Gunner’s Journal

The 1911 Worlds Finest Handgun!

Winchester Model 1897

Posted by Gunner on March 22, 2010

Norinco’s version of the Winchester model 1897 shotgun in 12 gauge riot gun version

Videos at the bottom of the article showcasing the old west shotguns of J. Browning

   I’ve always had a real love for older military weapons and shotguns are no exception. The Winchester model 1897 has always been of particular interest to me. I started looking for an original Winchester 97 a few months ago but having found only one in fair condition. I had just about given up since the ones in shooting condition were higher priced than the budget would allow. I did notice a few Norinco clones in my daily GunsAmerica list. After looking at them and checking them out on the importers website I decided this was a good alternative. List price on this model is $450 however they can be found for less. Now the military version with bayonet mount and heat shield is higher at a retail of $550 but again can be had for less.

An original military Winchester 1897 from WWI

   I know some will say that it can’t be a Norinco because imports of this brand have been halted by the government. That’s true to a point but the ban did not include shotguns. They can be difficult to find but they are out there. The riot gun model I bought is also very popular with Cowboy action shooters. In fact the best gunsmith for the model 97 is nicknamed Coyote Cap in the Cowboy action game. He’s actually very fond of the Norinco version of the 97 and provides a service of smoothing the action for competition at a cost of $130.
   I found mine at K&R guns. Why I hadn’t noticed it before is beyond me but they do carry a lot of shotguns:-) I was able to purchase mine for $360 NIB. The early Norincos were not particularly popular since they used the same cheap wood that is used on the Chinese AK’s. Now they use first quality Missouri Walnut thanks to Coyote Cap makiing a trip over to the factory and convincing them of the changes needed to make the gun not only more authentic but much more attractive. A few internal changes were also made to update a few parts for better function. If you watch “Lock and Load” with Gunny R. Lee Ermy he did an episode a few weeks ago on military shotguns designed by John Browning of which the 97 is one of them. You can also get the older 87 model in lever action as well as the double barrel coach gun all from Norinco. In fact he used Norinco shotguns for this episode. If you do a Google search you can find a downloadable copy of this episode–it’s very informative and entertaining. As you can see the bluing is very high quality as is the wood and finish on the walnut. It’s really a very attractive shotgun. One other option if you want the “trench” gun version you can buy the bayonet heat shield part for about $30 and convert the riot model to the military model.

Tom Sizemore in the movie Pearl Harbour with a model 97

   If you do another Google search you’ll find a lot of movies that feature the old model 97. It’s been a popular shotgun for a very long time. I enjoy the unique features of this shotgun. The exposed hammer you can lower with a round chambered as well as a trigger disconnect that allows you to fire a round each time you work the slide as long as the trigger is held back. That’s some serious firepower with five in the tube and one in the chamber. It also handles well with the short 20 inch barrel and 14 inch pull.

A real beauty!

   At first the action was a bit stiff but after removing most of the heavy grease the Chinese tend to use for shipping it smoother up some. Then I used a liberal amount of Slip 2000 carbon remover to remove anything else hiding in the tight spots. I followed this up with Slip 2000 lube and that really helped. The best cure is to go out and shoot a good number of rounds to break it in. The tolrences are pretty snug and shooting it also helped. I’ll admit that an action job to smooth the internals would really make a significant difference. Now that I’ve fired 80 or so rounds I’m satisfied with the action. There is one caveat in using this shotgun and that’s working the slide action. Don’t choke up to much on the stock when chambering a round because the action will bite your thumb pretty good. It’s not really a problem though. After you do it once you won’t do it again! Now I’m shooting it without any thought to the action getting my thumb. It just takes a bit of getting used to. One addition some may want is a recoil pad if you plan on shooting any slugs in the Deer woods. With a plastic butt there is no protection from the heavy recoil of a 1 1/2 ounce slug. Even though I’m not very recoil sensitive it did get my attention a bit.

