(foto Winchester 1893 1e model 12ga shotgun from the Tielemans collection)
This is one gun that Winchester DID NOT want you to own! The 1893 pump action shotgun was a great gun and it was Winchester's very first pump action shotgun design. Unfortunately, it was caught in between two different technological eras...the end of the black powder age and the beginning of the new smokeless powder era. Since it was designed to be used with 12-gauge shells loaded with black powder ONLY, it must have really worried Winchester by the late 1890's/early 20th century as identical smokeless 12 gauge shells began to take over the market. Fearing injuries and lawsuits from smokeless shells being used in a black powder gun, Winchester began one of the earliest product recalls probably in American history by placing ads in various publications. By this point, Winchester had made over 30,000 Model 93's. The ads encouraged owners of the Winchester Model 1893's to send their guns back to Winchester in exchange for a brand new Model 1897 pump shotgun which had been re-designed for smokeless powder. Winchester destroyed every Model 1893 that was returned and that is probably what happened to most of them. Still, a few survive today and as long as the owners used them with black powder, were probably safe for many years of use. However, this is not an endorsement that the 100+ year old gun is safe to fire.
Winchester 1893 & 1897 repeating, (pump) shotguns
(Foto Winchester 1893 20" Riot 12ga from the Wit collection)
These models were a open hammer, pump operated shotgun. the forearm was made with circular grooves around it. One nickname for this gun was the "cornshucker"
The model 1893 was the predecessor to the 1897, with about 33,000 being made. It originally used 2 1/2" ammo. It can be readily identified by a "thumb cut" on the top LH side of the receiver, somewhat like the model 98 Mauser rifles.
A & B Series:
In June 1897, the model 1897 was born & the following changes were made to the 1893. Then the gun was called the Model 1897, with the serial numbers of the guns continuing from the 1893. Apparently the series A & B relate to the 1893. Not sure if all "B" guns had rounded end magazine plugs.
(1) New firing pin lock put in breech block.
(2) Screw put in receiver to hold magazine from turning.
(3) Release pin and plunger (for action slide lock)
(4) Top of cartridge ejecting opening in frame made straight.
(5) Spring placed on inside of action handle encircling magazine.
(6) Collar put inside of magazine to keep spring and follower from coming out.
(7) Top of breech block made straight.
(8) Receiver holding bolt made shorter.
(9) Buttstock made longer, drop changed, and outside shape changed slightly.
(10)Friction spring put in under cartridge guide.
In February 1898, after about 47,000 shotguns had been made, more changes were made in the Model 1897. After that date the gun was marked with the letter "C" over the serial number.
(1) A small wire was put into the receiver and connected to the action slide lock release pin, to hold it from coming out when the gun was taken apart.
(2) Receiver made 1 1/2 (one and one half) hundredths ??? thicker on each side. This was thought best on account of the increased cuts on the inside.
(3) Action slide lock spring was changed.
(4) The first Model 1897's had no ejector spring. (The ejector was a little block pinned to the LH receiver wall.) This spring is a small thin "L" shaped spring with a screw hole that is attached from the outside LH side of the receiver immediately in front of the "ejector".
The end of the magazine plug was flat on "D" guns.
In April 1898, after about 50,000 shotguns had been made (Model 1893 & 1897) some more changes were made, and the model 1897 detachable barrel and magazine put on the market. These were known as the "E" series guns.
"E" guns had slightly deeper 5/16 wide grooves on the receiver ring.
Prior to "E" guns, cartridge stops were fastened with screws through the receiver sides and shells were difficult to release from the magazine. For unloading, most shooters worked them through the action. On E models, the cartridge stops fastened through the bottom of the action and providing buttons which could be pushed to retract the cartridge stops.
These are not all the changes. Madis stated that 37 major and 52 minor changes were made in the first 12 years of production of the Model 1897.
Other items that may be of some interest:
1. Standard shotgun stock was 13 3/4 inches.
2. Frame altered on 1897 to use 2 3/4" ammo.
3. Brush gun was made available November 1897 to 1931. It had shorter stock with more drop and 26 inch barrel.
4. Standard gun was made with rolled steel barrels, full choke standard. Cylinder or modified choke on special order.
5. Standard barrel length 30 or 32 inch. 30 inch shipped if not specified.
6. Trap Gun 12 and 16 gauge (1897 to 1931). The gun had 30 inch rolled steel barrel, select fancy walnut handmade stock. Straight checked grip with oil finish and black diamonds in the grip, and checked rubber butt plate. It was first listed at $47.
