This is a nice representative of a 3rd Model 1866 Winchester Saddle Ring Carbine in .44 Rimfire. This is a good example with decent wood, super markings, and even some original blue on the barrel, magazine tube, and loading port. Manufactured in 1877. The serial number is in the 132,000 range with matching assembly numbers inside the stock and brass buttplate. Standard 20" round barrel, saddle ring, brass carbine buttplate, early folding carbine rear sight, and correct front sight is pinched up atop the forward barrel band.
This little carbine has a very interesting cartouche and monogram stamped into the stock that reads "AOS". After some research and a little luck, we found the identical markings on a 66 carbine in the Winchester book by George Madis. We also located a Win Model 66 musket in the Julia's Auction of the Eldon Owens Collection with identical AOS cartouches and monongrams. These markings are believed to denote shipment to Argentina for their military in 1877. Madis shows an identically marked 3rd Model 66 src on P.65 and goes on to state there was a sizeable order of 12,000 Model 1866's during the late 1877 shipped to a foreign country. While records can't reveal where items were shipped, Madis does state that a few Model 1866's built during this timeframe have come back from Argentina. If you look in Winchester production records, this order appears to stand out as production in 1876 was only about 6000 units...only to ramp up to 16,000 in 1877....and then drops dramatically to 2000 units the following year. In terms of Argentine history, an interesting side note is that this large order of Winchester 1866's directly preceded Argentina's Commencement of the Conquest of the Desert in Patagonia where it fought the indigenous inhabitants of the south led by Julio Argentino Roca ; with their final surrender by 1884. One can only guess, but it seems plausible this carbine was part of that large order of Model 1866 carbines and muskets probably shipped to Argentina in 1877.
Overall condition is NRA Antique Very Good+. Normally, when we encounter Model 1866's, they're suffering from severe wear and abuse....stocks and forends are often replacements and barrel markings are usually gone. This little carbine isn't perfect as it shows some dings and abuse but its all original and in remarkably good shape for a 66 yellowboy. The barrel shows about 15-20% original blue residing mostly in the more protected areas along the edge of the forewood, between the barrel and tube, and around the barrel bands and rear sight. The barrel address is perfect...as nice as you'll find on a 66 with both lines very strong. The magazine tube shows about 60% dull original blue remaining. This is the early type tube with the screw-in plug. There are some blemish marks on each side near the breech...Note: Original Winchester Factory Catalogs told their customers to "unscrew the barrel" when cleaning dirty bores. That's almost certainly what these marks are. If you've ever cleaned a bore fouled with black powder, then this practice makes perfect sense. Sights still show good traces of original blue both on the ladder and down in the pinched recesses of the front sight. Case colors on the hammer and lever have silvered out to a mixture of nickel-like worn case and brown patina....quite attractive. The loading port still shows good traces of original fire blue in protected areas. The brass frame has good edges overall...its not particularly worn but shows plenty of dings and nicks from careless handling. Good screws throughout. Nice working action with original rimfire firing pins and extractor are intact. The bore is excellent...bright and shiny with perfect rifling. The wood is in good+ condition with nice wood to metal fit that's tight and even to the metal surfaces. Like the frame, it has some dents and dings from careless handling...but good surfaces with sharp corners. The stocks are miles above average your average run of the mill 66 Winchester. Best of all, they're original....with the correct high comb and matching assembly number. The AOS monogram is located on the left side of the stock near the buttplate and the cartouche stamped on the belly of the stock behind the lower tang.