   I took it out to the range with a mix of buckshot, slugs and target loads. I shot a total of 75 rounds of all types and had no malfunctions. The collar that secures the feed tube to the barrel loosened up after shooting a fair number of slugs. I tightened it up and it never came loose again. Not much can be said about accuracy with a shotgun except with slugs. I did back off to 35 yards and grouped 5 slugs into a 4 inch group. Not to bad at all with a bead sight. The shot spread with double 00 buck was about shoulder width at approx 25 yards.
   Even though this is new shotgun it is a piece of history and a lot of fun to shoot. If your thinking about getting into the Cowboy action shooting game this would be a great shot gun to use. In fact one funny term the Cowboy shooters use for this particular shotgun is “Norchester” for Norinco Winchester:-) I don’t shoot Cowboy matches but it’s such a neat shotgun to just take out and have a relaxing time I would recommend it just for the enjoyment factor even though it would sure fill the need for a home defense shotgun. Heaven knows I’ve avoided some bad situations on duty just by racking a round into the chamber of my issue shotgun.
For some real custom work at a reasonable price go to this link for Cowboy Cap. His story of trips to China to improve the model 97 Norinco makes is very interesting and informative. Link to Cowboy Cap
IAC importers of Norinco old west shotguns LINK

Lock and Load with R. Lee Ermy

Norinco quality has certainly gotten a lot better!





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26 Responses to “Winchester Model 1897”

  1. […] has come out with a clone of the Winchester Model 1897, and I think I’m in love.  Gunner’s Journal reviews it. I’ve always had a real love for older military weapons and shotguns are no exception. […]

  2. Ben said

    Any thoughts on how well this gun would perform for skeet or trap shooting?

  3. Gunner said


    I can see shooting skeet if you set it up to have the clays going side to side rather than away from you and fairly close range. Since it’s a cylinder bore the shot spread happens pretty fast.
    Now according to the website of the importer you can use any standard chokes and of course that means you can use a full choke and keep your pattern pretty tight. Since most skeet guns have barrels about 4 inches longer it will still spread faster than a true skeet gun. According to the importer with a full choke 40 yards distance with target loads will work fine.

    Happy Shooting!

  4. John D said

    Well, I was wondering what I wanted for my up-coming birthday– Just ordered 1 from Galleryof (the 97W is on sale)- should be here by end of the week, delivered price $328.36- Thanks for the great review!

  5. Gunner said


    Good for you and happy birthday! You got one heck of a buy that’s for sure:-) I appreciate your sharing the link for others who can benefit from that price.
    Glad you enjoyed the review!


  6. farhan said

    its a very good, plz send compleat information about it and price also.

  7. Gunner said


    Well most of the information on the shotgun is in the article but I can tell you they are made by Norinco in China and imported into your area. Cost in US dollars varies from $325 to $360 or so. Most any gun dealer in the PK should be able to get one for you.

  8. J.F. Bell said

    Fine write-up. I discovered the 1897 Winchester by accident a few years back, and I’ve been a fan ever since. I believe it may be the consummate American all-around shotgun. It’s not fancy – and that’s why it works. It is the principle of the shotgun stripped down to its most basic. So much so that a new shooter with a competent instructor can grasp the complete function of the gun in a matter of minutes.

    It’s a shame they aren’t made in America anymore. But maybe that’s for the best. I can’t see a thousand-dollar offering with a crossbolt safety, trigger disconnect, and a safety billboard stamped down both sides of the barrel being terribly well recieved.

    But the originals are still out there if you get the urge. I imagine a couple of them are still out there as working guns. I’m pretty sure that’s what mine was doing before I came along.

    Also, to the above poster…you can shoot skeet with a the riot gun, but you really get noticed when you do it with a trench gun. Ask me how I know.

  9. Gunner said

    Thanks JF,

    I’m glad you enjoyed the writeup:-) I agree it’s the American shotgun as far as I’m concerned.
    I ran across a real 1897 a few weeks ago in kinda bad shape and they wanted way to much for it. One day I’ll find one though. They are fast on target and safer than most for new shooters.

    Take care,

  10. Jerry Hutchison said

    Years ago I had an original Winchester 97 trench gun, and should have kept it, but…. you know that one!! Now I have one of the Norinco 97’s and find it to be a great copy. My question is: where can I get that heat shield? I’ve Googled it, and so far no luck. Any leads would be appreciated. Thanks, Jerry

  11. Gunner said


    A few months ago they were easy to find but they have dried up in a big way. About the only way to obtain is to contact the importer or a local gunshop and see if they can contact Interstate in MA. They are the only ones importing right now. Another way is to contact Marstar Arms in Canada and see if they sell the part.
    The only other option is to trade yours for one of the military versions. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help.


