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Owen Turner
Owen Turner

Winchester 1897 Shotgun Serial Number Location [PATCHED]

Click the image below to download the PDF document containing the serial number date-range information on many Winchester firearms. You will need the Adobe Reader program to open this file. Adobe Reader is available free from Adobe.

Winchester 1897 Shotgun Serial Number Location

There is probably some kernel of truth to all of them. But the fact remains; there is no original, single, totally accurate database of serial numbers from 1866 forward that we are aware of. But perhaps these pages can help you somewhat in your research.

When my father passed away I ended up with his (or his father's) Winchester 1897 gun with the serial number D 833940. I'm a 58 yr old 5'2" female who probably will never shoot it but don't know if it is worth anything monetarily or sentimentally.

There is something not quite correct about the serial number you mention. Specifically, the "D" is not correct for a serial number in the 833940 range. Instead, it should have an "E" marked above it. Double check to verify the leading digit of the serial number. If it is actually a "3", the "D" would be correct. Additionally, an "E" series gun in the 800,000 serial number range is a Model "97" versus an "1897".

The serial number itself (833940) tells us that it was manufactured in April of the year 1928. If it is actually "333940", it was manufactured in July of 1906. The patent dates marked on the barrel imply that it is a 1906 vintage part.

There were many different variations and configurations of the Model 1897/97 shotgun. Without knowing exactly what you have, it is not possible to determine the potential value. Posting several clear detailed pictures of your Winchester will allow us to evaluate and assess it accurately.

The Model 1897 was a superior slide-action exposed hammer shotgun that was specifically designed for the new smokeless powder. Winchester manufactured just shy of one million Model 1897 shotguns, with the production taking place from July 1897 to September 1957. The Model 1897 was an improved redesign of the older Model 1893. Serial numbers were a continuation of the Model 1893 and began in the 34150 range, and continued through 1024701.

The Winchester Model 1897 became the most popular exposed-hammer, slide-action shotgun in history. Special features include fancy checkered walnut stocks, Damascus barrels, and engraving. According to a 1916 catalogue, the plain-finish example sold for $25, while an engraved receiver with checkered and finer wood sold for $100.

Original Winchester factory records are available for this model from the Cody Firearms Museum in Cody, Wyoming, from serial number 1 thru 377999. Polishing Room serialization records are available for all serial numbers.

The Winchester Model 1897, also known as the Model 97, M97, or Trench Gun, is a pump-action shotgun with an external hammer and tube magazine manufactured by the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. The Model 1897 was an evolution of the Winchester Model 1893 designed by John Browning. From 1897 until 1957, over one million of these shotguns were produced. The Model 1897 was offered in numerous barrel lengths and grades, chambered in 12 and 16 gauge, and as a solid frame or takedown. The 16-gauge guns had a standard barrel length of 28 inches, while 12-gauge guns were furnished with 30-inch length barrels. Special length barrels could be ordered in lengths as short as 20 inches, and as long as 36 inches. Since the time the Model 1897 was first manufactured it has been used by American soldiers,[2] police departments,[3] and hunters.[3]

The Winchester Model 1897 was designed by American firearms inventor John Moses Browning. The Model 1897 was first listed for sale in the November 1897 Winchester catalog as a 12 gauge solid frame.[4] The 12 gauge takedown was added in October 1898, and the 16 gauge takedown in February 1900.[5] Originally produced as a tougher, stronger and more improved version of the Winchester 1893, itself an improvement on the early Spencer pump gun, the 1897 was identical to its forerunner, except that the receiver was thicker and allowed for use of smokeless powder shells, which were not common at the time. The 1897 introduced a "take down" design, where the barrel and magazine tube could easily be separated from the receiver for cleaning or transportation, the ease of removal of the barrel becoming a standard in pump shotguns made today, like the Remington 870 and Mossberg 500 series. Over time, "the model 97 became the most popular shotgun on the American market and established a standard of performance by which other kinds and makes of shotguns were judged, including the most expensive imported articles".[3] The Winchester Model 1897 was in production from 1897 until 1957. It was in this time frame that the "modern" hammerless designs became common, like the Winchester Model 1912 and the Remington 870. The Model 1897 was superseded by the Winchester Model 1912.[6] However, the gun can still be found today in regular use.

