Original Winchester 1886 Caliber .50 Express Rifle Manufactured in 1891
Original Item: Only One Available. This is a worn but solid example of a Model 1886 Winchester in the ultimate caliber of 50-110 aka .50 caliber Winchester Express. The Model 1886 is considered by some as the finest lever action repeating rifle ever made with .50 Express being the largest and most powerful.
This one is a straight stock rifle with a standard 26 round barrel. Serial number is 52243, which dates it production to early 1891. Note, the .50 caliber 1886 Rifle in the NRA Museum was also made in 1891 and is in the 60,000 range.
Serial number: 52243
Barrel Type: round
Barrel Length: 26 inches
The lever action repeating rifle we know as the Winchester Model 1886 was conceived in the mind of a young John Browning in Ogden, Utah around 1883. At the time, Browning and his younger brothers, all in their teens and twenties, were building an amazing single shot rifle in a small brick factory/sporting goods store they had built with their own hands in downtown Ogden. Between 1879 and 1883, the Browning Brothers made about 600 single shot single shot rifles. Since they had no distribution set up, the rifles were simply sold locally off the racks placed in the front of their store. Legend has it that in 1883, a Winchester salesman named Andrew McAusland came across one of the Browning Brothers rifles in his travels. He purchased the rifle for $15 and shipped it back to Winchester thinking it might interest his company back East. He attached a letter stating such with along with the hopes they would reimburse him the fifteen bucks. All that was stamped on the gun was a serial number and the name Browning Bros., Ogden, UT. The rifle impressed management at Winchester so much that Vice President T.G. Bennett (Oliver Winchester's son-in-law) boarded a train for Ogden in hopes of buying the design from ????... well, quite literally... whoever these Browning guys were.
What I wouldn't give to go back in time and see that Yale-educated Vice President of Winchester Repeating Arms Company dressed in a suit wandering the frontier-era streets of Ogden, Utah in search of the Browning Brothers shop. Can you imagine his surprise when he realized, that the rifle (in 1883, his company had no equivalent to this rifle in their product line, nor a single model that could handle calibers 45-70 and up), had been in production for four years by young Mormon brothers in their teens and twenties on the American frontier? These guys were living quite literally on the very last stop for the railroad on the frontier just about as far as you could get from the Industrial Revolution back East... yet at that moment, they were arguably building the best single shot rifle in the world. At any rate, to get to the point, Bennett purchased the rights to manufacture the Browning Bros. rifle and made them Winchester dealers, "jobbers", in the process. The rifle would be manufactured by Winchester as the Model 1885 Single Shot.
Before departing, John Browning told Bennett about another design he was working on: a new lever action repeater that could handle the 45-70. Bennett was quite interested and encouraged Browning to let Winchester have the first crack at it when a prototype was completed. The following year in 1884, it was John and his younger brother, Matt Browning, who boarded the train, this time for New Haven, CT with their new rifle in tow. This new lever action was granted US Patent No. 306,577 on October 14, 1884. John Browning was just 29 years old. BTW, this was his fifth patent! The 1886 was the first lever action repeater that could handle the Gov't 45-70 as well as the 45-90 and 40-82. These were the first three calibers offered in their new lever action but many more calibers would come over the next several years. The 50-110 was offered for the first time in the Model 1886 in 1887.
This 1886 has John Browning's Oct. 14, 1884 patent date on the lower tang. The upper tang simply marked " --MODEL 1886-- ". Caliber designation would have been on top flat of the barrel just ahead of the frame and marked "50 EX" for 50 Express. The top flat of the barrel has the early style Winchester barrel address which reads:
--WINCHESTER REPEATING ARMS CO. NEW HAVEN CONN. U.S.A.--
The original sights on the 50 Express are unique to this caliber. The rear sight is what's known as the two-leaf Express sight. This sight would later be used on the smokeless .30 caliber Winchester 1894 rifle and carbine. However, the sight on this example was replaced with a traditional buckhorn style. The front sight is also a special design called the Winchester Express Front Sight.
Made in 1891 these .50 caliber Winchester 1886 Rifles and extremely uncommon. Our example has little finish remaining but is in tight attractive condition. The .50 caliber bore is very good and rifle features a full tube magazine, straight stock and hook butt plate. Overall good solid condition of a very rare variant!
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