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Big Hand Zack

Is a '97 worth it for a beginner?

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Hey all, new here to the forum and CAS. 

 

Looking around at shotguns and every time I see a '97 at a local place or online, they go fast, regardless of condition. I've searched the forum a bit to learn more about the possible headaches associated with 100+ year old guns, and it seems a lot of guys buy spares for spare parts or if guns go down, etc. 

 

One of the main reasons I wanted to get a '97 is for the history aspect, but I'm also typically utilitarian when it comes to most of my guns. If I'm going to be putting a lot of rounds through it, the chances of something breaking is more likely. I don't really want to have to buy another '97 for parts down the road if the one i'm using bites the dust. 

 

At this point in time, do you think its the easier and more reliable choice to just go with a SxS, specifically something newer in the Stevens/Stoeger world? And since i'm starting from the bottom, I haven't really established any habits with either

 

Thanks for any input. 

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Anydangthing can/will break.

Ck with your local CAS clubs as you may find a great deal.

OLG 

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Anything with more parts has more potential to break. A SxS will always seem like the better choice if that is how you choose to look at it.  But consider that a good SxS, like an SKB will run $1000+. Two good 97's will be in the same range. Shoot what you like. If cost is that big of a concern then a stock Stoeger will run about $400.

 

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True anything can and will break but more part and more moving part = more can break. Best thing is to shoot what you like, you can get all the parts you will need to keep a 97 running. V.D.

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Some have said that with '97's, you need 3: a main match gun, a back up and one getting repaired. With a couple, you each could have one and if one breaks, you double up until one is repaired. 

I personally think a double will go a long time before needing any help such as firing pins. Stoegers are a mixed bag with some having no or few issues and some having catastrophic failures (i.e. lugs). A bit more money here generally returns better reliability.

An '87 may be as reliable if not more than those. I have an IAC that has been problem free except once when an errant piece of shot got into the action, so even then, it wasn't the gun.

Any gun can break or require some attention due to wear.

YMMV.

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The 97 didn't hit the Market till Nov. of 1897 Almost the end of the Quote "Cowboy Era ", Historical ??? 

There would have been so Few 97s out west before 1900 , Firstly because of the very late on the scene aspect and secondly ,cost and then Many Distrusted it to work under remote conditions in the rough and tumble West .... My grandad saw his first 97 in the hands of a Dude from Ottawa in 1 908 and was of the opinion that neither were to be trusted ...

He also used a HAMMERED double and like many found it to be needed to re-cock when a round didn't go on the first strike ...

 

Jabez Cowboy

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being a southpaw , I started with a Sears marked , Fox mod B , was not long before I went to a 97 , still shoot it most of the time 

 

 I like it , but I sure ain't fast , I have had a couple issues , but was able to get it back up within a stage or so , 

 

 I do carry a spare on away shoots , but have rarely need it , 

 

 Chickasaw 

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Welcome to the best game there is!

 

A properly set up 97' will last a long time.

 

 

That said, if you have not been to a match yet, don't buy anything until you do. Awe heck, I'm starting to agree with Rye go ahead and buy what you want and get to a match. 

 

A few suggestions though for a happier outcome:

 

1. Expect someone to watch you handle, load, unload your firearms before the match. A lot of clubs want to make sure you are safe before letting you shoot; don't be offended.

2. A Henry Big Boy is a fine firearm, but terrible for CAS. 

3. Don't start out with cap & ball revolvers. They are cheaper, but a lot more involved. There is enough going on your first few matches that will take some getting used go.

4. Safety over speed.

5. Enjoy yourself. 

 

 

No one(but you) will ever care how fast you shoot or how many misses you have; be safe above all else.

 

My 2 cents.

 

 

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PLUS A BUNCH too Tyrel Cody.

 

And, a '97 doesn't have a "Cowboy" history (as has ben mentioned).  The Primary initial markets for the 97 were to Market Hunters for Duck and Geese.

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Gustav7, First, welcome to our game.  Here are a few things to keep in mind when you are deciding on a shotgun.  First, is there a chance you

re going to shoot any Wild Bunch? If so, a 97 can be used if it is set up for a 6th round in the magazine.  A fairly straight forward alteration.  Second, what is your background?  If you come from law enforcement, military or hunt with a pump, the 97 might be a bit easier for you to get used to.  What category are you going to shoot in?  There may be a requirement for a SXS.   As for breaking stuff, yeah if you're trying to go fast you are going to break stuff.  Doesn't matter if it's a new Ruger pistol or an old Winchester 97.  Stuff breaks.

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The load methods of the '97 for cowboy has always been a bit off putting for me.  It would be like shutting off the gas system of an AR and using it as a weird bolt action.

