The U.S. Model 97 Trench Gun alongside two other useful weapons of WWI trench warfare, the Colt M1911 pistol and the M1917 bayonet. Brass cartridge cases were needed because the wet conditions in the trenches made paper cases unreliable.
Brass shotgun cartridges were used in the trenches late in WWI and in the Pacific during WWII.
A close-up of the base of the pistol grip shows that this Model 97 Trench Gun was rebuilt some time after World War I at Raritan Arsenal.
The sling swivel mount is inset into the Trench Gun’s stock. Sling swivels were one of the features required by the U.S. Ordnance Dept. before the Model 97 was adopted.
The Model 97’s exposed hammer could be cocked by hand or by the operation of the bolt. Note the small button on the lower left side of the receiver, which is the action release.
The WWI version of the Model 97 possesses a ventilated handguard with six rows of holes. In WWII, the shotguns were built on takedown receivers and had handguards with four rows of holes.
A close-up of the 97 Trench Gun’s bayonet lug and front sling swivel.
U.S. Marines armed with Trench Guns help guard the U.S. mail from thieves during the 1920s, after large sums had been taken in robberies. NARA photo
Troops in France train with the Model 97 Trench Gun during WWI.
I still remember when I bought my first Model 97 Trench Gun. I had wanted one since I first saw photos of U.S. Doughboys and Marines with the Trench Gun and read about it. The day I went to buy a much-used sample, I didn’t think of it as a collectible; I wanted to handle and shoot the weapon. Since then I’ve owned three other Trench Guns, and my current one, the World War I example, is featured in this article. For most shooters and those with an interest in WWI, the Model 97 Trench Gun is the iconic U.S. military fighting shotgun. However, it was the Model 97 Riot Gun that first proved its effectiveness in close-quarters combat during the Philippine Insurrection. The anemic Army Colt .38 didn’t stop fanatic Moro Juramentados, and even the Krag rifle didn’t always stop them. But the Riot Gun loaded with buckshot generally did.
While serving in the Philippines, Captain John Pershing had a chance to see the effectiveness of the Model 97 firsthand. And later, as a brigadier general, he would serve as the governor of Moro Province. When Pershing led the U.S. Punitive Expedition into Mexico, he had some of his troops equipped with Model 97 Riot Guns—that included some cavalrymen who found the firearm very effective. This operation against Mexico later influenced the films The Wild Bunch and The Professionals, which portrayed these Riot Guns.
In France as commander of the American Expeditionary Force in WWI, Pershing quickly realized the value of a shotgun for use in the trenches. Already combat proven, the Model 97 was a logical choice, but the Ordnance Department had some requirements prior to military adoption. Sling swivels and a bayonet mount would have to be added. A ventilated handguard that incorporated the front sling swivel and bayonet mount also was added. The ventilated handguard was necessary to dissipate heat so that, after rapid fire, the barrel could be grasped to deliver bayonet thrusts. A bayonet mount designed to take the U.S. Enfield rifle’s Model 1917 bayonet was chosen, as this bayonet was at the time in wide production…
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I still remember when I bought my first Model 97 Trench Gun. I had…
by Tactical-Life / Sep 10, 2013