It seems like a long time since we've offered a good Model 1873 Saddle Ring Carbine on this website. Truth is, its been tough finding ones that I like with eye-appeal and without problems. Good ones have really been drying up! Hopefully, we will have some more for you guys in the near future. This particular gun was worth the wait! Its a good solid textbook example of everything a 3rd Model carbine should be. Standard carbine configuration in caliber 44-40 w/20" barrel, Full Magazine, Semi-crescent Buttplate w/trapdoor, Carbine ladder sights, Dust cover, and original Saddle ring. This one was made in the year 1892 so its a Pre-1898 antique.
If you had to pick just one gun to capture the folklore of the American West, the 1873 saddle ring carbine would be a good choice. These carbines were the working man's gun and many found their way into the hands of some of the West's most legendary figures like Billy the Kid, Jesse James, the Texas Rangers, Geronimo's Apache warriors, as well as far greater numbers used by cowboys, store owners, and ranchers. These guns were short, handy, and designed especially for being carried on horseback. Coupled with the reloadable .44-40 cartridge, it was the first practical repeating rifle that could sustain itself far better than any repeater chambering rimfire cartridges. More than any other Winchester, the saddle ring carbines was used the hardest and unfortunately for collectors today, they are difficult to obtain in good shape. Regarded as solely tools during their working life, most appear to have spent more time living outdoors than in someone's closet. They were abused, dropped, rolled over on by horses, seldom cleaned, and many have had their wood severely worn from being kept in a saddle scabbard. Its not uncommon to see these with bulged bores and broken rear sights...and these were just the guns that survived. This is why they're so hard to obtain today.
Overall, this carbine is in NRA Antique Very Good condition with a light grey patina that is mixing with patina. It has good sharp edges and nice markings throughout. There are traces of original blue around the sideplates, front and rear sights, and in protected areas along the barrel and magazine tube. The loading port still shows 35% original fire blue. Nice markings throughout which include: "44 CAL" in script on the brass elevator, 2 line Winchester barrel address with Henry's 1860 Patent and King's 1866 Improvement, rear sight graduated from 2 to 9 hundred yards with "1873" designation at the top, and upper tang marked "Model 1873". The hammer also has the correct checkered border with decorative Victorian style dipped border found on 73's made from 1891 to 1900. Very Good screws overall. The wood is exceptionally nice for a carbine and it grades Fine to Fine+ overall with no cracks or repairs. Usually these little carbines almost alway have at least a little crack behind the tang and in front of the rear barrel band...somehow this one survived 114 years without getting one. The wood is completely untouched...never sanded or redone with still perfect factory wood to metal fit. The edges still stand slightly proud of the metal which is what Winchester did to compensate for shrinkage in case these Connecticut-made guns were shipped to a dryer more arid climate. The action still works nicely and the bore is Good+ to VG overall with good rifling, a few minor pits, with no rings or bulges. A nice clean example of the 73 src.