7. Trap Gun was engraved on the breech block and could be had with matted barrel.
8. Within certain limits, purchasers could specify stock dimensions.
9. Solid frame and takedown trap guns were made. After 1926 Trap Gun was not always engraved on the breech block.
10. Receivers on Trap, Tournament, Pigeon, Standard Trap, and Special Trap guns had matted groove.
The Winchester Model 1893 Pump Action 12 Ga. Shotgun
Some of you who have read my articles in the past will know of my interest in older shotguns and some, hopefully many, will read my little fortnightly piece in the Shotgun and Rifle Forum where I write a short essay on a shooting related item of interest, this article came about as a result of both. I was going to write this up in the Forum, but the more I researched the gun in question; the more interesting became its history. The gun in question is a Winchester Model 1893 Pump Action 12 bore shotgun. I had been after an early pump with an external hammer for some time and here in Britain such things are quite scarce. I had only once previously seen one Model '93 and a couple of '97's and no Marlins or makes other than the Winchesters. There was simply not just the market here for such guns.
The London Gunmaker Charles Lancaster did buy some Spencer/Roper actions and made them up with fine Damascus barrels and even Damascus tube magazines, fitted them with a fine walnut stock and some engraving but found that they did not sell at all well. How I would like to get my hands on one of these today. One advantage of the fact that pumps are not very popular here is that they can be picked up for comparatively little money on the second hand market. I already had a Winchester Model 12 and an Ithaca Model 37, both in 12 bore, and was on the look out for a Model 97 and a Model 42 Winchester. I am still on the look out for the latter and I suppose still on the look out for the former also. With this in mind I had left word of my requirements at a number of local Gun Dealers.
Years passed and then one of the local dealers with whom I do frequent business with in the North of Derbyshire, remembering what I had said, mentioned that he had a Winchester hammer pump action in and would I be interested. It was less than an hour's drive away but as it does no good to appear too keen when angling for a purchase, I told him to hang on to it and I would be in by in a couple of days. I knew full well that it would be doubtful if any other customer would come in showing any interest and, sure enough, when I called in, there it was in the rack. It was displayed trigger guard uppermost and a quick glance showed it to be, not a Model '97 as I had suspected, but the far less common Model '93. Then I spotted the serial number, not the usual row of meaningless digits that indicate just another gun, but a single digit, the number '8'. Indicating it was one of the very first to leave the Winchester factory back in 1893.
'Not many of those made.' said the Gundealer trying to show a little knowledge. "No, I suppose not," said I, just trying to show a little ignorance. It doesn't pay to appear too smart when a potential deal is in the offing. At this stage I knew that something in the order of 30 odd thousand had been made and that production had stopped due to an alleged patent infringement and a court case had ensued and that Bannerman's who held the patent rights, had lost because Winchester could prove that pump action patents already existed in Britain and France even though no guns were actually produced. Then having won the case they started up again, but producing the Model '97 before ceasing in the 1950's.
What I had in front of me was uncommon, not rare, but very desirable in view of its low number. There was no price tag attached, there never is in this particular shop, and customers are expected to make an offer. Not a way I like to do business but none-the-less I made a low but sensible offer and brought my wallet out to show that I had the cash on me. Now, catch this particular Dealer on the right day and offer cash and some great deals can be made. Today was one of those days and my offer was accepted; two minutes paperwork and I was off clutching my prize.
An Interesting Find
by Mike Baines
Now, don't think that I had been too hasty here. I had given the gun a good going over and found it to function correctly, and an examination had revealed no defects. One always has to look for anything that may turn the ensuing deal to one's advantage. Apart from the fact that the gun had not a vestige of original finish and was worn smooth and silver by use, there was not a thing wrong with it. It was obviously a well used gun, but also a well cared for gun. There was only the slightest hint of pitting in the bore, nothing to be concerned about. No doubt it had probably fired many thousands of modern smokeless cartridges, something it was never designed to do, but everything fitted tight where it should be tight and smooth where it should be smooth. I was delighted with my purchase.
Having arrived home I couldn't resist cleaning the new gun, not that it needed it but it was a chance to get the feel of it and admire its design. Time then for a little research and this was easily accomplished by having a look through some of the gun books that I had accumulated over the years. The Model'93 shotgun owes its origins to the Browning patented action for Winchester's first slide action firearm, the Model '90 pump action in .22 rimfire. This design was protected by U.S. patent 385238 of 1888 and the popularity of this model induced Winchesters to bring out a repeating shotgun based on the same basic design. The Model '93 had not long been in production when an action was filed for an alleged patent infringement by Francis Bannerman, a New York firearms dealer and then owner of U.S patent 316401 of 1885.
