NRA American Rifleman editor loves the latest incarnation
of the Winchester Model 1873 rifle.
There is a famous photo circa 1880 of a young New Mexico cowboy with a crooked, bucktooth grin, slouching against an adobe wall as he looks toward the camera, a lever-action rifle held by his side.
The subject of the photo is one William Henry McCarty, Jr. He was occasionally known as William H. Bonney or Henry Antrim and is forever remembered in Western lore as the young outlaw Billy the Kid. The rifle he casually holds is the equally famous Winchester Model 1873, also known as the Gun that Won the West.
“…not one of the spent casings fell anywhere close
to my head or face – a surprise for a longtime shooter of original Model 1873s.”
Recently the original of this photo sold at auction for a cool $3,200,000.00, making it the most expensive western photo in history. While the photo is well outside the price range of most mere mortals, the classic rifle in that photo is again available from Winchester Repeating Arms, and it is pretty dang affordable.
Even more recently Phillip Schreier, one of the editors of the NRA’s American Rifleman magazine and Senior Curator of the National Firearms Museum put the latest Winchester Model 1873 lever gun through its paces and they liked what that saw. He liked it a lot!
Currently chambered in 357 Magnum, the versatile and accurate pistol cartridge that’s a long-time favorite of hunters, plinkers and cowboy action shooters, the latest Model1873 is available in two variations – the richly blued 1873 Short Rifle and the 1873 Sporter with its magnificent color case-hardened receiver.
“…a worthy successor to its legendary predecessor.”
Maintaining the classic look and feel of the originals, the NRA editor noted that “The new Model 1873…is a faithful continuation and modern recreation of the famed model that ceased production back in 1919. (The 1873 has)… a nicely figured walnut, straight-grip, oil-stained, satin finish stock and a blued steel crescent buttplate. Sights are a Marble Arms gold bead front and semi-buckhorn rear, just like the originals. The quality of the bluing – and more importantly the polish underneath it – was excellent; there were no blemishes, and it was rich and even. ”
The NRA’s editor was impressed with the Model 1873’s action. “Out of the box, the sample rifle has one of the smoothest actions I have ever encountered on a lever gun,” he reported. “No need for you to make a special trip to the local gunsmith to fine tune this rifle, as it was smooth as silk. I found it was just about perfect for the novice or experienced cowboy action shooter who wants to shoot a gun bearing the Winchester name without fretting over damaging or devaluing a century-old antique.”
The editor went on to cite the Model 1873’s flawless operation, excellent accuracy, pointability and well-tuned ejection, due to some fancy engineering of the cartridge block. “After running several hundred rounds through the gun for this review,” the editor stated, “…not one of the spent casings fell anywhere close to my head or face – a surprise for a longtime shooter of original Model 1873s.”
In summary, Phillip Schreier flatly stated that the newest Model 1873 from Winchester Repeating Arms is “…a worthy successor to its legendary predecessor.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
Original article copyright November 2013 American Rifleman Magazine & the NRA. www.nra.orgwww.americanrifleman.org Winchester Repeating Arms encourages all gun owners to join the NRA. Photos copyright by American Rifleman Magazine and used courtesy of American Rifleman Magazine. Winchester Repeating Arms review written by Senior Winchester Repeating Arms staff writer Scott Engen. Copyright Winchester Repeating Arms, October, 2013.