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Winchester 1873 Saddle Ring Carbine in .44 Caliber

It's been a while since we've had an 1873 SRC to list on the website. Well, I can promise you guys that it's not for lack of looking. The good ones are getting tough to find but we hope this one was worth the wait. This one is an early 3rd Model in the 91,000 range made in the year 1882. Just a super nice untouched example with nice wood and considerable percentages of original blue remaining on the metal. It's a standard carbine in caliber .44 WCF with 20" barrel, full magazine, saddle ring, and carbine style buttplate. Original three piece set of cleaning rods are still in the buttstock. What makes this one a bit special is that it has the rarest variation of rear sight found on a Model 1873 carbine over its fifty year span of production. It's called the "reversed ladder sight" and there is kind of an interesting story to it.

Back in late 1881/early 1882 just around the time that the new 3rd Model 1873's began to appear around the 86,000 serial range, Winchester was planning to replace the non-adjustable leaf rear sight found on the 1st and 2nd Model 1873 and 1866 carbines with a newer style ladder sight. This new sight had a military style flip-up ladder with adjustable elevation up to 900 yards. The new sight was a bit longer than the earlier one which meant that Winchester would have to move the dovetail on the barrel about an inch forward in order to clear the receiver. Like most things in manufacturing, there wasn't a clean break between the old style vs. new and the factory ran into a road block with trying to fit its new square peg into its predecessor's round hole. At the time, Winchester must have been sitting on a fairly sizeable number of barrels that were already dovetailed for the early rear sights as well as a quantity of the early leaf sights themselves. As a result, many of these early 3rd Model carbines will still have the early barrel with the early leaf rear sight. Once the early rear sights began to run out, it was necessary to start using the new rear sights. However, the only way the new sight would fit on carbines with early barrels was to turn it around backwards. As a result, in order for the shooter to see the yardage graduations, they had to be stamped on the underside of the ladder and the aperture for the fixed position is cut out on what should technically be the back of the sight. The "reverse" rear ladder sight was used on early 3rd model carbine for just a short period while the supply of early barrels was being depleted. Interestingly, this wasn't the first time Winchester employed a new style of rear sight in the reverse position. When Winchester introduced the Model 1873, the first 1,200-1,300 rifles had to borrow 1866 barrels which had dovetails pre-cut for Henry style rear ladder sights. As a result, Winchester turned the new 1873 rear sights in backwards on their first rifles. Some eight years later, Winchester used the same trick again on these new carbine sights. From personal experience, most of the ones I've encountered are roughly congregated in the 90,000 to about 120,000 range. Here is a link to one we had back in 2005 in the 116,000 range:


Also, here is a very rare example of a Model 1866 carbine from the same era with this sight:


Overall condition grades to NRA Antique Fine Condition with 20% original blue on the frame that's strongest around the saddle ring, sideplates, and protected areas. The loading port shows some strong evidence of original fire blue remaining while the hammer retains 35% case colors. The barrel and magazine tube retain 50% original blue which is strong along the edges of the wooden forend, rear sight, barrel bands and protected areas...and become more powdery and mixed with patina in more open areas. The barrel bands retain 20% original blue. Fine wood is in great shape with perfect wood to metal fit with zero cracks, chips, or repairs. The action is in excellent condition with considerable amounts of original blue still on the bolt and firing pin. The bore is in Fine+ condition that's still bright with sharp rifling along with some scattered light pits down in the grooves. The original three piece cleaning rods are intact. For a gun that was mostly used as a utility weapon that often lived most of its life outdoors and/or on the back of a horse, this is in remarkable shape for an 1882 vintage Winchester '73 carbine. Most of the ones you see are completely used up. This is a nice clean and 100% original example of an early '73 SRC right down to the cleaning rods.

Item# 1521




Antique Arms, Inc. | P.O. Box 2313 | Loganville, Georgia 30052-1947 | 770-466-1662 (W)