 

'97s are super cool though.

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Thanks for all the replies guys. 

 

Maybe I should have specified, I meant "history" as in the WWI/WWII history. They're also just unique shotguns and I have always liked them. 

 

I've had a Ruger Vaquero (.357) for over a year now or so and its my go to woods sidearm. Its what got me thinking of actually getting into cowboy action. This weekend, if it works out, I'll be getting an Uberti Cattleman Hombre (.357) in a trade. I specifically wanted to get an Uberti so I can own and shoot both brands/styles and see what I like better. Love the Vaquero so far. 

 

I have a Marlin 1894cst, but from what I've read, its not really match Legal with the ghost ring sights, etc. I'd love to eventually get a '73 fixed up, maybe off this site, but those aren't the cheapest rifles lol. 

 

I appreciate everyones input. I may just hit a match later this year and try a few out and see what I prefer. 

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18 minutes ago, Sarge said:

Gustav7, First, welcome to our game.  Here are a few things to keep in mind when you are deciding on a shotgun.  First, is there a chance you

re going to shoot any Wild Bunch? If so, a 97 can be used if it is set up for a 6th round in the magazine.  A fairly straight forward alteration.  Second, what is your background?  If you come from law enforcement, military or hunt with a pump, the 97 might be a bit easier for you to get used to.  What category are you going to shoot in?  There may be a requirement for a SXS.   As for breaking stuff, yeah if you're trying to go fast you are going to break stuff.  Doesn't matter if it's a new Ruger pistol or an old Winchester 97.  Stuff breaks.

 

I'm not sure what category I would shoot, definitely nothing special. I just want to shoot at this point, so I don't care. I read over the categories and its honestly a little confusing. Maybe thats just cause I haven't been to a match, but I would probably stick with Cowboy, that seems to be the base category correct? 

 

I'm not a big shotgun fan. I have an 870 wingmaster for shooting clay pigeons and a Mossberg 500 in my closet upstairs, but other than that I don't really care for them. I've honestly always wanted a coach gun and a '97 so I was just trying to choose the most economical choice in the short term. If I stay with CAS then I suppose I'll be putting more money into it anyways, so long term I will probably change it up anyways. 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Been shooting a Winchester  97 for quite a few years. Tried switching to SxS a few times but will always go back & stay with my 97.

 

Gustav 7 welcome aboard pilgrim to the best family around.  SASS Best of the best.

 

JRJ

Edited by Jackrabbit Joe #414
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9 minutes ago, Gustav7 said:

 

I'm not sure what category I would shoot, definitely nothing special. I just want to shoot at this point, so I don't care. I read over the categories and its honestly a little confusing. Maybe thats just cause I haven't been to a match, but I would probably stick with Cowboy, that seems to be the base category correct? 

 

I'm not a big shotgun fan. I have an 870 wingmaster for shooting clay pigeons and a Mossberg 500 in my closet upstairs, but other than that I don't really care for them. I've honestly always wanted a coach gun and a '97 so I was just trying to choose the most economical choice in the short term. If I stay with CAS then I suppose I'll be putting more money into it anyways, so long term I will probably change it up anyways. 

 

 

If you shoot Wrangler, you can use any SASS legal firearms.  If you are shooting Classic Cowboy, there is a costuming requirement and there is a specific requirement for shotguns that requires you to use a hammered double or an 1887 lever shotgun.  Look at pages 5-8 of the current manual.  

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18 minutes ago, Sarge said:

If you shoot Wrangler, you can use any SASS legal firearms.  If you are shooting Classic Cowboy, there is a costuming requirement and there is a specific requirement for shotguns that requires you to use a hammered double or an 1887 lever shotgun.  Look at pages 5-8 of the current manual.  

 

I was looking at an older handbook and just now downloaded the 2020 PDF

 

The handbook says Wrangler is for ages 36 and up... I'm 30. SO I would have to shoot in the open age category "Cowboy"? 

 

 

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3 minutes ago, Gustav7 said:

 

I was looking at an older handbook and just now downloaded the 2020 PDF

 

The handbook says Wrangler is for ages 36 and up... I'm 30. SO I would have to shoot in the open age category "Cowboy"? 

 

 

I believe that is correct, but "Classic Cowboy" is a separate category.  

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After a year of starting out with sxs, I tried a guys 97 for first time at a practice shoot 2 weeks ago. I'm sold I'm getting one

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3 minutes ago, Sarge said:

I believe that is correct, but "Classic Cowboy" is a separate category.  

 

Ok cool, yes I knew that one. A tad confusing at first lol

 

1 minute ago, Black RZR said:

After a year of starting out with sxs, I tried a guys 97 for first time at a practice shoot 2 weeks ago. I'm sold I'm getting one

 

Hahaha, they are pretty cool. If I Find a good deal on either one on here, I may snag them. 

