers from other sources, including that 920,000 to 960,000 serial number range from WWII.

Finally, I figured out that early on, Madis' numbers slipped some 54,000 guns. If we add that number to the rest of the list, the WWI and WWII numbers come out about right.

But then the total production does not add up, nor does the 1957 end date make sense to me. In 1957 I was hanging around gun shops and working in one in 1960, and I never saw a new Model 97. All I saw were used guns, almost always well worn, not guns that were still in production or discontinued only a few years. They were considered obsolete and even by 1960 parts were getting hard to find.

So did Winchester really make over a million of those guns? Does anyone have 97 with a serial that high? If we accept the 960,000 serial as the end of military production, and assume it would date to 1945, did Winchester really sell some 64,000 units of an obsolete design between 1945 and 1957? or is the supposed total wrong? Or did they stop civilian production in 1942 and stop 97 production entirely at the end of the war to concentrate on the very popular Model 12?

Thoughts?

Jim
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Old December 28, 2012, 06:15 AM   #11
PetahW
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Just my WAG (I was an infant at the time, too & don't remember ), but I would think that Winchester probably wouldn't have even made that many Model 97's if the need for them hadn't been driven by WWII.

I do remember that, in the 1950's, pretty much nobody was into hammerguns (shotguns), and CAS was likely only the dream of some 4-year-old watching Howdy Doody on the boob tube.



.
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Old December 28, 2012, 04:39 PM   #12
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I think there is a lot we don't know about Model 1897 trench/riot gun production, and the large number of fakes does not help.

Jim
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Old December 29, 2012, 07:12 PM   #13
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Now I'll make you all cry just a little. . . .

Years ago, when I was in college . . . I hit a "garage sale" and ran across one of these (original all the way) that a widow had among things of her husband's that she was selling (he had died a number of years before). Thi was around 45 years ago. She had the whopping price of $75.00 on it. Yes, you read that right. I was newly married, both my wife and I were in school and living in married housing and eating a lot of soup and hamburger helper. We were going to school full time, I was working a full time job as well as working ambulance what spare hours I had. Of course I didn't have the $75.00 so had to walk away from the trench gun . . . with great regret! But, I still think about that every once in a while . . . especially when I see what they go for today! I guess we all have lost opportunities like that at one time or another . . . but life goes on!
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Old December 29, 2012, 08:50 PM   #14
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In the 1960's sometime, Letterkenny Army Depot was selling off Model 520 Stevens pump guns for $17. No DCM, no NRA, no mail orders, just go in, pick out a gun, fill out a form with name and address, pay $17 (no sales tax), and walk out with the gun.

There was a one per customer limit each day, but I could have gone back any number of times. I later sold the gun for $100 to a military shotgun collector who drooled all over it.

Jim
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Old December 29, 2012, 11:22 PM   #15
Mike Irwin
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Quite a few of those 520s were purchased (or otherwise obtained) by the State of Pennsylvania and issued to state Game Wardens.

They were still in use as late as the early 1980s. The warden in my home county (Perry) had one in the back of his Cherokee that he let me get all friendly with one day.
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