The NRA American Rifleman looks back at the great Model 1885 single shot rifle.
The hand’s down choice for the title of the world’s greatest firearms designer, of all time, working in any era, and of any nationality, would have to go to American John M. Browning. Before anyone throws a fit and says the guy’s ancient history, let’s look at the objective facts. Face it, the guy had more that 125 patents to his name, and he designed everything from little single-shot rimfires to automatic 37mm aircraft cannons.
“During the following two years engineers at Winchester designed and implemented a few improvements and variations to Browning’s rifle,” explains Campbell. “Initially two variations which became known as the High Wall and Low Wall were developed.”
The “High Wall” was the big dog of the pair. Able to handle the most powerful cartridges of the day, it was, and remains, one of the most popular and accurate single shots ever produced. Over the decades, it’s been chambered in everything from the handy 22 rimfires to potent modern express rounds capable of dropping a Cape Buffalo in its tracks.
Its more diminutive twin was called (wait for it) the “Low Wall,” due to the shallower receiver sidewalls when viewed in profile. This action is intended for rimfires and lower pressure centerfire pistol cartridges, a role in which it truly excels.
“A single-shot rifle isn’t really much of a handicap for most, and it offers a few advantages over modern repeaters,” continues Campbell. “The primary advantage is a similar overall length with a longer barrel. Too, many one-shooters are a bit lighter and thus easier to pack around than their repeating counterparts.
“The Model 1885 is a prime example of why many of us old fogeys still revere old John Moses Browning,” Campbell concludes. “More than 130 years after its introduction the rifle is still being made and used by savvy shooters and hunters.”
Original article copyright American Rifleman magazine, 2016. Review copyright Winchester Repeating Arms, 2016. Review by Winchester Repeating Arms staff writer, Scott Engen.