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I use and enjoy my .45 Colt Henry Big Boy. I also have one in .44 Remington Magnum and another in .357 Magnum. They are awesome and have served me well for decades.  :wub: I also have Henry .22s for loaners to kids.

 

I have a hammered .410, a 20 gauge Stoeger double and a 12 gauge '97. However, I am a holy Black wart hog so my AyA 10 gauge 3-1/2" magnum is my match double. I use the others for loaners to kids and newbies.  ;)

 

 

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Goody, SASS #26190 said:

Anything with more parts has more potential to break. A SxS will always seem like the better choice if that is how you choose to look at it.  But consider that a good SxS, like an SKB will run $1000+. Two good 97's will be in the same range. Shoot what you like. If cost is that big of a concern then a stock Stoeger will run about $400.

 

Sage advice.

Buy 1 GOOD double or 2 97's.

Then be prepared to do a little slicking up work on both and buy some spare parts for the 97's.

Been both places got the t shirts now back to a double.

 

Buy what you want. Most likely you will soon own both.:D

Edited by Ringer
Sp
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Gustav7 

Welcome to the sport. First thing to remember is that it’s a fantasy game. Shoot whatever suits your fancy as long as it’s sass legal. If you look around you can find the Norinco copies of the Winchester 97 just as cheap as you could find a stoeger SxS. Have fun. If you decide to join the competitive side of the game, I’m sure you will change guns several times till you find what you like. Start simple and enjoy. 

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Howdy Gus.

I started with a SxS.   Then tried out another SxS.   I just never could get the hang of it.

Then I tried out a 97.   It suited ME better.

 

My point is this:  try out the SxS, 1887 and 1897 models.  A one time run might not tell you anything but then again,

you might find a preference to one of them over the others.

 

When you discover that preference, then start looking for a 'good one'.

You may even find an excellent model of your preference that might still need a little TLC from a competent gunsmith.

 

As mentioned, go to a match and try to shoot some different stuff.   ASK QUESTIONS LIKE:

1. what brand is this

2. has it been 'smithed' and who was the gunsmith

3.  ask the owner if they would like to share any pro/con info with you about their SG.

4.  THANK the owner for their time and allowing you to check out their stuff.

 

Good luck to you.   ALL of us Wire Pards want you to get a good SG and enjoy CAS regardless of

the model you shoot.

 

..........Widder

 

 

 

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97's are great.   A 97 has always been my primary main match gun, and I prefer a 30" full choke barrel to a short one.   That latter preference is a minority one, but based on what I have observed over the years, 97's and SxS's are equally popular.  The argument that the gun come from the tail end of the era doesn't hold water for me.  It's still "of the era" no matter when it made it's debute.  That's like saying the Henry or the Colt Dragoon are somehow less legitimate because they came in very early in the era.

 

The way we use them like a glorified single shot is rather silly in the opinion of many, but that is the rule, so that's how we do it.  I doubt it'll ever be changed.

 

Overall, they are a good shooting gun, and I don't think you can go wrong with one.   I think the myth of needing three is just that, a myth.  Again, that's based on my personal experience.   I am not saying that with age that things can't get worn and may need some repair, that has happened to one of mine, but I have not found them to be something that is constantly in need of fixing.

 

Good luck, and welcome to the game  

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I can work a 97 better than an SxS, but I think it's a left handed thing in my case.

 

Having said that, I screwed up every ways from Sunday at last weekend's match and managed to do everything wrong except launch a round over the top of my port. 

Sometimes it doesn't matter how much you practice, you'll just have them days.

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Posted (edited)
Quote

Buy 1 GOOD double or 2 97's.

 

If you are competitive and want to compete, if not excel -

My experience is

 

1 GOOD double (and that list is short, IE: SKB, Browning, or Miroku)

2 Stoegers or other cheaper doubles (aka, less than $900)

2 lightly used IAC imported 97 clones in the production year ranges of 04 or 06 or later.

3 Winchester 97 originals - unless you really know your way around 97s and can work on them yourself, then you might get by with just 2 97s.

 

It's really different running a 97 compared to a double.   Learning curve is shorter on a double usually.   97s can be faster if you have great eye-hand coordination or sports-type muscle memory skills.

 

If you are a for-fun-and-fellowship shooter - 

1 of any shotgun that is cool to you, and grin and bear it when it is slow or broke.

