Friday, May 4, 2012

1873 Winchester "Bring It Back From The Dead!"

 Via mpopenker

This past year I really got involved in Cowboy Action Shooting and this lead me to any type of rifle or pistol from the period 1850 to 1897. Mostly Black Powder firearms.

Everything I’ve acquired thus far have been reproductions as the “real thing” was too expensive or un-shootable.

This changed yesterday……On the Kittery Trading Post (Maine) used gun list I saw an 1873 Winchester and the pictures showed it to be in excellent condition. The price was extremely reasonable ($795). These rifles in any condition usually command $2000+ .  There is a frame and barrel with no internal parts or wood on Gun Broker for $350!

Kittery did say the barrel’s bore was toast. But I figured this could be resolved with a rebore or a reline.
So I drove the 2 hours and 15 minutes to check it out.

Fifteen minutes later I was the new owner of a 128 year old Winchester 1873 lever action rifle!
Caliber is 38-40 and I’m going to reline the barrel with a Redman liner in the same caliber.
I ordered dies, bullet mold, cases and wads yesterday.

I took the whole rifle apart and cleaned over 100 years of lint, dead bugs and other unidentifiable material from the works. There is zero wear inside. In fact, it looks near new! It appears someone shot this rifle very little and put it away without cleaning the bore and ruined it. Which actually preserved the entire rifle in near pristine condition.

I’ll leave the wonderful aged patina as it is. Looks great! I’ve sent a request and my $70 to the Cody Museum in Wyoming (The Keeper of all the Winchester records) for a letter detailing when, where and how it was sold. I do know from the serial number that it was made in 1884.


  1. My wife inherited from her father a model 1892 Winchester and a Colt SAA both in 32-20 after some minor repairs both still shoot fine.

  2. That's great. I've always wanted one of those "cowboy" guns I grew up with, but still haven't bought one.:) If I got a new one, I'd buy a Big Boy .44 Magnum.

    1. If you had a 44 mag revolver that would be great. It's been a long time since I saw any listings from Marlin but they used to sell model 1894s (I have one in 30-30) in 444 and 45-70 (I think the 45-70 held only 4 rounds in the tube) In the 19th century the big boy was 44-40 apparently Winchester refused to chamber their carbines in 45-colt and having ones rifle and handgun chambered for the same round must have been extremely convenient.

    2. having ones rifle and handgun chambered for the same round must have been extremely convenient.


  3. That's awesome! I've been honored to have handed down to me my great grandfather's 1861 Sharps Carbine in. 45-70 caliber. I paid to have it professionally cleaned (not restored as restoration was not necessary) it's in very good condition, but i'm unsure if I really want to fire it. Wonderful piece of family history!

    1. The pressures created by 45-70 rounds using modern powders are the same as the old black powder rounds (or so I've read) I'd have it checked for structural integrity first but if it passes by all means shoot it.

  4. i'm unsure if I really want to fire it. Wonderful piece of family history!

    You are most fortunate. Just fire it once and then treasure it on your wall, though if it is too tedious, I will gladly take it off your hands......:)

  5. @BT, *grins* If all becomes to "tedious" I surly will keep your generous offer in mind!
    @AW, I'll follow your good advice and have it checked out before firing.