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What grade is my Winchester 1897? Mystery solved!


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Earlier in the Spring of 2020 I acquired a Winchester 1897 shotgun that was in somewhat "distressed" condition. It is a takedown model, with a straight grip stock with checkering on the stock and forend. It is chambered in 12 gauge, with a 30-inch barrel and a red rubber recoil pad. With a little research I discovered it was manufactured in 1911.

 

It was mechanically sound with the primary problem being that the wood had been refinished with something that had degraded into a substance similar to a black tar. I posted about the gun and about the process of refinishing the wood.

 

The one unanswered question was what GRADE of shotgun was my 1897? It has a straight-gripped stock with a diamond-shaped bit of ebony wood on both sides of the stock wrist, it has a pattern of lines rolled into the top of the barrel and receiver - all features of a 1897 Trap grade shotgun. What it LACKED was the "Trap Gun" marking on the bolt that a Trap grade 1897 would be expected to have. Was my 1897 a "parts gun" with a replaced bolt? Or maybe a field-grade gun with replacement wood of a higher grade?

 

Fast forward to last night. I was looking through my accumulation of old firearms paperwork and I find an original 1911 Winchester catalog! Huzzah!

 

Leafing through the catalogue I get to page 116. There is a description of the "Winchester Tournament Gun Model 1897", which matches the configuration of my 1897! Straight grip, black diamond inlay, 30-inch barrel, unmarked bolt. Mystery solved.

 

The description of the "Trap" and "Pigeon" grades is on page 117. According to the description in the catalog the primary difference between the Tournament grade and the Trap and Pigeon grades is that Winchester would not make any alterations to the stock dimensions of the Tournament grade beyond shortening the stock (for a fee of $2). The Tournament grade was an "off the rack" shotgun. In the catalog the Tournament grade is priced at $42, the Trap at $52, and the Pigeon at $100. Price difference aside, it seems that the Tournament grade is encountered much less frequently than the more-expensive Trap grade.

 

Here's the link to the original, now archived thread: https://forums.sassnet.com/index.php?/topic/299234-questions-about-recent-acquisition-winchester-1897-now-a-restoration-project-updates/

 

 

Pictures of the cover of the catalogue and the relevant pages follow.

 

 

Winchester 1911 catalogue.jpg

Winchester 1897 Tournament grade.jpg

Winchester 1897 Trap Pigeon grade.jpg

Edited by Philosopher
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I should have stated that with a magnifying glass I can clearly see that the bolt in the image of the Tournament grade 1897 is UNMARKED, and that the bolts of the Trap and Pidgeon grades ARE marked with their respective grades.

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