This is a response to the first three questions. The other guys are right, the best 97 is the best you can find, the odds are better with the later models (E series), but even a good "C series" is better than bad "E". Most originals you will find are takedowns. Again, just buy the best you can find. How to check them - I would take along 2 or 3 fired shells and 2 or 3 dummy rounds. Put a fired shell slightly into the chamber, close the slide and then open it just like you would if you were firing. The extractors should pull the shell out without problems, and the ejector should give it a healthy toss out the side - getting it out of you way so you can load the next round. With the dummy rounds, load them in the loading tube and then see if they feed (be careful they don't double feed) and eject. If that's all okay, see if the loading tube "unscrews," pull it and the slide forward and see if the takedown actually will take down (the extender will unscrew easily from the frame, allowing the barrel/tube/slide to be removed). Check to see what shape the bore is in, check the slide handle (the forestock) and the stock to see if there are cracks. Look around to see if any screw heads are badly bunged up (particularly the little one right by the hammer - if it's a mess you will have a hell of a time taking the 97 apart). Check the frame thoroughly to make sure there aren't any open holes without the screw, pin, or spring that is supposed to be there. That's my quick check with no gunsmith around, anyway. Best of luck.