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Mike McLellan

Winchester 1897 Pump Action Locking

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I recently purchased one and love the looks and feel of this gun. This one is the take down model and would have been produced in 1932. The problem in a nutshell is if I chamber a shell, I cannot get the action to open back up unless I actually fire the round. Doesn't matter if I push the button on the receiver or cock the hammer fully back. Any help would be greatly appreciated. I'm figuring their must be a simple solution. Otherwise the action operates like butter until I chamber that shell. Thanks in advance... Mike

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Once you work the action on a 97, you can't pump it again until it is fired.   That is by design.   That being said, if you lower the hammer, you should be able to open the action.

But what is odd is what you said about the button.   That buttons purpose is to allow you to open the action while the gun is cocked so you can eject a live round without having to lower the hammer on it, which is potentially dangerous.  That pushing the button does not allow you to open the action indicates that something is wrong.   

 

Question:   Can you open the action with an empty chamber while cocked?   You should not be able to.   Does the button work when the chamber is empty?  Again, if it does, but does not when there is something chambered then something is not right.

If it were mine, I'd take it to a a smith who knows 97's and have him give it a once over.


Also worth considering, most 97s have got 2-5/8" chambers, even though they are labeled 2-3/4"  They apparent;y measured things differently back then somehow.   That means you either need to have your chambered lengthened, or shoot shorter shells.   You can trim AA's or other plastic hulls back and just put in an overshot card before crimping if you reload, or use the 2-1/2" all brass Magtechs.   I use both types of shorter shells, but really should get my chambers lengthened eventually.

 

The 97 is a great gun.    Good luck with it.

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Oh yeah, one other thing, I notice that you've still got a long barrel on it.   For what it's worth, although most folks will tell you to cut it, I'll urge you not too.   My original 97 is a 20" tube, but I wanted to get a long barreled one, just to have one.   When I found a 30" full choke one, it almost immediately became my primary main match shotgun.  I found it to have slightly less recoil thanks to the extra weight, but more importantly, I hardly ever miss a shotgun target with the longer tube.   With the short one, I missed much more often.  

Take that with a grain of salt.

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Oh yeah, one other thing, I notice that you've still got a long barrel on it.   For what it's worth, although most folks will tell you to cut it, I'll urge you not too.   My original 97 is a 20" tube, but I wanted to get a long barreled one, just to have one.   When I found a 30" full choke one, it almost immediately became my primary main match shotgun.  I found it to have slightly less recoil thanks to the extra weight, but more importantly, I hardly ever miss a shotgun target with the longer tube.   With the short one, I missed much more often.  

Take that with a grain of salt.

You forgot to mention that with the field artillery length you can save on shotshells. You just yell "bang" and push the target over with the end of the barrel. :lol:

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I recently purchased one and love the looks and feel of this gun. This one is the take down model and would have been produced in 1932. The problem in a nutshell is if I chamber a shell, I cannot get the action to open back up unless I actually fire the round. Doesn't matter if I push the button on the receiver or cock the hammer fully back. Any help would be greatly appreciated. I'm figuring their must be a simple solution. Otherwise the action operates like butter until I chamber that shell. Thanks in advance... Mike

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Just a question, have you done a thorough teardown and cleaning?

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Thanks for the reply Hendo. Yes, I removed the barrel from the receiver and cleaned it well with Ballistol. I did not tear it down any further. It pumps flawlessly until that shell is loaded. If I shoot the gun all operates well. I just cannot find a way to unlock and removed that shell if the gun is not fired. Thanks again and Happy Thanksgiving.

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Thanks H.K. First off, I love that longer barrel and would never touch it. The gun is a 16 gauge and I measured the barrel at 28 inches. It's also full choke. I like all of that as it's main purpose s to be for coyotes. Thanks for all your information. I will fiddle with the button today and post the results. I thought about lowering the hammer fully while pointing is a safe direction, but decided against it I might also try that if all else continues to fail. Thanks again..!

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With the gun empty, if you cock the hammer and pull the trigger, the gun shouldn’t open until you push forward on the slide and hear a little click.  That should unlock the action.  
 

When you load and fire a live round, the inertia of the recoil pushes forward on the slide and unlocks the gun.

 

Depressing button on the right side should mechanically depress the same bar to unlock the action as the slide does when firing.  With the gun empty, you should be able to depress the button and work the action without it locking up.  If the hammer is on half cock, the button won’t unlock the action until the hammer is moved to full cock or all the way down.

