Winchester 1866 4th Model 24″ .44 Henry RF Lever Action Rifle, 1879 Antique
SOLD FOR: $5439
Make: Winchester Repeating Arms Co.
Model: 1866 Rifle 4th Model
Serial Number: 150725
Year of Manufacture: 1879
Caliber: .44 Henry Rimfire
Action Type: Lever Action with 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.”. The lower tang is marked “150725”. The left of the bottom tang, the upper tang inlet and the inside of the buttplate at the toe are each marked with assembly number “18”. The left of the bottom tang is also marked “412”.
Barrel Length: 24” nominal, 24 1/4″ measured, Octagonal
Sights / Optics: The front sight is a blade in a slotted base dovetailed to the barrel at the front. The blade is not original and the base has been peened or crimped to hold the new blade. The rear sight is a “V”-notch elevator sight dovetailed to the rear of the barrel. The top tang is drilled, tapped and filled for a tang sight (none present).
Stock Configuration & Condition: The stocks are two-piece smooth walnut with an iron capped forend, straight comb, straight grip and iron crescent buttplate with a sliding door over a storage compartment (there is nothing in the compartment). The stocks have some scattered nicks, scuffs and scratches with a few more notable dings. The forend has a thin loss on the top-left edge at the front and there is a thin crack behind the top tang. There is some discoloration in the wood where it meets the buttplate. The LOP measures 13 1/4″ from the front of the trigger to the back of the buttplate. The plate has a mottled appearance with areas worn to white, some gone to a light patina, and some scattered surface erosion. Overall, the stocks are in Very Good condition as refinished Antique.
Type of Finish: Blue & Brass
Finish Originality: Remaining finish is Original. The hammer knurling appears to be from an 1873 model.
Bore Condition: The bore is dark gray. The rifling is well defined. There is scattered light-moderate erosion and pitting in the bore. In this writer’s opinion, the bore rates about 5 out of 10.
Overall Condition: This rifle retains about 30% of its metal finish. The barrel and magazine tube have mostly worn to white or gone to a light patina. There is some blue remaining on the top of the magazine and bottom of the barrel. Some of the receiver shows light polishing, other areas show the crystalline appearance of old brass. There are scattered light nicks, scuffs and scratches with some more notable scratching on the bottom tang. There are tool marks around some screw heads. There are two spots in the left-rear of the receiver where it looks like holes were filled for a saddle-ring staple. The action shows operational wear. The screw heads range from sharp to tool marked with usable slots. The markings range from clear to worn, but legible. Overall, this rifle rates in Very Good-plus condition as Antique.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly. The hammer has a half-cock 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: None.
Our Assessment: The Model 1866 rifle was the first firearm to be built by the new Winchester Arms after they changed their name from the New Haven Arms Company in 1866. The Model 1866 was a much-improved version of the Henry rifle, with a loading port on the right side of the receiver featuring a spring-loaded cover, through which cartridges could be fed into a new solid magazine tube that was much stronger than the slotted tube used on the Henry. The loading gate precluded the need for an external follower, allowing for a walnut forend to be installed which prevented the user from burning their hands during extensive firing. The M1866 was made in rifle, carbine and musket versions and in four different models dependent on date of manufacture. All of the different models were chambered in .44 Henry Rimfire, with some of the later 4th Models chambered in .44 Henry Centerfire and some converted to Centerfire later.
This is a Model 1866 4th Model Rifle made in 1879, after the successor Model 1873 had been introduced. The rifle has honest wear given its age, but retains surprisingly strong mechanics. This Fourth Model is distinguished by the iron nosecap and buttplate as well as the slightly different profile of the receiver at the hammer. Most Winchester collectors would never think that their collection was complete without at least all three variations of the M1866, while some would argue for all of the variations of the four different models. This 1866 4th Model Rifle will be a great addition to your collection. Please see our photos and good luck!
Please forgive any typos, I was educated in California. -Bud