Winchester went down to Utah
He was looking for a design to buy
He was in a bind, the 1873 was way behind
He was looking to make a deal
When he came across a man
Filing on a levergun frame and filing it hot
And Winchester jumped up on a hickory stump and said,
“Boy let me tell you what:
I guess you didn’t know it, but I’m a gun maker too,
And if you’d care to take a dare,
I’ll make a bet with you
Now you make a pretty good levergun,
Boy, but give Winchester his due
I bet a mountain of cash against your gat
‘Cause I think I’m better than you”
The man said, “My name’s John and it might be a sin,
But I’ll take your bet, you’re gonna regret,
‘Cause I’m the best there’s ever been"
Cody Firearms Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West
Posted in the comments by Sean Heihn
Forgotten Weapons Facebook page
[Caption: A realistic digital illustration of John Boyega as Moses in Attack the Block. It’s a semi-profile from the chest-up. He’s looking to the right, chin up, expression serious. The red brim of his snapback casts a shadow over his face, darkening his eyes and cheekbones. Stains of blue alien blood are splashed over the snapback, over his cheekbone and chin, a bit on his ear and down the shoulder and arm of his black jacket. Behind him, there’s a dark green background that looks like it was painted with a brush.]
It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these posts, and I’ve been racking my mind trying to think of a gun that could really work for this post, as I’ve had many famous guns requested but I’ve never done due to their being a ton of sub-variants, but also noting that those posts where I cover a gun in brief don’t do so well.
Then after watching some movies, I’ve found the lone survivor that appears almost everywhere. Gangster dramas, noir, war flicks, and in the hands of everyone from Burt Lancaster to Billy Dee Williams. It’s one of the older pump shotgun designs, but also one of the more common older models. It’s Winchester’s very own Model 1897.
Now I’m sure we all know the designer of the Winchester 1897, our lord and savior John Moses Browning, but there’s other elements to it’s birth than just that. The concept of a pump-action shotgun dates all the way to the early 1880′s when two other designers, the famous Christopher Spencer of the Spencer rifle and Sylvester Roper patented a similar pump action shotgun, the Spencer 1882.
Spencer’s design was interesting, using the same pump mechanism you see on the 1897, except it ejected from the top. However, while the gun was novel, it came out in a bad time. At this point, Winchester had begun a rather long crusade to stop many competitors and the Spencer rifle was one of them. By 1889, the company Spencer was running was out of money and bankrupt, and the license for his guns went to Francis Bannerman, who you should remember from when I talked about US made Mosins.
Now Bannerman continued selling and making Spencer shotguns, rebranded as the Model 1890 from the 1880′s until 1907. At the same time, Winchester had grabbed the patents and copyrights for the pump handle, and while forcing other guns like the Burgess shotgun out of the market, tasked their chief designer John Moses Browning to make a pump-action shotgun rather than the rather unpopular lever action 1887.
Browning improved upon the 1882 with a number of changes, the main being the larger pump handle, exterior hammer and the much better bolt design allowing for an ejection port. This hit the market as the Winchester 1893, and was reasonably successful. But it had problems and by 1897, the gun was improved and also made into the brand new smokeless powder 12 Gauge. Winchester offered any owner of the 1893 a brand new 1897 and the rest is history.
The 1897 was a very successful shotgun in many hands. It was well liked for it’s fast action and accuracy for hunters, and it’s fast action made it well liked by soldiers. The 1897 and later 1912 models had no trigger disconnect, so as long as you held down the trigger, it fired. The US Armed Forces bought many shotguns during WW1, and were rather famously used by US troops to pepper German trenches, something that became so devastating that many German higher-ups threatened to execute any US soldier captured with shotgun ammo or caught with a shotgun.
Now while they never followed through, the 1897 helped set the standard of combat shotguns in militaries, and while it was elderly by WWII, it still saw service alongside more modern guns like the Winchester 1912 and Ithaca 37. In fact, despite it’s age, the 1897 soldiered on all the way through Korea into Vietnam, with a few remembering the trenches of France, the cold of Belgium, the havoc of Seoul and even the jungles of Laos. And even now, many hunters and a few police departments still have or use the old 1897. It’s quite a long lasting shotgun, and if the heavily worn ones in your local gunshop’s used rack isn’t a prime example, then it’s long history in the real world and film would.
