This is a scarce example of a US Model Winchester 1895 Lever Action Musket with a very rare Antique serial number in the 11,000 range. You don't find these very often and almost never still in one piece (I'll explain this later). The United States Government ordered 10,000 of these muskets in caliber 30/40 Krag for US troops. After problems at the Winchester factory with the US Gov't inspector named Kelly S. Morse, most of these were finally delivered in the years 1898-1899.
From there, it appears that a small group of these muskets were issued to Army troops fighting in the Philippines for in-the-field trials. The officer in charge of the trial was none other than Civil War Veteran and Medal of Honor winner, Captain Arthur MacArther, whose name might have a familiar ring to it to some of you military buffs....that's right, he was General Douglas MacArthur's Father! At any rate, Captain MacArthur turned out to not be such a big fan of the Model 1895 and he submitted an unfavorable report of these muskets based on action they saw in the Philippines. Personally, if I were in the Philippines carrying around a single shot 45-70 trapdoor like so many soldiers did in that conflict, I would have taken one of these in a heartbeat! When John Browning designed the model 1895, he must have had military usage in mind. Just look at the strong action and box magazine....even his prototype model was in the musket configuration. Perhaps, given the vast array of weapons and ordnance the US Military already had to deal not to mention the fact that Winchester found the conservative US Gov't usually gave Lever Action designs an icy cold reception during 19th century gov't field trials. These boards generally considered firepower not as a bonus, but a waste of ammunition.
After MacArthur's report, its believed that most of these muskets were sold to dealers in Central and South America during the early 1900's. A great many of them were altered to saddle ring carbines although it remains a mystery by whom or when. Today, one usually finds these in absolutely terrible condition and rarely still in their original musket configurations...when you do see one in musket configuration, they're usually incomplete. The vast majority of the few I've seen appear to have endured a tremendous amount of abuse in some sort of tropical climate. Of the original 10,000 muskets, very few of these have made it back to the US market and even fewer are still muskets....the survival rate is probably very low.
This particular musket is one of the best ones I've seen in the past several years. It has an antique serial number in the 12,000 range with patent dates across the left side of the receiver dated from 1895 to Jan. 1898. For starters, its actually complete....most are not! The metal even has some original blue on it although its only about 10-15% left on the frame. The bolt, magazine box, and lever all show strong traces of original blue. Note: 2 piece 1895 levers were always blued, not case colored...even the early ones. The markings are all good and legible with good edges and knurlings. The letters "US" are clearly stamped on top of the receiver with several of Kelly S. Morse's, the US Inspector, initials on several of the parts including the bolt, lever, and trigger housing. Original sights. Wood is well used but solid and with decent wood to metal fit that isn't undersized. There is a repaired chip at the top of the buttplate and a few minor cracks but that's still well above average for one of these 1895's. Action works. Bore has good rifling but poor overall due to a couple of rings or bulges. A very rare example of an early Span-Am era US lever action musket.