What caliber was the Winchester 73

Winchester (rifle)

Winchester Model 1866 carbine

Winchester Repeating Arms Company has been designing and manufacturing rifles in the United States since 1860. These have been under the well-known brand since 1866 Winchester expelled. Colloquially there is a Winchester for lever action rifles, but Winchester Repeating Arms also developed other types of rifles.

The many models that Winchester has launched on the market since the 1860s are named after the year they were introduced (Winchester 66, Winchester 73, Winchester 76, Winchester 86, Winchester 92, Winchester 94, Winchester 95, etc.) , but later this principle was abandoned. Winchester regularly released high-quality commemorative models for collectors, most of which were dedicated to historical personalities or events. B. the Winchester 94 Bicentennial 1976 on the 200th anniversary of the US Declaration of Independence.

Numerous other companies are now copying classic Winchester models (including the Henry and the famous Winchester 73) for amateurs and sports shooting enthusiasts.


The first features of the later Winchester can be found in experimental models by the manufacturer Hunt & Jennings in Vermont and in the magazine pistol developed by Smith & Wesson and patented on February 14, 1854, which fired caseless ammunition. The tubular magazine, which was open at the bottom, was attached under the barrel. Reloading was carried out with the trigger guard, which operated and locked the latch via a knee joint. The system did not prove itself, as the powder charge in the hollow sphere was too weak and the gas leakage reduced the initial speed even more due to the lack of relief.

Volcanic pistol cal. 41

The pistol and a rifle based on the same principle sold poorly. In 1855, after Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson had decided to start producing revolvers, they left the production to the newly founded company VOLCANIC REPEATING ARMS COMPANY. Right from the start, and from 1856 president and most important financier was Oliver Winchester, who reorganized the company in the spring of 1857 and reorganized it NEW HAVEN ARMS Co. registered. In total, a little over 3000 Volcanic pistols and around 1000 Volcanic rifles were manufactured under the direction of Oliver Winchester.

Lever action rifle

Henry Rifle 1860

Henry Rifle
Henry Rifle, lock box
Main Products: Henry rifle

A former Hunt & Jennings employee, Benjamin Tyler Henry, developed while working as superintendent at the NEW HAVEN ARMS Co. Oliver Winchester developed a repeating rifle based on the Volcanic, which he patented on October 16, 1860.

The characteristic features of the Henry rifle were: The use of a rimfire cartridge developed by him in caliber .44 Henry with a case, which guarantees the eyelid; a lock housing made of bronze; a lock that is operated horizontally by a "lever", d. H. the extended trigger guard, which has been formed into a hand guard, is moved back and forth; a knee joint that transmits the movement of the lower lever to the lock and blocks it in the foremost position; an external cock, which is depressed and cocked by the closing movement; a long magazine arranged as an integrated part of the barrel in the form of a tube open at the bottom, in which 15 cartridges are located one behind the other; a lever which (coupled with the lower lever) lifts the cartridge feeder vertically upwards, the cartridge feeder ejects the fired cartridge case at the same time. When the breech is closed, the cartridge is pushed from the breech into the chamber and the weapon is ready to fire.

During the U.S. Civil War, the Northern Army procured some Henry rifles. With the post-peace deliveries, the army received a total of 1,731 henries. A large number of the weapons were purchased directly from unit commanders of the northern states for their troops, and many were also purchased directly from those involved in the war. Total production at the end of 1866 was over 12,800 weapons.

In addition to the Henry rifle, other repeating systems for cartridge weapons were also ready for the market, including the Spencer carbine patented in March 1860. The combatants, especially troops of the Northern States, used these weapons during the civil war, which showed that they were superior to the Roots revolver rifle Model 1855 from Colt.

The company was founded in May 1866 Winchester Repeating Arms Company renamed; this put the name Henry Rifle in the background.

Model 1866

The Winchester model 1866 in Henry caliber, developed from the Henry rifle by the successor of B. Tyler Henry, Nelson King, had a closed tubular magazine that was loaded from the rear through a loading flap attached to the side (King’s improvement, patent from May 22, 1866). This eliminated the main disadvantage of the Henry, contaminated cartridges. The oldest known Winchester 66 carbine is numbered 12,476, while Henrys were made into the 14,000 range. In this transition period, the lock case of the model 66 still corresponds in detail to that of its predecessor.

The Model 66 soon became a bestseller and began its triumphal march as a carbine and hunting rifle in the colonization of the west, which began stormy after the civil war. A total of around 170,000 pieces of the Model 66 were produced, 3/4 of which were carbines with 20-inch barrels, the rest were hunting rifles, some with octagonal barrels and infantry rifles with bayonet holders. The most important buyer of military weapons was Turkey with 46,000 infantry rifles (called “muskets” in the contract between Winchester and Turkey) and 5,000 carbines. France also acquired 3,000 infantry rifles and 3,000 model 66 carbines. The “muskets” were designed for spout bayonets, later optionally for saber bayonets. The Model 66 was less suitable as a military weapon, however, because it did not fire any powerful rifle cartridges.

