View Full Version : Winchester 97 shell stuck in chamber

April 5, 2011, 09:35 PM
I recently purchased this gun. It was made in 1910 or 1911. The first time out no problems. I cleaned it after the first time out. Used it tonight and about one of five shells would fire but I wouldn't be able to slide the pump back to eject the used shell. I had to work at it a bit and then it would come out. I used some federal shells and no problems. I have brand new winchester super target loads and that is when the problems started. I used winchester AA the first time and no problems. Could the super target shells be the problem. The chamber was a tiny bit sticky to the touch when I got home tonight but clean otherwise. I did notice that generally when the bolt would stick I would get a black puff of something out of the barrel. Hope someone can help and hope I explained this correctly. It could be this gun likes the AA shells better.

Dave McC
April 6, 2011, 08:32 AM
There's occasional ammo/shotgun incompatibilities that could cause this.

Also, a shotgun made in 1911 may have the shorter chamber common then, While some have been extended, many have not. Shooting 2 3/4" loads in a short chamber can cause extraction and ejection probs. Compare your shells to see if the glitching ones are a touch longer.

Any decent smith can tell you in about a minute what the chamber length is.

Lots of folks have had problems recently with the steel based generics common to value packs,especially Winchesters.

Your cheap fix is obvious. Use those loads elsewhere and feed your fine old 97 ammo it "Likes".


April 6, 2011, 08:49 AM
I haven't any idea. Maybe the shell length, as Dave said. I've never shot anything out of my '97 but 2 3/4" shells with no problems yet. That "black puff" you described when the bolt was sticking has me wondering if there isn't something in there that needs more cleaning up ? Good luck with it and if you figure it out please post what it was.

April 6, 2011, 11:57 AM
Dad always used winchester super x in his. Said others jammed it up.

April 6, 2011, 12:10 PM
Shooting 2 3/4" loads in a short chamber can cause extraction and ejection probs.

IF it is a short chamber, you'll also be increasing the pressure quite a bit - which could be a serious issue

The Super Target hulls are steel while the AA's are brass, also a potential cause

April 6, 2011, 12:19 PM
Even if it's not a short chamber the forcing cone will be cut for a roll crimp not a modern star crimp.

April 6, 2011, 12:27 PM
A Win 1897 will not have short chambers, they were chambered for 2-3/4" 12 gauge. 2-3/4" is the length of the open shell, so it matters little what crimp is used.

April 6, 2011, 04:39 PM
Thanks for all the good info. I think the win super target is the issue. I'm going out again this weeks and use than and some win AA. Will post if I have anymore issues. As far as i knew it was ok to use 2 3/4 inch shells in this shotgun.

April 6, 2011, 05:01 PM
A Win 1897 will not have short chambers,

Some at least did as the 2 3/4 shell didn't come about till I think 1900 or 1901.

Dave McC
April 6, 2011, 10:10 PM
I've heard it both ways about 97s and chamber length. Had I one, it would get measured before the very first round, even if someone I trusted told me he had scads of 2 3/4" loads through it.

April 7, 2011, 06:00 AM
The Winchester 1897's of ancient lineage (from the second previous Century turn) have the same measured chamber length as the most modern 97 made 6 decades from the first.
I have found every classic Winchester 12 ga. that was marked 2-3/4" to be just past 2.6" nominal measured chamber length, and those guns all passed the proof test at the Winchester plant. I don't believe anyone would doubt the strength and safety of a gun that had a test repeated and verified millions of times.
There is no doubt that the chamber length is normal for a 2-3/4" Winchester in a 1897 that is 100 years old.

If that is a take-down gun, there can be a chamber ring/barrel chamber overlap offset that catches the expanding brass that protrudes past the interface line and has diametral interference to extraction. This condition is not always a considerable expense to fix since sometimes the edges can be re-blended without installation of a new chamber ring. Other problems can mimic this problem but can't be diagnosed without viewing.

Shooting shotgun shells in a chamber shorter than the shell by a minor amount (1/4" or less) will generally have little effect on pressure and was documented by MacIntosh in the Double Gun Journal with 2.5" chambers and 2-3/4" shells, I believe.
The use of longer shells than the chamber will have no effect on extraction due solely to the chamber/shell length difference and won't affect ejection unless the ejection port is too short to let the fired hull fit through.


Reference postings of mine to read more about chamber/bore/choke issues, including discussions similar to this one:
Kirby's Comprehensive List: chamber/forcing cone/choke/bore

A total of 30 threads are referenced and noted by subject and in chronological order. Some discussions went on for pages of postings- so look out- you might learn something or have your perceptions altered.