  12. cristopher silva said

    hola tengo en mi poder una escopeta que fue de mi bisabuelo es la winchester 1897 calibre 16 el problema que tiene es que al pasar el tiro no siempre queda el martillo abajo no se mucho al respecto tal vez solo sea regulacion agradeceria cualquier ayuda posible y si tengo que comprar alguna pieza fuera de chile como puedo hacerlo alguien tiene algun contacto porfa es importante seguir la historia de esta escopeta en mi familia gracias

  13. Gunner said

    Si le entiendo correctamente el martillo no se quedará amartillado. En otras palabras cuando usted ciclo la acción el martillo sigue el cerrojo entonces usted no puede encenderlo con el martillo abajo.
    Un problema es chamuscar que cree que el martillo en el lugar es llevado puesto debido a muchos años del uso. Un armero puede fabricar un nuevo chamuscan o compra en y sustituyen el viejo entonces la escopeta trabajará correctamente otra vez.

    Espero que este ayude

  14. Budd said

    Do you know where I can get a manual for a Winchester Model 1897?

  15. Gunner said

    Yes I do. At the top of the main page of the blog is a link to 100’s of gun owner manuals. Here’s the link to it. It’s a PDF file that will load when you go to it.


  16. hola amigo hace algun tiempo te pedi un consejo hacerca de mi winchester 1897 riot gun la envie a un armero en mi ciudad y solo le faltaba rellenar un poco el martillo ahora esta bien te agradesco los consejos aca en chile no hay muchas de estas armas nisiquira con quien comentar algo bme despido de ti cristopher silva osorno chile

  17. Gunner said

    Me imagino que el modelo 97 es muy poco frecuente en Chile. Me alegro de que encontramos una que con un poco de trabajo le va bien para ti!

    Tiro feliz!

  18. Eddie said

    Hello everyone , I just bought a Norinco mod 97 riot 12 ga shotgun from the local pawn shop . I was really wanting to change it over to the “trench” version with the heat shield & bayonet lug . I seen two websites that sell the heat shield :

    …Is there any gunsmithing involved in order to install the heat shield w/bayonet lug on the riot gun ? What steps should i take ?

  19. Gunner said

    Standard barrels and riot barrels will require locating notches for the bayonet lug attachment screws.


    Any gunsmith can make these notches for a snug fit in a very short time at little cost. Numrich also carries bayonets for them. Now if you look closely at the shield you’ll see it slides over the original barrel with a simple rear fit that slips over the barrel. The front has the three screws on each side to secure it. It will fit without the screws but will not fit tight. It would be better to have the included screws drilled to the proper depth.

    Take care,

  20. Seth said

    I stumbled on this review after I got my own Winchester M1897 (original!) for $235 from a private gun auction. It’s got a whopping 30 inch barrel and a full integral choke. So while it’s not quite the same gun that terrified the Germans in all those trenches, it’s close enough for me. Also, let me just say, this is a heck of a skeet gun. I’m talking 50 yard shots good. The originals are out there, and if you look around at auctions and gun shows, you can maybe get lucky and find them for a good price like I did.

  21. Gunner said


    The last used one like yours was $475. You got a great deal!

  22. cristopher silva leiva said

    hola amigo hace tiempo te comente de mi escopeta winchester 1897 riot-gun le arregle el martillo y quedo o.k sabes cada vez que deceo saber mas de mi arma no puedo todos los videos estan en ingles quizas me puedas ayudar saludos desde osorno chile te envio sector donde vivo por si algun dia vienes a chile saludos gracias

  23. Gunner said

    Hola mi amigo,
    Me alegro de oír tu escopeta es fijo. Me gustaría saber cómo ayudar con la búsqueda de videos en español. Honestamente nunca he visto uno.
    Una búsqueda en Internet de los sitios web en España se puede llegar a algunos. Otro buen lugar para tratar de usted es de tubo en español.

    Lo mejor de la suerte,

  24. eddie hazel said

    i bought the norinco 97 for 125.00……

  25. Gunner said

    You sir, got a very good deal!

  26. eddie hazel said

    thank you. i agree

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