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Need a little help from my friends. As some of you know I added a few nice oldies to the collection lately. One being a Winchester 97 Takedown. I've spent a lot if time digging through the internet and there seems to be a bunch of contradictory information out there. Specifically around the chamber length, 2 1/2, 2 5/8 and 2 3/4. As a side note mine was made in 1927 if that will have any bearing on things. I've decided that shooting 2 3/4" shells should be fine however I'm looking for a load that will be kind to the old girl. As I have all the equipment to reload I figured why not? Since this isn't going to be my "shoot every weekend'r", more just for fun, I was thinking about 1 oz of shot with 17.5 grains of Clay Dot which should give me around 6,800 psi. All the 1 1/8 oz loads I found were around 10,000 psi. I also have HS6, H110, Unique and Bullseye powders to work with. Please let me know if you think I'm on the right track and if not, I'm open to suggestions. The type of duty this shotgun will see is either hand thrown clay birds, one of those mechanical jobs you anchor to an old tire and bunnies/squirrels out at the ranch.

Blessings
 

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Firpo - I quit loading for shotgun many years ago, but I also have a '97 take-down, and about the same age as yours. The reason I quit loading shot shells was that I could buy ammo a lot cheaper than I could load it for.

Getting back to your '97, I think you will find that the steel is a little 'soft'. I shoot just about any factory loads from mine, but mostly lighter birdshot. I never use steel shot from that shotgun, nor do I shoot slugs thru it. I have about six cases of Remington 2 3/4" #8 shot on hand, and mine is also a 'farm duty' gun now.
 

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According to the book I just read, the '97 was John M. Browning's personal trap gun. The 12 ga was made to chamber a 2-3/4" shell, the 16 ga was made for 2-5/8" until 1931, when it was changed to 2-3/4". The book doesn't list any loads for it.
 
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Very helpful information. Thank you both very much. Hopefully I'll get put take her out soon and I'll let you know how things go.
 

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Need a little help from my friends. As some of you know I added a few nice oldies to the collection lately. One being a Winchester 97 Takedown. I've spent a lot if time digging through the internet and there seems to be a bunch of contradictory information out there. Specifically around the chamber length, 2 1/2, 2 5/8 and 2 3/4. As a side note mine was made in 1927 if that will have any bearing on things. I've decided that shooting 2 3/4" shells should be fine however I'm looking for a load that will be kind to the old girl. As I have all the equipment to reload I figured why not? Since this isn't going to be my "shoot every weekend'r", more just for fun, I was thinking about 1 oz of shot with 17.5 grains of Clay Dot which should give me around 6,800 psi. All the 1 1/8 oz loads I found were around 10,000 psi. I also have HS6, H110, Unique and Bullseye powders to work with. Please let me know if you think I'm on the right track and if not, I'm open to suggestions. The type of duty this shotgun will see is either hand thrown clay birds, one of those mechanical jobs you anchor to an old tire and bunnies/squirrels out at the ranch.

Blessings
Always loved the old '97. I have an lC Smith double and my best friend still has his 97. Every chance we got we were either hunting upland birds or ducks. I took a goose on the wing with his 97 using 71/2 handloads! Wonderful old shotgun. I guess it's been 45 years since we bought those guns and they have both served faithfully. Both would handle anything and everything we put through them. We loaded many rounds of 11/8 ahead of bullseye without problem. Enjoy that gun.
 

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The 1897 shotgun just another great firearm by John Browning . I got a Norinco copy and even that is pretty darn cool . Sam Colt was great but I think John Browning did more for firearms . But he was born later and I am sure Colts designs helped him along . Guess that debate could go on and on . Good luck with project Mark .
 

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All 1897's were chambered for smokeless 2.75" shells. Don't shoot magnums, and don't shoot steel shot.
That said, the chambers were cut for brass cases, and paper roll crimped cases. This makes for an argument that's equal to 9mm vs .45.
With plastic star crimped cases, the crimp opens past the chamber, and into the forcing cone, making a bore restriction.. One side says it does no harm. I'm on the side that says a pressure spike from a chamber restriction, is not only hard on your shoulder, it's hard on the gun too.
The solution is simple, a quick clean up with a modern reamer, and while they're doing it, have the forcing cone lengthened. Less recoil, better patterns, shoot any crimp.
Mark, if you want them, I think I have a couple of boxes of once fired new production star crimped paper hulls. I had been saving them for a couple of guys that trim them down for BP roll crimp loads in old hammer guns.
 

