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Old 04-30-2005, 05:33 PM   #1
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When was this Winchester 1897 shotgun made?

I just bought a Winchester model 1897 12ga. shotgun today at a farm sale. The serial number is 1085xx. Does anyone know when it was made? Thanks for any information that you can provide.
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Old 05-01-2005, 12:10 AM   #2
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If you figure out the misprint in the Winchester book that serial number would have been made in 1901.

Serial numbers continued at 31609, where the 1893 left off

In 1900 they started at 63634 and made 25920 guns. 1901 would start at 89555 and they made 22285 guns.
 
Old 05-01-2005, 06:10 PM   #3
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Thanks for the help djl4570. I showed it to my favorite gunsmith this weekend, he looked in his brand new blue book, and by the serial number list there, determined that it was made in 1899. What did you use as your source? and what is this about a misprint?

Today I stripped it down, cleaned, oiled and reassembled. While doing so I became familiar with it's function, and I also foud out that it is what is known as a take-down version. I must say, this shotgun is very well designed, my compliments to John Browning.
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Old 05-01-2005, 07:56 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m1tom
I showed it to my favorite gunsmith this weekend, he looked in his brand new blue book, and by the serial number list there, determined that it was made in 1899. What did you use as your source? and what is this about a misprint?
Winchester Dates of Manufacture by George Maddis. It's a pocket sized book with a dark red cover.

This book lists by column year of manufacture, starting serial number and number made that year. The typesetter got a few of the digits in the wrong column. For example here's the entries for the first five years of the 1897.
1898 31,609 2594
1899 34,204 29,429
1900 63,634 25,920
1901 895552 2285
1902 133,297 21,304
It's pretty easy to correct since you can calculate the serial number range using the starting serial number and the number made for the year. You can see that the last gun made in 1900 was 89554, so 1901 should start with 89555. The numbers are more goofed up then I realized last night. If the starting number for 1902 is correct then Winchester must have made 43,742 guns in 1901. Not impossible but makes me suspicious given production figures in the years immediately before and after 1901. It is also strange that the book lists the first year of production as 1898. http://armscollectors.com/sn/windates.htm also says 1901 for that serial number but they might have used Maddis as a source for their data. This site http://www.marauder.homestead.com/Model97sn.html starts the count in 1897 and shows your serial number in 1899 but implies production of around 32,000 guns a year.

In any event you have a very early 1897. The best way to confirm the date is to send a letter and a check to the Winchester museum in Cody Wyoming and they will send you a letter that says when the gun was shipped from Winchester if the information is available.

What kind of shape is it in?
 
Old 05-02-2005, 03:44 PM   #5
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It is in good condition. The bore cleaned up nicely but does have some pits. Wooden forarm has 3 cracks, and the barrel is a little loose, it can be wiggled from side to side a slight amount.
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Old 05-05-2005, 04:23 AM   #6
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If anyone here familiar with the 1897 could let me know the best way to tighten the barrel on the receiver on my take-down model, I would appreciate it.
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Old 06-22-2005, 05:34 PM   #7
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Thanks for all your help, everyone! Here are a couple of pieces of eye candy in payment!

[img]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v441/fordt/firearms/1897winchestershotgun.jpg[/img]
[img]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v441/fordt/firearms/1897Winchester.jpg[/img]
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