Winchester 1873 .44-40
There are few rifles which typify the western expansion of the United States like the Winchester lever action rifle, and few Winchesters typify it as does the Model of 1873.
I've always been rather keen on butt stock compartments, and the 1873 has an excellent one. I just think they're kind of neat.
This particular rifle is a family heirloom. Lore has it that my great grand-father brought this rifle and a couple others with him when he set out west in the 1880's.
Newly arrived from the old country, this piece would have been an attractive purchase for an immigrant heading way out into the wild, wild west.
This lever latch is another feature I think is pretty nifty.
I plan on writing the Cody Museum one day and seeing what records they have on this rifle. The serial number on this rifle places its date of manufacture in 1879, so hopefully, they will have records showing him as the original owner.
If the condition seems a bit rough, bear in mind that my family used this rifle as an around-the-farm, and general hunting rifle well into the 1950's. My father recently related an anecdote of using this rifle to keep the bears out of the apple orchard when he was 14. He also pointed out, that in retrospect, after shooting bears with an '06, he is pretty happy he never tried to shoot one with the relatively anemic .44-40.
It certainly isn't pristine, but it is honest, genuine, and a rich piece of our family history. It's largely retired from those chores now, and I have never fired it, but with the popularity of Cowboy Action shooting, and the interest in older cartridges, I may put a round or two through it yet. It is in excellent mechanical condition, and I wouldn't hesitate to shoot it. But I think it's bear hunting days are over.
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