Winchester 1873

Discussion in 'Technical Questions & Information' started by w1spurgeon, Feb 27, 2012.

  1. w1spurgeon

    w1spurgeon Member

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    I know the Winchester 1873 was made in several versions as time passed and the design improved. What characteristics do I look for to determine which version I own?
  2. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    The versions usually involve nothing more than the way the dust cover is attached and what it looks like. There were no other major design changes (other than the rare take down version) over the production life.

    As far as the dust cover goes, the First Model was a "thumbprint" cover moving in long tracks in the receiver; it was the same width its whole length. There were four versions, depending on the style of the "thumbprint". The Second Model had an extended dovetail track screwed to the receiver; the cover narrowed at the back; there were two versions, the early one having a "thumbprint", the seond plain. The Third Model had the extended track made as part of the receiver instead of screwed on; the cover was plain.

    HTH

    Jim
  3. Hedge

    Hedge New Member

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    Some additional identifiers:

    Series 1 -

    a. Trigger pin inside the receiver walls
    b. upper forward bow of the finger lever lacks the projection to depress the trigger bar
    c. hammer retained by screw through receiver walls

    Series 2 -

    a. Trigger pin penetrates the frame
    b. projection to depress trigger bar added
    c. hammer retained by screw through receiver walls

    Series 3 -

    a. hammer retained by a single pin through lower tang only and not through receiver walls
    b. lower receiver tang attaching screws moved to rear of frame
  4. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    I guess it depends on what is meant by major design changes; I didn't consider those as being that important, but I am sure the OP will appreciate the additional information.

    FWIW, the early first model didn't have the lever made to depress the trigger block because it didn't have the trigger block.

    Jim
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2012
  5. Hedge

    Hedge New Member

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    I figured some extra wouldn't hurt.

    Yup, no trigger block in the first series. Should have put that in instead.

    Be nice if the OP would post a pic. :)
  6. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    I don't think he is asking about a particular gun, only what to look for when buying one.

    The First Model will bring a lot more than the Second, and the Third (most of the production) will bring the least. Special models, like the Musket bring big bucks and of course the "1 of 1000" and "1 of 100" (only 8 known) go through the roof and IIRC a "1 of 100" sold for a half million a while back. (A big caution note: Most of those "1 of" seen around are fakes; I have seen one very good fake, and a whole bunch of very bad ones.)

    I knew an old-timer, now sadly gone, who had an amazing collection that he seldom showed anyone. He had a small shop behind his house. One day, a couple of collectors started arguing about the 1873 models. FInally, the old guy got ticked off and went up to his house. He came back with three boxes. They were Winchester factory boxes, and contained three Model 1873's, brand new, with the hang tags still on them.

    The old dealer pointed at each in turn. "That is the first model; that is the second model; and that is the third model. Now shut the hell up when you don't know what you are talking about!"

    Jim
  7. Hedge

    Hedge New Member

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    Looks like he owns one.
    Lucky guy.

    Know what you mean about fakes. There's a famous Winchester book with a primo '73 on the cover that collectors have used to ID them. Turns out it's a fake and they've been using it for decades.

    The '73 is probably one of the most faked rifle on the market. If you don't have the history on it, it's often very hard to tell. And with all the factory options you could get, it gets even harder.

    Nifty story on the old collector. Just to touch a NIB original would be a thrill!

    I found one in a pawn shop that had the forend worn down just ahead of the receiver. The dealer said it was from a saddle scabbard. Sure didn't know much about 'em. If he'd ever carried one, he'd have known it was carry wear.
    Man, would I love to have the history on that piece!

    Kinda favor the second model, myself. Best I can afford is a replica, but I sure love it. Shoots great, balanced very well and is just plain fun.
  8. Cajun Chooter

    Cajun Chooter New Member

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    I have a friend that is looking for a Winchester 1873... anyone have a lead on one ?

    tia
  9. Hedge

    Hedge New Member

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    Can't help, there. Gave up seriously looking when I realized I'd never be able to afford one in decent condition. If I stumble on one I can turn into a shooter would be the only way. :(
  10. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    I have only one, a Third Model. I used to work on a lot of them, when parts were still available. When I first started working as a gunsmith, there were a lot of 73's still being used as hunting rifles in the PA, WV and MD back country. I replaced a lot of battered links and magazine tubes, and fitted new stocks and foreends. The last foreend I replaced was a b**ch (and I don't mean it was beech). The hole was off center and required a lot of sanding and filing to get things right. Like many, that one had the magazine screw hole broken out, so I used the old trick of swapping ends on the magazine tube. (Just FYI, you can tell the old tubes from modern replacements because the new ones are seamless tubing where the old ones were wrapped sheet iron and have a seam on top next to the barrel.)

    Jim
  11. Hedge

    Hedge New Member

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    You're a lucky guy, Jim. Seeing and working on so many '73s would make me feel I was back in the old days. That they were still in use for hunting says alot about the rifle. I use mine for hunting, occasionally. Nailed a rabbit at a measured 93 yds. one day.

    I know there are still some around, hidden in barns, up in attics etc. Sure would be nice to come across one.

    Thanks for the tip on the mag tube. :)
  12. w1spurgeon

    w1spurgeon Member

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    I have a nice one I'll sell, but it ain't cheap.

    Here's the story.Two years ago I bought a 1936 Ford to restore and after I had spent over $20,000 on the car, mama decided I had one too many hobbies; so, in order to finish the car some of my guns are going out the door.

    The Winchester is in excellent condition, one of the best I have seen in 30 years of collecting. It is all original except for the dust cover, which was absent when I acquired it in 1984, and which I have replaced with a newer cover. It works, but the blueing does not match. It is .38-40 caliber, 28" barrel and the serial number is 133xxx. I had the rifle diassembled in 2010 and professionally inspected and cleaned by my gunsmith. He reported that there are no issues with the weapon and since then I have occasionally fired the gun with great success. I will provide the name and telephone number of the gunsmith if the buyer wishes to talk to him.

    Price is $3600. Contact me here if interested.
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