January 22, 2013

Cimarron Model 1897 12 Gauge Pump Action, $480

Cowboy Action Shooting members, whose increasing numbers show no need of a stimulus package, have developed their hobby into a tribute to the gun battles of the Old West—both real and fictional. Shotguns often figured into these armed conflicts, normally giving the scattergun handler a distinct advantage over opponents armed with a handgun or rifle, as long as the battle was up close and personal.

One of Hollywood’s classic depictions of how a shotgun could turn the tide in a gun battle was in the 1966 movie The Professionals, featuring Academy-award-winning actors Lee Marvin and Burt Lancaster.

Marvin, armed with a Winchester Model 1897 pump-action shotgun, faces down eight mounted bandits armed with bolt-action rifles as they meet in a narrow canyon. With just a little help from Lancaster, himself armed with a Winchester lever-action rifle, Marvin clears the canyon of bandits as he touches off seven shotgun blasts in rapid succession. Most of the bad guys don’t even have a chance to get off a shot before they are knocked out of the saddle.

Although the battle is pure Hollywood, this type of shotgun action and its recreation on film has become a driving force behind the increasing popularity of the veteran firearms. Both the side-by-side hammer guns and the pump-action hammer guns of old left a distinct mark in history and are now resurfacing in the form of replicas finding favor at shooting competitions across the country. The popularity of the simple and easy-to-handle shotguns is also growing among people interested in home-defense firearms.

For our trip back to the past, we selected both a side-by-side and a pump action to see if there is any advantage or downside—other than the number of shots—with either Old West style shotgun.

This action was stiff to start, but after that initial bobble, this pumpgun delivered dense shotstrings on whatever we pointed it at. Has a decided capacity advantage you should note.

Our test shotguns was a Cimarron Model 1897 Pump 12 Gauge Shotgun, carrying a price tag of $480 in the new gun rack at Dury’s Gun Shop in San Antonio (www.durysguns.com).

We selected three distinctly different types of ammunition for our testing. For the Cowboy-Action range, our ammunition was Rio Target 2.75-inch loads with 1 ounce of No. 8 shot that produced an average muzzle velocity of 1,210 fps. For our home-defense loads, we used Winchester 00 Buckshot 2.75-inch loads firing nine pellets at an average muzzle velocity of 1,325 fps, and Remington Express Power Piston 2.75-inch loads with 1.25 ounces of No. 6 shot pushed at an average muzzle velocity of 1,330 fps.

In the home-defense simulations, we limited our patterning tests to a range of 20 feet (recreating a shot across a typical room) and relied upon Birchwood Casey Shoot-N-C 12-inch targets to determine pattern effectiveness.

The Cimarron Model 1897 12 Gauge Pump Action, $480, is a replica of the classic Winchester Model 1897, and the feel and balance of the modern version remains a classic.

We liked the heft and handling ability of the shotgun, but were a little concerned about the stiffness of the action. However, after a little test time and shell shucking, the pump became a smooth-functioning tool. Only a few minor malfunctions marred its performance on the range.

Just a little longer than the Model 1878, measuring 39.75 inches in overall length with its 20-inch barrel, the stock dimensions were also a more comfortable to our test team. The drop at the comb was 2 inches and the drop at the heel was 2.75 inches, which is more similar to a field gun than the side-by-side. The length of pull of 14.75 inches was just a little longer than some of our team members would like, but after a little adjustment time did not pose any significant problems.

The dimensions of the stock provided a little better fit than the side-by-side when we first handled this pump-action, requiring very little adjustment time even for our shorter shooters. The thick recoil pad was a bonus in preventing shoulder shock from any of the test ammunition.

Lighter than the side-by-side, the unloaded weight of the Model 1897 was exactly 7 pounds, and the trigger pull was a very nice, crisp 5.25 pounds.

An added feature that we appreciated was screw-in chokes (one Improved Cylinder tube was included in the package, but others are available by special order). While most of the work with this shotgun would be close in and would not require extensive choke adjustments, the option of opening up or tightening up is nice to have available.

Putting the shotgun to the patterning board test, we were generally impressed with the pump’s performance. There were only a few hits of both 00 and No. 6 shot outside of the 10 ring, and only one or two flyers with the smaller shot outside the 12-inch circle of the target. This type of shot pattern, like the tight hits of the Model 1878, provide excellent stopping power for home-defense situations.

