Original U.S. Winchester Model 1866 Yellow Boy .44RF Infantry Rifle Serial 33156B - Made in 1870 - Marked to Louisiana State Militia

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. Here we have a fantastic collector's opportunity! This Winchester Model 1866 Infantry Rifle is marked L.S.M. 30 / C / 2 next to the serial number. This stands for the Louisiana State Militia, who under the command of legendary Confederate General James Longstreet saw service at the Battle of Liberty Place in September, 1874. This battle, also known as the Battle of Canal Street, was an attempted insurrection and coup d'etat by the Crescent City White League against the Reconstruction Era Louisiana Republican state government on September 14, 1874, in New Orleans, which was the capital of Louisiana at the time. Five thousand members of the White League, a paramilitary terrorist organization made up largely of Confederate veterans, fought against the outnumbered New Orleans Metropolitan Police and state militia.

Of particular note is that the militia was comprised of mostly African-American soldiers, fighting against the soldiers that had previously fought to keep them enslaved. That they were under the command of a former Confederate General was a further irony. When James Longstreet tried to stop the fighting, he was pulled from his horse, shot by a spent bullet, and taken prisoner by the White League. The insurgents held the statehouse, armory, and downtown for three days, retreating before arrival of Federal troops that restored the elected government. No insurgents were charged in the action. This was the last major event of violence stemming from the disputed 1872 gubernatorial election, after which Democrat John McEnery and Republican William Pitt Kellogg both claimed victory.

This is a genuine M-1866 YELLOW BOY, the legendary Brass-framed first Winchester Repeating rifle! First introduced in 1866, having taken over the Henry Rifle Company, Oliver Winchester launched one of the iconic Firearm names in the history of THE OLD WEST. Many refer to the Winchester repeating rifle as the "GUN THAT WON THE WEST"! While the Model 1873 improved on many aspects of the Model 1866, it lacked the beautiful lines and lovely "gunmetal" frame that its predecessor had.

Both models were made concurrently for decades, however this example was made in 1870, before production o the 1873 started. Not only that, it is the rarest of all variants, the "Infantry Rifle", often called the "musket" by modern day collectors. This variant was intended for possible use by the military, and as such it has a full length stock, sling swivels, and a front sight designed to take a socket bayonet. Of the 160,000 or so Model 1866's made, only 15,000 were the Infantry Rifle, making it by far the scarcest when compared to the rifle and saddle ring carbine. This is a fantastic collector's opportunity!

This Yellow "Gunmetal"-Framed Beauty is still in original .44 Henry Rimfire chambering, with a 27" round barrel and full-length magazine tube. These were originally all made in .44 Henry Rimfire, however a few late production Winchester 1866 rifles were configured to fire .44 Henry Centerfire. There were also many period conversions to other centerfire cartridges. We checked the end of the breech block, and it definitely has the double sided rimfire striking system, with no evidence of a center fire conversion.

The rifle features the original round-based ladder sight, which is fully functional, and the front "barleycorn" style sight attached directly to the barrel. The serial number is 33156B, denoting the year of manufacture as 1870, three years before the release of the Model of 1873. Model 1866 Winchesters with serial numbers between 25,000 and 149,000 are considered the "third model", with incremental design improvements over the first two models. The issues with the earlier models had been ironed out, making this a very robust design, and the third model was by far the most produced type of the 1866.

This example has seen a lot of use an cleaning, however the original barrel address markings are still mostly legible, something very rare to see on a model 1866!:-


The action has a beautiful mustard colored patina on the "gunmetal" frame, which we have left intact. The barrel looks to have been cleaned and polished over the years, which has made the markings faint, and it now is mostly bright steel with some staining. The barrel bands and magazine tube are in a similar condition.

Stocks are in very good condition, showing the lovely red brown color of aged finished walnut. There are some dents and dings consistent with service, but no major cracks, repairs, or other issues. The buttstock has a lovely gunmetal butt plate, which still has a working storage compartment. There are four cleaning rod components inside, but they are not the correct Winchester make, and one component does not match the rest.

The rifle is in overall very nice condition, with a fantastic look. The action cycles well, and does not have any issues that we can see, though we did not do any tests to see if it can still feed correctly. The bore on this example is in very good condition, showing a mostly bright finish with clear lands and grooves. There is some wear, as well as areas of oxidation and fouling. Most example we have seen are like a stovepipe, so this is definitely one of the best model 1866 bores that we have seen.

A very nice example of the rarest variant of an iconic and historically significant gun, marked to a known militia and most likely used in a true historical event. This is only the second example of the "Yellow Boy" Infantry Rifle that that we have ever offered for sale! In great service used condition with a fantastic patina, this rifle is ready to display!

Specifications (Rifle):-
Year of Manufacture: 1870
Caliber: .44 Henry Rimfire
Cartridge Type: Rimfire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 27 Inches
Overall Length: 46 Inches
Action type: Lever Action Repeater
Feed System: 17-round tube magazine

The first Winchester rifle – the Winchester Model 1866 – was originally chambered for the rimfire .44 Henry. Nicknamed the "Yellow Boy" because of its receiver of a bronze/brass alloy called gunmetal, it was famous for its rugged construction and lever-action "repeating rifle" mechanism that allowed the user to fire a number of shots before having to reload. Nelson King's improved patent remedied flaws in the Henry rifle by incorporating a loading gate on the side of the frame and integrating a round, sealed magazine which was partially covered by a forestock.

France purchased 6,000 Model 1866 rifles along with 4.5 million .44 Henry cartridges during the Franco-Prussian War. The Ottoman Empire purchased 45,000 Model 1866 rifles and 5,000 carbines in 1870 and 1871. These rifles were used in the 1877 Russo-Turkish War, causing much surprise when outnumbered Turks at the Siege of Plevna inflicted many times more casualties than their opponents armed with single-shot Krnka and Berdan rifles. The Model 1866 compelled Russians to develop a new rifle, the Mosin–Nagant, after the war.

The Swiss Army initially selected the Model 1866 to replace their existing single-shot Milbank-Amsler rifles. However, ensuing political pressure to adopt a domestic design resulted in the Vetterli Model 1867, a bolt-action design utilizing a copy of the Winchester's tubular magazine, being adopted instead.

Due to public demand, the Model 1866 continued to be manufactured and sold until 1899, mainly because they were less expensive than the later steel-framed centerfire models. Later models were chambered for the .44-40 Winchester cartridge.

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