This is a good untouched Model 1873 Rifle that has a great look to it. Antique pre-1898 serial number is in the 478,000 range and was manufactured in the year 1894. Standard rifle configuration with 24" octagon barrel, full magazine, with crescent rifle buttplate w/ sliding trapdoor, and sights. Caliber is 38-40 or 38 WCF which is almost identical to the 44-40 just necked down to .40". These turn up from all over but it is by far the most common chambering we find in the Model 1873 in the southeastern United States. Although this rifle is much nicer, this reminds me of the story of my first antique Winchester.
Growing up as a teenager in North Carolina, the very first antique Winchester I ever owned was an octagon barrel 1873 rifle in 38-40 that I found at the Greensboro Gun Show. It must have been around 1984-5. I remember there were some real characters in the gun business back then and the two shows my town had each year were highly anticipated events. I'd start saving my pennies months in advance. One of the things I remember vividly was that everyone in the gun biz seemed to smoke. Of course, this was Tobacco Road during the 1980's and there were plenty of cigars and even a few pipes being smoked at these gatherings. You'd walk through the doors of the show and there would be this cloudy haze of smoke looming over the hundreds of tables that would just envelop you. Ahhh, the good old days! So there I was looking at this 1873. I remember the owner told me and my father, "This Winchester needs a good home." Boy, did he turn out to be right! It had a broken toggle link, no dust cover, and a busted stock that had been pieced back together with nails and epoxy. The action would open and close with a loud "CLANK"...and that was if it was in a good mood as it jammed frequently. I didn't have much money to spend and it was the cheapest 1873 at the show. I think I paid $275 for it which was the equivalent to six months worth of mowing lawns, odd jobs, and saving up allowance thirty years ago. Looking back, it was quite a heap but it provided the bedrock for a number of hard-learned lessons in "what not to buy" in the future. Nobody likes to make mistakes but it's something most of us go through as we build on our knowledge and develop our eyes. A few years back, I ran into an advanced collector who confided that he had made $50,000 worth of mistakes in his early years collecting...which he humorously referred to as "the cost of his education". In that sense, I guess as painful as it seemed at the time, my "education" was largely achieved on the shoestring budget of a teenager. So why am I telling you guys all of this? Well, a lot of you depend on us as your collector proxy in finding good antique guns for your collections. We travel thousands of miles each year to shows in hopes that we can bring some nice pieces back home to put up on the website for you guys. That said, I will only purchase a gun that I like personally and am willing to stand behind. This site has just reached its tenth birthday and while maintaining a site is A LOT of work, we wouldn't have lasted this long if we weren't truly excited about what we have to offer.
So getting back to this Winchester, yes, I really like this one...much better in fact than the one I bought back circa 1985. LOL! This came from a good friend of mine who's got a great eye for nice Winchesters. Overall, it's in NRA Antique Very Good Plus to the low end of Fine Condition with 50% thinning original blue (60% left side/40% right) on the receiver that's strong in protected areas and mixing with a light brown patina more and more as you move towards the front which is nearly all patina. The photos don't show the blue too well but holding it in your hands, there is quite a bit. The barrel and magazine tube have 20% original blue with the balance turned to patina. Blue is mostly in protected areas...along the edges of the forend, rear sight and quite a between the barrel and magazine tube. Loading port still shows 20% vivid fire blue with the balanced turned to an age darkened blue. Lever shows traces of silvered out case colors but mostly patina. Colors on the hammer have faded mostly to a mottled silvery gray. Very Good Plus walnut stock and forend with no chips, cracks, or repairs. Has a nice light red hue...not dark...with perfect wood to metal fit. Has never been cleaned or sanded. Stock still shows some original varnish along the comb. Nice wood to metal fit. Very Good screws throughout. Nice barrel address and tang markings. The "38 CAL" on the brass loading block is faded but legible. Hammer has the correct decorative dipped border around the checkering. Correct for 1894 production. Very Nice action. Lever stays up nice and tight, Firing pin still indexes with original blue remaining the section that cocks the hammer back. Bore is Fine...still bright with strong lands and grooves. Original dust cover. Original sights include German silver blade front and semi-buckhorn rear with original elevator. Note that the ears on the rear sight have NOT been winchester-1873-rifle-3rd-model-38-40-wcfd down like many you'll find. This is a very solid example of an 1873 Rifle with a great look to it.