Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

When the Winchester M97/17 shotgun arrived in Europe in the hands of 'Doughboys,' the Germans were livid. The Kaiser's military forces found the idea of a 12 gauge shotgun so deplorable in combat, they tried to have it outlawed as inhumane.


But at the end of the day, the Winchester is just a pump action shotgun...brutal and effective then as now. The M97 was pretty much the same 'duck gun' most American hunters have known for over a century.


The Winchester M97 was an updated and militarized version of the earlier pump action shotgun used by U.S. forces during the Philippine Insurrection. The M97 went to Europe with two additions to its envelope, a full length barrel heat shield and a hefty bayonet lug. The former improved cooling when the weapon was fired and cycled rapidly. The latter, fitting a lengthy M1917 bayonet, pushed the shotgun into intimidating heights in close quarters.


However, to get the shotgun to Europe required overcoming some skepticism by U.S. Army brass. Many general officers found the shotgun useless. Yet General 'Black Jack' Pershing- Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force and veteran of the Spanish-American War; as well as the Philippine Insurrection- saw the value of combat shotguns in the trench and barbed wire wastes of the Western Front. Ultimately 25,000 M97 Trench Guns went to war.


When raiding a German trench, the M97 quickly proved its vicious effectiveness. Once in a trench, American soldiers armed with the M97 would effectively move forward, clearing trenches with the devastating 12 gauge buckshot. The swarm of lead balls, nine in total per shell and each measuring .32 caliber, would remove any threat with the accuracy of aimed fire and near the power of a grenade.


Shotgun teams were deployed to clear trenches rapidly and the M97 quickly gained popularity among its users; and hatred from its enemies. In addition to effectiveness in trench raids, the M97 could send out rapid clouds of buckshot at the wave formations of German infantry.


Uniquely, the M97 could be used in what is known as "slam fire." Lacking a disconnect mechanism inside the trigger assembly, if an operator held the trigger back and cycled the action, it created a merciless rapid fire. Every time the forearm slide pushed forward, it was slam fire, emptying the five round tubular magazine as quickly as the operator could manipulate the forearm.


A negative of the design was a operating piece that pushed from the rear of the receiver upon a rearward cycle. This, due to its position near the firing hand wrapping the stock, led to some hand injuries. Also, the paper walled shotgun shells were a weak point in the weapons system, replaced by the end of the war with complete brass 12 gauge shells.


The M97 would serve the United State through World War II, and found in smaller batched into Korea and even Vietnam.



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Comment by Trey on April 18, 2012 at 2:12pm

The Ithaca model 37 also can slam fire as well, it was used to some extent in WW II though Vietnam (probably later in reserved units) and Many Police forces.   I did see a pic of a Airbase guard during desert storm with an M-1897 which officially had been removed from service

Comment by Alex Bolado on May 30, 2011 at 11:39am

"The Kaiser's military forces found the idea of a 12 gauge shotgun so deplorable in combat, they tried to have it outlawed as inhumane."

Translation: "Overpowered! Overpowered!"


Excellent firearm, though.

Comment by David Mark Brown on January 20, 2011 at 5:20pm
very cool dieselpunk weapon. I debated using the 97 in my writing recently, but went with the mare's leg instead, a cut-down Winchester 1892, with shot load. While less practical I liked the six rounds with a seventh in the chamber that it gave me, along with the drama of a "rolling" lever action to fire the weapon. It was too "MTV" to pass up.

As far as finding replicas, it looks like there is an array of knock offs at a variety of prices. But the U.S. loves its guns. http://www.gunsamerica.com/Search/Category/949/2/Guns/Shotguns/Winc...
Comment by Pilsner Panther on January 20, 2011 at 3:10am
I saw a modern Chinese-made replica of the trench broom about five years ago, but I don't have any idea where you could get one.
Comment by Lawren H.B. on January 20, 2011 at 1:06am

Shotguns are one of my favorite weapons and the 97 is one of my favorites. (Remington 870 tops my list)

@ Meekels: what type of replica are you looking for?

Comment by Tome Wilson on January 19, 2011 at 10:07pm


Corrected.  Thanks for the catch!

Comment by Meekles on January 19, 2011 at 7:19pm
Small typo in the 7th paragraph 3rd sentence, need an e on slid, great writeup though. I'm gonna go google what a replica costs now.
Comment by D.T. McCameron on January 19, 2011 at 4:45pm
That is a sexy gun.

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