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Shortening my Winchester 97


Shameless Womanizer 57929

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I bought a 1903 oft Gunbroker I will have my hands on next weekend.  What is the consensus on length of the barrel?  The weapon has a 30" full choke on it now.

 

i have owned two of these in the past and could not bring myself to the table for the amputation.

 

Any tips on cutting would be appreciated.  I was thinking a pipe cutter and cleaning up the opening with a light touch using a Dremel.  

 

I do better pointing rather than aiming so I'm thinking of going beadless, allowing an inch extra in length in case I want a bead professionally installed.

 

aint it pretty?  I'm hoping that's natural grain on the stock and not a chewing tobacco stain.

 

any POSITIVE advice would be greatly appreciated.

 

i think I'm gonna use the cut off piece for my School Bus tire and terrorist billy.

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Hacksaw. Use a square to mark the line. If you have a belt sander, use the vertical to square. Dowel rod wrapped in 400 grit for the inside chamfer and lightly block sand the outer edge.

You will find the tube cutter will crimp the barrel.

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Tape off the  barrel and cut off with a hacksaw.

File flat and then crown with a rattail file .

Thats how I have done all of mine .

Drill a hole and install new bead .

Just sayin

Rooster 

PS.

I do 19 inches .

That way there is NO Questions of Legal or not

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Crayfish,

I've seen some good shooters run the 97 with barrels from 18.5" up to approx 24".

And, sometimes, you'll see a top 97 shooter blasting away with a 26".

 

I think it has a lot to do with balance and size/strength of the person handling the 97.

 

But I think a more important aspect of being able to run the 97 efficiently is the Length of Pull.   Get your LOP set correctly for you and your stock 'pitch' and I doubt you will be able to tell much difference in a 18.5" and a 22".

 

P.S. - I don't use those beads on my 97's either.   I like a bare barrel.

 

..........Widder

 

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You coul cut the barrel to the legal limit of 18 inches, measured from the closed action (action in battery) to the mussel.  As others will suggest, it is smarter to keep the barrel length to a minimum of 20 inches, for a variety of reasons.

 

20 inches or less, OR longer is a matter of preference, mostly related to balance and handling.  Many like them very short; many like them longer.

 

MOST you'll see in SASS range from about 18 1/2 to 24 inches.  

 

Some cowboys won't cut them at all, preferring the longer length.

 

To cut,.make a perfect (square) line around the barrel at the cut line, use a hacksaw (a fine, sharp or new blade) and carefully bake the cut. Then, carefully dress off the rough cut on the outside and inside of the cut-off muzzle, using a decent, small file (half round file good for inside of muzzle).  If the bright cut bothers you, dress it with cold bluing.

 

Brownells sells a sight kit with a variety of bead sights, a tap and die, to install a new sight if you want one.  

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If you decide to cut it, don't cut it right at 18 inches. One little mishap and you got an illegal gun. Leave some length for insurance.  I got mine set at 20 and 22 inches. 

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I cut mine at 20".  Why?

Our guns are tools and sadly are not always treated "perfectly".  I figured at 20 inches, when I inevitably drop my shotgun off a table, off a fence, off a haybale, whack it on a window frame, etc.  I would retain enough length to be able to recut it and re-square the muzzle.

 

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2 hours ago, Ben Beam said:

Seems like a shame to cut it down. Maybe you just need longer arms? Try dangling 50 pound weights in your hands for a few weeks, let us know how it goes. 

That works for arms too?