The original patent had been granted to Sylvester H. Roper and Christopher M. Spencer, to cover a slide action repeating shotgun, who had then gone into liquidation transferring the rights to Pratt & Whitney from whom Bannerman had eventually obtained the rights to manufacture and sell the Spencer/Roper shotgun. Winchester was forced to cease production and prepare to defend the action. Two lines of enquiry were sent out; one via Thomas E. Addis to interview Spencer to show that the 1888 patent had been antedated by U.S. patent 255894 of 1882 and issued to Spencer and Roper, and another line of enquiry was pursued by George D. Seymour who was dispatched to Europe to check the French and British patent record offices to see if any patents for such actions had been filed there. Much to Winchester's astonishment they found three such British patents and one French, the earliest being the Alexander Bain patent of 1854 and two further patents taken out in 1866 by Joseph Curtis and William Krutzsch. The French patent was slightly later and had been taken out by M. M. Magot in 1880.
(Model 1893 20" Riot in unfired condition from the Outlawswinchesters collection)
Armed with this information the Winchester Company prepared to defend the action which appeared before Judge Wheeler on June 5th. 1897 who found for the defendants and ruled that no patent infringements had taken place. Winchesters were free to resume production. During the interim period between the cessation of production and the trial date, the use of Smokeless powders had begun to replace the Black powder for which the '93 had been originally designed. The Model '93 had become outdated and it was decided to recommence production with a new and stronger design better able to stand the higher pressures of the new Smokeless cartridges that were becoming more widely used. The Model 1897 had been born. Production of the 1893 model had ceased around serial number 34,050 and serial numbering of the model 1897 started where the older gun had left off. This design proved to be one of Winchesters most popular models with production ceasing only as recently as 1957, 60 years in production, with the last reaching a total production to the serial number 1,024,700. Almost one million model 1897's had been produced.
Winchesters were keen to promote the newer improved model and issued a statement that they would replace any 1893 models returned with a new model 1897 free of charge. This must have been a tempting offer and must have resulted in the scrapping of a number of used model '93's together with those unsold or under production at the time of the law suit. No doubt some of the model '93 parts were salvaged and used on the earliest '97 models. How many '93's left in circulation at this point is anyone's guess but it must have been much reduced from the initial 34,050.
The basic model of 1893 was obtainable with a plain pistol grip stock with either a 30" or a 32" rolled steel barrel at a retail price of $25. Other variation could be ordered at extra cost which included a fancy walnut chequered stock and forearm, rubber butt plate and two types of Damascus barrel. A top of the range model would retail around $62. This was a non-takedown model issued only in 12-gauge and with 2 5/8 inch chambers. There does appear to have been a small number made with 20 inch barrels and issued as riot guns.
Not all desirable firearms must be blued as long as the color is complete to the entire firearm what Gun dealers and Appraisers call "In the White".
This photo shows the extremely low and much desirable serial that raises such collector interest and this Editor's cupidity.
The example in my collection (not pictured) is of the most common type and is of plain finish with a 30" Rolled steel barrel. It does still see occasional use with home loaded black-powder cartridges and has smashed quite a few clays since I obtained it. I will one day take it out for a shot at game when the inclination takes me. How this gun found its way to England will, I suppose, forever remain something of a mystery. One clue is that is fails to bear any English Proof marks which indicates that it was never imported through the usual channels via an Importer/Dealer. All imported American made guns should, by Law, pass through one of the two Proof Houses and be correctly stamped to that effect.
Technically, it is an offence to sell this gun un-proved and I have approached the Birmingham Proof House about the possibility of this gun being issued with a Proof Exemption Certificate which can be issued in circumstances where the gun is thought to be of Historical interest and may not survive Proof testing. The gun can then be legally sold if accompanied with the appropriate certificate. I do not intend to part with it but at least I would then be legally permitted to do so.
Oddly, two other American made guns in my collection, a Winchester model '12 and a L.C. Smith double also fail to bear the Proof stamps. Both date to 1939 and it is my opinion that they most probably entered this Country with visiting American Servicemen who came to Britain later in the Second World War and then were sold on locally.
Could this old model '93 pump have entered Britain in this way? Could this gun, bearing serial number '8', be the oldest Winchester pump action shotgun still in use in the world? I would like to think so. Oh! The price I paid for it? Well it doesn't do to mention such things as it only makes our Editor jealous. .
See now also for Colt: http://outlawscolts.jouwweb.nl/