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You don't say and I forgot, is it 12 or 16 bore? Your load sounds fine to me for either for its intended application. That's BP pressures so it will be gentle on the old gun.

I had both a 12 and a 16 in a '97 and they have no faults. I'm just not a pump gun guy, being more inclined toward SXS doubles. HOWEVER...if I was ever to acquire another pump, it would be q '97 in 16 bore.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Both my ‘97’s are 12 gauge, it’s one of my Model 12’s that’s a 16 gauge. My very first (my own) shotgun was a BPS in 12 gauge so I’ve grown up on pumps. @TRAP55 I’d love to get my hands on those paper hulls. It would be neat having the correct ammunition, period correct for the shotgun. Let me shoot you a PM.....and thank you.
 

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My inherited ‘97 take down was made in 1912, was a rare 24” cyl bore “brush gun” that my wife’s grandpa had a polychoke mounted on it during the Depression that wrecked its collectors value. It was “loose” at the joint when I inherited it in 1982, and as I had another shotgun at a ‘smith to turn into my 3 gun shotgun, I had him shorten the ‘97 to 18 1/2”and see if he could tighten it. He was amazed the threads had never been advanced, only moved them one notch and wrote on the receipt “Good for another 75 years!”

Shortly after I discovered the dirty little secret that the ‘97 and Model 12 cyl barrels are the best smooth bore barrels ever made for deer slugs. Mine will shoot from a bench , after I mounted Williams sights on it, “one hole” at 50 (a BIG hole, actually more accurate to say the holes “touch”😎) and at 100 from a bench will put 5-1oz Sluggers into 5”. For 10 years I hunted with just a brass bead on the end and killed half my deer with it that way, off hand with the bead I could put all 5 into a pie plate at 50 fairly rapid fire.

Ive killed more deer with that gun, from 1994-2012 when I “retired it” when it hit 100 years old, more than 25, I lost count, than any other, and over the almost 20 years I probably put somewhere between 300-400 slugs through it, including testing the ones that worked best.

Plus when my son was in college, I used to meet him and a friend to shoot skeet a couple times a month, it still is the bomb for skeet, I might start shooting skeet with it again yet.

It still as tight as the day the ‘smith “fixed it.”

If you read any of the old stories on here and you read about the tRusty ‘97, that’s mine😎

And since Gramps bought it used in 1920, and it was “loose” when I got it, he sure didnt “baby” it for the 62 years he owned it...it was “well used but used well” when I got it😉

You don’t have to worry about “babying” your “old” ‘97😎
 

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Oh yeah, I’ve never hunted waterfowl, but I know Gramps did with this gun, but BEFORE steel was mandated...So I don’t have any knowledge whether it would hurt it or not, but I probably never would shoot steel through one, especially one with a full choke like most of them had...
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Steel shot would absolutely damage the barrel of a ‘97. I have an older Browning A5 and decided rather than buying a new barrel to the tune of $500-$600 I opted to buy a few boxes of Bismuth which is fine on older barrels and actually a better option to steel.
 

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You don't say and I forgot, is it 12 or 16 bore? Your load sounds fine to me for either for its intended application. That's BP pressures so it will be gentle on the old gun.

I had both a 12 and a 16 in a '97 and they have no faults. I'm just not a pump gun guy, being more inclined toward SXS doubles. HOWEVER...if I was ever to acquire another pump, it would be q '97 in 16 bore.
Sharps, the 97 in 16ga was chambered for 2-9/16" until 1931, 2-3/4" until production ended in 1957.
 

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Wouldn't matter with the 16. Nearly all my cases are cut back to 2 1/2 for my German drillings and combination guns and I'll never own another 12 bore.
 
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