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Randy Weaver, the apparent victim according to some, in the Ruby Ridge incident, was asked (pestered) repeatedly to furnish sawed off shotguns (barrel lengths less than 18 inches) to an undercover  ATF agent.  Finally, Weaver sold the man more than one altered shotgun.  Charges were brought against Weaver for selling a shotgun with a barrel length 3/8" shorter than the 18" legal length.  ATF offered to drop the charges if Weaver would infiltrate th Aryan Nations (AN) group, gather information and testify for the Government.  Weaver refused and told his AN associates about the ATF charges and scheme.  Weaver went to ground, holing up on his remote property, after ATF (coming for Weaver) shot and killed Weaver's son and the kid's dog.  A family friend with the boy, shot and killed the ATF shooter and managed to escape the gunfire. Later, Weaver's wife was killed by an ATF sniper, as she stood in the doorway of her home, holding her infant.  Weaver may have been wounded, I don't recall.  There also may have been other deaths, I don't recall that either.  The above is fully or close to, being all, correct.  It's close enough

 

Weaver repeatedly denied that  the shotguns he sold to the ATF agent were less than the 18" shotgun legal barrel length and claimed that the ATF shortened the barrels further once they took possession of them, to create false evidence to make him (Weaver) appear guilty.  Who knows about that?  No one.  Read about it if you want more, but I think it irrelevant for more to appear here.  Please don't post any more about the Ruby Ridge incident here.  I NOTED THE ABOVE FOR A REASON.

 

THE POINT IS:

The legality of firearms barrel lengths are measured in tiny increments....fractions of an inch....a saw-cut width, technically....,and barrel length is strictly enforced.  Don't flirt with how close you can get so you can say that it's still legal.  When barrel length gets to where it brushes the Devil's ass, then it becomes about the "Official" manner in which the measurement is performed.  After that, it becomes a courtroom legal argument, with you-know-who sitting as the defendant,

 

Keep your cut at 20" or more, measured from the front of the bolt face, with the action locked in battery.  If you don't know what that means, find out.  Functionally, you aren't going to notice the difference between an 18 and a 20 inch barrel.  It obviously is not worth it to have to answer for a 17 7/8 inch or 17 15/16 inch shotgun barrel.  It is however worth ten years of a person's life in prison, and forfeiture of many of one's Constitutional rights at the hands of an attack dog prosecutor.

 

 

 

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Wow!  It's scary times we live in.

 

I was thinking maybe 23" or so any damn hoo.

 

i was prolly right not to cut the other two 97 I owned.

 

I am slow as Christmas anyway.  Think I'll just have fun shooting the old girl from the hip.

 

Thank You all.

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I use a metal chopsaw and then emery cloth to clean up and some cold blue. 20" is my preference. My main match SG is a 1903 model. Order a hook screw from The Smithshop and replace the factory one, you'll be glad you did.

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10 hours ago, Ben Beam said:

Seems like a shame to cut it down. Maybe you just need longer arms? Try dangling 50 pound weights in your hands for a few weeks, let us know how it goes. 

Depends on what you want from your stages times. It's a tool too me and not a shame. That 97 has probably been is someone's closet and hasn't seen the light of day since the Mod 11-48 came out in 1949..........lol. 

 

I think getting it a hair cut, slicking it up and running 50 rounds a weekend would make it proud! 

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That gun was made in 1903 and the chamber was cut for roll crimp shells.  It would be a good idea to have the chamber reamed out for the modern star crimp shells.  I say cut the barrel, cut the stock, slick it up and shoot it.  If it weren't for SASS, all those 97's would still be in the $99 bargain barrels in the gun shops.

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I can do a roll crimp on plastic or paper.  Cool tool and put on a drill I bought from Ballistic Products.

 

I have this Nickeled Stoeger ordered from Cabelas coming as I rebuy my weapons.  If I have a problem with shell length.

 

i will have time to figure this out by the time the ALL SHOTGUN COWBOY MATCH in Granville Oklahoma with the SHORTGRASS RANGERS.

 

ill be there to fumigate with Holy Smoke.  I have a way ample supply of Win AA shells run up.

 

 

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PLUS ONE to Badlands Bob.  I personally like SHORT barrels.  I've cut most all my shotguns to 18 1/2 inches.  What ever length you settle on, SKIP the PIPE CUTTER.  As previously posted, the pipe cutter WILL crimp the end of the barrel.  Cut with a nice new fine cut hacksaw and true it up.  It is also an excellent idea to have the chamber extended and more important to have the forcing cone extended.  Extending the forcing cone will reduce felt recoil.  Then shoot it like you stole it!!  :)

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Well, here's a minority opinion.

