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Of course, some history first, because without the history, it is just a cool toy.

In the early 1900s, during the Moro insurrection in the Philippines, the US Army issued approximately 200 Winchester Model 1897 shotguns to its troops for use during close quarter combat against enemies wielding swords and knives, where they were very successful.

The Army also used them during the Punitive Expedition in Mexico between 1916 ad 1917.

When the United States entered World War I, there was a need for more service weapons to be issued to the troops. After observing the results of the previous three years of trench warfare, it became clear to the United States just how brutal the fighting was likely to be, and the need for a large amount of close-range firepower while fighting in a trench.

The Model 1897 Trench Shotgun was an evolution of this idea. The pre-existing Winchester Model 1897 was modified by adding a perforated steel heat shield over the barrel which kept the soldier's hands off a hot barrel, and an adapter with a bayonet lug for affixing an M1917 Bayonet, which was also the bayonet for the M1917 Enfield rile. The M1917 bayonet was selected as opposed to the M1905 bayonet that was used on the M1903 rifle was simple; M1917 bayonets were already in production, whereas the M1905 bayonet production had not been resumed.

This model was ideal for close combat and was efficient in trench warfare due to its 20-inch improved cylinder bore barrel. Buckshot ammunition was issued with the trench grade during the war. Each round contained nine 00 (.33-caliber) buckshot pellets. This shorter barrel and large amount of firepower is what made this grade ideal for trench warfare.

Unlike most pump-action shotguns, the Winchester Model 1897 fired each time the action closed with the trigger depressed (known as slam firing). Coupled with its five-shot capacity, this made it effective for close combat, allowing troops to fire the whole magazine with great speed. The troops referred to it as a "trench sweeper" or "trench broom".

Although the Model 1897 was popular with American troops in WWI, the Germans soon began to protest its use in combat. On 19 September 1918, the German government issued a diplomatic protest against the American use of shotguns, alleging that the shotgun was prohibited by the law of war. A part of the German protest read that "it is especially forbidden to employ arms, projections, or materials calculated to cause unnecessary suffering" as defined in the 1907 Hague Convention on Land Warfare.

The United States interpreted its use of shotguns differently than Germany. The Judge Advocate General of the Army, and US Secretary of State Robert Lansing reviewed the applicable law and promptly rejected the German protest.

The rejection of their protest upset the German forces. Shortly after the protest was rejected, Germany issued threats that they would punish and/or execute all captured American soldiers that were found to be armed with a shotgun or had shotgun shells in their possession as war criminals. This led to the United States issuing a retaliation threat, stating that any measures unjustly taken against captured American soldiers would lead to reprisals by the United States on captured German soldiers who wielded flamethrowers and serrated bayonets.

The Model 1897 was used again in World War II by the Army and Marine Corps, where it was used alongside the similarly militarized version of the Winchester Model 1912, which is the subject of this restoration thread.
 

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The subject of this thread is a Winchester Model 1912 Shotgun that by serial number was made in 1942 as a civilian trap gun with a 30" barrel. It lacks the US Army Ordnance Department acceptance stamps and is not marked "U.S. Property" as all authentic trench shotguns are, and it has a blued finish, whereas original USGI M1912 trench shotguns were parkerized.

Since authentic trench brooms are hard to find, and VERY expensive when they are found, a few companies have started making reproductions of the heat shield and bayonet lug. Personally, I am fine with this. Dishonest individuals might try to pass one off as authentic, but a fake is easily spotted if you know what you are looking for.

The conversion kits are made in two sizes:
1. A kit for a cut down barrel - which is what was required here.
2. A kit for a authentic barrel.

The conversion kit came with a heatshield/bayonet lug, a new end cap for the magazine tube, and a sling swivel for the stock. All parts except for the rear sling swivel were "in the white" in anticipation of the installer parkerizing them. Since the shotgun is blued, I would have to blue the parts to match.

The first issue However, for it to fit correctly the instructions that came with the kit stated that the barrel needed to be no more than 20.5" long, so the original 30" fixed full choke barrel was cut and crowned to 20.5"

Barrel after cutting and crowning. (for reasons that escape me, the new improved forum software chose to rotate my images....)


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I also confirmed that a bayonet would fit on the heat shield without modification.

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Then it was time to start bluing the parts.

The heat shield and other parts got a good cleaning and then rust blued.

Testing how well the shield will take bluing:
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Came out looking well.

Blued:
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Then it was time to turn to the buttstock.
(Next post.)
 

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The stock needed a new buttplate and screws, since an aftermarket Hawkins buttplate had been installed, and it needed to be inletted for the sling swivel.

I found a source for the original buttplate and screws.

Original Buttplate after locating and drilling new screw holes.
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After checking a few sources, including the owner of a authentic trench gun, I got accurate dimensions for where to place the sling swivel. I marked the stock using a sharpie for the location, then fastened the swivel to the stock to drill locating holes.

Holes drilled
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Once that was set, I removed the swivel and broke out the wood carving tools and started carving an inlet for the swivel

Carving tools
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First cut on the stock.
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In retrospect, it would have been faster and easier to use an appropriately sized forstner bit......

Once the swivel was mounted, I made up some varnish for the stock to protect the wood and hide a few scratches I had done accidentally.
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Then it was time to put it all together......or so I thought......

