January 12th, 2016

Historic Winchester Firearms on Display at 2016 SHOT Show

150th Anniversary Winchester Repeating Arms Buffalo Bill 1873 1866
With its polished brass receiver, the Model 1866 “Yellow Boy” lever-action rifle is the first gun to bear the Winchester name.

The Winchester Arms Company marks its 150th Anniversary this year. On May 22, 1866, Oliver Winchester established the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, and introduced what would become a legendary rifle, the Winchester Model 1866, aka “Yellow Boy”. Seven years later Winchester would introduce another famed lever-action gun, the Model 1873, called the “Gun that won the West”. More than 700,000 Model 1873s have been produced.

Winchester Repeating Arms will celebrate its 150th Anniversary at this year’s SHOT Show in Las Vegas. A special exhibit curated by the Cody Firearms Museum will feature unique guns of great historical interest. On display will be the first-ever Winchester branded rifle, a Model 1866, Buffalo Bill’s Model 1873 Smoothbore that he used in his Wild West Show, President Eisenhower’s custom Model 1894, President Kennedy’s custom Model 70, and former Winchester Canada President R.F. Bucher’s custom Model 101. In addition, Buffalo Bill’s gauntlets and cowboy hat will be displayed.

150th Anniversary Winchester Repeating Arms Buffalo Bill 1873 1866

Also, the Winchester Ammunition booth will have a large historical display of firearms as well. That display will include guns from the collections of John Olin, Ernest Hemingway, Zane Grey, and notably, the “Forgotten Winchester” Model 1873 from the Great Basin National Park.

150th Anniversary Winchester Repeating Arms Buffalo Bill 1873 1866

The Man Who Founded Winchester
Oliver Fisher Winchester was an innovative and driven man who saw the future of firearms and built an industrial empire around the lever-action rifle. Born in Boston in 1810, Winchester’s initial foray into business was as a maker of men’s shirts. Seeing the economic potential of the fast-growing firearms industry, Winchester found investors, and in 1857 bought a controlling interest in the Volcanic Repeating Arms Company from two inventive gentlemen named Horace Smith and Daniel B. Wesson. Winchester continued to refine firearm designs with inventors Benjamin Tyler Henry and Nelson King, and on May 22, 1866, the Winchester Repeating Arms Company was born.

Buffalo Bill poster from Cody Firearms Museum. Buffalo Bill gun photo courtesy Ammoland.com, under CC Attribution. Read Full Story HERE.
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October 18th, 2014

Fun Gun for the Family? Try a Repro 1866 or 1873 Lever Gun

While devotees of this site are hard-core accuracy addicts, who normally shoot tiny groups with sophisticated Benchrest and Varmint rifles, we should not overlook the pure fun of shooting a simple rifle at reactive targets.

Uberti 1866 1873 Winchester lever gun

Nailing a nice, tight 1/4-moa group is very satisfying. But for pure unadulterated shooting fun, it’s hard to beat a slicked-up “race-ready”, Winchester-clone lever gun. In fact, this editor’s favorite rifle for “fun shooting” is my 20″ Uberti Model 1866 “Yellowboy” Lever gun. Shooting light-loaded 38 SPL rounds at steel targets from a standing position offers old-fashioned shooting satisfaction. On the “fun meter” this tops the scale. My rifle features a slicked-up action and lightened trigger. After a “CodyMatic” action job by cowboy gunsmith Cody Conagher, my Yellowboy’s lever can be cycled with just one finger. Trigger pull is about a pound and a quarter. The high-gloss, blued octagonal barrel is very accurate and the mirror-finish bore cleans up easily.

Uberti Winchester 1866 Yellowboy

Based on the Model 1866 Winchester, Uberti’s Yellowboy, and its Model 1873 “older brother”, feature a toggle-link action that is extremely smooth. The toggle action design also keeps the linkages separate from the chamber so the gun runs extremely clean. After firing a hundred rounds or more, all you need to do is wipe off the bolt and breech-face with some solvent and run a bore-snake down the bore a few times. To be honest, the Yellowboy is more fun to shoot at steel than my AR Carbine. And maintenance-wise, for every five minutes I spend maintaining the 1866, I’ll spend an hour detail-stripping and cleaning the AR. The shooting-to-cleaning ratio favors the lever gun by orders of magnitude.

Uberti Winchester 1866 Yellowboy

These Italian-made Winchester clones are very handsome, with nicely figured wood under a durable clearcoat. You can polish the brass receiver to keep it shiny, or leave it alone to develop an authentic, dulled patina. Uberti’s Model 1873 features a steel receiver with gorgeous color case-hardening.

Uberti Winchester 1873

After the fun factor, what’s the best thing about Uberti lever guns? Resale value. I can sell my 1866 for quite a bit more than I paid for it. Over the past decade, the price of Italian-made Uberti lever guns has been steadily rising. This means that older rifles fetch a premium on the used market.

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