 

If you load a live round and can’t open the action without firing the gun by pushing the button with the hammer not on half cock, leaving the only way to get the action open is to fire the gun, then something is wrong with either the gun or the way you are operating it.  
 

This is one of those things that would take about thirty seconds to show you or about an hour to write out.  

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You forgot to mention that with the field artillery length you can save on shotshells. You just yell "bang" and push the target over with the end of the barrel. :lol:

 

Not to mention all the funny looks you get at places like End of the Trail that have stage props that make it a challenge to move to the unloading table without having to duck.

 

But then when you shoot it clean, while using a Lightning, people just not and smile at you.   

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Actually ALL 97 came with chambers made for a shorter, roll-crimped shell.  They are marked as 2 3/4 but it was a different standard - not for the "modern" star crimped cartridges.

 

Some barrels may be a little thing but the vast majority can have the chamber and forcing cone slightly lengthened safely.

 

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With the shell in the chamber and the hammer fully down (CAREFULLY!) have you tried pushing the slide FORWARD, with or without the button being depressed?  Not sure, but that might unlock the action. :unsure:

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You are of course using dummy cartridges (snap caps) in your firearm while doing these tests, right?

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Look at the parts:

http://marauder.homestead.com/files/97parts.htm

 

The diagram isn't the greatest for explaining, but..

The slide is locked by the action of 70 - 74.  Specifically the lock is 71, the long slim part.

 

The release plunger you mention is part 22.  It presses on the back of 71 to push it into the carrier (68).

 

These parts work in conjunction with the spring that is inside the action arm area, part 16. 

 

It is likely that part 71 and the piece it fits into is messed up a little bit and catching.  Or the area around the spring (70) is dirty and not allowing it all to work properly.  Something else to look at is spring 16, but you must remove the action arm to see it.  And there is a special tool needed to remove the action arm nut (15) - without damaging it.

 

As an alternate, you can use a spray cleaner in hopes to clean out around part 15 if you cannot have someone get the action arm off.

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Wow you guys..!! Thanks so much. I was not expecting this kind of response but very grateful for all of you. I fiddled with the side button and depressed very hard and I managed to open the action and eject the live round (no snap cap). For right now I have Ballistol, soaking in around the button and inside the chamber on that side. I'm going to print these replies off when I go back to tinkering with it. Hopefully all will be well. If not a gunsmith will be in order. I'll check back tomorrow with what I find out when tinkering with it again. Thanks again for all the help.

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With regard to snap caps, I have found that commerical snap caps tend to not extract from my 87 and 97s.  Actually they tend to be snarky in anything other than a SxS.   So I made some snap caps from some berdan primed all brass empties that I had in my collection to use in the pumps.

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Mike, as both Marauder and Cypress Sam mentioned, there is a safety that prevents you from pulling the slide back.  Have you pushed the slide forward (might need to push hard) to see if you hear/feel that click?  Lots of these old guns, it doesn't take much effort and you might not even notice that the safety is there, but others it might be tighter and need a conscious effort pushing the slide forward (and as Sam said, recoil takes care of it when firing).

 

BTW, what is your alias?  That's quite a low SASS number!

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there is a safety that prevents you from pulling the slide back

I believe your talking about the slide lock and it  is not a safety. 

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BTW, what is your alias?  That's quite a low SASS number!

When I registered for the forum they told me I needed to input a SASS number. I didn't know what they were talking about, but they said it was required to proceed. I entered my address B) So that's the story behind my number. I still do not know what my actual SASS number should be or if I should even have a number. Probably not qualified :lol:

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"When I registered for the forum they told me I needed to input a SASS number. I didn't know what they were talking about, but they said it was required to proceed. I entered my address B) So that's the story behind my number. I still do not know what my actual SASS number should be or if I should even have a number. "

 

You get a SASS number by becoming a SASS member (pay dues and you are a member).   If you are going to shoot SASS events, sooner or later you will want to be a member.  A few local events and most major events require you to be a current member.

 

Good luck, GJ

 

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When I registered for the forum they told me I needed to input a SASS number. I didn't know what they were talking about, but they said it was required to proceed. I entered my address B) So that's the story behind my number. I still do not know what my actual SASS number should be or if I should even have a number. Probably not qualified :lol:

 

yes - what was said above , but , they issue you a number , register your alias and send you a badge with that number on it - its yours and some of us consider it an honor to own it for our lifetime , worth looking into further and assuming your new identity 

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When I registered for the forum they told me I needed to input a SASS number. I didn't know what they were talking about, but they said it was required to proceed. I entered my address B) So that's the story behind my number. I still do not know what my actual SASS number should be or if I should even have a number. Probably not qualified :lol:

 

Until SASS issues you a number Type "GUEST" where the number goes.

