Model: Hotchkiss Repeating Rifle Model of 1883 – Third Type Musket
Serial Number: 25642
Year of Manufacture: 1884
Caliber: .45-70 Government
Action Type: Bolt Action with Internal 6-Round Magazine In Buttstock
Markings: The top of the barrel is marked “Manufactured By The / Winchester Repeating Arms Co. New Haven, Conn. U.S.A.” The tang at the front of the trigger guard is marked “25642”. The upper tang is marked “Model of 1883”. The lower tang is marked “PAT. OCT.16. 1860. JUNE 25. 1872. JULY 23. 1878. / AND UNDER B.B. HOTCHKISS PAT’S AUG. 17. 1869. / FEB. 15. 1870. NOV. 9. 1875. NOV. 14. 1876. JAN. 23. 1877.” The side of the magazine cut-off is marked with a “C”.
Barrel Length: The round barrel is 28” in length.
Sights / Optics: The front sight is a short blade pinned to a rectangular base fixed to the barrel. The rear sight is a folding ladder sight that acts like a sliding elevator sight when the ladder is folded down. The left side of the base is marked from “1” to “4 ¼” and the right side of the ladder is marked from “5” to “10”. There is a “V” notch at the front of the ladder for use when it is folded down and another “V” notch in the top of the slider for use when it is folded up.
Stock Configuration & Condition: The rifle has a two piece stock. The buttstock has a straight grip and a carbine style steel buttplate. The forend extends to within about 4” of the muzzle and has two barrel bands and a steel nosecap. There is a groove cut into the bottom of the forend for a cleaning rod (not supplied.) The stocks show heavy oil staining, multiple compression marks in the buttstock and several compression marks in the forend, a few of which are very deep. In addition, the wood is abraded at the front of the comb and at the toe. There are also two chips out of the wood on the right side of the lower tang, a chip on the right side of the wrist at the receiver and a chip on the right edge of the butt near the heel. The center section of the forend has two gouges in the wood. The LOP measures 13 11/16” from the front of the trigger to the back of the buttplate, which shows a dark patina, surface loss, light pitting, handling marks and light wear at the heel and toe. The buttplate is in about Good overall condition. The stocks rate in about Good overall condition.
Type of Finish: There is no finish remaining.
Finish Originality: All Original
Bore Condition: The bore is bright, tending to gray at the muzzle. The rifling is shallow. There is erosion near the muzzle with a heavy ring of erosion about 2” from the muzzle.
Overall Condition: This rifle retains about 0% of its metal finish. The metal surfaces show a brown patina with surface frosting, and a few spots of pitting in the barrel, receiver and bolt. There is also solid erosion along the rear edges of the receiver and on its upper tang. The barrel also shows several compression marks with a deep mark midway between the two barrel bands and several deep marks just behind the rear band. The receiver shows compression marks on its left side at the chamber, scratches on its left rear, and a few compression marks on its right lower front. The tang screws are reasonably sharp but the screws on the left side of the receiver are disfigured and one or more may be unserviceable. The markings are very faint and partially obscured by wear. Overall, this rifle rates in about Fair to Good condition.
Mechanics: The bolt cocks on closing and has a cocking knob on its rear. The safety operates correctly. There doesn’t seem to be a spring in the magazine, and we are unsure how the cut-off is supposed to work. The extractor is missing. There might be a safety problem: If the trigger is pulled, and then the bolt is opened sharply, when the bolt hits the back of its travel, the cocking piece rotates 90 degrees, and the firing pin protrudes through the front of the bolt. The firing pin does not retract until the bolt has moved forwards about an inch, at which time the “cocks on closing” mechanism pulls the firing pin back into the bolt. We would be concerned if there was a way to get a cartridge to stop such that the bolt face could hit the rear surface of the cartridge with the firing pin protruding, resulting in the gun firing out of battery. We have not fired this rifle.
Box, Paperwork & Accessories: This rifle has a sling swivel on the front barrel band but the sling swivel and its mounting screw are absent from the front of the trigger guard.
Our Assessment: The Winchester-Hotchkiss Bolt Action Repeating Rifle was made in three variations, each of which had three sub-models. The first variation was known as the Model 1879 and the third was known as the Model 1883. The first two variations utilized a single piece stock and differed as to which side the safety and magazine cut-off were mounted on. The Model 1883 had a two-piece stock with the safety lever on the right side of the receiver and the cut-off lever on the left side. The three sub-models were rifle, carbine and musket. These rifles were the first bolt action rifles that Winchester built, and the first rifles with a magazine in the butt. About 70,100 were built, with most being the Model 1883. This Musket was made in 1884, is chambered in .45-70 Govt. (the only caliber offered) and has a 28” round barrel common to the musket sub-model. It is in about Fair to Good overall condition. It doesn’t have any finish left and the surfaces have all developed a brown patina with surface frosting, a few spots of pitting in the barrel and receiver, and solid erosion around the back edges of the receiver and the upper tang. The barrel and receiver also show several compression marks. The buttstock shows numerous compression marks, many of which are along the comb, along with abrasions at the toe and front of the comb and a few deeper marks. There are also chips around the lower tang and on the right side of the wrist at the receiver. The forend shows a few gouges along with several compression marks. The bore is bright, turning gray at the muzzle, with erosion near the muzzle and shallow rifling. The rifle operates correctly for the most part: there doesn’t seem to be a magazine spring; the extractor is missing; when the bolt is pulled back sharply, the firing pin sticks out the front of the bolt face – please see our complete description in the Mechanics section. Still, this rifle isn’t in bad shape considering it is 130 years old. Given that it’s the first Winchester bolt action rifle, this ought to be a big hit with Winchester collectors and collectors of 19th Century American firearms.