WWI Winchester Model 1897 Solid Frame Trench Gun 12 GA Pump Shotgun, C&R

SOLD FOR: $3,205

LSB#: 240129BH012

Make: Winchester

Model: 1897 Trench Gun, 97

Serial Number: E678926

Year of Manufacture: Ca. 1919

Gauge: 12 Ga. 2 3/4? Shells

Action Type: Pump Action Shotgun, Tube Fed, Exposed Hammer

Markings: The left shoulder of the barrel is marked “MANUFACTURED BY THE WINCHESTER REPEATING ARMS CO, NEW HAVEN. CONN. U.S.A / PAT. NOV. 25. 90. DEC. 6. 92. JULY 21. 96. FEB. 22. 98. JUNE 14. 98. OCT. 16. 1900. DEC. 25. 06. JULY. 5. 10.” followed by “12 GA.”. The chamber is marked “CYL”. The top of the barrel is marked with a “WP” proof mark, found again on the top of the receiver. The bottom of the receiver is marked with the serial number. The action bar is marked “MODEL 1897 / -WINCHESTER- / TRADE MARK REG. IN U.S. PAT. OFF.”. The right of the receiver is marked “U S” over a flaming bomb.

Barrel Length: 20 3/8” (20? nominal)

Choke: Fixed Cylinder Bore

Sights / Optics: The front sight is a bead set on the base of the heatshield/bayonet lug. The barrel is not drilled for a bead.

Stock Configuration & Condition: The stocks are two-piece walnut with a grooved slide handle, thin-wrist semi-pistol grip, high straight comb and checkered black hard rubber Winchester buttplate. There is a sling plate inlet to the belly (there is another swivel mounted to the bayonet lug assembly). The slide handle has a loss at the rear edge on the left with scattered nicks, scuffs and scratches. The slide handle has play to the slide assembly, able to be rotated into contact with the barrel on each side. The buttstock has been refinished, showing more minor wear with some pooling and streaking in the finish. There is a crack in the left-front of the wrist. There are scattered nicks, scuffs and scratches. The LOP measures 13 7/8″ from the front of the trigger to the back of the buttplate. The plate has moderate wear and is alternately proud and shy to the wood. Overall, the stocks are in Good-plus condition as partially refinished.

Type of Finish: Parkerized

Finish Originality: Refinished, likely Arsenal Refurbished. The bolt and lifter are still blued.

Bore Condition: The bore is semi-bright. There is scattered minor erosion in the bore. The muzzle is dented slightly. In this writer’s opinion, the bore rates 5 out of 10 and would rate 8 without the dent.

Overall Condition: This shotgun retains about 35% of its current metal finish. Finish remains mostly in protected areas and around raised features. Most exposed surfaces show wear or have gone to a light patina. There are scattered nicks, scuffs and scratches with some minor surface oxidation. The action shows operational wear. The heat shield has been repaired and re-welded to the bayonet lug assembly. The bayonet lug stud is bend downward slightly and has grind-marks. The screw heads range from sharp to disfigured with questionably usable slots. The markings are clear. Overall, this shotgun rates in Good condition.

Mechanics: The action functions properly. This shotgun will slam-fire as designed. We have not fired this shotgun. As with all used firearms, a thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance standards.

Box, Paperwork & Accessories: None.

Our Assessment: After observing the Great War for the first three years, it became clear to the U.S. that serious close-range firepower was needed in trench warfare. The Model 1897 Trench grade was an evolution of this idea. The pre-existing Winchester Model 1897 was modified by adding a perforated steel heat shield over the barrel which protected the hand of the user from the barrel when it became over-heated, and an adapter with bayonet lug for affixing an M1917 bayonet. They were so effective and brutal in combat that the German high command once announced they would execute any US soldier captured with one in his possession. The 1897 Trench Gun was also durable enough that it would go on to see service in the second World War all the way through to the Gulf War.

This example was produced Ca. 1919 and has correct features for a Trench Gun. Unlike many WWI 1897 Trench Guns, there are martial markings on this shotgun, the right side of the receiver has “U S” hand-stamped over a flaming bomb Ordnance mark. There has been no end of speculation among collectors as to the reason for unmarked trench guns, but it appears that there were many which were delivered too late to actually make it to the front lines. The end of WWI came as a shock to nearly everyone. At the time, most of the Allied powers believed that the war would continue for at least a few more years. The German offensive Operation Michael had just been halted and the Second Battle of the Marne, the first successful Allied offensive, was just starting. No one would guess that the war would end less than 6 months later. Consequently, there were likely many Trench Guns which had been produced and/or delivered which were never issued and simply remained in the government’s inventory. This example, however, has markings consistent with a gun delivered early enough to be inspected and issued.

The gun shows wear consistent with service and has been parkerized, which would also be consistent with a gun that remained in service. The buttstock has been refinished and the heat shield repaired, but otherwise appears proper. The heat shield repair may even have been performed while still in service. This is a neat military 97 that will be tons of fun to shoot at the range and will be a nice addition to your collection. Please see our photos and good luck!

WWI Winchester Model 1897 Solid Frame Trench Gun 12 GA Pump Shotgun, C&R
WWI Winchester Model 1897 Solid Frame Trench Gun 12 GA Pump Shotgun, C&R