SOLD FOR: $4025
Model: 1873 Rifle First Model Saddle Ring Carbine
Serial Number: 2093
Year of Manufacture: 1874
Caliber: .44-40 Winchester (.44 Winchester Center Fire)
Action Type: Lever Action with Full Length Tubular Magazine
Barrel Length: 20”
Sights / Optics: The front sight is a blade integral to the front barrel band. The blade appears to have been added or repaired, showing welding and grinding. The rear sight is a fixed “V”-notch dovetailed to the rear of the barrel.
Stock Configuration & Condition: The stocks are two-piece smooth walnut with banded forend, straight grip, straight comb, and crescent buttplate with a sliding door in front of a storage compartment in the butt (nothing in the compartment). The stocks have scattered nicks, dings, scuffs and scratches. There are cracks at the top and front edges of the forend with losses along the top edges. There are cracks and losses in the wrist. The LOP measures 12 3/4? from the front of the trigger to the back of the buttplate. The plate has a mottled patina with light wear and some minor erosion at the heel and toe. Overall, the stocks are in Good-Plus condition as refinished Antique.
Type of Finish: Blued
Finish Originality: At least two screws have been refinished (left of receiver) and the front sight has bee modified as noted above. It is unclear if the dust cover is replaced or has ben polished bright. Other remaining finish appears Original.
Bore Condition: The bore is gray. The rifling shows some wear, but is generally well defined, sharp in some areas. There is some scattered erosion and pitting in the bore. In this writer’s opinion, the bore rates 5 out of 10.
Most antique firearms have bores that will show erosion. This is not only due to age but to the use of black powder. When fired, black powder reacts corrosively. NRA Antique Firearm Conditions Standards are quite lenient for bores. In some cases, the NRA standards disregarded the bore’s condition for collectors’ firearms.
Overall Condition: This rifle retains about 5% of its metal finish. Remaining finish is mostly around the edges of the sideplates, around the top of the trigger, and around the saddle ring. Other surfaces have mostly gone to a light patina or have worn to white. Some areas appear to have been polished bright, most notable on the dust cover. There is a dent in the top-right of the magazine tube about 5 1/2″ from the front. There are scattered nicks, dings, scuffs and scratches with tool marks around some screw heads. There are a series of horizontal lines across each tang, possibly from a previous wire-wrapping. The markings range from clear to worn and incomplete. Overall, this rifle is in about Good condition as Antique.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly. We have not fired this rifle. There is a lever lock on the lower tang, and a dust cover on the receiver that slides inside of a rail integral to the receiver, typical of the First Models. As with all used firearms, a thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance standards.
Box, Paperwork & Accessories: This rifle comes with two Winchester Records letters which indicate that it was originally produced as a Carbine with a 20″ barrel, received in warehouse September 26, 1874 and shipped October 1, 1874 on order 2054. A series of additional documentation is included which indicate that a similar rifle, serial numbered only 8 higher, may have belonged to the son of Geronimo, as well as some speculation that the “R.M.” marking on the top tang may indicate connection to the Republic of Mexico.
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 .44-40 Win. cartridge, also known as the .44 WCF, was introduced by Winchester in 1873 as Winchester’s first metallic centerfire cartridge with a number of WCF cartridges to follow. Colt produced single action revolvers chambered for the Winchester cartridges as well, allowing users to have a rifle and handgun which shared the same ammunition.
This is a quite early example, serial 2093, and is a saddle ring carbine. The rifle appears to have had a very useful life, with wear consistent with its age of nearly 150 years. This is an honest gun in a desirable configuration and deserves a spot in a collection of lever action rifles next to its 1866, 1876, 1886, 1892 and 1894 cousins. Please see our photos and good luck!
Please forgive any typos, I was educated in California -Bud