The film industry and the 1897 have a very long history, dating back to the 1920′s and 1930′s. It’s ability to be slamfired allowed for some gloriously large muzzle flashes, and with many coming off of surplus from many police departments made them cheap. And like I said, the 1897 seems to breach many genres. Gangster flicks feature them in the hands of both sides of the law. Action flicks of every flavor use them, from the dark overtones of Assault on Precinct 13 to the chases of Bullitt. Westerns like The Wild Bunch have them, and every WWII movie tends to have some character with an 1897. It’s everywhere, and while it’s starting to fade away to modern gun, most period pieces still use the 1897.
Now unlike the Ithaca 37, the 1897 is a somewhat common shotgun in the field of video games, but in many different forms. Almost all war shooters set in either world war use the 1897 Trench Gun as it’s standard shotgun. Many games set in specific periods use the 1897 or 1893 as their premier pump shotguns, and survival horror love the 1897. While the exact model in these games vary, the external hammer, fast firing rate and 5-6 round capacity clue you in that it’s an 1897.
And that’s the long history of the Winchester 1897, one of the oldest and yet also common pump shotguns. It’s production ran from 1897 to the mid 1950′s, and while it’s an antiquated by modern standards, the 1897 is still useful for many situations even after around 100 years of technological evolution. It’s big, old and goes boom, when you need to pepper a flock of birds, Germans or zombies with shot, not many can beat the old Winchester.
In honor of a few new people following this old tumblr I’ve decided to quickly post a few stories I have from other places on the internet. Enjoy.
“Help save Terra? Help save Terra? Sir, sign a petition to save Terra? You, you there! Human! Sign a petition to save Terra?”
Hank Miller looked up, bleary eyed, from his drink. A young, idealistic looking quextal male shoved a dataslate under his eyes.
“Terran, won’t you sign a petition to save your planet?”
The human grunted noncommittally and shoved the slate away, waving over the hotel bartender to fill his glass again, and attempted to shove the thoughts of the quextal to the back of his head. An impressive feat really, quextals look like a remarkably ambitious blue furred bipedal dog had the brilliant idea of mating with an anteater.
Rather, it was an impressive feat until the data-slate was shoved under his nose again, jarring Hank’s wrist and nearly causing him to spill his cheap xeno-brand knockoff whiskey wannabe. Which, while it wouldn’t have been used to clean toilets in a human bar, was the closest Hank could get to something remotely familiar tasting in this ass-backwards corner of the universe.
“Fuck off.” He grunted, and tried to turn his attention back to his drink for a third time.
“C'mon man just sign the damn petition. We have to protect Terra!” Hank sighed, placed his xeno-whiskey down on the table, turned, and half turned towards the seven foot tall quextal.
“Look pal, I ain’t in favor of your stupid fucking petition, for reasons I think I just made clear, namely, that it is a stupid fucking petition. Now please let me drink my stupid knock-off whiskey in peace.” His short speech given, he turned for what he thought was the last time back to his drink.
“Why don’t you wanna help man? It’s your fucking planet isn’t it?” The quextal demanded in its both low pitched yet somehow irritatingly whiny voice.
Hank took a deep breath, slammed the faux-whiskey down on the table, turned, and stared the xeno in the eyes. Despite being seated and nearly a foot shorter while standing, Hank still managed to give the quextal pause.
“Listen to me you little shit and listen good. That’s not your fucking planet to save. It’s ours. We were born there, not you. When your species was communing with nature and figuring out your precious fucking place in the fucking ecosystem, we were barely scratching out a living. When your arrogant species had developed a per-fucking-fect system of getting into orbit, and were busy singing your way into spacecraft we were busy not dying.
