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Zachariah Smith 70528

Best 97 Barrel Length?

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Just bought a nice Winchester 1897 that works very well with nice bluing-only issue is that previous owner etched his name large on both sides of receiver.

 

My other 97s have 18.5 to 20 inch barrels and I am now trying to decide what length to cut the barrel or even if I should cut the barrel at all. It’s now 30 inches with a full choke.

 

Conventual SASS wisdom seems to favor short barrels but is that the best thing to do?

 

Thanks,

 

Zach.

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Howdy

 

Please don't cut it. They ain't making them anymore. Everyone that gets cut is one less original in existence. If you already have two that have been cut down, why do you have to cut this one? My '97 was made in 1908 and has its original 30" full choke barrel. The idea that a full choke will not work for CAS is a fallacy if you understand how to aim a shotgun. Besides, a 30" full choke barrel makes a dandy Trap gun.

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Howdy

 

Please don't cut it. They ain't making them anymore. Everyone that gets cut is one less original in existence. If you already have two that have been cut down, why do you have to cut this one? My '97 was made in 1908 and has its original 30" full choke barrel. The idea that a full choke will not work for CAS is a fallacy if you understand how to aim a shotgun. Besides, a 30" full choke barrel makes a dandy Trap gun.

 

 

I agree with Driftwood 100%, don't cut the barrel.

 

But, I'll take it one step further.

 

I have 2 97's. One with a 20" no choke, and one with a 30" full choke. I specifically bought the long barrel because I wanted one, and they are very hard to find.

 

I have used both at CAS events. Normally, I use the 20". But, I have found that on stages that put the shotgun targets a little farther out, that the longer barrel, more choked one works better on knockdowns than the short one. Granted, you don't often see the shotgun targets out far enough for this to be important, but it does happen occasionally. I was at a shoot, with 2 firends, and so I had a lot of guns in the cart that day, including both 97's. Well, after only one stage, I switched to the longer barrel cuz the targets at this shoot were a little farther away that I was used to, and the tighter choke helped me hit them more consistantly.

 

If you *really* want another short barrel, I suggest selling the long one as is. You can prolly get more for it than the cost of the shorty cuz they are getting so hard to come by these days.

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Zach,

 

Is the name professionally etched into the receiver? If so there may be some collector value. If it is roto pen etched then there would be no collector value. Even at that you might look into swapping it for a shorter one rather than cutting.

 

Something I have observed when I cut off a extra barrel to 20'' the internal measurement was very close to improved cylinder. Later when I got the itch I cut it to 18.5'' and it went to cylinder dimension, now this may have been just normal production variance or maybe Winchester put a very long taper into the choke. So, if you decide to cut it I would suggest an experiment. Cut it back an inch or two at a time and check the internal dimension. You may be able to fine tune your choke to what ever you want.

 

Hope this helps

 

Smoke

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If you do cut the barrell putting a choke in it is a big help, some cut barrells will shoot a pattern with a hole in the middle.

CPP

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My take on barrel length is somewhat different.

 

Do you wear glasses, contacts, far sighted or near sighted? What length pistol barrels do you shoot? Is the front sight visible when presented to the target? Do you have to squint to see the front sight?

 

When my pistols are presented, the length from the front sight to my eye is 36". I see the front sight clearly. My rifle was a front sight the same distance as does my shotgun(s). This gives 'me' the sight radius for all of my guns to be the same. I have done this for my wife's guns as well. This works for "US".

Not everyone has the same length of pull or eye dominance and you mileage may vary. I have found that having all of the front sights the same make sighting consistence and consistency saves time.

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Ah cummon guys. Except for us CAS shooters, there is no "collector" market for '97s. There were over a million of them made and about half of them are still in the back of some closet somewhere.

If YOU like the heft and feel of a short barrel shotgun, cut it down. Cut barrels only shoot with holes in the pattern when some clown has used a pipe cutter. At CAS distances, a cut barrel with no choke will take targets down just fine. If you want a short barrel gun to "reach out" simply add screw in chokes.

Personally, I never met a barrel too short as long as it was federally legal. It's a subjective thing only the owner/shooter can decide.

If you do decide to have it cut, have it done right.

 

Coffinmaker

 

PS: Chances are, if some previous owner scratched their name on the receiver flats, the gun was used at a Duck Club or Pheasant Club in years past when the '97 was "the" gun. I would personally have the name properly removed 'cause it's "my" gun now.

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I chose not to cut the barrel on mine. I can't remember the year it was made off the top of my head but it was pre WWI

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My take.....unless it's a pigeon grade, or trap gun, then the gun will keep it's value....

 

If I see a nice 97 that has good bluing, good wood, few nicks and dings, functions properly etc etc......let's say it's a 500 dollar gun...(I've paid more for a really good one).....If I cut the barrel is it now not a 500 dollar gun to a cowboy shooter?......If I had found the SAME gun already cut would I not pay the 500?........

 

Cut it if you want......I like 20 to 22 inches.....never cared for the 18 inch guns.....

