Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Winchester Model 1873



Another 127-year-old gun in my safe is a Winchester Model 1873 that left the factory in 1881, as did my 127-year-old Colt Frontier Six Shooter Model 1873 revolver, both chambered for the .44 Winchester Centerfire, AKA .44-40., AKA .44 WCF. Since the same cartridge fed both that model rifle and that model revolver, the load became very popular with frontier American shooters as a matter of convenience.

My old Winchester ’73 holds 14 cartridges in the magazine, 4 rounds over the “assault weapons ban” benchmark magazine capacity of 10.
The Battle of Little Bighorn was in 1876 and the Cavalry was using the single-shot Springfield Model 1873 .45-70 carbines. During the same period, having more foresight than the military, many civilians had armed themselves with the high-capacity Winchester repeating rifles, the 1873 being so common it was called “The gun that won the west.” The .45-70 load was not replaced until the military adopted the 5-round capacity .30-40 Krag Jorgensen in 1894, which was replaced in 1903 by the 5-round capacity Springfield Model 1903, which was replaced by the 8-round capacity semi-automatic M1 Garand in 1936, which was replaced by the 20-round capacity select fire M14 rifle in 1957.

The significance of this short thesis is that high-capacity rifles did not become universally popular with the military until long after civilians began commonly using them back in the frontier days.


James A. Zachary Jr.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Awesome 1873! I have an 1873 SRC that is in average condition (125 years old). I would like to be able to shoot it, but I don't believe it's in firing condition. I don't want it restored, just repaired so that I can shoot it every now and then. Do you know of a gunsmith in either or Wisconsin that would be able to do this?
Thanks,
paul
paulpm@ameritech.net

James A. Zachary Jr. said...

Try giving the guys below a call; they may be able to help you or steer you to a smith near you.

R.G.S. Restorations, Inc.
6441 South U.S. Hwy. 45
Oshkosh, WI 54902
920-688-2857