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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well here is an interesting number that I acquired some 10 years ago and it has been parked in my gun safe since then. When I pulled it out this year as part of my annual inspection and cleaning I finally decided that it was high time I found something out about it because I am sure there is an interesting story behind it. The more I researched the more confused I became so I took it to a friend who wrenches on these types of weapons and although he told me some really cool stuff about the gun he became as confused as I was. Here is what I do know about this rifle (I think):
- Winchester Model 1885 High Wall 40-70 (40 is stamped on the barrel behind the rear sight)
- No serial number that I can find
- Engravers signature Chris E Peterson (2nd Photo)
- Barrel is pristine with excellent rifling
- Here is the kicker, when measuring this gun it appears that it is chambered for 45-70
- Lower tang appears to say Model 18 (3rd Photo)
I would be greatly indebted to anyone who has a clue as to what I have here and what it’s worth so I can update my insurance policy. It is quite the mystery to me.
 

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I hope Bert H. will come along and help on that one; he is the expert. The lower tang of the single shot normally has the serial number. But that lower tang looks an awful lot like the upper tang of a 92 or 94 rifle with the model number deliberately erased.

I think someone really played games with that rifle, maybe taking a real junker and building it up from bits and pieces, then doing some crude engraving and plating to cover up the mess. Pending a reply from Bert or another expert in those single shot rifles, I would not fire it with any cartridge.

Jim
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Jim and that is exactly why I have never shot the rifle. I do believe that you are 100% correct in that someone has done something. I was hoping for Berts input on this also but you have to admit it is a cool looking piece of history.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
One more thing Jim, do you really consider that crude engraving? I mean I know the pictures are not that great but holding this gun it looks very impressive assuming the time frame that it was probably done in.
 

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Well, we might see what others say, but yes, I would call it fairly crude, certainly not up to factory engraving standards. I have not run any searches on the engraver's name but you might want to do that and see what comes up. I have the feeling that the engraving is not at all old, but maybe the search can turn up something.

Jim
 

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Hello Brett,

Apparently, the lower tang was broken at some time, and it was repaired with a portion of an upper tang donated from a 1910 - 1914 vintage Model 1894.

I agree with Jim in that the engraving is crudely executed.

In regards to the caliber, the bore opening at the muzzle looks like it is still .40 caliber. The most common .40 caliber cartridge for the early production Model 1885 high-walls was the 40-70 Sharps Straight. The fact that the frame ring is an "octogon top" indicates that it was an early production rifle.

I highly recommend casting the chamber, and slugging the bore to determine what cartridge it is chambered for.

As for the value... maybe $750. It has essentially no "collector" value due to all of the non-factory alterations.

Bert H.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Well I will tell y'all I can't appreciate enough the good advice and learnings. Essentially what I have here is a wall hanger but given what I paid for it 10 years ago I am still happy. Still a piece of history and I will get the correct chambering figured out on it so that I can shoot it. Based on Bert and Jim's input I removed the butt stock and low and behold look what I found. Not a great picture but right above my boys finger on the lower tang it has been cut and re-welded. Jim & Bert you were both right someone has been messing around here. Still a cool piece with a story, thanks for the input gentlemen.
 

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