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I'm with Driftwood on this one - don't cut it down. I was at a show today, and the hacked down ones were going for around $350. The unaltered ones were going for $600+. The logic of this rampant fascination with halving the value of a perfectly good shotgun continues to elude me.

 

Winchester made over a million of them? So what? Ford made over a million Model T's, and right now they're selling for anywhere from $15,000 to $30,000. Would you buy one of those, then put mag wheels on it and stuff a hemi engine in it just because they made a million of them?

 

The tighter patterns, longer sight radius, and better balance are good enough reasons to leave it alone. Want a short '97? Buy a Norinco for $275 and be done with it.

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I've got 4 Winchester 1897's. 1 solid frame, 3 take-downs all with 30 inch barrels. 1 take-down has two sets of barrels, 30" full, a 25 inch cyl bore

both serial-ed to the gun. People say cutting them down makes it easier to shoot through windows. HUH? Why not just stand back 8-10 inches more?

I'm from the "OLD Days" when there were no gun carts, and everyone stood in line waiting to shoot with the guns on the toe

of their boots. Being 6'6" tall, I liked having a long barrel so I could hold it without bending over. I think in the long run, a uncut Winchester will be worth more $$$$.

 

Big Jake 1001

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I didn't see anyone say this yet but the feds say 18 inches is the limit to shortness. Any shorter and you have a NFA weapon = bad news.

 

My advise if you cut make it 20 inches.

 

Unless the gun belonged to anyone significant or is in immaculate condition there is no collectors value.

There are millions.....

 

 

Depending upon the depth of the engraving I might well have it polished out.

Reblueing would be necessary.

 

My 2 cents.

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The only reason I would be cautious buying an 1897 already cut down is because I would suspect that a SASS shooter may have already worn it out and sold it. If it weren't for SASS, the 1897 would be in the bargain barrels at the gun stores. Winchester quit making them a few years after the Remington 870 came on the market. I say cut the thing and use it. 30" barrels are too long and clumsy shooting threw windows and such. Enjoy.

 

 

Badlands Bob (the barbarian)

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Howdy

 

A few facts to muddy the waters.

 

There were not 'millions' of 1897s made. There were about 1,024,700 when production ended in 1957. Parts clean up accounted for maybe 2000 more.

 

The Remington 870 was introduced in 1950, before the end of 1897 production. The 870 was Remington's answer to the Winchester Model 12, not the 1897.

 

Whether or not you choose to cut down a nice old '97, it is a fact that they are not being made any more, and one more cut down is one less long barrel in existence.

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My advice is to take it to your local matches and ask the shooters that are shooting.

You may find that the concensus varies from what you here on the wire.

I personally would cut the barrel to 21 or 22" and shoot it as often as I could.

Johnny Meadows

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CAS is the reason 1897's are desireable...period. So that being said unless it's a 98% cherry, cut it the length that YOU want and don't look back.

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If I were selling and somebody tried to get a pristine cut 97 from me for a few hundred less just because it was cut.....I'd laugh and walk away................If cut 97's are going for less at gunshows I'd check them over closer; Most likely there is something else other than the barrel that is wrong with it....

 

So if a guy buys a 500 dollar 97 , sends it off to the best CAS gunsmiths, has it cut, new bead, forcing cone lengthened, action job, chokes.....etc etc. etc........adding after shipping at least 200 dollars more to the gun (700+ now)....it's still only a 350 dollar gun to some un-educated gunshow numbskull?........Sorry no sale....we aren't talking baseball cards and comic books here....."near mint" only means I have a good "base gun" to work with to make a working tool for my sport...

 

CW

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21 inches..........works well for movement and still points nice and will work good for skeet ,but I locktighted in an improved cylinder just for a little better pattern

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I say "go ahead and cut it". That way mine, in pristine original configuration, will be worth more. In fact, all you choppers out there, keep on choppin' 'em up. Soon enough Driftwood and me will be the only ones with original barrels and they will be worth outrageous prices. I'm in it for the long haul. . . . Cut away!

 

DD-DLoS

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it's not a moral issue.. it's a barrel and when I own a gun it's mine, I'm not simply a steward of it. When I'm dead I won't care and it will be the next guys problem. oh and I've cut three 32" 97 barrels as well as a few Browning BSS's,SKB's, Model 12's the list goes on and on.

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I've cut several from 18" to 26". Actually, I don't do the cuttin', I take them to the Gun Butcher. The 18" hangs in the walk-in closet real well. The 21" works well in and out of tight windows. I like the 24" best for balance and pointing at target. Got a real pristine takedown just settin' in the safe waitin' for the chopping block. If yer really not sure, then cut it long see how ya like it, then cut it shorter if ya want.

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Ah know ya didn't ask this, but I've cut all mine for a 13.5" length of pull. Means cuttin' some off the stock allowin' for the addition of the butt pad if ya want one. Brings the port into my natural reach without having to stretch. Yep cut 'em on both ends.

