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Cimarron 1897 Shotgun Review

The Cimarron 1897 Shotgun is the only reproduction Winchester 1897 shotgun currently for sale new. I searched high and low for the IAC manufactured 1897 shotgun which has garnered excellent reviews. I was unable to find one at any wholesale distributors. I read mixed reviews about the Cimarron. I decided to take a chance on it. Here is a link to Cimarron's description:

This shotgun lists for $437.33 on Cimarron's website. You should be able to find it for about $370-400 at retail. Used original Winchester or IAC 1897 shotguns typically sell for $400-$550 at retail.

I received the gun and unpacked it. Upon initial inspection, it appeared of average quality. The wood looked good but not eye-catching. The blueing on the receiver looked to be of good quality also. Out of the box, the gun cycled normally. I cycled it about 10-20 times and everything seemed to be in working order. I did not try 12 gauge dummy rounds at home and waited until I was at the range the next day to try cycling actual rounds through it.

At the range, I again tested everything without live ammo and it seemed operational. Upon shooting the 8th round, the gun ceased to be operational. Upon inspection it appears that the screw holding the magazine tube and the screw holding the barrel ring were not sufficiently tightened and the gun started to come apart. The slide now appears to be disengage from the firing mechanisms and will not cycle the gun.

I sent an email to Cimarron explaining my predicament. A reply was received within 24 hours along with a return authorization. After the gun was sent off, they advised that it would be up to 6 weeks. Their policy is up to 60 days. This is well within industry standards. I was told if the gun is not repairable, then a replacement would be sent earlier.

Within a couple of weeks I received a replacement. It appeared to be a brand new, unfired shotgun. Upon dry-fire testing, it appeared to be functional.

I have now had this gun for about 6 months and use it regularly for cowboy action shooting competition. It has not been altered in any way. Initially the gun was rough when cycling the action, but still very usable. I decided to use give it the lazy-man's action job. This consists of not cleaning the gun, just keeping it well lubricated until it is broken-in.

After 6 months, the gun has now had about 500 rounds fired through it. It is much smoother than it was when new. I would say it is now broken in. The gun has not experienced any malfunctions under competition use. Other cowboys have told me to expect all 1897's, regardless of manufacturer to suffer occasional breakage. I will be getting another of these soon.

Other cowboy action shooters who use 1897's have told me they don't do any heavy cleaning on the 1897. Cimarron does not provide any instructions on cleaning the gun. My plan for cleaning the shotgun is to spray it with CLP and wipe away whatever carbon and residue that I can reach with cotton rags and cotton swabs. The barrel is cleaned using a boresnake and CLP. I am still searching for the "best" way to de-lead the barrel. I don't expect to need that for a while longer.

This gun will "slam-fire". Everyone who handles this gun should be told this. Slam firing is when you hold the trigger back as you pull the slide forward to chamber a round. As soon as the bolt closes, the shotgun will discharge. Unless you intend for this to happen, your finger should not be on the trigger. Of course, if you are observing proper gun-handling safety, that should always be the case.

So far, I am impressed with this shotgun. It has stood up to somewhat heavy use using "feather light" shotgun shells.

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