(Next Post)
 

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Recall from my earlier post that I needed a kit for a gun with a cut barrel. Since shotgun barrels have a taper, a cut barrel will have a wider profile than a original barrel.

Put some oil on the barrel, and some additional oil on the inside of the heat shield and......

It did not fit. The barrel was too wide for the heat shield. I initially thought that perhaps the barrel on this gun was just wider than anticipated. So, I broke out the polishing bits and polished the inside of the heat shield, and after driving a few brass wedges into the seam of the heat shield, I was able to slip it on.

That is when the serious cursing began.

There was so much cursing that I am certain that a black and inky cloud of it hovers over North Jacksonville to this day.

The rearward motion of the heat shield is limited by the magazine tube and the tube cap that comes with the kit (which has a pin that prevents the heat shield from rotating.

Heat shield fitted to the cut barrel. Can you see the problem?
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If you cannot see the problem in the previous picture, how about now?

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That's right, the cut barrel was about 0.75" too short for the heat shield. This makes the heat shield the new muzzle. Since the heat shield is not hardened ordinance steel, it might last 10 - 20 shots before it is destroyed.

So I remove the heat shield and remeasure the barrel - 20.5". I recheck the instructions on the website. 20.5". Whiskey Tango Foxtrot??!!

Would have, could have, should have. Next time, check the fitment BEFORE cutting the barrel.... since clearly the stated dimensions are not correct.

So now I am faced with the choice of finding a new barrel, cutting the magazine tube far enough to get the heat shield to fit properly, which I could not bring myself to do, or hang it on the wall as a monument to f*cking up.

Check the parts websites, no barrels to be had... Set the websites to "notify when back in stock"

I have had other projects go sideways before, and I have always worked through it. I found a guy in POLAND to make me a new stock for a WWI French carbine, I have had parts made, and have had to make custom formed brass to shoot some of these guns.

This one beat me.

This gun went into the cabinet and I couldn't even look at it.

Next Post.
 
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The photos in the previous post were taken on March 23rd, 2019. The shotgun stayed in the cabinet.

Then in early February 2020, I get an email from a parts warehouse.

They have Winchester Model 12 barrels in stock!

They even have.... shudder a USGI riot gun barrel!
Riot gun barrels and trench gun barrels are the same, but riot guns did not have the heat shield and were used in federal prisons, etc.

Quickly jump on the site, miracle of miracles, it was still in stock, so I bought it.

Oddly enough, the stated length of the riot barrels is 21.5".

Since this is a takedown model shotgun, I now have to get the old barrel out of the receiver extension and screw in the new barrel.

Old barrel with receiver extension, and new barrel. Note the difference in length.....
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Got with a friend of mine that has a barrel vice and wrench and got to work.

Taking the extension off of the old barrel.

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Putting the new barrel on after liberally coating the threads with anti-sieze.

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Installed.

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Once I got home, I mounted the adjustment sleeve on the new barrel and got the gun headspaced.

Then, I fit the heat shield on the barrel. No need for wedges this time, it slid right on.

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Got the shield secured to the barrel and it was finally done after almost one year.

(Next Post)
 

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Finally finished.

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Of course, no job is complete without a range report.

Took it to the local range, and loaded 6 shells of 7.5 birdshot. and slam fired [email protected] 25 yards.

I think I got him.

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What I suspect happened is that while a kit for a cut barrel was ordered, a kit for an original barrel was what was actually sent.

Thanks for reading.
 

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Great perseverance and excellent work, as always, AFJuvat! Great history lesson, too. (y) (y) (y)
 
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Having seen your work first hand, it doesn’t surprise how nice that looks.
 

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Great work as usual an an excellent build post. Thanks for sharing.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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Great job! I know the history of those shotguns and have one on the bucket list. You have an amazing talent there.
He damn sure does!

So, did you figure out what the difference was in your barrel length cut to 21.5” and length of the 21.5” riot gun barrel?
 

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Always fascinating and as you said "A Real Gun Thread". (y)
 

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He damn sure does!

So, did you figure out what the difference was in your barrel length cut to 21.5” and length of the 21.5” riot gun barrel?
The instructions said to cut the barrel to 20.5" the riot barrel was 21.5" . If the correct kit had been sent, it may have fit correctly.
 
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Thanks for the history lesson. My dad, WWII vet, has that gun in his cabinet! My brother-in-law, jar head, found it & had it cleaned up & gave it to my dad for Xmas several years ago. Dad never fired it before he passed, I’ll have to take a closer look next time I’m at moms. Nice to know it is what it was stated to be. You do nice work sir! Always a pleasure to see what you get into!!
 

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I keep a Model 12 skeet gun loaded with #4 Buck as my bedroom shotgun precisely because of the slam fire feature. The Model 12 is truly one of the best pump shotguns ever made, right up there with the Ithaca Model 37.
 

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Beautiful work on a great piece of history. Brings back a memory from many years ago. A neighbor had a similar shotgun. His was a bit different as in no heat shield, bayonet lug, it had a hammer you had to engage on the first shot. Otherwise it looked just like yours.
 

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Beautiful work on a great piece of history. Brings back a memory from many years ago. A neighbor had a similar shotgun. His was a bit different as in no heat shield, bayonet lug, it had a hammer you had to engage on the first shot. Otherwise it looked just like yours.
That would be a M1897 model.
 
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