Model 1873

Knee joint lock on Volcanic weapons, the Henry and the Winchester Mod 66, 73 and 76

In 1873 Winchester released a reinforced version of the Model 66. The new weapon weighed 4.6 kilograms and fired newly developed center fire cartridges, first in caliber .44-40 WCF, later also .38-40 WCF and the .32-20 WCF (Winchester Center Fire). They were also produced in the rimfire calibers .22 short (.22 short) and .22 long (.22 long), the predecessors of the .22 lfB cartridge. The knee joint lock was retained. For the lock box, iron was no longer used, but iron and, from 1880, after reaching the serial number 41,000, steel. Carabiners, hunting rifles and muskets were also made from this weapon. Between 1873 and 1923, over 720,000 Winchester Model 73s were produced, 36% carbines and 58% hunting rifles, the rest being "muskets".

The Ottoman army was also equipped with the Winchester rifles of the 1873 model and used them in the Russo-Ottoman War (1877–1878), among other things.

The weapon’s weakness was also its strength, as it usually fired cartridges that were also used in the most common revolver models of the Wild West - the Colt Single Action Army, the Remington Single Action Mod. 1875 and Mod. 1890, and the Smith & Wesson No. 3. The owner was thus able to use the same type of cartridge in both the rifle and his handgun. The .45 Colt revolver cartridge, introduced by the American Army in 1873 and later widely used, was unsuitable for rifles because the edge of the case was too narrow to allow the case to be pulled out safely.

Model 1876

The 1876 model was a heavier version of the 73 model with a longer lock housing and a resized knee joint lock. It fired much stronger black powder cartridges, which were also suitable for hunting big game. Between 1876 and 1898, 63,871 examples of this weapon were made. Developed as a hunting rifle, it was used as a .45-75 caliber carbine by the Canadian Mounted Police until 1905. The 76 is now also on the market as a replica. The production of traditional "old" calibers was increasingly demanded by western shooters. A German company now brings the weapon onto the market under the label "Chapparal-Arms" in caliber .40-60 / .45-60 / .45-75 as well as in the rare caliber .50-95 Winchester Express. The rifle has a high dead weight (approx. 4.5 kg). Factory ammunition is not yet available. For reloaders among the shooters, however, corresponding components such as cases and projectiles are available on the market.

The single loader model 1885

The collaboration with John Moses Browning began in 1885 after he had offered the Winchester company a single-shot rifle with a drop block bolt and an underlying loading lever, which was manufactured as a high-wall and low-wall model in 1885.

Model 1886

Lock housing of the Winchester Model 86 Deluxe

In 1886, Winchester brought out the first bolt-action rifle designed by John Moses Browning, which later also took cartridges with low-smoke powder. Browning had further developed the lever system and replaced the previous knee joint with a much more resilient block closure. The loading lever pulled two locking blocks in the side of the system box down before moving the bolt. The weapon fired various cartridges from the .33 WCF hunting caliber through the .45-70 army cartridge to .50 big game cartridges. 156,599 pieces of the 1886 model were produced between 1886 and 1935. From a modernized variant, the model 71, 47,254 pieces in caliber .348 W.C.F. were produced between 1935 and 1958. produced.

Model 1892

Winchester carbine, from the left two Mod 73, Mod 94, two Mod 92

The little sister of the Model 86, the Winchester Model 1892, followed in 1892. It was the successor to the Model 73, but, unlike the Model 73, it could be used with .44-40 WCF, .38-40 WCF and. 32-20 WCF and later the .25-20 Winchester and .218 Bee small game cartridges. 1,001,324 units of the Winchester Mod 92 and its later variants Mod 53 and Mod 65 were produced, the last in 1932.

Model 1894

The model 1894 had the same locking principle with a locking block at the rear and was recognizable by the lock housing that was open at the bottom and the guide lever that flipped out during the loading movement. It first fired .32-40 and .38-55 black powder cartridges, which were later also loaded smokelessly. The modern .32 Winchester special, the classic .30-30 Winchester and, for small game, the .25-35 Winchester and .219 Zipper cartridges were added later, all of them smokeless medium cartridges. Around one million weapons had been produced by 1932, the weapon number had reached 2,600,000 in 1964 and copies from Italy and Japan are still on sale today. The weapon became known at the turn of the century for its use in the Klondike gold rush in Alaska, where it always worked even in the freezing cold. As the only classic Winchester, the Winchester 94 was built almost unchanged - especially in the .30-30 caliber suitable for hunting - until 2006.

