This is a very early 3rd Model 1873 in 44 WCF in standard sporting rifle configuration with 24" round barrel, full magazine, and crescent rifle buttplate. Its a little expensive I know, but it sure is a nice one!!! The serial number is in the 97,000 range which dates its production to 1882. Production of the 3rd Model started in this year around the 86,000 serial range. As you can seel from the photos, these early 3rd Models share the early style shorter rear sight with checkered sides just like their 1st and 2nd model predecessors. Like all 1st, 2nd, and early 3rd Models in 44 Caliber, there are no caliber markings on the barrel or the loading block as this was the original caliber for the gun and Winchester didn't feel the need to spell it out. However, as newer calibers were introduced and began trickling into the market, Winchester finally started marking their 44 Caliber 73's around the mid-1880's.
Overall condition is NRA Antique Excellent with 90-95% bright original receiver blue with some brown freckles from poor storage. There is one small spot of light corrosion just forward of the left side plate about the size of a pencil eraser....otherwise, the storage spots are mostly smooth. This gun shows very little wear as even the high wear areas like the tangs, lower receiver, and dust cover still retain most of their original blue. The loading port still shows 50% original fire blue while the hammer and lever have about 50% dull original case colors. The case colors on the buttplate have mostly faded out to silver with shadows of mottled colors in areas. The barrel and magazine tube still retain at least 90% strong original blue with a few brown storage spots. Even the forend cap still shows 90-95% glossy bright original blue. Excellent markings, sharp edges, and nice screws throughout. Excellent wood that still has a very attractive deep reddish brown hue with much of the original varnish remaining. No chips, cracks, or repairs. Just a few minor handling marks...quite remarkable for a 124 year old Winchester. There is one dark line on the right side of the stock where a bead of oil rolled down the lower tang and stained the wood....almost certainly after the original owner had cleaned the gun after shooting it and stood it up in a corner or against the wall. Yes, its a mole...but for a Winchester, this would be like Marilyn Monroe with a mole...who cares, right??? Its a minor mark that reveals character as well as being a good sign that the previous owner took good care of his rifle. The wood to metal fit is perfect...very tight with the wood swelling slightly proud over the metal. Winchester made their 73's this way to compensate for shrinkage as guns built in New Haven CT. were in a much wetter climate than out West. They learned this the hard way with the Model 1866...which almost always look a little shrunk around the tangs no matter how nice they are. This one has never shrunk and still stands over metal like it did back in 1882. The action works like a brand new gun...the lever snaps shut so hard it almost echoes. They don't get any nicer than that! The bore is in fine condition...still bright and shiny with strong rifling and just a few scattered light pits. Quite nice for a black powder era gun. This is just a very nice example of a model 1873 that has survived over 12 decades looking much the same way it did back when it was new.