Model: 97 Trench Gun
Serial Number: E954635
Year of Manufacture: 1943 (http://winchestercollector.org/dates/)
Caliber: 12 Gauge with 2 ¾” Chamber
Action Type: Pump Action With Tubular Magazine
Markings: The left side of the barrel is marked “MODEL 97”, “WINCHESTER / TRADEMARK”, “12GA” and “2 ¾ CHAM. / 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 “43”. 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 / 954635” and the underside of the barrel extension is marked “954635”. The left side of the buttstock is marked with 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 He superseded Lt.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. The right side of the buttstock is marked with a large “RJM” in two places on the left side at the butt.
Barrel Length: 20 1/2″
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 lacquer finish. There is oil staining in the forend and in the back half of the buttstock. 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 cartouche and ordnance wheel are clear. The buttstock and forend are dark with oil staining. There is a large chip missing at the toe of the butt. There is a small surface chip missing from the left side of the buttstock at the butt, and several dings and bruises in the buttstock, many of which are dark with oil staining. The forend shows a large shallow bruise on its underside and a few tiny dings. The LOP measures 13 11/16” in length from the front of the trigger to the back of the buttplate, which fits the stock well except for where it is broken-off at the toe. The buttplate shows heavy wear at the heel and toe with moderate wear in the rest of the checkering. The buttplate is in about Fair condition. The stocks rate in about Good overall condition.
Type of Finish: Blue
Finish Originality: The finish is original.
Bore Condition: The bore is bright There is no erosion in the barrel but there are a few very light tool marks near the muzzle.
Overall Condition: The shotgun has about 70% of its original finish remaining. There are two strips of surface loss on the underside of the barrel from rubbing on the forend, thinning at the front of the barrel, and surface loss at the rear of the barrel with a plum colored patina forming over the metal. The barrel also shows a few light handling marks with a small scrape mark through the finish on the right side near the muzzle. The magazine tube shows surface loss and thinning at the rear where it rubs on the slide, and a small bruise and surface loss at its front underside from rubbing on the sling swivel. The receiver shows surface loss on its edges with thinning on its barrel extension, its sides at the front, its underside and trigger guard. There are several light handling marks in the receiver with a small ding on its lower left side and another on its right side. The bayonet adapter shows thinning and the handguard shows surface loss on its edges with multiple light handling marks. About half of the screw heads are sharp and the other half show light marks from a screwdriver. One of the bayonet adapter screws is badly disfigured. The markings are clear. Overall, this shotgun rates in about Very Good condition.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly, and we did get rounds to cycle rounds into and out of the magazine tube. The buttstock is tight on the receiver, and the action is tight. 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. This trench gun includes a two-piece brown leather target style sling. The sling has two brass plated steel double hooks for adjusting length and an oblong brass plated steel ring is used to connect the two pieces. There are two leather sliders for keeping the straps together. The leather is stamped with a leafy vine motif. The leather a few light marks with verdigris sharting around the rivets. The sling is in about Fine Plus condition.
Our Assessment: This is a Winchester Model 97 Trench Gun made for the U.S. Military in 1943 during WWII. It has the correct serial number, proof marks, handguard and stock cartouches for a trench gun made after May of 1942. The shotgun is in about Very Good condition. There are two strips of surface loss on the underside of the barrel and spots of surface loss on the magazine tube from rubbing on the slide. There is thinning at the front of the barrel and on the bayonet adapter. There is surface loss on the edges of the handguard and receiver, and at the rear of the barrel with a plum colored patina forming over the metal. The barrel also shows a few light handling marks with a small scrape mark through the finish on the right side near the muzzle. The magazine tube thinning in spots and a small bruise and surface loss at its front underside from rubbing on the sling swivel. The receiver thinning on its barrel extension, its sides at the front, its underside and trigger guard. There are several light handling marks in the receiver and on the handguard, with a small ding on its lower left side of the receiver and another on its right side. There is oil staining at the rear of the buttstock and in the forend. There is a large chip missing from the toe of the buttstock and a piece missing from the toe of the buttplate. The buttstock shows several dings and bruises, many of which are dark with oil staining. The forend shows a large shallow bruise on its underside and a few tiny dings. The bore is bright with no erosion. The Winchester M97 and M12 shotguns got their “Trench Gun” nickname in WWI where they were 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. 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. This shotgun has seen some honest use, but the proof marks in the metal are clear and the cartouche and ordnance marks on the buttstock are clear. It has its original finish, a tight action and no import marks. It is complete with a M1907 style leather sling, which is stamped in a leafy pattern.