Model 1895

In the previous Winchester bolt action rifles with tubular magazines, pointed cartridges could not be fired; the danger of magazine detonators was too great. In 1895 the Winchester Repeating Arms Company finally presented a model - also a Browning development - that had a box magazine and could therefore also fire modern pointed cartridges. Between 1895 and 1931, 485,881 Winchester Model 1895 were manufactured as hunting rifles, infantry rifles and military carbines, and sales ceased in 1938.

The most famous owner of a Winchester Mod 95 was the big game hunter and later American President Theodore Roosevelt. In addition to powerful hunting cartridges like that .35 Winchester and the big game cartridge .405 Winchester the rifle was also offered in various army cartridges such as the .303 British. Great Britain used the model in 1895 in the Second Boer War (1899–1902).

The carbine with a 22-inch barrel in the American army calibers .30-40 Krag and .30-06 Springfield was used by the Texas Rangers, who provided their own weapons, and other police units. In 1915-16 the Russian army bought over 290,000 of these weapons in the Russian military caliber 7.62 × 54 mm R, which also fired the Mosin-Nagant rifle.

Winchester self-loading rifles

Model 1903

In 1903 Winchester launched the first self-loading rifle, the 03 model in .22 caliber. It was a rifle with an unlocked mass lock.

Model 1905

Winchester 05 Self Loading

For patent reasons, it was not possible for Winchester to quickly bring a self-loading rifle with a locked bolt for stronger ammunition onto the market. The system of the Model 1903 with mass lock was therefore further developed, but the lock mass had to be increased significantly in order to ensure the proper functioning of the weapon. Thomas C. Johnson, development engineer at Winchester who had already developed the Model 03, therefore applied an additional locking compound to the hollow fore-end. The box magazine in front of the trigger guard held five cartridges in caliber .32 SL (Self Loading) or .35 SL. A little over 31,000 units of the 05 model were produced by 1923.

Both cartridges were too weak for the hunt. That is why the 1907 model came onto the market after just two years; it fired considerably more powerful ammunition in .351 SL caliber; The 1910 model in caliber .401 SL followed in 1910. The cartridges of all these self-loading rifles had cylindrical, thick-walled cases in order to prevent gas leaks when the bolt rewinds. The 07 and 10 models were also used in police units and prisons and had 10-round magazines there. By 1943, 49,000 of the Model 07 were produced, the Model 10 had around 20,000 weapons by 1936.


Winchester Model 1912

The design of the forearm repeater also goes back to the collaboration with Browning. The Winchester Model 1893 in caliber 12 had an external hammer like the first small-bore forearm repeater model 1890 manufactured by Winchester. Production was discontinued with the advent of smokeless powder. The improved successor, the Winchester Model 1897, was a considerable commercial success and came to the U.S. Army was still used in the trenches as a so-called trench gun in hand-to-hand combat during the World Wars.

In 1912 Winchester launched a modern forearm repeater developed by Thomas C. Johnson, the Model 1912 Hammerless (with internal hammer). More than 97,000 pieces of this weapon in calibers 20, 16 and 12 were produced by 1943.

The Winchester Model 1887, a five-shot lever action rifle that also fires 12/70 caliber shotgun cartridges, is largely unknown. The weapon designed by John Moses Browning was unwieldy and sold poorly. Another model followed later in 1901 caliber 10.

At the instigation of dealers and hunters, Winchester began developing a high-quality side-by-side shotgun, which was launched in 1931 as the Model 21. It had an ingeniously simply constructed lock located in the receiver and was produced in all common calibers and barrel lengths. At $ 60, it was twice as expensive as that Model 12 Hammerless. By 1943 sales totaled 12,900 pieces.

Small caliber weapons in .22 calibers

Winchester model 1873 caliber .22

As early as 1884, Winchester brought a small-bore version of the Model 1873 onto the market. More than 19,000 examples of this weapon in caliber .22 short and long were produced by 1904. It can be recognized by the missing loading opening on the right-hand side of the lock box.

The one-shot model 1885 with drop block lock developed by Browning was also available in various versions, from the small one Boys Gun (Boys' rifles) to match rifles, available in .22 caliber.

Winchester .22 rifles, above: Mod. 67 with cylinder lock, Mod. 03 semi-automatic, Mod. 1890/06 forearm repeater

From 1890 the forearm repeater Model 1890 (improved in 1906) came onto the market, of which 849,000 had been produced by 1932. It had a tilting block lock and a tubular magazine under the barrel. An improved version with an enlarged magazine capacity came on the market in 1932 under the model designation 62, by 1943 158,000 of these weapons had been sold.

