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Zachariah Smith 70528

Best 97 Barrel Length?

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I bought a 97 back in 1970 for $80.00. It was in very nice condition and I used it for duck hunting until we were forced to use steel shot. I have had several really nice ones that I could not force myself to cut. There was a time before CAS that 97s cost about 1/2 as much as a Model 12 and those Model 12s were selling for $200-400.00. Now it seems 97s are twice as much as a Model 12. You will often find a nice 97 with a cutts or poly choke, these usually sell for less and the collector value is't there....so cut away. As I grow older I find that there is a better balance with a longer barrel. If a longer barrel shoots too tight the choke can be opened up a bit but the balance is still there. I have a 97 on the classifieds right now with a 28 inch mod choke. It shoots fine and seems to be better balanced than my short 20 inch, but having several 97s one of them has to go if I want to buy something else. Maybe another 97?

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Back when I started CAS shooting/FFL gunsmithing (about 20 years ago) anytime we took a trip my wife and I would make the back roads and stop at every fleamarket, gun/pawn shop along the way. Back then almost every gun/pawn shop had a 97 or 2. They were slow movers so they could be had for $75 to $100. I bought everyone I came upon. I sold these guns at CAS shoots but they never sold well unless they were cut to about 20" and had the actions smoothed up. It was nothing to triple or even quadruple my money.

Bottom line, if the CAS game goes away they wil be nothing more than pawn/gun shop staples for cheap again. Do what you need to do to make it work for you. It won't be worth any less unless it's a pristine Black Diamond or custom gun.

 

As a side note, I had nice 50's gun sent to me to have a new 20" front end built and fitted. He had almost as much in the new front end as he did in the gun.

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I agree with Deuce, cut it and don't look back. A 20-21" gun just handles so much better

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In 2003 I found a new in the box with paperwork unfired 97 made in 1947.

Price was fair, my plan was to make another match grade 97, The new gun was a takedown not a solidframe, so I passed on it. I have no use for takedowns.

But if it had of been a solidframe, your darn right that I would have been shooting that puppy as a match gun.

 

3GC

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