To many of you, this looks just like an ordinary 2nd Model 1895 Winchester rifle but to us, its pretty special because it has an early Pre-1898 Antique serial number. The serial number is in the 7500 range and was built probably in late 1897 according to the Madis book. Back in 1897, the 95 came in only 3 flavors, the black powder 38-72 and 40-72 rounds and if you were in the Avant-Garde of hunters, you could order one in the brand new Smokeless US Government 30-40 Krag catridge. This particular rifle came from Maine where it looks to have been used as a hunting rifle for many years. This one is in the 30-40 Krag with a standard 28" round nickel steel barrel and ramp front sight which was only found on the smokeless guns. It has standard wood with crescent buttplate and the ebony insert in the ball of the forend. Best of all, it survived 109 years without ever having one of those ugly Lyman side-mounted receiver sights. They're easy to spot as the ones that did (and there are lots of them) have an extra hole right through the markings on the left side receiver above the hammer screw. Here's another interesting bit of information. A lot of us know the most famous owner of the Model 1895 Winchester was Teddy Roosevelt who called his .405 his "Big Medicine". Truth is, while he and his son Kermit did take two Model 95's in .405 with them to Africa, we often forget that they also took one in .30-40 Krag along too. Furthermore, Teddy also personally carried a .30-40 Krag rifle he privately purchased to Cuba with him during the Span-Am War in 1898. He later handed it to one of his men in the USV 1st Cavalry while charging up Kettle Hill and San Juan Hill. This rifle was probably an Antique 2nd model 95 like this one however, we all know Teddy never ordered a plain grade gun from Winchester....his were always the fancy deluxe grades!
It's hard to appreciate how truly scarce 2nd Model 1895's truly are with antique serial numbers until you try to go out and look for one...and look...and look!!!! To put things into perspective, there were 426,754 Model 1895's built from 1895 to 1940. However, only the first 19,871 Model 95's qualify as true Antique rifles under Federal law that were built prior to the year 1899. Of those, roughly the first 5,000 were 1st Model Flatside rifles. OK, that leaves us with 14,871 remaining 2nd Models but of those, most were built in 1898 in the Musket configuration as part of a US Gov't contract for 10,000 during the Spanish American War. That leaves us with only 4000-6000 2nd Model Rifles and probably a very small number of carbines. That makes these about numerically equivalent to finding a scarce as early Model 1866 with a Henry-marked barrel.
This rifle is in NRA Antique Very Good condition overall. Its 100% original down to the smallest screw. The metal overall has aged to a light grey patina with original blue in the protected areas. The metal is mostly smooth with sharp edges...a few places are a little frosty where there was probably some light closet rust many years ago that look to have been lightly cleaned. You can tell this rifle worked most of its life as it has very little patina formed over the metal. The frame and magazine have about 10% original blue while the barrel has original blue around the wood-line of the forend, sights, and up against the frame. The bolt still shows 60% blue with some light scratch marks from cleaning in years past. Trigger extension has nice case colors...with traces on the hammer. Lever catch still has most of its fire blue. If you look closely at the frame, you will see the wavy parallel forging striations running across the frame....a lot of people think these are scratches but they're actually part of the manufacturing process and something you tend to find on early Winchester 1892's, 94's, and 95's built prior to 1900. Very Good screws overall...there are 2 or 3 on the bottom of the frame with turn marks but are serviceable...most are in Fine condition. This rifle also has nice patent markings on the left side of the frame with patents dating up to 1897. This is right in step with the rifle's manufacture date of 1897 as a couple of additional patent dates were added in 1898. The barrel has good caliber markings and a nice nickel steel marking on the left side. The wood is in Very Good+ condition showing normal handling marks. Perfect wood to metal fit, not undersized, with no chips, cracks, or repairs. The sights include the original semi-buckhorn rear sight and standard ramp front with the original German silver blade. The bore is VG overall with strong rifling but is a little dark down in the grooves. No rings or bulges. I haven't had a chance to clean it but it may clean up even better. This is just a good solid example of an honest early Model 1895 that was probably some family's working rifle for many decades in the North woods.