Model: 97 Trench Gun
Serial Number: E945045
Year of Manufacture: 1942 (http://winchestercollector.org/dates/)
Caliber: 12 Gauge with 2 ¾” Chamber
Action Type: Pump Action, Tubular Magazine Fed, Exposed Hammer Shotgun.
Markings: The left side of the barrel is marked “MODEL 97”, “WINCHESTER / TRADEMARK”, “12GA” and “2 3/4CHAM. / CYL.”. The top of the barrel is marked with a Flaming Bomb proof and a circled “WP” proof. The right side of the barrel is marked “MADE IN U.S.A. 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.”. The underside of the barrel at the receiver is marked “42”. The top of the receiver is marked with a circled “WP” proof and the left side of the receiver is marked “U S” and with a Flaming Bomb proof. The front underside of the receiver is marked “E / 945045” and the underside of the barrel extension is marked “945045”. The left side of the buttstock has a rectangular cartouche marked “G.H.D.” and with an Ordnance wheel. “GHD” stands for Col. Guy H. Drewry, Chief Inspector for S&W, Colt, Winchester and Underwood 1930-1946”. He superseded Lt. Col W. Broberg after May of 1942.
Barrel Length: 20”
Choke: The barrel is choked Cylinder.
Sights / Optics: This shotgun is mounted with a small silver bead at the front of the bayonet adaptor.
Stock Configuration & Condition: The stock and forend are dark walnut with a satin finish. The buttstock has a smooth pistol grip and a black checkered hard rubber buttplate with a circled “WINCHESTER / REPEATING / ARMS CO.” logo in the center. There is a sling swivel inlet into the belly of the stock and another sling swivel just above the lower lug on the bayonet adapter. The forend is round with eighteen grooves. The forend grooves are sharp and the cartouches on the left side of the buttstock are clear. There are two compression marks on the right side of the buttstock, another in the belly just behind the grip and a few small dings, the most noticeable being on the left side of the grip near the bottom. There are also a few tiny dings and finish loss on the bottom front edge of the grip. The forend shows several small compression marks around its front edge. The LOP measures 13 ¾” in length from the front of the trigger to the back of the buttplate, which fits the stock well. The buttplate shows wear at the heel and toe with a deep compression mark in the toe. The checkering shows moderate wear. The buttplate is in about Very Good condition. The stocks rate in Fine condition.
Type of Finish: Blue
Finish Originality: Original
Bore Condition: The bore is bright. There is no erosion.
Overall Condition: This shotgun retains about 75% of its metal finish. There is pinprick surface erosion at the front edge of the barrel, on the top of the bayonet adapter and at the top front of the handguard. There is surface loss at the front of the barrel and bayonet adapter, the front and rear edges of the recoil shield, the front edges of the barrel extension and the receiver. There is surface loss on the edges of the top shoulders of the receiver, with thinning on the edges of its bottom shoulders. There is a ding in the top front edge of the barrel, another just behind it on the top of the barrel and marks through the finish of the barrel under the recoil shield from the rivets in the shield. There are scratches through the finish on the top of the bayonet adapter and at the front of the recoil shield with an abraded spot on the top of the recoil shield about 9” from the muzzle. There are several spots of surface loss and light scratches on the recoil shield. There are a few dings under the finish on the front underside of the magazine tube plus a bright ding in the finish, with several light scratches and thinning in the remainder of the tube. There are several light scratches and a few small dings in the barrel extension, a large ding on the front right side of the receiver and two dings on its top left. The rest of the receiver shows several scratches and a few light scrapes in its finish. The edges of the trigger guard show thinning and there are a few light handling marks in its finish. The carrier pin screw is disfigured but serviceable and the remaining screws are sharp but with light marks of a screwdriver. The markings are clear except for the patent dates on the barrel, some of which have been partially removed by wire wheel. Overall, this shotgun rates in about Fine condition.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly. . We did not fire this shotgun. As with all used firearms, a thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance standards.
Box, Paperwork & Accessories: The handguard is unmarked and has four rows of 19 holes, which is correct for a WWII handguard.
Our Assessment: This is a Winchester Model 97 Trench Gun made for the U.S. Military in WWII. It has the correct serial number, proof marks, date coded barrel, handguard and stock cartouches for a trench gun made after May of 1942. The finish is original. The shotgun is in about Very Good – Fine condition with 75% of its finish remaining. There are spots of pinprick surface erosion at the front of the barrel and the tops of the bayonet adapter and handguard, surface loss on most of the edges, and thinning on the remainder. There are a few dings and several scratches in the finish at the front of the barrel, bayonet adapter and handguard, with more on the receiver. The wood shows three compression marks and a few smaller dings in the buttstock, with light wear on the front bottom edge of the grip. The forend shows sharp edges on its grooves, and on a few dings around its front edge. The bore is bright and without erosion. The Winchester M97 and M12 shotguns got their “Trench Gun” nickname in WWI where they were was used to clear the enemy from the trenches in France. Of note is the fact that 25,020 M97 Trench Guns were made during WWI and only 6300 M12’s, while there were 33028 M12 riot guns (no bayonet lug or handguard) and only 5371 M97 riot guns made in the second war. We guess the people doing the ordering understood the importance of being able to slam fire the M97 by holding the trigger down and pumping it as fast as you could – a very quick way of clearing trenches indeed! After WWI, the trench and riot gun versions of these models served U.S. forces in the banana republic wars in Haiti and Nicaragua, WWII, Korea and in Vietnam. Various other shotguns were also used such as the Ithaca Model 37, which could also be slam fired. Today, the military still uses shotguns in combat, one of which is a specially designed Mossberg 500. The trench guns were a very valuable tool to our military for many years, and no collection of U.S. Military firearms would be complete without a Model 97.