Model: 1873 Rifle
Serial Number: 272524 (The “B” suffix found on the lower tang is technically not part of the serial number but Winchesters method of tracking the specific mechanical configuration of the receiver group.)
Year of Manufacture: 1888
Caliber: .32-20 Winchester (.32 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, CT. / King’s Improvement Patented March 29.1866. October 16.1860.” and “32 WCF”. The lower tang is marked “272524B”. The top tang is marked “MODEL 1873”. The bottom of the brass carrier is marked “32 CAL”. The underside of the trigger assembly just in front of the trigger is marked “S”. The top of the barrel at the receiver and the top of the chamber ring have circled “WP” proofs. These proofs indicate that this rifle went back to the factory sometime after 1905.
Barrel Length: The round barrel is 24 ¼” in length.
Sights / Optics: The front sight is a thin German silver blade held in a slotted base which is dovetail set to the barrel. The rear sight is a “U” notched semi-buckhorn elevator sight which is dovetailed into the barrel. The upper tang is drilled, tapped and filled for an aperture sight.
Stock Configuration & Condition: The two piece stocks are walnut that have been refinished with lacquer. The buttstock has a crescent shaped blue steel buttplate, a smooth straight grip, and a forend with a blue steel nosecap. The wood shows light oil staining around the metal surfaces, and the wood to metal fit is excellent. There are a very few tiny chips around the buttplate and a hairline crack on both sides of the butt at the toe (the crack is so fine we thought it might be just a surface crack, but we removed the buttplate and it goes through from side to side.) The buttstock shows several scuff marks and multiple light compression marks with a shallow flat compression mark on the left side just above the rear of the lower tang. The forend has a sharp compression mark on its top rear right corner that almost looks like a chip and a very thin crack about 2 ½” long on the front top right corner and a 1 ½” long crack opposite on the front top left corner. None of the cracks are repaired. There are several shallow compression marks on the left and underside of the forend with multiple tiny compression marks on the right side and a deeper mark on the right side in front of the receiver. The LOP measures 12 7/8” from the front of the trigger to the back of the buttplate. The buttplate shows surface loss and very light wear at the heel and toe. It is in about Fine condition. The stocks rate in about Fair to Good overall condition.
Type of Finish: Blue
Finish Originality: Factory Original
Bore Condition: The bore is dark and the rifling is shallow. There are rings of erosion from the muzzle back for several inches.
Overall Condition: This rifle retains about 90% of its metal finish, all of it in the magazine tube. There is light thinning along the sides of the barrel from the muzzle back about 6” with several tiny compression marks on the left side behind the front sight and a small spot of surface loss on the right side about 6 3/8” from the muzzle. There is also thinning on the sides of the nosecap, the top of the dust cover, the lever and the edges of the receiver. The receiver and the tangs show a light sprinkling of surface frosting and a there are a few very light scratches on the sideplates and a tiny mark through the finish on the right front edge of the receiver. There is a small spot of surface loss behind the trigger on the lower tang from the lever. The screw heads are sharp except for the mainspring screw, which is disfigured. The markings are clear. Overall, this rifle rates in about Fine-Excellent condition and would be simply Excellent were it not for the cracks in the stock.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly. We have not fired this rifle. It has a dust cover on the receiver that slides on an integral rail typical of the Third Models. It has a lever safety and a half-cock position on the hammer.
Box, Paperwork & Accessories: None
Our Assessment: Per Wikipedia: “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 was produced in several cartridges that Winchester developed specifically for this rifle, with Colt usually producing Single Action Army revolvers in the same calibers shortly after they were developed. The .32-20 Win. cartridge was the first small-game lever-action cartridge that Winchester produced. Originally introduced as a black powder cartridge in 1882, it was used for small game, varmint hunting and deer, although it would be considered underpowered for deer today.” This 3rd Model 1873 Rifle is in Fine condition with about 90% of its original finish remaining, and would be rated Excellent were it not for the stocks. The rifle shows thinning on the barrel, nosecap, dust cover, lever and the edges of the receiver. It shows a few tiny marks on the barrel with a light sprinkling of surface frosting on the receiver and tangs. The wood shows several light compression marks and a few scuff marks, with a light crack on both sides of the front of the forend and a hairline crack through the toe of the butt. The cracks in the forend are barely noticeable and you need a magnifying glass to see the cracks at the toe. The bore is dark with shallow rifling and rings of erosion near the muzzle. This Rifle exhibits Winchester proofs on top of the barrel and receiver. This indicates that the gun went back to Winchester sometime after 1905. We are unsure of the reason. This rifle is fantastic condition given that is over 125 years old, and we expect it to soon find a home with a serious collector. There aren’t that many 1873’s around with a finish as nice as the one on this rifle.