Winchester model 37 16 gauge shotgun.

Discussion in 'Shotguns' started by ibthetrout, Feb 7, 2012.

  1. Yesterday I had a guy at work give me a Winchester model 37 single shot shotgun in 16 gauge. It's a little rough on the outside, dinged up and barrel has some rust pitting. The inside of the barrel is absolutely perfect! I see no serial number on this gun. The guy told me it was his dad's and he thought it was purchased in 1939. Anyone know anything about this shotgun? Any idea how to tell exactly how old it it? Everything appears to be in good working order, although I have not shot it yet. I'll probably give it a test fire this weekend and as long as everything is good then I will strip it down for a real good cleaning.

    Any info you might have on this gun would really be appreciated!

    Wanna kill these ads? We can help!
  2. My grandfather had one, he LOVED that gun. He said he could tear up squirrels with it!

  3. Model 37s were not serial numbered. Introduced in 1936 and discontinued in 1963, approximately one million were produced, no castings what so ever were used in its construction, Winchester introduced a process known as Deep draw steel forming, and copper brazing in the construction of this shot gun..(probably a first in the fire arms industry)................barrel length? ..............BTW if it was one of the infamous Model 38s, you would be sitting on a gold mine.

    As for age, the cocking lever offers the best hint. Originally introduced with a narrow cocking lever (1936), to a wider cocking lever, (1937), and finally to a concave spade shaped lever(mid 1937).......The other way of narrowing down age is by the Trademark.

    Super nice guns, many people believed that the 37s laid the ground work, both in styling and construction techniques for the Model 24s
  4. Where could I find some pics of the cocking lever. I believe this to be a 1939. Do you know when they stopped the "red letter" guns?

  5. 1937?.................origional cocking levers were .270 wide and concave, not sure of later widths, I will look try to look them up later tonight
    #5 GIDEON, Feb 8, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 30, 2015
  6. I checked, but I am a little color blind so then had the wife check. The Winchester on the bottom of the action is not red letter. I am also wondering if it is full choke? On the barrel it just says CHOKE, nothing more??? If I post a pic could you tell me more about this gun?

    I love old guns like this, but it really has no sentimental value. My son suggested to camo it for coyote and turkey hunting. I might let him do it if it turns out not being worth too much. Then again it just looks damn cool with all the natural wear on it. This thing could tell stories. I can definitely tell it's well used, but also well taken care of. Sure it's rough on the outside, but the inside is spotless.

    Thanks for the info Gideon.
  7. type in winchester model 37 16 gauge, and google
    it!!!!did that for my remington sportsman 16 gauge humpback..
    typed in my serial #!!! and told me the years it was produced..
    also they will have pictures to compare yours to, sence you have
    no serial #s on it...with the serial # i found out my 16 was made
    between 1930-1937...give it a try...dave;)
    #7 BIG DAVE, Feb 8, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2012
  8. You have a full choke gun, full chokes were designated by the word choke, they didnt say full. Also Winchester made a ton of red labels, sorrowfully the only to tell was by the red lettering in the name. years of wear could have eroded the epoxy paint used to fill in the name. Historically these guns were very tight shooting,meaning a tight pattern. Should make a great Turkey gun. Could you possibly measure the width of the cocking lever, describe its shape, are the ridges worn down on the cocking lever, does it look like a hammer, or is it flat and con-caved? Might make a great project gun, by the way, they have quite a kick to them, probably because their so light.................

    Also if you look close, the barrel will be roll engraved with the word STEELBILT,( notice spelling) as opposed to Winchesters norm of Winchester Proof Steel...they did this to specify that steel was used in all metal parts used to build the 37s.

    Thats Solid American walnut that you are considering covering with cammo paint.....

    On a side note, Winchester built a 410 version that was 26" long, with an 18" barrel,........... very cool
    #8 GIDEON, Feb 8, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2012
  9. The only visible changes to the gun from 1936 until 1963 was in the design of the cocking lever, ..........
  10. so if he googles it and see's a picture of the gun(witch he will find!!! you just got to search!!) with the cocking
    lever like his!!!and the picture say's this winchester 37 16 gauge
    was produce in 1936-1963??? wouldnt that be a starting point???
  11. Big Dave, a Google search was the first thing I did. I have yet to find any good pics that would help define the year. Actually I was surpirsed at the lack of picture for this gun.


    The cocking lever is definitely not .270. This one is sort of tear drop shaped with ridges, and is not all one width. You are right about it saying SteelBilt on it. The only other identifying marks are the 2 3/4 on the barrel near the breech and a very small, but thick T behind the trigger gaurd and a small S in the same area as the T. Given the info you have given it doesn't sound like I will be able to positively know what year this gun it. My friend said 1939 like he knew for sure, but I don't know how he could really know that unless maybe his dad told him that at some time. I have been taking it out with me when I check my trap in my back field. Today I took a shot at a running rabbit with it. I missed, but it felt great shooting it for the first time. Peeled the bark right off a small tree I hit with it. I am starting to think more about your comment about the camo paint. I think now that won't be happening. If I do anything at all it will be to restore it myself. Like you said, it will make a great project gun.
  12. Quite frankly If I were you I would accept it as a 1939 production gun. Just out of respect for your friend and the friendship that you enjoy with him. Those guns are extremely hard if not impossible to date. Since no serial numbers were used, its anybodies guess. Even the Red Letter guns, unless the red is pristine and uniform through the name, all you have is a model 37 with a little bit of red in the name. They are fun to collect, if you stay from the moronic dealers they are actually affordable, add that to there history of tight shooting and you will have a set of unique, good shooting guns...........I hope you enjoy it, I do mine. I also commend you on you choice not to cammo it.........If you ever go to a turkey shoot, that would be the gun to take, if they allow it:evil:
  13. My dad has a 410 Model 37. Nice old gun only problem has slight bulge in barrel. He shot hundreds of pheasants back in the 50's and 60's. I'll try and get a picture of it today and post it.
  14. Well, this gun is going nowhere and will be used for sure. The only reason I wanted to try and nail down when it was made was just so I had as much of the history on it as I could. I like to know the stories on my guns if at all possible. I really like how light it is, sure it kicks a little, but it is a pleasure to carry in the field.
  15. Here is an example of two different cocking mechanisms. The gun on top is a newer version of the Model 37. I assume this because the bottom one was my Grandpa's gun. It was rumored in the family that one of my uncles bought it for him in 1937. Also the gun on top has a lot less wear and just has a fresher look to it. I have layed them side by side and discovered a lot more differences between the two than just the cocking lever. I have posted them all to the site if you care to look at them. Just click this link... I hope this helps. I came to this site to find out as much information as I could on these guns myself. I have two different years, but I am unsure as well about a definate age on them. :)

    #15 xdomhnallx, Mar 27, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2012

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