A Primer on the Gun that Won the West: Winchester 1873
By Kristin Alberts
Few guns define a nation like the Winchester 1873. A fine piece of American-made steel and walnut granted repeatable firepower to the hearty souls venturing westward – not to mention hunters, outlaws, and lawmen across the nation. The Model of 1873 remains an iconic rifle today and one that belongs on every shooter’s must-own list. Here’s why.
About the Winchester 1873
Over 720,000 Winchester Model 1873s were produced from the years 1873 through 1919. Oliver Winchester’s patents and works owe heavily to earlier repeating rifle designs from Benjamin Tyler Henry of Henry rifle fame and the Volcanic Repeating Arms Company with its ties to Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson. At its core, the Winchester Model 1873 is a lever-action, toggle-link design that fires metallic centerfire cartridges.
Factory production rifles came most commonly with a full magazine tube, blued finish, sliding dustcover, brass cartridge lifter, crescent-shaped buttplate, and straight-grain walnut stocks. Interestingly, the first Model 1873s used an iron receiver until 1884, when the transition to steel receivers took effect.
The Model 1873 is a beautiful gun reminiscent of the Old West. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)
The Model 1873 was originally chambered in the most common centerfire metallic round of the day—the .44 Winchester Center Fire, or