View Full Version : Need help to ID old Marlin pump

November 3, 2012, 12:43 AM
Today I visited an older friend (I'm 70, to put that in perspective). Among the guns he dug out of his safe were a "D" Series Model '97 Winchester (does anyone remember the website for identifying the years of mfgr. for each of the "B" through "D" series?)

But the puzzle for me was a shotgun that at first looked like a prototype of a Model '97. It is a hammered pump that I am pretty sure is an 1898 Marlin. It has a hammer that is more like an 1973 Winchester rifle than an 1897 Winchester shotgun, if that helps. Serial number is deeply, clearly engraved in front of the trigger guard. At first I could not identify a maker but fortunately had my Streamlight in my pocket. It is a Marlin, with "12 Ga." and Marlin factory lettering faint but visible on top of the the patina'd barrel.

The signifying mark, so to speak, is that it has a device high on the ejector side that looks functionally similar to a tiny forward-assist on an AR, without the protruding handle, if that makes sense. Have not seen one of these before, anywhere. Relative to its apparent age, this shotgun is in excellent condition. Long barrel - looks like a duck gun.

What should I advise him, re selling it? Is it worth much, or just a relic?

November 3, 2012, 02:21 PM
Marlin made external hammer pumps for about 20 years, up to WW1.
They came in takedown and regular, in various levels of fancy and model numbers.
Prices seem to vary from $250 to $1400 for average field grade through excellent graded, heavily engraved sport guns.
They aren't as popular as the Winchester versions, partly due to the Single Action Society rules that don't allow them.

hawk shooter
November 3, 2012, 03:14 PM
This may be what you are looking for:

Also, to expound on the above post's reference to SASS, the main reason they are not allowed is that Marlin issued a "do not fire" warning on all generations of the 1898 pump shotgun because of a design flaw that may cause the bolt to eject rearward out of the receiver upon firing.

ETA: probably more than you wanted to know about the Marlin:

November 3, 2012, 04:04 PM
But why were the later ones, that came after the 1898, also excluded by SASS?
I had one of those later ones for many years and it never tried to kill me.

hawk shooter
November 3, 2012, 07:28 PM
This was the warning Marlin issued. As you can see, it covers all models of the basic design. From a liability standpoint, SASS went along with Marlin's recommendation.

Marlin Issues Warning on Obsolete Shotguns

The age of these obsolete models is now 70 to 100 years. Unfortunately, Marlin has no records of manufacture such as materials, heat treatment procedures, or acceptance standards. This combination of age and unknown metallurgy and life history in a large percentage of these units has prompted the company to strongly recommend against these guns being fired.

Of major concern are failures in the firing system, but there is no clear cut failure mode or sequence of events leading to such failures.


1898, 16, 17, 19, 19S, 19G, 19N, 21, 24, 24G, 26, 30, 42, 49, 49N exposed hammer slide action shotguns.

28, 31, 43, 44, 53, 63 hammerless slide action shotguns.

November 6, 2012, 12:21 AM
G. Willikers and Hawk - thanks very much. That is 100% of the information I was looking for. I'll go back and confirm, but am pretty sure the Marlin is the original 1898 version, since there is nothing inscribed at the rear of the receiver. Seems to be a wallhanger, but is interesting-looking.

As for the "D" series 1897, one more question: the barrel is long - 28-30", possibly more (haven't measured yet). The top of the barrel near the receiver is stamped "Cylinder". Why would a long-barrelled shotgun, made around 1910 or so, have an open choke? The only thing I could guess at was that it was intended for buckshot. Second guess would be very heavy turkey shot or slugs, if slugs were used back then. Any thoughts?

November 6, 2012, 01:06 AM
G. Willikers - on a related issue, I was pleased to be one of the relatively few who could buy an 1893/97 pump from Coyote Cap. Had it chromed and it is a beauty. But the posse wouldn't let me shoot it in matches. The only lame excuse I can think of is that the port is a zillionth of an inch wider, 1893-style, but that doesn't affect me anyway because I am left-handed. I think maybe the reason put out was safety but this gun is built with way stronger metal than was available back then and is as solid as a tank.

Whatever. It makes a great home-defense gun and I'm not sorry I bought it. I think Cap got hosed. Best I can tell, only 200 were made.

November 6, 2012, 10:21 AM
If memory serves, and it's been awhile, mine was cylinder choked, too.
It wasn't a problem at the distances it was used, though.
Maybe it was because, back then, shotguns were only thought of as close range weapons, what ever the ammo choice.
The fellow that I sold it to eventually cut down the barrel to legal self defense length, figuring it would still be around the same choke size.
From my experiences with it, I'd buy another one.

November 6, 2012, 08:45 PM
G.W. - Interesting that you also had cylinder. Guess that had to make the cut-down a cheap proposition for the buyer. The excellent history links that Hawk posted show that cylinder bore was "special order," as was modified. The standard model was full choke.

A number of years back, I had Squibber work up a 1909 Model E for me, for CAS. My assumption going into it was that I'd end up with the "standard" 20" barrel. But instead of specifying anything, I told him my height and reach and asked him to build it the way he would for himself. Instead of cutting the barrel to 20" he cut it to 22" and then cut 2" off the butt. It made for a much faster-shouldering shotgun for CAS-style shooting and I have never missed a clay with it. Mind you, I usually wasn't the fastest shooter, either, but the unexpected specs made for a wonderful old '97 that will go only after I do.