 

Good luck, GJ

 

 

Edited by Garrison Joe, SASS #60708
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Welcome to the game. Now my $.02--Buy both ,shoot both, love both. You will probably have to shoot both for several matches before a preference begins to show. One will seem easier.  Now go get yourself a good hat. (not a requirement)

 

Imis

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

Welcome to the game. Now my $.02--Buy both ,shoot both, love both. You will probably have to shoot both for several matches before a preference begins to show. One will seem easier.  Now go get yourself a good hat. (not a requirement)

 

Imis

 

LOL... theres nothing wrong with multiple guns right?! 

 

I appreciate all the input everyone. 

 

Maybe I'll worry about a hat down the road, my wife will be thrilled she can pick one out for me haha. 

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Side question:

 

Do I have to be a SASS member currently to purchase in the Classifieds?

 

The rules make it sound like you have to be member only if you want to sell 

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7 minutes ago, Gustav7 said:

Side question:

 

Do I have to be a SASS member currently to purchase in the Classifieds?

 

The rules make it sound like you have to be member only if you want to sell 

 

You have to be a SASS member to start a topic of any kind in the Classifieds.

 

If you see something for sale you can buy if the seller is willing.

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5 minutes ago, Tyrel Cody said:

 

You have to be a SASS member to start a topic of any kind in the Classifieds.

 

If you see something for sale you can buy if the seller is willing.

 

Thank you! Ironically I was looking at your Coyote Cap 20" '87 lol ... 

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Gus,

If this is any comfort to you, you'll find this info valuable:

 

1. There are speed demons and champions that shoot the 87, 97 and SxS.    All of them have something in common in that

they have 'proper and correct practice routines..... lots of practice.

 

2.  Good money would also bet that they have had some 'tuning' or 'tweaking' performed on their guns..... shotguns included.

AND.....the tuning was done by a competent gunsmith who knows about the particular gun(s) he is working on.

 

Good luck.

 

..........Widder

 

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Posted (edited)

G7, Welcome to the forum.  You have received much good advice!

 

20 years ago, I decided tha SASS was going to be something that I was going to get involved with. An old friend had a 97 that he used for pheasants and deer. He was interested in selling it. I bought it and have used it ever since. Coyote Cap used to post on here quite a lot, I printed off every thing that he wrote. I did most everything to my 97 that Cap advised, and it has functioned for me just fine. 

Do I have more than one 97?  Yes but, that first 97 has suited me just fine,

 

WR

Edited by Wrangler Rich SASS #42157

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If the are more than 4 shotgun targets on a stage for the most part the 97 is faster, if their are 4 or less I find the SxS faster. About 2 years ago my wife sat me down and asked me if I knew how much money I spent in the last 2 years on repairs to my 3 97's. Sadly my answer was yes, after 22 years of use they take a real beating. I've switched to a SxS now, it is almost as fast, but is a whole lot cheaper.

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The founders of this game all shot '97s... Which is probably the most important reason they were allowed in the then "Traditional" category.  I felt back then, and still do, that they should have only been regulated to the then "Modern" category.  But, that's all moot, as there is no Traditional or Modern categories any longer.  (More's the pity, IMO)!

 

But... back to the decision of a '97 or a SxS:  My very biased opinion is that, over a span of nearly 35 years playing this game, I've seen many more train wrecks with a '97 than with a SxS.  I didn't own a '97 until I started shooting Wild Bunch... which is where a '97 comes into it's own... being able to fully stoke the magazine and run them at speed!  There are several methods of loading the '97 under cowboy match conditions...  Since the shotgun, whether SxS or '97 MUST start empty.  Just as there are with a SxS.  (Yes, you will observe different folks doing different methods manuals of arms for both type of shotguns.

 

I typically use a hammered double, just for the "Style" points... (tongue firmly in cheek, as there are no style points, even if there should be)!  And there are different manual of arms for the hammer guns also!

 

I figure that unless you're very comfortable shooting a pump shotgun, the learning curve to do it deftly, quickly and a minimum of fuss is much steeper than gaining a level of competence with a SxS.  And for those with smaller hands, grabbing multiple shells from the belt and holding them while operating the shotgun can be quite frustrating.  Dropped shells and all.  the learning curve for the double is not quite so steep... but, some have problems with the fact that the double "bends" in the middle.  They also have trouble controlling two shells in one hand, guiding them into the chambers... and that's compounded under the clock!  Not that the handling of multiple shells around a '97 is any less.  

 

So, in the final analysis, my advice is to GET OUT TO A MATCH AND ASK QUESTIONS of the competitors there about their preferences, hoping to get the opportunity to handle each shotgun, and maybe have a couple of different manuals of arms demonstrated and tried out!  My guess is that you're going to be successful in that quest.  And, be the better competitor for the experience and first hand knowledge.  Maybe even be better able to discern a better example of whichever type of shotgun you choose.

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