Mark Muller, president of Max Motors, has many guns. But his most prized is the shotgun his father handed down to him. It’s a Winchester Model 97 that he lovingly nicknamed “Sweet Sixteen”. Although it may not actually be worth that much, to Muller, it’s priceless.


Winchester Model 97 - 16-gauge Full. (Photo: Ben Philippi /

Muller’s father John Patrick Muller purchased it in 1945. Muller Sr. was thirteen years old at the time and he wanted to do some squirrel hunting. A used 16-gauge Winchester Model 97 caught his eye at a local gun store in Philadelphia.

Not having the five dollars for the gun, he asked the store owner if he could deposit twenty five cents per week until it was paid off. The owner agreed. However, he added a caveat; if Muller missed one weekly payment, he’d forfeit his entire down payment. The young man agreed.

Old guns have a beautiful finish. (Photo: Ben Philippi /

So, on a weekly basis, Muller made payment. But, after paying $4.50 towards the gun, a day came that he couldn’t make payment. When he informed the shop owner, the man apologized to the young man and advised him that a deal is a deal, and that his down payment was lost and he couldn’t have the gun.

In tears, Muller Sr. walked out of the store. The owner let him get as far as the door before stopping him. He then gave the boy his shotgun for $4.50.


Muller worked on the and re-blued the gun. (Photo: Ben Philippi /

The Winchester Model 1897, or Model 97, was an extremely popular shotgun during its production run from 1897 until 1957. During this time, over one million guns were produced.

It was made in either a 12- or 16-gauge. It was designed by none other than John Moses Browning. The shotgun was pump-action with an external hammer and tube magazine. The 16-gauge had a barrel length of 28-inches. The 12-gauge was furnished with a 30-inch barrel.


Theres's something extremely satisfying about the wear and tear on an old gun. (Photo: Ben Philippi /

Muller was fortunate to have been able to hunt with his father with "Sweet Sixteen" before he passed away. The shotgun is one of the few objects Muller has of his father. If someone offered him $10,000 for it, he wouldn’t take it. That’s how much it means to him.

“Every time I see this gun, I think of him,” said Muller, speaking of his father. “I hope that my children have similar memories with some of my guns I’ll be willing to them.”

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