Original U.S. Winchester Model 1873 .38-40 Special Order Deluxe Rifle with Factory Letter - made in 1886

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. "The gun that won the west!" Well this just came to us amongst a Collection of just TEN very choice items all purchased by a collector in the 1980's. This example is definitely magnificent, and is equipped with some very rare and highly desirable factory special order features.

This item comes with a Winchester Factory Letter dated November 4, 1985, confirming its age and origin. The letter states is in .38-40 caliber (.38 WCF) with a classic 24 inch octagonal barrel. However, as specified, it has a factory "Set Trigger", which allows the trigger pull to be adjusted to suit the owner. But that's just the start, as it also has the very rare options "Checkered Stock", as well as "Pistol Grip", which means that this rifle is equipped with factory highly figured checkered stocks, and that the rear stock and lower receiver are in a "pistol grip" formation. The stocks on this rifle are simply amazing, and the checkering would aid in gripping the rifle, as would the pistol grip, ensuring a very steady aim. When combined with the set trigger, this was definitely intended for sport shooting.

The barrel is fitted with the iconic Winchester "Buckhorn" rear sight, with a standard blade front sight. This rifle is also equipped with a tang-mounted adjustable "peep" sight, which is marked PAT. JUNE 1881. There is no mention of a peep sight in the factory records, so it was most likely fitted by the retailer.

The Serial number on the lower receiver tang 194693A denotes year of manufacture as 1886. The engraving on top of the barrel is clearly legible:


It is also marked .38 CAL over the barrel chamber, indicating the .38-40 caliber. This marking often wears off, as does the 38 CAL. marking on the bottom of the brass feed block, which is still visible. It has also been personalized with the initials A E G in Black Letter type face.

Original walnut stocks are simply incredible, with figuring so strong it boggles the mind. The checkering is also still mostly intact, with just a bit of wear from age and handing. Crisp tight action in fully functional condition with the original dust cover. The metal work is a nice faded blue, with just a trace of peppering in places.

The bore on this rifle is in excellent condition, and is without a doubt one of the two best bores on a Winchester factory barrel that we have ever seen. This is a gun that was well cared for, loved even.

A truly lovely weapon showing minimal use and a pride to own. Ready to display along with it's original factory letter!

History of the Winchester Model 1873

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.


Year of Manufacture: 1886
Caliber: .32-20 Winchester
Cartridge Type: Centerfire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 24 Inches
Overall Length: 43 Inches

Action type: Lever Action Repeater
Feed System: 7-round tube magazine

NOTE: Note: This gun is NOT considered obsolete calibre, so we are no able to ship to the United Kingdom. International orders of antique firearms MUST be shipped using UPS WW Services (courier). USPS Priority Mail international will not accept these.

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

    This product is available for international shipping.
  • Not eligible for payment with Paypal or Amazon


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