Of these improvements, the slide lock is the one that made the Model 1897 into a safe firearm. This improved slide lock kept the shotgun locked until actual firing occurred which prevented it from jamming in the case of a misfire. The slide lock "stands in such a relation to the body of the firing pin as will prevent the firing pin reaching the primer until the pin has moved forward a sufficient distance to insure locking of the breech bolt".[8] This prevents the action sleeve "from being retracted by the hand of the gunner until after firing, and hence rendering the firearm more safe".[9]

When the Model 1897 was first introduced, the price depended upon what grade was being purchased and what features were being added to that specific shotgun. To purchase a plain finished shotgun would cost the buyer $25, whereas an engraved receiver with checkered and finer wood included cost $100.[10] The more expensive grades of the Model 1897 were the standard, trap, pigeon, and tournament grades. These were the grades that were normally equipped with an engraved receiver and with checkered, finer wood.[6][16] The less expensive and plainer grades were the Brush, Brush Takedown, Riot, and Trench. These grades were not given the higher valued wood or special designs.[6][16] This is because these guns were designed and built for hard abuse. These grades stood a higher chance of being badly damaged so there was no need to put extra money into them for appearance purposes. As the functions that were performed with these grades required them to be lightweight, it was not beneficial to use heavy and expensive wood when designing them. Most often, when these grades were purchased, they were purchased in high numbers. By designing these grades with standard wood and finish, it kept the prices at a lower level.[6][16] They were also sold in German catalogues for prices comparable to luxury double-barreled shotguns.[17]

Unlike most modern pump-action shotguns, the Winchester Model 1897 (versions of which were type classified as the Model 97 or M97 for short) fired each time the action closed with the trigger depressed (that is, it lacks a trigger disconnector). Coupled with its five-shot capacity, this made it effective for close combat, such that troops referred to it as a "trench sweeper". This characteristic allowed troops to fire the whole magazine with great speed. The Model 1897 was so effective, and feared, that the German government protested (in vain) to have it outlawed in combat.[21][22] The Model 1897 was used again in World War II by the United States Army and Marine Corps, where it was used alongside the similarly militarized version of the hammerless Model 1912.[23] Some were still in service during the Korean War[24] and the Vietnam War.[25]

Other military uses of the shotgun included "the execution of security/interior guard operations, rear area security operations, guarding prisoners of war, raids, ambushes, military operations in urban terrain, and selected special operations". Despite protesting them, Germans did not listen to Ludendorff and decided to use and unofficially adopt the M1897 for their own use with modifications and named it "trench mauser" and mainly place them with stormtroopers.[22]

Although the Model 1897 was popular with American troops in World War I, the Germans soon began to protest its use in combat. "On 19 September 1918, the German government issued a diplomatic protest against the American use of shotguns, alleging that the shotgun was prohibited by the law of war."[22] A part of the German protest read that "[i]t is especially forbidden to employ arms, projections, or materials calculated to cause unnecessary suffering" as defined in the 1907 Hague Convention on Land Warfare.[3] This is the only known occasion in which the legality of actual combat use of the shotgun has been raised.[22] However, the United States interpreted its use of the shotgun differently than Germany. The Judge Advocate General of the Army, Secretary of State Robert Lansing, carefully considered and reviewed the applicable law and promptly rejected the German protest.[22] France and Britain had double-barreled shotguns[further explanation needed] available for use as trench warfare weapons during World War I; however, unable to obtain high-powered ammunition and judging reload speed too slow for close combat, these countries did not field them.[22]

Browning's association with Winchester continued until 1902 andresulted in the Model 1885 Single Shot Rifle, the Model 1887lever-action shotgun, the Model 1893 and Model 1897 pump-actionshotguns, and the Model 1892, Model 1894, and Model 1895lever-action rifles. The Model 1894 alone resulted in over fivemillion sales for the company and is still in production.Additional Browning patents were purchased by Winchester but neverproduced to prevent competing firms from bringing them tomarket.


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