SOLD FOR: $95,200

Serial Number 7 Winchester Model 1873 Lever Action Rifle & Letter

Make: Winchester

Model: 1873 Rifle, 1st Model

Serial Number: 7

Year of Manufacture: 1873

Caliber: .44-40 WCF

Action Type: Lever Action, Single Set-Trigger

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 “Model 1873 / 7”. The left of the bottom tang, the upper tang inlet of the wrist, and the inside of the buttplate at the toe each have “23” assembly number.

Barrel Length: 24″, Octagonal

Sights / Optics: The front sight is a globe-style sight with a beaded post, dovetailed to the front of the barrel. The rear sight is a “Musket”-style folding ladder dovetailed to the rear of the barrel. The rear sight presents a “V”-notch when down, having a “V”-notched slider on the ladder and another “V”-notch at the top edge of the ladder. The rear sight is missing its detent spring, the ladder is bent slightly and the slider is stuck at the bottom of the ladder. The rear sight dovetail is 1″ in front of the receiver, consistent with very early production 1873s. 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 capped forend, straight grip, straight comb and steel crescent buttplate with a sliding door over a storage compartment. There is dark discoloration around the edges where the wood meets the metal and the wood appears to have been cleaned. There is notably more finish in the forend than the buttstock. There are some light nicks and scratches. There are no chips or cracks. The LOP measures 12 3/4″ from the front of the trigger to the back of the buttplate. The plate has gone to a moderate patina with edges worn to white and some light nicks and scratches. Overall, the stocks are in Fine condition as ANTIQUE.

Type of Finish: Blue

Finish Originality: Original

Bore Condition: The bore is semi-bright with sharp rifling. There is some scattered light erosion in the bore. In this writer’s opinion, the bore rates 7 or 8 out of 10.

Overall Condition: This rifle retains about 40% of its metal finish. Most remaining finish is in the barrel with infrequent finish on the receiver and magazine tube. The worn areas have mostly gone to a light patina. The edges are worn to white. There is some scattered minor surface oxidation with some more notable oxidation around the sight dovetails. There are some light nicks and scratches, most notable on the dust cover near the front. The magazine bracket is a little bit loose in its dovetail. The action shows operational wear. The screw heads range from sharp to lightly tool marked with strong slots. The markings are clear. Overall, this rifle is in Very Good-Fine condition as ANTIQUE.

Mechanics: The action functions correctly. The trigger can be set by pressing forward until it clicks. The top of the receiver is mortised for a 1st Model raised “thumbprint” dust cover. 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: A four-piece cleaning rod is included, stored in the buttstock. Also included is a Winchester factory records letter confirming that this rifle shipped December 9, 1873 with a 24″ octagon barrel, single set trigger and blue finish.

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.This about as early as you’re going to find an 1873, serial number 7. All of the early features are present from the raised “thumbprint” dust cover to the blank upper tang with the model designation engraved on the bottom tang. The bottom tang has flanges which fit into corresponding grooves inside the receiver. The rear sight dovetail is 1″ from the receiver. While there were certainly six rifles made before this one, it is possible that this the earliest known example still available to private collectors. For the dedicated Winchester collector, it doesn’t get much better than this. Please see our photos and good luck!