This is a standard 1873 saddle ring carbine that has a great look to it. It's a standard 3rd Model carbine in 44-40 with 20" barrel and a full magazine, manufactured in 1890. Designed for mobility and utility, the Winchester 1873 carbine was a lighter, more compact version of the Sporting Rifle. It featured military style buttplates, ladder style military sights, and a saddle ring that could be used to secure the gun in a scabbard while traveling on horseback. These guns were quite popular with cowboys, lawmen, ranchers, rustlers, and outlaws...and some notable owners of the 1873 SRC include Billy the Kid, Jesse James, the Texas Rangers, and even King Edward VII. Most examples saw many years of hard use living primarily outdoors in the elements which has taken quite a toll in terms of condition on surviving examples. Typically, the ones you'll find are either worn out or they're completely the opposite...almost unused. This particular carbine is one of the few we've seen that breaks that rule. It was used just long enough to get that worn-in carbine look while still remaining in high condition. Most of the original blue is remaining on the gun but the high spots are bright from light scabbard wear and it has a perfect wear shadow on the left side of the frame from the saddle ring. The light edge wear and ring shadow provide a nice contrast with the original finish. It looks as though a time traveler plucked this right out of some cowboy's saddle scabbard in the early 1890's and brought it back to the 21st century. I've been collecting Winchester carbines for almost 30 years and this one has got "THE LOOK"...that perfect combination of condition and wear that is so hard to find on a carbine.
Overall condition grades to NRA Antique Excellent with 80% original blue with some light brown patina beginning to mix in with the blue. Nice original fire blue remains on the loading port. Excellent screws throughout with crisp markings and hammer checkering. The case colors on the hammer and lever have mostly faded to silver. Fine wood shows minor handling wear from handling but very solid with no chips, cracks, or repairs. Wood-to-metal fit is Excellent with the wood retaining its original factory fit...standing slightly proud of the metal. Check out the nice grain of the walnut...especially the buttstock. The action is tight and crisp with original blue still evident in high wear areas like the top of the bolt and firing pin. Excellent Bore is bright and shiny, strong lands and grooves with a few minor scattered pits. Buttstock has the sliding brass trapdoor with a set of original 3-piece Winchester cleaning rods inside (see photos). A fantastic example of what Winchester and Western Art collecting is all about!