This is a nice solid example of an early 3rd Model 1873 Winchester Rifle in caliber .44 WCF, a.k.a. 44-40 that's untouched and 100% original down to the smallest screw. The top of the barrel is stamped "V KINDLER East Saginaw". That said, while Winchester records exist to verify the configuration of this rifle and original shipping date, there are no records of WHERE these shipped. Thus, it's always interesting to find one of these dealer marked 73's where we know the actual shipping destination. In this case, the rifle went to the upper midwest state of Michigan. V. Kindler was established in 1867 at 418 Genesee Avenue in East Saginaw as a retailer and wholesaler of firearms and ammunition. According to our sources, Kindler had one of the largest and perhaps THE oldest sporting goods stores in the state of Michigan. Over the years, we've seen a number of Winchester rifles turn up with Kindler markings...similar to other Winchester dealers retailed by JP Lower in Denver, Colorado and the Browning Brothers of Ogden, Utah. The serial number is in the 118,000 range. According to the Madis book on Winchesters, its manufacture date was most likely in the spring of 1883. It's a standard rifle with 24" round barrel, full magazine, and crescent style buttplate. Buttplate has the trapdoor for the storage of a set of four piece cleaning rods. Note: we have a couple of sets of original rods for the rifle configuration available at the moment that would be perfect for this rifle. Being an early 3rd Model, it has the shorter style rear semi-buckhorn as found on the 1st and 2nd Model 1873's.
Overall condition Grades to NRA Antique Very Good with gray metal that is turning to brown patina mixed with speckles of original blue. There is a fair bit of original blue on the frame, approx. 10%, that's mixing with patina across the right side plate, around the hammer, dust cover rail, lower tang, and still more hiding in the protected areas, especially around the side plates and flares of the receiver. The barrel and magazine tube retain 10% original blue along the wood-line of the forend and down in areas between the barrel and magazine tube. The loading port still shows 50% of its bright original fire blue while the hammer has strong shadows of faded case colors that have faded to mottled silver. Very Good Screws Overall. Excellent markings throughout including "MODEL 1873" on the upper tang and two line Winchester barrel address. Since it's in the original caliber .44 Winchester Center Fire for the Model 1873, there are no caliber markings present on the top of the barrel or loading block, which is correct for all 1st, 2nd, and early 3rd Model 1873's in .44 cal. made prior to 1884-85. Furthermore, being an early 3rd Model, just like the earlier, this rifle was built on the old Winchester system dating all the way back to the Henry Rifle, Models 1866, and early 1873's where assembly numbers were stamped on the inside of the stock, under the butt plate, and frame as they hand-fit to one another. This was the factory's way of keeping track of what parts belonged to each rifle as it went through the finishing processes. Being in the 118,000 range, I wasn't sure if this rifle would have assembly numbers as Winchester stopped this tedious method around the time this rifle was manufactured. We checked and after wiping off 100+ years of dirt and dried grease, there they were. That said, we are happy to report that the assembly numbers are all matching on these parts (see photos). The wood is in Very Good Condition Overall with no chips or cracks. The wood-to-metal fit is perfect...having never been sanded or refinished, the walnut still stands slightly proud of the metal just the way it did when it left the factory in 1883. There are a few scratches and some minor gouges on the stock including one that looks like a crack near the buttplate (see photo). However, we inspected this area VERY closely...it does not run with the grain of the walnut nor did it extend into the inside wood when we checked the interior of the stock underneath the buttplate...it is just a superficial scratch. Very Good Plus Bore that's still semi-bright with strong lands and grooves. The action works perfectly with the toggle cam still indexing the firing pin properly and strong lever springs with no sag or drop. All in all, this 1873 is above average, especially for an early 3rd Model produced in the 1880's. It's in the most desirable caliber, it's 100% original, and best of all, it's dealer marked indicating it was originally shipped to the midwest circa 1883.