Sold For: $1,505.00
Model: 1873 Rifle
Serial Number: 281581 (The “B” suffix found on the lower tang is technically not part of the serial number but Winchester’s method of tracking the specific mechanical configuration of the receiver group.)
Year of Manufacture: 1888
Caliber: .38-40 Winchester (.38 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 at the receiver with “38 W.C.F.”. The lower tang is marked “281581” and “B”. The upper tang is marked “MODEL 1873”.
Barrel Length: The octagon barrel is 24 ¼” in length.
Sights / Optics: The front sight is a steel bead dovetailed into the barrel. The rear sight is a “U” notched semi-buckhorn elevator sight that is dovetailed into the barrel. The elevator for the sight is missing. The upper tang is drilled, tapped and filled for a tang mounted peep sight.
Stock Configuration & Condition: The stocks are two-piece walnut that have been refinished with a satin finish. The stocks are dark with oil staining around the metal parts and in old bruises. The buttstock has a straight grip and a crescent shaped steel buttplate, and the forend has a steel nosecap. The buttplate has a brass trap door in its center for storage of cleaning equipment in the buttstock. There is about a 1” long hairline crack at the front of the comb that runs down the right side of the buttstock and a 2” long crack at the right front of the forend. There are two deep bruises on the right side of the buttstock, a deep drag line on the right side of the forend, and a scratch and a scuff mark in the left side of the forend. The remainder of the stocks show several old bruises under the finish that are dark with oil staining, and several light handling marks in the finish. The wood is shy of the metal along the upper and lower tangs and at the toe of the buttstock. The LOP measures 13” from the front of the trigger to the back of the buttplate. The buttplate shows surface loss with moderate wear at the heel and toe, and light pitting scattered over its surface. The buttplate is in about Good condition. The stocks rate in about Good condition.
Type of Finish: The barrel and magazine tube were blued and the receiver case colored.
Finish Originality: The finish is original.
Bore Condition: The bore is gray, turning dark at the muzzle. The rifling is shallow. There is a wide band of heavy erosion about an inch from the muzzle.
Overall Condition: This rifle retains about 0% of its metal finish. There is finish loss on all surfaces, which also show light pitting with scattered spots of heavier pitting. The carrier has developed a mustard colored patina, and shows several dings under the patina. There are deep tool marks on the magazine tube hanger, on the barrel just above the hanger and on the magazine tube on either side of the hanger. There are several tiny dings in the magazine tube, several small scratches in the left side of the barrel, and two small dings in the right side of the barrel. There are tool marks around the mounting screws in the nosecap and tool marks around most of the screws in the receiver. There are several light scratches in the left sideplate and several tool marks in the top of the receiver just in front of the hammer. The hammer knurling shows moderate wear with a marred spot near its rear edge. About two thirds of the screw heads are badly disfigured, but still appear serviceable. The markings are clear. Overall, this rifle rates in about Fair condition.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly except that the lever will not stay closed, and falls partly open when released. There is a groove worn into the arch on the lever where the lever spring rides, resulting in very little contact between the lever spring and the lever. We have not fired this rifle. The hammer has a half-cock safety position, there is an operable lever safety, and a dust cover on the receiver that slides on an integral rail typical of the Third Models. As with all used firearms, a thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance standards.
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 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. Per Wikipedia: “The .38-40 Winchester, also known as the .38 WCF, was introduced by Winchester in 1874 as essentially a necked-down .44-40, firing a .401 caliber bullet. Although not particularly suited for hunting large game, it was popular for deer hunting when it was first introduced.”. This rifle was made in 1888 and has a 24 1/4” octagon barrel and a crescent shaped buttplate. The rifle is in about Fair condition with none of its original finish remaining. The bore is gray, tending to dark at the muzzle, with shallow rifling. There is a swath of heavy erosion near the muzzle. The arch near the top of the lever is worn so that it can’t contact the lever spring, resulting in the lever not wanting to stay closed, but flop open. This is typical with the rifles used in Cowboy Action shooting today and in older rifles like this one that have seen a lot of use. It usually requires welding-up the arch with a TIG welder and then re-grinding the arch, or else replacing the lever. Otherwise, this is a very nice example of a 3rd Model variation of the 1873 rifle, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see it in a Winchester collection next to its 1866, 1886, 1892 and 1894 cousins.