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CAS is the reason 1897's are desireable...period. So that being said unless it's a 98% cherry, cut it the length that YOU want and don't look back.

 

 

 

 

+1

 

 

 

AO

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If the 97 looks new in the box, maybe you should leave it original,

if your going to shoot cowboy action stages with it, chances are your going to beat it like a rented mule as soon as you hear a beep,

 

Cut it and have fun.

 

 

I cut both ends of my 97's shorter than most, and i run them hard, their a tool. A much loved tool, but still just a tool...

 

 

3GC

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Guest diablo slim shootist

how a bought this _look for a new barrel (maybe Norinco) put that on it

and keep the long barrel in the safe to put back on at a latter date :unsure:

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norinco's have different threads... maybe find a used barrel, but why go to the expense unless its a almost new gun, but why would you shoot an almost new gun that to good to cut the barrel? if its a collectable 97 then you shouldn't shoot it...

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Unless a 97 is in mint condition, a Black Diamond trap gun in excellent condition, or is factory engraved there is no collector interest in them. One that has a name etched into both sides with a Vibro tool has zero collector value and is valued only as a shooter and CAS people are the only ones shooting them. Cut as you desire. Mine is cut to 21." Such guns are not holy relics. Their value is in their utility. Now on the other hand, if you have a Colt Walker in 40% condition leave it alone. Its entire value is as a collector's item.

 

Buck

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Guns are tools to be used and I can't see a 97 being of much use collecting dust in the back of someones safe nor maintaining its 30 inch barrel. Now if someone spied my hacksaw just prior to the cut and wanted to rescue the 97 in the form of cash or a short barreled 97, that would be fine indeed. But otherwise, here comes 20" and a lot of fine CAS shooting. I had a commemorative Winchester rifle that shot like a dream. Also other "Semi Collectibles" that were equally fine shooters. I just can't see owning a gun that you're not shooting. Smithy.

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I'm with Driftwood on this one - don't cut it down. I was at a show today, and the hacked down ones were going for around $350. The unaltered ones were going for $600+. The logic of this rampant fascination with halving the value of a perfectly good shotgun continues to elude me.

 

It's not a "Perfectly Good" shotgun IF it is not in the configuration that I want.

 

Winchester made over a million of them? So what? Ford made over a million Model T's, and right now they're selling for anywhere from $15,000 to $30,000. Would you buy one of those, then put mag wheels on it and stuff a hemi engine in it just because they made a million of them?

 

No - I would put a polished flathead in it and "Moon" discs on the wheels - but not because they made a million of them - but because IT IS MINE to do with as I wish.

 

The tighter patterns, longer sight radius, and better balance are good enough reasons to leave it alone. Want a short '97? Buy a Norinco for $275 and be done with it.

 

Our cowboy guns are not collectibles - they are tools. My tools are modified, altered or cut to work best for the job I assign to them and to please their owner (ME). IMO - I like 20" barrels.

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Guns are tools to be used and I can't see a 97 being of much use collecting dust in the back of someones safe nor maintaining its 30 inch barrel. Now if someone spied my hacksaw just prior to the cut and wanted to rescue the 97 in the form of cash or a short barreled 97, that would be fine indeed. But otherwise, here comes 20" and a lot of fine CAS shooting. I had a commemorative Winchester rifle that shot like a dream. Also other "Semi Collectibles" that were equally fine shooters. I just can't see owning a gun that you're not shooting. Smithy.

 

I'm not talking about leaving the gun in the safe because you don't like its configuration. I'm talking about shooting it the way it is. I don't shoot my 30" full choke '97 very much for cowboy just because I am not a fan of shooting the '97 in CAS, I prefer a double. But I always use it for Cowboy Trap because it is a terrific trap gun. If I ever went to the trouble of learning to single load my '97 over the top like most do, you can bet I would shoot it just as it is. Just like I shoot the pants of my 30" full choked Model 12 in regular trap.

 

Folks, the fact is much as we may not like to think about it we are likely to not be the final owners of these guns. With old guns, I kind of look at it the way the Indians looked at the land. I am a steward of my old guns while they are in my possession. Some day, they will no longer be mine. I would like to pass them back into the gene pool of old guns just the way I found them, other than any repairs I may have made to make them operate properly. I have said this before and I will say it again. They ain't making them any more. One more cut down is one less to pass on in its original condition. If you want to cut something down, why are yo going through the effort to buy an old gun when you can buy a brand new one?

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Guest diablo slim shootist

i just bought a new IAC to shoot and put my 1901 back in the safe

for my kids when i go . my new gun actually is smoother than my original :unsure:

i cut one take down in the past and left one solid model alone at 30 in.Diablo

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I cut mine on both ends......LOP and Barrel to 22"......seems to me I read somewhere it takes 22" for a full burn of the powder???..Bandit

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HOWDY; I am with Deuce Stevens .I have a 99+% unfired collector(serial number million +) that will never be cut or altered. I did use it to win side matchs at the Rangers Labour day match awhile back. AS for CAS matchs that is what the other ones are for .

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