Winchester 38-55

Discussion in 'Technical Questions & Information' started by Get Bent, Dec 23, 2011.

  1. Get Bent

    Get Bent New Member

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    I have this rifle and the only markings I can find on it are "38-55" and "Manufactured by the Winchester Firearms...." I can't find any serial number on it. Where is it? Need it for insurance purposes. Also, I have seen it referred to as the Model 1884 and Model 1894, which is it? It is an octagon barrel and is much heavier than my 1917 Model 1894 which also has an octagon barrel.

    JR

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  2. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

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    Get Bent:

    It is (most likely) a Winchester 1885. There is no Model 1884 (??) and the 1894 is a lever action gun currently known as the Model 94. This is the first design that Winchester bought from John Browning. He had been producing it one gun at a time when Winchester's CEO caught sight of it. He traveled all the way to Utah from the east coast in the 1880's just to meet John and buy the rights to the gun. John Browning sold many designs to Winchester after that, a few being: 1886, 1892, 1894, 1895. But the 1885 was the first.

    The gun you have could have been made anytime up to the 1930's. Most are pretty valuable today. Collectors love them. In recent years Browning (the current company) sold clones of this gun, at first called the 1878 and later the 1885, in several calibers and versions (high and low wall). I think they are still being sold under Winchester's name (Winchester and Browning are owned by FN in Europe). These modern guns are of Japanese manufacture and are absolute beauties!

    I suggest you take the gun to an appraiser to determine the real value of it. Condition, modifications, caliber, and remaining finish have a lot to do with the value and only a real vintage gun appraiser can give you an honest valuation. The closer to original the higher the value. Restored guns are highly discounted by collectors. Dealers at gun shows will just low ball it and try and buy it off you on the spot.

    LDBennett
  3. StoneChimney

    StoneChimney New Member

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    The serial number should be on the lower tang between the tang screw and the stock screw. Open the lever. And please post closer pictures of both sides of the receiver and the barrel markings.
  4. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

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    Thats and ol highwall. Excellent shooting rifles. Im jealous.
  5. TRAP55

    TRAP55 New Member

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    Winchester Model 1885 HiWall, the serial number will be right where StoneChimney said to look. Get clear close ups of any and all stamps, screws and sights.
    Bert H. will be asking more questions, as he's doing a survey on the 1885's for a reference book he's writing. He will be able to tell you the month, day, and year it was made.
    If the bore is good, you won't find a better shooting single shot. Mine was originally barreled in 38-55, then re-barreled to .32-40 and the scope blocks added long before I got it. I mounted the vintage Wollensak scope, and found two vintage Winchester bullet molds to reload with. The rifle is a real pleasure to shoot.

    [​IMG]
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2011
  6. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

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    Nice trap. That in an exquisite hiwall.
  7. TRAP55

    TRAP55 New Member

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    Josh, Bert made me an offer I couldn't refuse on that one, it was the only way he could convince me the 1885 was a better shooter than my Sharps. I'm still not sure who won on that deal.:D
  8. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

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    I have always wanted a Hi wall. Forst time I ever shot one was about 10 years ago. it was a newer model from just before winchester sold out and they had just came out with the WSMs, It was chambered in 7mm WSM and was a tack driver. Id love to have an old one in 40-65 or 45-70.
  9. Get Bent

    Get Bent New Member

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    I'll post pics some time in the next day or two. It was my Ggrandfather's originally and after my father passed this one and several others are now mine. I'm trying to get as much info on these guns as I can so I know what I have. I am not looking to sell because they have great sentimental value to me.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2012
  10. Get Bent

    Get Bent New Member

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    The pics my camera takes come out really blurry when I try to get a close up photo. I apologize for this and I will try to explain as best I can what is there or not there.

    The first is the receiver, second is where I believe you guys told me the serial number would be and last is a number "4" stamped in the barrel just in front of the forearm on the under side of the barrel.

    JR

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  11. Get Bent

    Get Bent New Member

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    Here's some better pics, not the best, but better.

    JR

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  12. Inthewind1976

    Inthewind1976 Member

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    They are beautiful, graceful, extremely accurate rifles. John Browning's first Winchester collaboration, I think...............I would be hard pressed which caliber I would prefer in an original one - 38-55 and 32-40 are both really "neat" old options and period specific ones at that.
  13. TRAP55

    TRAP55 New Member

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    It's rare that Bert will miss a vintage Winchester posting, but I think oldtimers must be setting in when he misses one on a 1885 Winchester.:D
  14. Bert H.

    Bert H. Member

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    Hello Get Bent,

    The reason you can not find the serial number is because your rifle has been harshly buffed and refinished. As it was originally manufactured, the frame, hammer, lever, and breech block were all case color hardened and finished.

    On the early production rifles (pre-1890) the serial numbers were more lightly stamped, and were more prone to being obliterated if subjected to being refinished.

    The number 4 on the bottom of the barrel is the size designation. A No. 3 barrel was standard for the Model 1885 high-wall, with a No. 4, or 5 being a special order (extra heavy) size.

    The overall conditon is on the very low-end due to the poor refinish job, and the lack of a readable serial number. The corresponding value is near the bottom end for high-wall. That stated, if the bore is in good condition, it is still worth $1200 or so.

    Bert H.
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