Reference postings of mine concerning Model-12 at shotgunworld forum (and related issues that may include the 1897 similarities), in order, and include over 60 in total and are listed by subject.
Kirby's postings concerning Winchester Model-12 details

April 8, 2011, 09:04 PM
I went out and shot 50 rounds tonight. I used win AA and win super target. I didn't get any shells stuck in the chamber. The shells were getting stuck in the magazine tube and wouldn't go into the carrier. I'm wondering if the follower or magazine tube is dirty and would cause this problem. With the gun flipped upside down the shell holder on the left side wasn't releasing the shell. Maybe that was the cause of my problems the other night. I had one dry fire because it didn't cycle a shell at all. If I messed around with it it might cycle after a few times of racking the pump. The gun is under warranty from cabela's but I'm not sure if I trust them to get it fixed correctly plus they are an hour away from where I live. I will post a couple of pics to show what I'm talking about.

April 10, 2011, 10:03 AM

April 10, 2011, 12:11 PM
The pictures that you have show the shell being retained in the magazine- but in that part of the cycle (bolt closed) we do hope that the shells don't fly loose. (The pictures aren't clear enough to say for sure that the shells are stuck in the tube or just held back by the shell stops)
In case you know that already, I'm just noting details for novice readers unfamiliar with the 97 mechanism or those who have never handled one.

If shells fail to come out during the full pump stroke, then some other issue awaits correction- whether due to magazine tube/follower interference, crud, burrs, etc.

I did some work for the local Cabela's over a two year period and even had some work sent from an out-of-state store at Mitchell SD to have a Merkel double fixed.
I've got the Cabela's vendor account etc.

Each store has the opportunity to find a local gunsmith, but if they are able to pick a local, they are also probably able to send me the job (for example) if you ask for a specialist (presuming that they don't have a good local 'smith).

If you have the store fix the gun and it doesn't turn out correctly, take the gun back and demand a correct repair or refund on a broken gun.

[email protected]

April 10, 2011, 03:28 PM
I took it back to cablea's today. They are sending it to their smith that is in Minnesota to get it taken care of. I really like the gun and don't want to trade it in or refund it. Hopefully the smith knows what he is doing and gets it fixed correctly. I did clean the magazine tube and all associated parts and didn't have anymore feeding problems. It is the stuck shell in the chamber that bothers me.

April 20, 2011, 11:34 AM
The AGI 1897 video describes a problem where if parts are swapped, a fired shell will get stuck. Because of this, the re barreling tooling is complicated.

April 20, 2011, 09:23 PM
The serial #'s match from the barrel and the receiver. It is getting repaired at a gunsmith right now so hopefully they get it fixed correctly.

April 30, 2011, 08:50 AM
I got my 97 back yesterday. I was gone almost three weeks to get repaired. The repair form said chamber was polished, new extractor spring installed. Lock-up ring was tightened. I was told that the wear adjuster should be adjusted so their is a little play between barrel and receiver. It is adjusted tight now with no play. Come to think of it I had a local guy mess with the wear adjuster and then it started having problems. Hope someone can tell me if their should be some play between barrel and receiver or not. Hopefully kirby will chime in on this one.

May 5, 2011, 01:09 AM
I just completed a thorough rework of a 97 with multiple issues including rejuvenating a pair of squeezed/dented/bulged/bent barrels that needed to be refit to the frame.

The idea that a barrel should not be snug to the frame is quite off base- and could be considered as proof that somebody is unfamiliar with the mechanical aspects concerning the takedown Winchester shotgun.

Another point of contention would be the issue of polishing the chamber of a 97 with something that is in any way abrasive. Any material removal AT ALL in a takedown barrel that uses a frame mounted chamber ring is potentially creating or worsening a chamber problem.

What I previously posted here.
If that is a take-down gun, there can be a chamber ring/barrel chamber overlap offset that catches the expanding brass that protrudes past the interface line and has diametral interference to extraction.

The same extraction difficulties can be created by making the chamber larger than the chamber ring, since that can make an overlap offset in the complete circle- not just on one side.

When some unfortunate polishing was overdone (along with other amateur-gunsmith-created problems) to a Model-12 Magnum, it made such a mismatch that a rod was needed to drive out any fired shell.
That barrel needed to have the chamber sleeved to alleviate such a gross condition, and that repair is not cheap.

An extractor spring could be helpful with the original problem stated, and adjusting the barrel fit is always uppermost in the improvement list.

Throwing in a "chamber polish" might be beneficial to some barrels with extraction complaints, but is anathema to improving a 97 or M-12.


May 8, 2011, 05:12 PM
Finally got out to shoot this weekend. I used federal target shells and not one problem. I think the win ammo and the takedown being loose caused all my problems. It's good to have the old girl back and working. I can't tell if the chamber has been reamed out for 2 3/4 shells. What would the shell end look like if the chamber was short? I've heard some guys say the shell end was feathered but not sure what they mean. It worked great today and that is all that matters.