Several years ago, a friend who I had bought many guns from gave me the Winchester Model 1906 pictured above. It is a Frankenstein “parts gun,” the upper assembly was made in 1908 and the lower assembly was made in 1913; when and why that mating took place is lost forever in time. The beaten old South Dakota barn gun was inoperable when I received it; the entire firing pin assembly was missing from the bolt. Further, the stock was loose at the wrist and had a long crack. Someone had glued the crack and carefully inlaid a groove in the wood in order to seat a wrap of baling wire to tighten the stock. The wood was so old and dry that it was brittle, the metal covered with rust.
For some reason I took fancy on this old utility rifle. Its condition was too rough for me to consider spending the money needed for a professional restoration, but I was determined to return it to shooting condition affordably. First, I removed as much rust as possible with light gun oil and righteous scrubbing. I did not want to buff the pits, dings, and scratches from the metal since I considered them historical; a farm or ranch gun once was a tool subject to heavy use and some abuse; its scars are its testament. As for the condition of the wood, all I could do there was to soak it several times with a good wood oil and replace the baling wire with a nylon wrap; again, the dents, scratches, and gouges were left to honor its past. Back when I got this rifle there was no internet to use for hunting down parts. To make the 1906 functional, I transplanted the bolt assembly from the skeletal remains of a Winchester Model 62A (also in the above photo), found by a friend who owned a gun store. A great number of the parts for the Winchester models 1890, 1906, and 62 are interchangeable.
If you are considering restoring an old 1890, 1906, or a 62, be forewarned that parts are expensive and sometimes hard to find. You could easily wind up spending more on restoration than you could sell the gun for. Conversely, if you have an old rifle that cannot be restored, don’t throw it out; offer to sell it to an individual looking to salvage the parts.
Winchester produced over 800,000 of the John Browning designed Model 1906 slide action (pump) rifles from 1906 through 1932. For the first two years of production, the 1906 was chambered for the .22 Short, thereafter if was chambered to handle the short, long, and long rifle cartridges.
Some of us tend to be overly sentimental about old guns; we feel they carry untold tales of people, places, and things from long ago. This rifle is not unlike many dozens I have seen on farmhouse porches, or propped up in a kitchen corner, or hanging from pegs inside a barn, or wedged under the seat of a farm tractor or an old pickup truck. The rifles were there for contingencies, for deterring barnyard predators, for potting a rabbit or a squirrel for dinner. So, forgive my silly reverence when I handle weathered old guns; they were used to feed and protect those that came before, they are connections to our past.
Click here to read JayG’s review of his Grandfather’s Model 1906.
Click here for a Numrich listing of Model 1906 parts.
Click here for a Homestead Firearms listing of Model 1906 parts.