Q. I just purchased an original World War I, U.S.-issue Model 1897 Winchester “trench gun” with a heat shield and bayonet lug. I’d like to get the right bayonet for it. A collector friend told me there were separate Model 1917 bayonets intended just for the trench gun. Is this true? And, if so, how I do tell?
A. There was no “special” Model of 1917 bayonet made for the U.S.-issue trench guns. The reason the Model of 1917 rifle bayonet was selected for use with the trench gun in the first place was to simplify logistics. They were already in production at Winchester, Eddystone and Remington-the makers of the U.S. Model of 1917 Rifle. There would have been absolutely no reason to put a special shotgun bayonet into production, as that would have served no purpose whatsoever, and it would only have complicated logistics. The standard M1917 rifle bayonet worked just fine.
There is one caveat, however. Winchester did produce some commercial production M1917 bayonets after World War I that were identical to the pre-1919, U.S. military contract M1917 bayonets, except these were marked only with a circled “W” on the ricasso and had no martial markings. These were presumably made for use with the commercial-production Model 1897 trench guns made in the late 1920s or early 1930s. In any event, these were not military bayonets and were certainly not issued by the military with trench guns during World War I or subsequently.
-Bruce N. Canfield
Originally published March 2006