The Winchester Model 1897 was an evolution of the Winchester Model 1893 designed by John Browning. The two models were the same except that the receiver was thicker and allowed for use of smokeless powder shells, which were not common at the time. The 1897 also introduced a "take down" design, where the barrel could be taken off; a standard in pump shotguns made today, like the Remington 870.
From 1893 until it was discontinued by Winchester in 1957, over one million of the Model 1897s and is variants were produced. Until 1900, it was only offered as a 12-gauge shotgun with a 30-inch barrel however, upon the growing success of the weapon, they began to offer the Model 1897 in various barrel lengths (from 20-36 inches) and with the option of being fitted for 12 or 16-gauge calibers. The Model 1897 was modified for the United States military, which used two short-barreled versions, the "trench" or "riot" shotgun. Approximately 30,000 riot guns were sold by 1920 and saw action in the Philippine-American War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Additionally, many US law enforcement departments utilized the riot variant shotgun.