When I started to disassemble a Model 1897 Winchester that I picked up recently in a trade, I marveled at the genius that was John Moses Browning, and how his mind created this shotgun and so many other marvels of gun-making art.
John Browning received a patent November 25, 1890 for a pump shotgun that was sold to Winchester and released as the first slide-action, the Model 1893. Designed for black powder ammunition, the Model 93 created problems for Winchester, and subsequently was considered a failure.
The Model 1897 was an evolution of the Winchester Model 1893, and fixed the ‘93’s problems. Also known as the Trench Gun, Model 97 and M97, it was so successful that more than one million of these shotguns were produced until it was discontinued in 1957. The Model 1897 was offered in numerous barrel lengths and grades, chambered in 12 or 16 gauge, and as a solid frame or takedown. The 16 gauge guns had a standard barrel length of 28 inches, while 12 gauge guns were furnished with 30-inch length barrels. Special-length barrels could be ordered in lengths as short as 20 inches, and as long as 36 inches. Since the time the Model 1897 was first manufactured it has been used by American soldiers, police departments, and hunters.
For more on this pick up Issue #74 of Guns of the Old West