 

Don't cut it!

 

I have two real 97's, and two reproductions.

 

One of the originals has a 30" full choke barrel and all the rest have 20" no chokes.

 

The first one I got was the original with a 20" and it was my main match shotgun for my first few years in the game.   But, just for the novelty, I wanted to have a long barreled one.   When I finally found one, I grabbed it and I found something interesting; I never miss with the longer barrel.  I occassionally would with the shorter one.  I just shoot better with the long barrel.  (In fact, I used it at EoT 2 years ago, and shot my first ever clean match with it...)   Plus, you get a lot of fun looks and questions from others when you use such an unusual gun.

 

And, yes, I know that from a collector standpoint that 97's are not really worth all that much, but from a historical one, once you cut an original barrel, it's gone.  It can never be restored.   Yes, it's yours, do whatever you want to it, but in my opinion, chopping the barrel on an original 97 is an unpleasant thing to do to a historical firearm.  If you really want a short barreled one, fine on that's alreay cut, there are plenty of them out there, or get a reproduction.   An original with a long barrel is getting harder to find, and I think that's a shame.

 

So try it with the long barrel.  You might like it.  If you don't, get another one.   But at least you'll also still have a long one for Cowboy trap or some other side event where a long barrel would serve you better.

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1 hour ago, El Mulo Vaquero, SASS #55942 said:

Cut off pieces make nice wind chimes! 

Is there a chart somewhere that tells what length for each note?

 

I have one original.  1914 30" full choke solid frame.  Staying that way.

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Way back in the Wabac (Sherman and the Professor), when Winchester was still making guns, they made somewhere in the neighborhood of a Million and Half '97s.  Unless you have one carried by Bonnie and Clyde, there is nothing historical about a '97.  With the exception of CAS, there is really no market for them.  There is really no collection interest in them.  Without CAS, there would still be piles of them at Gun Shows for 90 - 100 bucks a pop.  There are still about a Million of em still sitting in the back corner of folks closet.  Modifying one for your CAS desires???  You betcha.

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My vote is to leave the barrel length alone; unless you want a cylinder bore.  It is more important that the stock fits the shooter.  The only advantage to a shorter barrel is staging when shooting through props or if staged in a barrel.  I fitted properly fitted shotgun doesn't require aiming at the target; because it is pointed where you are looking.  when you see the bead on the stationary target pull the trigger.  On bonus fliers the long barrel helps with follow through.

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2 minutes ago, Widowmaker Hill SASS #59054 said:

Ya just gotta ask yourself..............'What would Ben Cartwright do'?

 

..........Widder

 

 

Make Hoss cut the barrel and then shorten the stock for Little Joe.

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13 hours ago, Imis Twohofon,SASS # 46646 said:

Remember, the media is gonna call it a Sawed Off Shotgun if you cut it from 36 in to 30 in

 

Imis

 

That's only going to become relevant if ol' crayfish becomes a baaaad boy......which ain't gonna happen.

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I chose 22" for mine.  My original thought was 20" but I wanted to put screw-in chokes on it and wanted a safety factor in case I screwed up the screw-ins.  It worked out fine though, and I'm happy with the 22" length.

 

If you do decide to mount a bead on the barrel, do it BEFORE you cut it off.  It's a lot easier to get it centered with the old front sight still in place.  (If you've got one of those specialty tools made for centering shotgun beads, you probably wouldn't be asking for advice!)

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Howdy, The eyes of the government . In Canada a drug dealer was charged with possession of a assault rifle, it was a flint lock muzzle loader rifle 4 feet long. sounded good on a news bite. 

 personally a little extra barrel helps smooth the swing so 22 inchs works fine for me.

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