So true, soon after buying a basket case 97 and one that would not take down I realized what was going on.
"................ I can't tell you how many 1897's I've seen for sale at Gun shows with the mag tube in upside down. I've been allowed to fix a lot of them for the owners, in just 10 minutes with my Swiss Army Knife and they've been very thankful. Some just don't care and say NO, it'll sell anyway.
You can't believe how much easier it is to take down and put together a proper '97 with everything right. No forcing of parts and it works so much better. I was wondering if your Mag tube was in correctly, or upside down. The little piece of Metal with the 2 small screws holding it on the tube in front of the wood should always be under the barrel, not on the bottom when assembled. The later ones had a pushed up bump instead of the screwed one on the tube...again under the barrel, not on the bottom. That way the interrupted threads can line up with the ones in the receiver correctly. Just sayin'"
I couldn't have said it any better. That and putting the ring in backwards. Also found one where the nimrod filled off most of the nub on the ring, so it would work, yikes.