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Correct Look for an Early Model 12 Trench Gun

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I am rebuilding an already messed with civilian Model 12 into a trench gun and I've got a few questions for forum members. How much of the bbl is supposed to show beyond the bayonet mount? On the 97 it looks like 3/4 inch is showing. When were the first Model 12s purchased by the US military? Is the heat shroud hole configuration the same as on the '97? Would the buttplate be steel instead of plastic? Thanks Edited by Baltimoreed11754
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Bruce Canfield describes it this way in his book "A Collector's Guide to United States Combat Shotguns."


"In the case of the Model 12 trench gun, the barrel is practically flush with the end of the adapter body.....The Model 12 trench gun used the same "Type W" handguard/bayonet adapter assembly as used on the Model 97. Again, very early WWII production Model 12 trench guns may be observed with the pre-1942 handguard having six rows of holes but the vast majority of these guns were made after 1942 and will be fitted with the later handguards having four rows of holes....Black hard rubber Winchester buttplates were fitted to these guns as were front and rear sling swivels."


I have read elsewhere that metal buttplates may have been used in the rebuild process at some arsenals.


Attached is a picture of the of the handguard/bayonet adapter assembly of my Model 12.


Edited by av8tr
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I'm very fortunate to own a 1942 barrel-dated Winchester Model 12 trench gun in original unissued, unfired condition.

The barrel does protrude past the bayonet mount but only very little, maybe 1/16" or so. Not much more than the radius of the barrel crown, in other words.

The butt plate was of hard rubber, with the Winchester logo. These are pretty easy to find as repros. Slotted screws only were used to attach the butt plate, not Phillips heads.

The sling swivel on the butt stock is exactly the same milled swivel as you'd find on the US Army M1928A1 or early M1 Thompson SMG. It's located precisely 2 3/8" from the end of the toe of the butt stock, not counting the butt plate. On the Thompsons, the swivel was a dull blue. On the Mod. 12, it was as highly polished as the rest of the gun.

The finish on the gun is a very civilian looking high grade polished blue, not black. The wood is the glossy reddish walnut that was characteristic of pre-war Winchester civilian shotgun production. Later, the guns were parked and not nearly as much care went into final milling and finishing.

The biggest problem with converting a civilian Winchester Model 12 into a trench gun is the barrel taper. On the trench guns, it was a straight taper. On the civilian guns, it was a concave taper, so it's hard to get the repro or original bayonet mounts properly snugged down. They contact the barrel only at the front and back, and so tend to move around under recoil. Shims may be necessary. Or, buy one of these repro mounts, which are specifically made for civilian barrels:



Unfortunately, original WWII Winchester Model 12 trench gun barrels are completely impossible to find, in any condition.

I'm always struck by the differences between the Win. Mod. 12 & 97 trench guns and the Stevens Mod. 520 & 620 trench guns. The Winchesters are light and very precise in function and handling, while the Stevens guns are heavy and point only poorly. They feel positively clunky in comparison.


In the last pic, a US Marine hits the beach at Iwo Jima with a Model 12. It had to have been the shiniest object on the island!

Hope this helps!







Edited by TSMGguy
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  • 4 weeks later...
I got my East Taylor mount and guard and was not impressed. There were longitudinal flats between the rows of holes where the metal was not even slightly curved. The screws were 'in the white ' which means soft as butter and the slots were off center. I made a jig to curve the shield so it looks correct now and ordered blued 8x32 and 10x32 slotted gun screws from Brownells. I inlet the rear swivel but the stock feels too short so I have another full sized one coming. When my screws and blueing arrive I will finish it up.
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  • 3 weeks later...
When I tried to mount the bayonet onto my East Taylor unit it wouldn't fit. I had to remove a little metal from the top of the slot to get it to slide on only to find it WAY off center. ET refused to allow me to return it even though it is obviously a bad machine job. It does fit my civilian M12 and held on tight with some 00 buck handloads. My only solution will be to move the round piece on the front by building up one side and removing metal from the other side. Stay away from this outfit. The photos show how far off it is.



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  • 3 months later...
Well, I finally got it done. The bluing matched up pretty well between the M12 and the shroud. I inlet the swivel ok. Gotta love the look of a sling. I shot it in my CAS clubs WB match this month and had a good time. Came in first but the guys who usually win were either shooting cowboy guns or not there.


  • Upvote 2
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  • 8 months later...
  • 6 months later...

I was looking to tackle a similar project over the winter (civilian model 12 converted to trench gun with an East Taylor kit) but in reading about the disappointment in the machining of the kit i'm now hesitant.

do you think the problem was just that particular model 12 heat shield kit or is it in every model 97/12 kit they ship out ?


I'm thankful that I finally see someone mention the actual sling swivel assembly and where to inlet it.



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FWIW, on my Model 12 trench gun the rear of the sling swivel is 3 1/2" from the end of the buttstock (not counting the butt plate). On my WW1 Model 1897 trench gun it is 3", and on my WW2 Model 97 trench it is 3 3/8". I can't recall seeing one that was less than 3".

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As long as they take returns that are as shipped I would say give East Taylors a try as they make one that is correct for a civilian 12 barrel. My understanding is that the ones for a military 12 barrel are too big. I've shot mine in a dozen WB matches with no problems. While I've not shot much buck I've shot full power hunting loads along with my cas reloads with no movement. If you get one that's funky return it. Order your screws and tap from Brownells. The 3 screws HAVE to engage the bbl to keep the mount from moving Good luck.

Edited by Baltimoreed11754
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  • 5 weeks later...

Good point Baltimoreed11754. I could return it if left untouched.

I decided on letting my gunsmith do the alterations with the foundation being a well used Winchester mod. 1912 (mfr in 1916). He can better tackle the barrel cutdown, mill the 3 cross grooves, add appropriate stamps and cartouches, repark it and inlet for a rear swivel.

He's going to use an East Taylor M12 handguard kit he already had on hand. We will add a shim to the muzzle end to take up the slop due to it being a commercial barrel. He is copying an original Riot - turned- Trench gun he has in his shop which has a shim sleeve silver soldered on before the bayonet handguard assy. was installed. Arsenal done most likely.


I do have a question for you Baltimoreed after seeing your photos in the middle of this thread.....

The magazine tube on your model 12 doesn't have the takedown lock pin holes does it ? Can you tell me about your Mag tube ? My project will have to suffer with slightly visible holes (the mag plug should back the holes up but still they'd be visible to a degree). Is there after market mag tubes for takedown 12's to make them appear like trench mag tubes. I've pretty much scoured google looking for anything like that.


-- Andrew

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  • 2 weeks later...
I shortened the take down mag tube slightly to eliminate the crosspin holes. I found a solid frame mag tube end and redrilled the tube for the screw. I also modified it to hold 6 rds as I use it in wild bunch CAS matches. Once you put the bayonet shroud on the bbl its not a take down anymore.
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  • 7 months later...
749th tank battalion, its August now, did you ever build your M12 Trench? Been shooting mine off and on. I use it for Wild Bunch matches exclusively. Ive built some 2 inch shells that I used in my last WB shoot, using the short shells I can get 7 in the mag. A little bit of an edge. Other than bumping the ejection port, if you tilt the gun to the left a little when cycling they feed fine. They also work in my 1897s. Edited by Baltimoreed11754
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