Original U.S. Winchester Model 1873 .38-40 Repeating Rifle with Octagonal Barrel made in 1888 - Serial 272446B

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. "The Gun that Won the West!" This wonderful "frontier worn" rifle is in .38-40 caliber, correctly marked with 38 W.C.F. over the chamber and .38 CAL. on the brass carrier block. It features a desirable 24" octagonal barrel and full-length magazine tube. As with all examples, it is marked MODEL. 1873. on the upper receiver tang. Features the classic front sight and iconic "buckhorn" rear adjustable sight. The serial number is 272446B denotes the year of manufacture as 1888. The engraving on the top of the barrel present and legible:


Condition of the rifle is very good, with the metalwork showing a lovely worn plum patina, faded from the original blue. There is some scratching from cleaning, as well as a few areas that show light pitting on the left rear receiver and on the operating lever. There is also some scattered peppering on the barrel and magazine tube. The wood stocks are in very good condition, showing the lovely red brown color of aged oiled walnut. The stocks show light wear consistent with use, but no major damage, cracking, or chunks missing. Really some nice wood on this example. The butt stock has the correct crescent butt plate, which has a working storage compartment (empty).

This lever action repeater has a crisp tight action in fully functional condition with an original dust cover. The rifle cycles well and dry fires, with smooth mechanical operation. The bore is in good condition, showing clear lands and grooves, but also oxidation and speckled fouling overall. We gave it a good scrub and patches still come out black, so it definitely saw a lot of use. We would rate it about a 6-7 out of 10.

A very good example of an iconic gun with a lovely patina, ready to display!


Year of Manufacture: 1888
Caliber: .38-40 Winchester
Cartridge Type: Centerfire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 24 Inches
Overall Length: 43 Inches
Action type: Lever Action Repeater
Feed System: 15-round tube magazine

The Model 1873 was one of the most successful Winchester rifles of its day, gaining the reputation as "The Gun that Won the West". Still an icon almost a century and a half later, it was manufactured between 1873 and 1919. Originally chambered for the .44-40 cartridge, it was later produced in .38-40 and .32-20, all of which were also popular handgun cartridges of the day, allowing users to conveniently carry just one type of ammunition. The Model 1873 was produced in three variations: a 24" barrel rifle, 20" barrel carbine, and a musket. The easy to transport and handle carbine was the most popular, while the musket accounted for less than 5-10 percent of total production.

Due to feeding problems, the original Model 1873 was never offered in the military standard .45 Colt cartridge, although a number of modern reproductions are chambered for the round. The popularity of the original Model 1873 led Colt to manufacture .44-40 a version of the Single Action Army revolver called the "Frontier Model".

To both celebrate and enhance the Model 1873's prestige, Winchester established a coveted One of One Thousand grade in 1875. Barrels producing unusually small groupings during test-firing were fitted to rifles with set triggers and a special finish. Marked One of One Thousand, they sold for a then princely $100. A popular 1950 Western starring Jimmy Stewart, Winchester '73, was based on the coveted gun. Promotions included a search for One of One Thousand rifles by Universal Studios, with advertisements in sporting magazines and posters in sporting goods stores.

A second grade of Model 1873 barrels producing above average accuracy were fitted to rifles marked One of One Hundred, and sold for $20 over list. Approximately 136 One of One Thousand Model 1873s were sold, and only eight One of One Hundreds. In all, over 720,000 Model 1873s were produced.

The .38-40 Winchester round is actually a .40 caliber cartridge shooting .401 caliber bullets. The cartridge was introduced by Winchester in 1874 and is derived from their .44-40 Winchester. This cartridge was introduced for rifles, but in its reintroduction for Cowboy Action Shooting it has seen some popularity as a pistol cartridge. It is not particularly well suited to hunting larger game, but it was popular when it was introduced, along with the previous .44-40 Winchester, for deer hunting. It can be used successfully on smaller game animals, and for self-defense.

Note: This gun is NOT considered obsolete calibre, so we are not able to ship to the United Kingdom. Please note that for international shipping, these MUST be shipped using UPS WW Services. International customers should always consult their country's antique gun laws prior to ordering.

  • This product is not available for shipping in US state(s)
    New Jersey

    This product is available for international shipping.
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