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Thread: Winchester 97 chamber too short?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    Winchester 97 chamber too short?

    I've shot a lot of cheap factory Dove and Quail loads in my 97 and never noticed a problem, but today I was reading up and supposedly the chambers are short to be using 2 3/4" shells. The oldies were 2 5/8", 12 ga. I mean. Supposedly shooting 2 3/4"s will increase preassure, recoil, and eventually headspace. I read the Cowboy Action guys are having them reamed and something else. Any 97/1897 guys out there? Problem/not a problem? I don't want to hurt the old gal. Should I put this in 'Gunsmithing'?

  2. #2
    Boolit Bub tom threepersons's Avatar
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    The problem is that once the longer shell is fired it is hard to extract. The extra force needed to pull the case from the chamber can and does damage the 97s extractor. They open the end of the chamber so the case can open and pull free from the chamber. I have a 97 TD made in the 1950s no problem.

  3. #3
    Boolit Bub
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    Do it without regret...I have lengthened the chambers/forcing cones of all my old shotguns. It is a selling point and the gun will pattern better. If you dont you suffer unnecessary recoil and eventually a cracked stock.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master

    Calamity Jake's Avatar
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    Been shooten 2 different 97s in CAS now for 15+ years, never lengthened the chambers on eather, I load WW AA 2 3/4 hulls, have had no problems.
    Calamity Jake

    NRA Life Member
    SASS 15704
    Shoot straight, keepem in the ten ring.

  5. #5
    Boolit Buddy
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    I have opened up a lot of 97 & model 12 chambers in the past 30 years.

    The "2 9/16" reamers hung around winchester much longer than they should have, and I have found M12's marked "2 3/4" with short chambers.

    The big issue is a pressure spike. The folded crimp opens into the forcing cone, and then the wad gets shoved through the restriction. Hard on the gun & shooter both.

    Reaming the 97 or M12 to at least 2 3/4 is a good plan. Running the 2 3/4 reamer to the barrel face on a takedown gun makes the chamber 2 3/4 + the thickness of the headspace ring - even better.

    Most M12's I have reamed got the 3 inch reamer. They pattern better, and it reduces the stress on a collectible shotgun.

    Modern shotguns like the mossberg 835 have a huge overbore, and long freebore. They shoot great.

    B.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    Well that's 3 to 1 in favor. CJ, is it possible your chambers were opened up before you got them? Based on these responses and what I've learned I think I'll have the work done. Hopefully it won't affect the value of an otherwise original gun. My plan is to switch to my 97 as a house gun, getting rid of the Mossberg. Besides the original TD 28" barrel I picked up a spare that was home cut to 20", so I'll have 2 bills to pay if I do them both. Thanks for the input guys, it helps.

  7. #7
    Longwood
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    The very first job I ever had done by a smith was to bore my 97 too 3". Made it much better.

  8. #8
    Moderator



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    I'm down to 7 Model 97's at the present time and all of them have had the chambers reamed with the exception of my 1954 gun, which didn't need it. It's a simple job and well worth the small expense.

    I've seen Model 97's with chambers all over the place. They were evidently chambered by hand and it depended on who was operating the chamber reamer, and which reamer they were using. I've owned one that completely shredded the case mouths on factory 2 3/4" shells before I had the chamber reamed. The mouths of the shells were in the very short forcing cone and I can only imagine the pressures that built up when the shot and wads squeezed through that constriction.

    Any competent shotgun smith can drop a chamber gauge into your gun and tell you if it needs to be reamed out or not. If it does, it shouldn't cost more than $35 to $50 to have it reamed and the forcing cone relieved.

    Hope this helps.

    Fred

  9. #9
    Black Powder 100%


    cajun shooter's Avatar
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    You may also do as many do and cut your hulls. Precision Reloading and Ballistic Parts Inc both sell the tools. You just trim the case back to 2 1/2 inches and they also sell a wad for the 2 1/2 inch English guns that works quite well. I roll crimp my loads with a bench drill press and roll crimp tool. Very easy to do and allows you to shoot the gun as is. I prefer the trimmer that is made of wood but can't recall which one sells it. You also have to buy another piece so that it works correctly. The total cost is about $35.
    Shooter of the "HOLY BLACK" SASS 81802 AKA FAIRSHAKE; NRA ; BOLD; WARTHOG;Deadwood Marshal;Bayou Bounty Hunter; So That his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat; 44 WCF filled to the top, 210 gr. bullet

  10. #10
    Boolit Buddy
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    One more vote for having a Gunsmith cut a Long Forcing Cone....

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    Thanks again for all the good advice. Due to lack of work the gunsmithing is on hold, But, I remembered having bought a box of South American brass shotshells which I dug out of the cave. They are plenty short. I'm guessing the cowboy action guys use brass sometimes in a 1897. I'll cobble something together and see if I have a reliable HD gun. When work picks up I'll have the chamber worked on so I can shoot cheap off the shelf Dove and Quail loads at clay pigeons handthrown out at the pits.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check