This is a good solid example of an early Winchester 1st Model 1873 Rifle in nice shape with lots of its original blued finish remaining on the metal. It's Standard Grade Rifle in caliber 44-40 (all 1st models were in 44-40) with 24" round barrel, full magazine, and crescent rifle buttplate. The serial number is in the 23,000 range. We called the Cody Museum which houses the original factory ledgers. Their records indicate this one entered the warehouse on 10-25-1877 as a round barrel rifle with a plain trigger and shipped on 5-8-1878 to order number 11,778.
Features: Here is a breakdown of the markings and first model features on this rifle. For starters, the barrel is marked with Henry's Oct. 16, 1860 and King's 1866 patent dates with "MODEL 1873" on the upper tang. This rifle has all its original first model features which include the mortised dust cover with checkered thumbprint, rounded lever loop, and early style screw-in lever catch. These also had no safety blocks for locking up the hammer when the lever was open. The barrel and bronze lifter or "loading block" have no markings to denote the caliber. As mentioned in the above paragraph, this is correct on a first model as all are default chambered in .44 caliber.. Other early and/or 1st Model features include the early type hammer knurling, the screw-in end cap for the magazine tube (see photo). Also, the side plates are secured by the early type screw with small head (found on 1st and 2nd models) and if you look closely, you'll see the loading port screw is externally mounted which is also correct for an early '73. Note the first model frame has an external hammer screw and the tang screws are located just beneath. Another interesting thing about the screws on these early guns is their narrow slots. Rear sight is the short type semi-buckhorn with standard early front sight with no set screw. Internally, the breech bolt has a sleeved firing pin...only found on 1st and 2nd models.
Overall condition grades to NRA Antique Fine with 60% original receiver blue overall that is thinning with the balance worn to a light brown patina. As you will see from the photos, the left side, top, and bottom sides of the frame are around 70-75% with the right side thinned out to around 45% (probably from carry wear). Even the early thumbprint dust cover has 70% of its original blue. The barrel has 90% original blue with 80% on the magazine tube. Forend cap shows 60% darkened original blue. The loading port has 35% original fire blue. The hammer shows 70% original case colors which have darkened over time. The photos do a poor job of conveying the amount of color left on the hammer in our opinion. Lever retains 25% darkened and mottled original colors. Case colors on the buttplate have mostly silvered out and are beginning to haze over to a light mottled patina. Perfect markings and Excellent screws with the early Winchester thin slotted heads. It's nice to see an early 1873 with such nice thin-slotted screws...as they're often buggered. The walnut stocks are in Excellent condition with 80% of its original oil finish remaining and minor handling marks. Wood to metal fit is perfect and solid with zero cracks. The assembly numbers on the stock, tang, and buttplate are all matching. Action is still tight and with that nice metallic "clack" upon closing the lever. Bore is nearly mint...Excellent Plus; still bright with nice strong lands and grooves. A strong example of an early Model 1873 rifle with A LOT of condition for this price range.