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M-97 Article


The Shotguns of Coyote Cap, Part 3

by Captain George Baylor, SASS 24287 (Life)


The ‘97wcse-18

          Long before a Chinese gunmaker decided to make guns for the Cowboy Action Shooting market Coyote Cap was one of the top Winchester ’97 tuners in the country.  Cap tuned my ’97, and it’s smoother than virtually every ’97 I see, and it has been dead reliable.  But Winchester stopped making ‘97s when I was a small child and way before the current ’97 masters were born (eg. Badlands Bud, Lead Dispencer, and Holy Terror).  They’re old.  The metal is old.  When a Chinese company began bringing in ’97 clones, Cap began working on them and making them work, a mighty task.  Eventually his work got to the attention of the factory, and after much persuasion, Cap was given 2 tickets to China, and a collaboration started that has born some serious fruit.  An entire line of CAS worthy shotguns exists now because of this collaboration, a ’97 that works, and the previously tested 1887wcse-18 lever gun and 1887wse-18 Coach Gun.  A gun for every category is in that line.  Only a hammerless double is missing (hint, hint). 

          The current importer of the ’97 is IAC. The IAC ‘97s are smooth and reliable out of the box.  The stocks no longer look like the wood was meant for orange crates.

          The absolute best out-of-the-box ’97 you can buy has been the limited edition ’97wcse-18.  W=walnut stock.  C=interchangeable choke tubes.  S=Special E=Edition.  18=18.25” barrel.  The one that arrived for testing has a businesslike finish with no visible flaws.  It was finished  better than a current production Marlin Cowboy I just received, and the fit was much better.  It is fitted with a Sporting Clays type recoil pad angled down at -4° for CAS usage.  It sports a #4 bead.  The action is extremely slick, and everything works very well.  If you’re already experienced using a ’97, you could take it to EOT with nothing more than familiarization firing and be as competitive as your skills allow.

          Cap tunes his guns for Winchester AAs, so I bought some AA Extra-Lights, Featherlights being unobtainable in Houston that week.  (I haven’t bought shot shells  in a few years, and I seldom shoot smokeless loads).  Shooting it as fast as I could load it, which ain’t bad, I couldn’t make it malfunction, and knock down and spring loaded targets fell dead using the cylinder choke, so I didn’t try the Modified or Extra Full.  I can sure remember a Winter Range where I would have liked to have had interchangeable choke tubes in my gun.

          Cap has sold all of these guns for now, but “We have "Standard" I.A.C. model 1897w's that we can "upgrade" to Premium Action for you, for an additional $150. Prices for this shotgun start at $359 for the 97w-20 fixed cylinder bore choke constriction, and $369 for the 97w-26 fixed modified choke, and we can upgrade these to Full Race for that added $150.”

          That makes for a fairly boring test, but Cap tossed a smoking grenade in my lap and said, “Think fast!”  The proverbial grenade was a similarly outfitted 93/97.  Sometime back Cap began working on making a Winchester ’93 clone but with the best internal features of  the ’97 and ‘93 and the improvements he had put into the IAC ‘97s.

The 93/97wcse-18

          According to Cap: “The M-93 (as Browning designed it), is and was a very safe gun to fire. It's only two problems being the lack of an ejector with enough power to overcome the solid carrier shell flag and spent hulls being stuck on the extractors and not being able to come out of the breech cleanly.

          “The thicker frame and open top design of the original M-93, allowed a shooter to push a stuck hull off the extractors and out the open top, by simple pushing upwards on the spent hull at the rear.”

          The rumor was started that it was a “gamer gun,” that you could drop shells in from the top.  You can’t.  In essence it just looks different, and it is probably more reliable than any ’97 out there with the possible exception of the 97wcse-18. 

          In order to prove this to myself I shot strings of 6 through both guns for a couple of boxes, the 97wcse-18 and the 93/97wcse-18 back to back, switching back and forth, using a PACT timer.  To make the long story short, my best time for each gun was within a tenth of a second of the other.  Neither malfunctioned.

          But it’s not SASS legal, and I’m not here to debate that.  I personally don’t want to see any new gun come along to upset the balance of power among SASS guns.  This, however, is not that gun.  If this were made legal, and I were shooting a category that allowed a pump, I wouldn’t feel I had to go out and buy one if I had a Coyote Cap ‘97.  I would feel I needed a good, reliable ’97, or, as Holy Terror said, “get two.”  Even the best ’97 still has a lot of critical parts.  The best, smoothest, most reliable cowboy-era pump currently available new is the M93/97 wcse-18. The 93/97 is legal for Western 3-Gun and the notoriously picky NCOWS, and 3,200 will hit America’s shores in 2006.


          If you shoot a SASS category allowing a ’97, the best out of the box ’97 is the Coyote Cap 97wcse 18.  But they’re all gone, and they won’t make any more.  If you’re buying new for SASS, get one of the standard IAC 97s and have Cap work his magic.  If you have another version of a ’97, sending it to Cap for race preparation is a really good idea.  If/when SASS changes its mind and allows the 93/97, and you’re looking for a race-ready pump, get the 93/97 wcse-18 while they are available.  They will go fast in that situation.


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