When reviewing historic guns and their role toward the development of modern firearms, the discussion is typically focused on rifles and pistols. However, shotguns are not to be overlooked, as they have long been considered the base weapon of choice by many people because of their practical versatility and ease of use.
Shotguns require some practice to use effectively, but don’t require as much training as a rifle because the shot spread allows for some margin of error. The double barrel shotgun was popular in the early days of the United States, and is still used for many applications, but the pump-action shotgun as introduced by Winchester in 1897 has become the standard style used by military, hunters, and sportsmen in today’s world.
The pump shotgun was first introduced in 1893 by Winchester, and was essentially the same as the 1897 model. The difference was that the frame was strengthened with thicker metal and a closed top making ejection of the empty shells come from the side as most shotguns today are known for. The stronger build allowed for the heavier 2-3/4 shells, which also made for the use of smokeless powder. It also included a new slide lock feature, which made the gun safer by preventing jamming as the slide wouldn’t operate until after firing.
The standard Winchester Model 1897 came with a plain walnut stock, steel butt plate, and a choice of either 30 or 28 inch barrel. The 2-3/4 inch shells used smokeless powder and used cardboard rather than modern plastic casings. The idea of chokes had not come into play yet, so it would basically be what is today called and open cylinder bore providing a typical range of about 20 meters, although when discussing the range of a gun the skill of the shooter comes into play and may increase the effectiveness. The standard Winchester 1897 cost $25 at the time, which is consistent with how a nice shotgun is priced in today’s economy.
Nobody can imagine a gun which doesn’t have variations for specific purposes, and the Winchester 1897 certainly provided for the needs of different users. The trap and tournament versions came with the 30 inch barrel , higher grade walnut stock, and checkering. The Brush variant came with a shorter 26 inch barrel much like the “Turkey Guns” sold by today’s manufacturers, and included an optional takedown design for further ease of transport. The Riot and Trench models utilized a tactical style 20 inch barrel along with sling swivels along with a heat shield and bayonet lug to be more appropriate for military and police use.
Ever since the Blunderbuss of pirate days, the shotgun has been a preferred weapon by many people who preferred the versatility of the weapon over the accuracy of the rifle, or musket. This holds true today as a shotgun will perform any task of hunting, sport shooting, or defense and can do it with little practice or training required.
~ Ready to Fire News