This is a very nice early 3rd Model 1873 rifle built in the year 1882. Standard sporting rifle configuration in 44-40 with 24" octagon barrel, full magazine, and crescent rifle buttplate with sliding trapdoor. Serial number is in the 89,000 range. Since 44-40 was the original caliber for the 1873, Winchester never bothered to mark their rifles with a caliber designation, thus there are no caliber markings on either the barrel or bronze loading block....in fact, in the year 1882, the only 73's with caliber designations were 32-20 and 38-40...it wasn't until around 1885 they finally starting marking their rifles "44 CAL". It also has the early short rear sight with checkered sides found on all 1st, 2nd, and early 3rd Model 1873 rifles.
Overall, condition of this rifle is quite exceptional for an 1882 vintage Model 1873. This rifle would have probably been manufactured close the time of Jesse Jame's demise in the Spring of 1882 when the West was still Wild and guns were regarded as working tools more than closet Queens. This rifle grades well into NRA Antique Fine Plus condition with 75% original blue on the frame and 80% on the barrel/magazine tube, and 75% blue on the forend cap . The loading port has 80% bright fire blue with 50% faded case colors on the hammer and traces of original case colors on the lever. Screws are in good shape overall, many are excellent and some show some screwdriver marks but are still serviceable. The wood is in VG++ to Fine Condition, still retaining its light orange-reddish hues with a few dings and minor scratches. Wood to metal fit is tight and even to all metal surfaces. The action is fantastic, still crisp with the lever snapping shut. There is still some original blue remaining on the bolt and firing pin revealing this rifle was used sparingly throughout its life. Bore is VG overall with good rifling, still fairly bright, with a few light pits. The bore is well above average especially for a 123 years old weapon that was used in an era of black powder and corrosive priming.
This is a very nice original example of an early Winchester 1873 rifle. Of all the models we find, the 44-40 Sporting Rifle with octagon barrel has been one of the most popular variations amongst collectors. If you could only have one, this would be it!