This is a good solid example of a Model 1873 Winchester Saddle Ring Carbine in 44-40 that's spent nearly all its life from a single family from East and Central Texas. We usually don't find Winchesters that still retain links to former owners, especially from a family that could still identify who owned it. This one has been passed down through 4 generations. Relaying some of a phone conversation we had with a family descendant, this 1873 carbine was purchased new in Texas around 1892 by a Cattle Trader from Central Texas. The original owner traveled extensively through Texas, Kansas, and as far as Saint Louis buying and selling cattle. The family owned a Ranch near the towns of Pidcoke and Gatesville, TX. During WW2, the Fort Hood expansion consumed all but 2100 acres of the ranch....which we are told still exists. This carbine was later given to a son who continued to use it past the mid-20th century. A family member noted that "Uncle Byron used to carry it in his saddle or in his truck" before he passed away in 1976 at the age of 84. From there, the carbine was passed down to a nephew and more recently to his great-nephew. We are currently in the process of obtaining a letter from the family.
The carbine is in a configuration with 20" round barrel, full magazine, carbine style ladder sights, semi-crescent buttplate, and saddle ring. Serial number is in the 431,000 range. Made in 1892. Only 36% of 73 productions were carbines and unlike their sporting rifle counterparts, these were designed as a utility gun to be primarily carried on horseback. This 73 SRC is no exception. Given the wear and the info we obtained from the family, we know this was a working gun. This rifle saw plenty of use but it was not abused or left forgotten somewhere to decay. The metal has turned mostly to a smooth light brown patina with good edges and fine markings. Still, even though its 116 years old, this carbine is 100% original...yes, the saddle ring, dust cover, and even down to the smallest screw. Original saddle ring is still there and has made a nice wear pattern or ring shadow on the left side of the frame. There are very slight traces of original blue around the saddle ring staple, edges of the side plates, and along the edges of the forearm. The rear sight is graduated 2-900 yards with "1873" marked at the top. From personal experience, 1892 appears to be the last year Winchester applied the "1873" mark on their carbine ladder sights. By 1893, they were left off. Also, the hammer also has its original fancy dipped border around the checkered. Upper tang is nicely marked "Model 1873" bracketed by two fleur de lis...also correct. Brass loading block shows plenty of wear in the saddle but the "44 CAL" marking is still there and legible. The wood is saddle worn but in good condition overall and original to the gun. The forearm shows light scabbard wear with some dings and scratches but very respectable wood to metal fit that's tight. The stock shows its share of dings and bruises as well but very solid for a carbine. Wood to metal is decent with a few minor chip repairs off the edges of the stock. Mechanically, the action is very good...worn in but the lever pulls in tight with no sag and the firing pin still indexes like it should. The bore is in Good+ shape with good rifling, not dark, some scattered light pits (to be expected on a Black Powder rifle), with no rings or bulges. The family mentioned this carbine still shot fairly well at 75 yards and had even taken a couple of deer in the not-so-distant past. Note: That is not an endorsement that this rifle is safe to fire. It is being sold as an antique collectible only.
If you've ever wanted to own a Winchester carbine with ties to Texas or the American West, here is your chance to own one that saw the trail for many years and was passed down through one family.