Loaded to the max with six shells in the magazine and one in the chamber, the slight weight increase was only barely noticeable, and the handling ability was actually improved. Multiple steel plates or close, trap-style targets were a pleasure to smack down with the pump.

Our Team Said: The pump action was just a little stiff on this recreation of the Winchester classic, although the action became smoother after a little test time. We were impressed with the handling ability, balance and patterning performance. We would consider the pump action a good choice for either Cowboy Action service or home defense. We would recommend a little break in time for both shotguns. Only one failure to feed a shell was encountered as we put the pump through its paces—well within our acceptable range. In the end, we agreed that if more than two shots were required in a shooting situation, the Cimarron pump action shotgun would be a fine choice.

Comments (15)

been thinking about getting one of these for some time still might. but just got myself a auto ordnance 1911a1 45acp, am haveing problems with other 45 mags fitting in it, has anyone got any ideas how to fix the problem? God Bless America and Our Troops Past Present and Future. Keeping to My Oath Locked Loaded and Keeping My Powder Dry. Get the US Out of the UN and the UN Out of the US

Posted by: bear1 | January 24, 2013 6:35 PM    Report this comment

A lot of money for a china gun. Does it come with replica china spurs?

Posted by: noone | January 24, 2013 10:57 AM    Report this comment

Just bought a new Cimarron 1897 and it looks good, but have a question/comment. It has some very sharp edges, finger cutting, on the end of barell and at the bottom of shell extractor. At the frame where the hammer is, it looks like the mill cut to deep and left a notch on one side where the carrier comes back over the hammer. Does not effect the action that I can tell, as I have never shot the gun. Is this normal for these guns and as I do not know anything about them. I have an original Winchester 97.

Posted by: redbone | May 2, 2011 4:01 PM    Report this comment

Just bought a new Cimarron 1897 and it looks good, but have a question/comment. It has some very sharp edges, finger cutting, on the end of barell and at the bottom of shell extractor. At the frame where the hammer is, it looks like the mill cut to deep and left a notch on one side where the carrier comes back over the hammer. Does not effect the action that I can tell, as I have never shot the gun. Is this normal for these guns and as I do not know anything about them. I have an original Winchester 97.

Posted by: redbone | May 2, 2011 12:24 PM    Report this comment

Looks good - but is this being manufactured in 20 gauge as well?

Posted by: Charlie Foxx | November 5, 2010 12:12 PM    Report this comment

In response to the question posted by "Gun Report", I interpret your question to mean where can you buy a Cimarron S&W #3 Schofield. While I purchased mine at a gun show in Waco, Texas, Cimarron has their home office in Fredericksburg, Texas. The S&W #3 Schofield is manufactured by A. Uberti of Italy. 'Hope that helps.

Posted by: canovack | November 5, 2010 10:46 AM    Report this comment

Already have a mod 97 with both 30" full and 18" cyl barrels, bit-- to completly dissambly but worth the time and effort. My go to up close and personal gun.

Posted by: firstsoldier | November 5, 2010 4:16 AM    Report this comment

i like the weste

Posted by: lovenut | November 4, 2010 10:32 PM    Report this comment

Aaahaa, the precursor to my Model 12. I guess I'll have to have one.

Posted by: dgray64 | November 4, 2010 10:27 PM    Report this comment

Where are the Cimarron shotguns made? K.

Posted by: Captain Kevlar | November 4, 2010 8:15 PM    Report this comment

Where do I buy one?

Posted by: Gun Report | November 4, 2010 7:30 PM    Report this comment

Where do I buy one?

Posted by: Gun Report | November 4, 2010 7:30 PM    Report this comment

Cimarron provides us with some very nice replica firearms. While I already have a Norinco clone of the 1897 shotgun, and it is just fine, I also recently purchased a Cimarron replica of the Smith & Wesson #3 Schofield top break revolver in .45 Colt. It is so dang neat, that I am seriously considering carrying it concealed. While it is a single action piece, the top break readily adapts to the use of HKS Speedloaders. It is a real fun gun to just play with, and it is a hoot to shoot!

Posted by: canovack | November 4, 2010 6:59 PM    Report this comment

Nice review that addressed my points of interest. This gun goes on my wish list.

Posted by: Robmaj | November 4, 2010 1:56 PM    Report this comment

I am glad to see this recreation of the 97'. This one will definitely be on my Santa Clause list. Signed Gun Poor

Posted by: majorp44 | November 4, 2010 1:42 PM    Report this comment

Add your comments ...

New to Gun Tests? Register for Free!

Already Registered? Log In