"Mother Terra is a stone cold bitch. A lot of scholars like to call it ‘resistant to developed life’ which is code for 'it’ll chew you up and spit you out’. When we were shat out onto the cold, uncaring surface of our bitch mother we were scared hairless primates barely able to understand who we were. We were born without teeth or claws, without armor or fur. You were breast fed your worlds gifts, not a poisonous fruit in sight. We tore open the breast of our mother and took what we needed, because she wasn’t going to give it to us.
"Did we fuck her up? You bet your ass we did. We plundered the bitch for all she was worth and then some. She birthed a race of vicious primates and we turned on her in our fury. We pockmarked her with explosions and tore her with mines, we burned her forests and plundered her oceans. We razed her surface all the while desperately outrunning her wrath. Storms that could wipe this bar and half of this godforsaken planet off the map. Waves that could drown cities, human cities mind you not these pathetic bend-in-the-wind deathtraps you xenos call cities. We fought earthquakes that could swallow coastlines, and you haven’t the faintest fucking clue what an earthquake is do you?”
Here the quextal tried to butt in.
“Of course I know what an earthquake is you arrogant-”
“No you don’t you pup, now shut up and listen. You think you know what an earthquake is because you read about it in a book. I grew up on that bitch earth, in a place known for earthquakes. I know what a real goddamn earthquake feels like, it feels like judgement day has come and the world is ending.
"We fought storms and waves and earthquakes, we fought fires that set half a continent ablaze. We fought and fought and fought and finally we said 'fuck it’ and gave dear old mom one last kick in the teeth, nuked the hell out of eachother, and fucked off that godforsaken rock forever.
"Not five years later your expeditionary fleet comes in, tells us we’ve 'lost our planetary mandate’ and that they’re placing our home, our planet, under quarantine from us. We can’t do a damn thing about it because we’re still reeling from leaving home, still reeling from the knowledge we’re not alone in this universe, still reeling from the deaths of millions in atomic fires and the throes of Terra both. Billions of us, adrift in space. We just barely manage to colonize Mars and Europa in time to save our species, because we 'lost our planetary mandate’.”
Hank leaned over and spat onto the floor.
“That’s what I and every goddamn human thinks of your precious planetary mandate. Fifty years later, half a century of the most hard-core terraforming known to the most esteemed scientific minds in the galaxy, and the Galactic Council is considering letting us back onto our home planet. Considering it, as though they weren’t the most imperialistic bastards we’ve ever known and trust me you fuzzball we’ve known some fucking imperialists.Considering letting a few of us live on our bitch mother again, and an entire goddamn movement arrives to try and say we can’t go back yet, it’s not safe, we’ll destroy our planet again.”
Miller stood up, swiped his wrist-pad against the counter to pay for his drinks, and placed his coat back on.
“How dare you tell us what we can and cannot do to the bitch. We’ll heal her up, but because we want to not because you and a dozen species like you told us to. We’ll take care of the hag in her old age, but don’t you think for a goddamn second its because of your precious 'Galactic Council’. It’s because despite the fact that she’s a hag, and a bitch, and the worst mother in the goddamn galaxy, she’s our mother. And I swear by all that I hold dear, Whiskey, John Moses Browning, Sergei Ivanovitch Mosin, Mikhail Kalashnikov, and the United Terran Republics, if you space-communists keep us from taking care of our mother how we see fit, I will make it my life’s mission to eradicate your government and your way of life.”
Brigadier General Hank Miller, UTR Marines, stood up, and a half dozen of his staff stood and followed him.
“And if one day she dies, when she comes to hell, she can bite me.”
Time for this verse again.
My dear Brethren, let us read this excerpt from the Book of Colt as divinely breathed to the Prophet, John Moses Browning. “And the Lord spoke unto them regarding the 1911 saying, ‘Behold, with this finely crafted steel ye doth not have perfection, but very nearly close to it, with reliability and noble grace. For verily I say unto you, the .45ACP is the caliber of The Chosen One, My own disciple Browning himself. Chase not after false and weak idols like that .40S&W, for this is an abomination, such as the pagans who decorate their steel with Tapco doth commit. Cast not your lot with them. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!’”.