This is a nice untouched example of the Model 1895 Winchester Rifle with some interesting special order features. This is a pure undisturbed Winchester with lots of original blue, varnish, and case colors that, if desired, would improve considerably with a careful cleaning. Recently found, it's never been in a collection. It's basically a standard 1895 Rifle with the scalloped 2nd Model receiver with 28" barrel in 30-40 Krag. It has a special order factory installed Lyman No. 21 Receiver Sight and a factory checkered forend in the simple diamond shaped "I" pattern. Type "I" checkering is often found on semi-deluxe rifles with plain straight-grained walnut. It's sort of the poor man's Winchester type "H" pattern which has more coverage along the sides of the forend. The pattern is confined mostly to the bottom of the forend and from the profiles of each side, it looks just like a standard grade rifle. My guess is this was ordered by a hunter who wanted some extra grip on the forend when he was carrying it through the woods...perhaps while wearing mittens during cold weather.
Still, the best thing about this rifle beyond the condition and special features is the serial number. This one is in the 13,000 range which makes it one of the19,500 Model 1895's that were made prior to Jan. 1, 1899 and are classified as antiques. Most of these were 2nd Model Muskets (approx. 10,000) shipped to the US Army with most ending up in South America, Cuba, and Mexico where they lived very hard lives. The next largest group were the 1st Model Flatside rifles (5,000) followed by the 2nd Models...around 4,000 produced. We look high and low for antique Model 1895's but good ones are difficult to find. We went back and looked through our files since this website was started seven years ago, and we found only seven examples of Winchester Second model 1895 rifles with antique serial numbers.
Historically speaking, the 1895 was the final and most progressive lever action rifle designed by inventor John Browning before he left Winchester in 1902 during a dispute with President TG Bennett over lump sum payment vs. royalties for his new semi-automatic shotgun. Browning normally sold his designs for a fixed price to Winchester. He had always been a hard worker but he really outdid himself with this new shotgun and therefore felt deserving of a piece of the pie. Winchester stalled for a couple years...asking for improvement after improvement...until Browning finally confronted Bennett...that meeting didn't go so well and Browning took his prototype and left. After a tragic unforeseen event at Remington, Browning took his new design to Europe...specifically Fabrique Nationale "FN" in Belgium. That gun came to be known as the Browning Auto-5 shotgun. The 1895 is the last big design of the highly successful Winchester/Browning alliance. Although a departure from traditional lever actions that incorporated a box magazine in lieu of a tube, the 1895 was strong, efficient, compact, and elegant. Manufactured from 1896-1931 with approx. 425,000 units produced, the 1895 gained wide use and acceptance across the world from President Theodore Roosevelt who used 1895's in both a war and on safari to Africa, hunters on almost every continent, the Russian army, the Mexican Federals in 1916 against Pancho Villa, the Texas Rangers, and even Pinkerton Security and Railroad Police in pursuit of Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, and the Wild Bunch. See Photos. It was also the only lever action that caused the US military to lift so much as an eyebrow towards a lever action design when it ordered 10,000 1895 muskets in 1898.
The Cody records confirm this rifle entered the warehouse at Winchester on 9-1-1898 and probably shipped out in a HURRY as it left the very same day to order 4118 as a .30 caliber (30-40 Krag) rifle. The special order comments under wood simply state "checkered". See photo. For the most part, this rifle letters correctly albeit on the "sloppy" side of correct. It reminds me of factory letters I've seen on Deluxe Model 1894's or 1873's where there are ten special order options and the clerk gets 8 out of 10 right...but misses something painfully obvious like a shotgun buttplate or takedown frame. In this case, the ledger makes no mention of the fact that just the forearm was "checkered" and not the stock. Probably easy to miss if you're not paying attention as rifles with only checkered forends are quite rare. As a collector, I only wish that the clerk in the warehouse that day had taken time to write more information in the ledger but that's just it; wishful thinking on my part. Reality is that the last thing on the minds of these 19th century Winchester employees was collectors coming along in the 21st century to look at their typos. Just think of it from his point of view. It was September 1st 1898, which was the Thursday before Labor Day...no, I'm not kidding...I looked it up. The only thing the clerk had in his mind was getting that 1895 booked in, packed and out the door of his warehouse to the nearest railroad terminal. There could have been other guns in the order waiting for it to get out of the custom shop, or it was a single order with a customer, perhaps impatiently waiting for his new rifle to go hunting that fall. Whatever the scenario, this gun was not ordered by a dealer to sit in a rack on display...but something specifically ordered by a customer. Judging from the beautiful condition and where it turned up recently, it probably went somewhere in the northeast. When the 1895 came from the custom shop that day, he (the clerk) had to get this out fast so he took down the serial number and the basics which was "checkered" before it was quickly packed in a pine crate (standard Winchester packing back then) and then shipped out before the end of the day. Chances are the clerk had seen so many checkered guns, that he assumed both the stock and forend were the same when he scribbled "checkered". So this rifle was a bit of a curve ball to a clerk who was probably in a hurry...he got a piece of the ball with his bat but fouled it into right field...only he probably never knew it...but 113 years later, we sure do.
But that's not the only thing he missed on the next swing as he also makes no mention of the original factory installed Lyman No. 21 receiver sight. That however is forgivable to me as these were almost standard equipment on Model 1895's and commonly omitted from the records. There are a few things to look to tell you if a Lyman 21 is factory installed. First, the rear dovetail on the barrel where the rear sight would have been positioned has only a filler blank. Then look at the barrel itself. Are there any signs of wear from there ever having been a rear sight...especially where the elevator slides back in forth. In this case, there is zero wear from a rear sight on the barrel...it's never had a rear sight installed in this position. With a Lyman 21 peep, a rear sight only gets in the way so Winchester would put either a Lyman No. 6 2-leaf combination sight (if the customer would pay for it) or in this case, a filler blank. Second, both the Lyman 21 and the filler blank were both offered in the Winchester catalog at the turn of the century so we know this sight was available at the time the rifle was manufactured AND available from the factory. 3rd, look at the photos of No. 21 sight itself on this rifle. You'll notice there are two white dots on the 3rd and 6th graduations indicating (as I have been learned from other Winchester collectors) where it was sighted in at the factory. 4th, look at the wear on the rifle itself. Notice how the sight protected the left side of the frame from abrasion and scratches more than on the right. Does the blue on the sight match the receiver, yes. When you lift the sight up itself, there is 100 years worth of dirt in the corners and the blue is every so slightly brighter than the exposed surfaces of the receiver. All definitive signs that this sight has been on the rifle since new. While I'm personally not a big fan of climbin' Lymans, this sight was the latest thing to have on your rifle 100+ years ago and they stayed popular well into the 1920's. Today, when you see Model 1895's, you'll notice that there are just as many 1895 rifles that either had or have these No. 21 Receiver sights as there are rifles with the standard Winchester semi-buckhorn rear sights. No question this Lyman sight is factory original.
Overall condition grades well into the NRA Antique Excellent Range with 95% bright original blue on the receilver, 97% on barrel. Hammer and trigger housing retain 95% of their original case colors. Even the buttplate retains its original case colors which are faded...but there. The wood has 98% original varnish with beautiful light tannish-orange hued walnut. The wood-to-metal fit is perfect and I mean perfect...zero, chips, cracks, or repairs. The simple I type checkered on the bottom of the forend is sharp and does not show much wear. Both the stock and forend have identical straight grained walnut, color, and wear as both show a number of fine scratches and minor dings which pull the condition back a bit from Excellent to perhaps Fine+. Nice action. Bore is mint. Antique Model 1895's don't come much nicer than this and very seldom with special order options like this one.