Winchester 1873 28″ Octagonal .38-40 WCF Lever Rifle & Letter, 1888 Antique
SOLD FOR: $5275
Model: 1873 Rifle, 3rd Model
Serial Number: 265693B
Year of Manufacture: 1888
Caliber: .38-40 Winchester (38 Winchester Center Fire)
Action Type: Lever Action with Full Length Tubular Magazine
Markings: The top of the barrel is marked “WINCHESTER’S REPEATING ARMS. NEW HAVEN. CONN. U.S.A. / -KING’S IMPROVEMENT PATENTED MARCH 29.1866. OCTOBER 16.1860.-” in front of the rear sight and “38 W.C.F.” at the rear. The lower tang is marked “265693B”. The upper tang is marked “Model. 1873”.
Barrel Length: 28″, Octagonal
Sights / Optics: The front sight is a german silver blade in a slotted base dovetailed to the front of the barrel. The rear sight is a “V”-notch semi-buckhorn leaf and elevator sight dovetailed to the rear of the barrel. We suspect that the elevator is a replacement. The top tang is drilled, tapped and filled for a peep sight (none included).
Stock Configuration & Condition: The stocks are two-piece smooth walnut with capped forend, straight grip, and steel crescent buttplate with a sliding brass door covering a storage compartment in the butt (there is nothing in the storage compartment). The stocks have scattered nicks, dings, scuffs and scratches. There is a crack in the left-rear of the buttstock, a smaller one on the right below the buttplate’s tang and a thin crack in the bottom of the wrist at the left of the bottom tang. The forend has sanding toward the rear and has been refinished. The buttstock’s wood to metal finish doesn’t suggest much, if any sanding, but its matching appearance likely indicates that it was also refinished. The LOP measures 12 3/4″ from the front of the trigger to the back of the buttplate. The plate has mostly gone to a moderate-dark patina with some surface erosion and wear consistent with aggressive cleaning toward the toe. Overall, the stocks are in about Good-Very Good condition as refinished Antique.
Type of Finish: Blued
Finish Originality: There are no signs of refinishing, but no finish remains.
Bore Condition: The bore is gray with well defined rifling. There is light erosion scattered through the bore with infrequent pitting.
Overall Condition: This rifle retains about 0% of its metal finish. The surfaces have mostly gone to a moderate-dark patina with some scattered solid erosion and some edges worn to white. There are some scattered nicks, scuffs and scratches, most notable are scratches on and around the sideplates. There are tool marks around most screw heads. The action shows operational wear. The screw heads range from sharp to disfigured with useable slots. The markings range from clear to worn, but legible (though there is no caliber marking on the lifter which should be present). Overall, this rifle is in Good-Very Good condition as Antique.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly. There is a lever lock on the lower tang, and a dust cover rail on the receiver, typical of the Third Models, and a lever safety. We have not fired this rifle. As with all used firearms, a thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance standards.
Box, Paperwork & Accessories: This rifle comes with a Cody Firearms Museum Winchester Records letter which confirms that serial number 265693R [sic] shipped as a 38 caliber, 28-inch Octagon barrel, plain trigger rifle. The rifle was received in the warehouse on May 28, 1888 and shipped November 12, 1888 in a shipment with nine other arms.
Our Assessment: One of the most successful, and certainly one of the most famous Winchester rifles was the Winchester Model 1873, known as “The Gun that Won the West” for its predominant role in the hands of Western settlers. The Model 1873 had a steel frame that was much stronger than the brass framed Model 1866, allowing Winchester to develop a family of powerful new cartridges, with Colt usually producing Single Action Army revolvers in the same calibers shortly after they were developed. The .38-40 Win. cartridge, also known as the .38 WCF, was introduced by Winchester in 1879. It is essentially a slightly necked-down .44-40 with a slightly smaller bullet typically achieving slightly higher velocity. This Model 1873 Rifle was made in 1888 and has a 28” octagon barrel chambered for 38-40. It appears to have had a long and useful life with honest wear. With the included Cody Firearms Museum letter confirming its original configuration, this would make a great addition to a Winchester or early cartridge rifle collection, and will display well with its “been there, done that” appearance. Please see our photos and good luck!