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yes - what was said above , but , they issue you a number , register your alias and send you a badge with that number on it - its yours and some of us consider it an honor to own it for our lifetime , worth looking into further and assuming your new identity 

I'm sure it is an honor, especially after receiving all this help to my situation, I can see what you guys are all about. I did not get any number, I sent an email asking about it and then I just put that 186 in there not expecting it to go through, but wanted to try and complete my registration and here I am.  I do feel honored to be among you all. Hopefully that makes up for my ignorance about the number.

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I believe your talking about the slide lock and it  is not a safety. 

Correct.  I didn't know what it was called.

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Mike, as both Marauder and Cypress Sam mentioned, there is a safety that prevents you from pulling the slide back.  Have you pushed the slide forward (might need to push hard) to see if you hear/feel that click?  Lots of these old guns, it doesn't take much effort and you might not even notice that the safety is there, but others it might be tighter and need a conscious effort pushing the slide forward (and as Sam said, recoil takes care of it when firing).

 

BTW, what is your alias?  That's quite a low SASS number!

Seems like the Ballistol spray has loosened things up a bit. A couple of you guys have mentioned the pushing forward on the slide. On my gun it takes quite a bit of effort and there is no real audible click, but I might feel a little play going just a bit forwards. I think all is going to work out well, plus I learned how to depress the two side buttons and unload shells without cycling them. I sprayed some more ballistol to include some to seep down the slide assembly. Liking this gun more and more. Sure has a lot of character.

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Take the buttstock off, and flush the action out with brake cleaner.

Lots of better lubes than Ballistol to use. ;)

Make sure ALL screws are 'tite'.

OLG 

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Use a sprayable flushing gun solvent to get into the carrier parts that you don't want to disassemble to detail clean.

 

I use either Birchwood Casey Gun Scrubber, or Hoppe's Gun Medic Cleaner.   As OLG mentioned, take off the butt to avoid washing grease into the wood grain at the receiver mating surface.   These solvents won't attack the finish on wood, but they do help force solvents and grease into the wood, softening it and leading to decay.  Flush until solvent no longer runs any grit or grease out. 

 

Then relube.

 

Ballistol (as mentioned) is real "old tech" and works best on black powder residue and natural lubes.   Your gun will likely need modern solvents and lubes since it may never even have seen black powder ammunition.

 

A complete disassembly is probably in order, but you may be able to limp along with just a "hose down" job.

 

Good luck, GJ

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Using live shells for function testing is dangerous.  I broke those rules once and ended up shooting my washing machine!  If you must function test with live shells do it at a range and with the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.  Welcome to SASS, enjoy.

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Using live shells for function testing is dangerous.  I broke those rules once and ended up shooting my washing machine!  If you must function test with live shells do it at a range and with the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.  Welcome to SASS, enjoy.

Thanks Mark. It wasn't on purpose that I had that live shell in there. I discovered this situation after coming back one night from coyote hunting. No coyotes came in and no rounds were fired. That's when I found out my action was locked up. Things however are looking good right now. Will give an update a bit later about cleaning the 1897 today.

 

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Cleaned it up today and quite a bit of gunk was built up in there. The action is working very nicely and the three buttons are depressing very easily. I think this week I'll really give it a good soaking & scrubbing and break the gun down as well to do a thorough job. You guys are the best..!! Thanks..!!

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The University of YouTube has some good videos on the teardown and reassembling of the 1897. 

Just sayin...

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The University of YouTube has some good videos on the teardown and reassembling of the 1897. 

Just sayin...

It absolutely does Hendo. I've been attending their classes on many subjects.

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The gun looks to be in good condition from the photos.  Check the flag to be sure it is coming up as you close the gun.  I relay my stupid story because when it happens for real, it is a better reminder than when you hear about the possibility.

 

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The gun looks to be in good condition from the photos.  Check the flag to be sure it is coming up as you close the gun.  I relay my stupid story because when it happens for real, it is a better reminder than when you hear about the possibility.

 

Thanks Mark. Please explain about checking the flag. This gun is new to me.

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