View Full Version : Winchester 1897 Chamber

December 29, 2009, 11:34 AM
I've had a pair of solid frame 12 gauge 1897s for a while, one was my dad's (made around 1930), the other my granddad's (made around 1915). I shoot them, but not often. I know that they have 2 3/4" chambers, but I also understand that the forcing cone was not designed for star-crimped shells.

I shoot light Winchester AA target loads in the guns. Am I courting trouble? Should I have the chambers redone in the shotguns? Neither is really a collector's item - they have far more sentimental value than collector value. I'm not going to be shooting these in Cowboy Action matches or anything; I just want to be sure that when the time comes, I can pass them to their new caretakers in at least as good shape as when I received them.

December 29, 2009, 12:29 PM
I've bought BP shells from Republic for my old SxS before, but they're no longer in business.

I'll give the other guys a try. That seems like a reasonable compromise.

December 31, 2009, 09:14 AM
Those chambers are most likely 2 1/2 inches. 2 3/4 didn't come about til I'm thinking 1935, was in the 30's anyway. The forcing cone is made for roll crimped shells not star crimped like modern shells. If you're going to shoot 2 3/4 shells by all means have them checked for chamber length and rechambered if they already haven't been. You're vastly increasing chamber pressure from the crimp opening up over the forcing cone

W. C. Quantrill
January 1, 2010, 08:22 PM
Good advice. I'm going to have the chamber of that 97 I found this fall bored out this spring. Also, to add to what Hawg said, the forcing cones of the older shotguns were real short and steep. If you have your chamber redone, have them put in a longer forcing cone, It makes all the difference on lowering pressure and increasing accuracy.

January 3, 2010, 08:11 PM
I ordered a few boxes of Doublewides from Polywad in 2 1/2", but I think that I'll go ahead and have the chambers done on both guns.

Every time I take one or the other out to the range, I have an absolute ball, so I'd just as well have them fixed up right. They're not going to be wall hangers and I don't want to have to turn to mail order whenever I want shells.

Thanks for the advice.

January 9, 2010, 01:41 PM
As an aside, Gad Custom Cartridges of Medford, Wisconsin offers black powder shotgun shells.
You can purchase a box of 25 8-gauge shells for $40, which I believe is a very good deal. Other gauges include 10, 12, 24, 28 and 32.
Gad also offers a large variety of cast bullets for black powder guns, and obsolete cartridges, as well as loaded ammo.
Check them out at http://gadcustomcartridges.com/
For someone who wants a few black powder shells to accompany that fine, old Damascus shotgun, it would be cheaper to buy from Gad than buying the equipment to make your own.

January 9, 2010, 07:05 PM
You can purchase a box of 25 8-gauge shells for $40,

You can find roll crimpers for a lil bit of nothing, buy cheap 2 3/4 shells and empty the powder and toss the shotcup/piston. Cut them down to 2 1/2 inches and get wads and shot cards from circle fly or make your own. Reload with bp and roll crimp for a lot less than 40 bucks a box.