From 1903 the Winchester company produced a semi-automatic rifle, it was a weapon with a ground lock with the recoil spring in the fore-end, the loading movement took place via a loading pin protruding from the fore-end. The tubular magazine located in the piston held 10 rounds. Since the .22 cartridges available on the market had various different charges, Winchester offered a cartridge specially developed for this weapon, the .22 WIN AUTO RIMFIRE. Since the Model 1903 only worked with this special cartridge, sales were poor. By 1936 only a little over 122,900 weapons had been sold. From 1933 an improved variant, the Model 63, was offered in the popular .22 calibers, with sales of 51,600 units up to 1943.

In parallel to these weapons, which were laborious to produce, Winchester also offered the cheapest products under various model numbers from 1900 onwards. These were all single-shot rifles with cylinder locks. The barrel and breech housing were made from one piece. The Model 99 is of particular interest because its trigger is available as a Thumb trigger (Thumb trigger), it is located directly behind the breech. In the 1930s, more elaborate weapons, bolt action rifles, target rifles and training rifles for the army with cylinder locks were also manufactured, but with the entry of the United States into World War II, the production of civilian weapons was practically discontinued.

Repeater with cylinder lock

Winchester's first bolt-action bolt action rifle was the 1879 Hotchkiss model. The tubular magazine was located in the piston and held five cartridges, which were pushed in from the front when the breechblock was open. The weapon was offered in the American Army 45-70 caliber as well as for other large-caliber black powder cartridges of the era. From 1879 to 1899 over 80,000 of these weapons were manufactured, some going to the US Army and Navy, others being sold to the Chinese Army; the rest were hunting and rifle weapons.

In order to meet the demand for hunting rifles with high firing power, Winchester developed a bolt action rifle with cylinder lock and box magazine, the Model 54, which came on the market in 1925. The breech of this weapon largely corresponded to that of the tried and tested Mauser 98 rifle. The magazine held five cartridges and the weapon was available in most of the other common hunting calibers in addition to the most common .30-06 caliber. Sales did not go as expected, with only 50,000 Winchester 54s sold by 1941.

Winchester model 70

An improved version of this weapon, the Model 70, came onto the market as early as 1937. Various changes to details and improved workmanship led to the Winchester 70 becoming a bestseller. It was offered in 20 different calibers, from the .22 Hornet to the .458 Winchester Magnum. The most famous user of the Winchester 70 in NATO caliber .308 was the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. It was not until 1964, with serial number 570,000, that the design was simplified for price reasons, the Mauserschloss was abandoned, but the name of the weapon was left the same. The result is that that pre 64 Winchester model 70 has become a sought-after hunting rifle and collector's item.


In both world wars, Winchester also built large quantities of third-party designs for the military on behalf of the government and also established a significant production of ammunition.

The most famous Winchester model in history was the Winchester 73. The story of one of these rifles is told in the western Winchester '73 of the same name with actor James Stewart.

See also


  • George Madis: The Winchester Book. Taylor Publishing Company, Dallas TX 1971, ISBN 0-910156-03-4.
  • George Madis: The Winchester Handbook. Art & Reference House, Brownsboro, TX 1981, ISBN 0-910156-04-2.
  • John E. Parsons: The First Winchester. William Morrow & Co., New York, NY 1955, ISBN None Library of Congress Catalog Card number 55-7621.
  • Wiley Sword: The Historic Henry Rifle. Andrew Mowbray Publishers, PO Box 460, Lincoln, RI 2002, ISBN 1-931464-01-4.
  • Arthur Pirkle: Winchester Lever Action Repeating Firearms, The Models of 1866, 1873, 1876. North Cape Publications, PO Box 1027, Tustin, CA 1994, ISBN 1-882391-05-5.
  • Arthur Pirkle: Winchester Lever Action Repeating Firearms, The Models of 1886 and 1892. North Cape Publications, PO Box 1027, Tustin, CA 1996, ISBN 1-882391-13-6.
  • Arthur Pirkle: Winchester Lever Action Repeating Firearms, The Models of 1894 and 1895. North Cape Publications, PO Box 1027, Tustin, CA 1998, ISBN 1-882391-11-X.

Web links

  • Winchester Rifles & Shotguns
  • Henry repeating rifle US Patent No. 30,446 & other resources
  • Winchester Model 1866 US Patent No. 55,012 - 57,808 & other resources
  • Winchester Model 1876.PDF (+ Winchester Model 1873 - sectional drawings)
  • Winchester Model 1885 US Patent No. 220,271 & other resources
  • Winchester Model 1886 US Patent No. 306,577 & other resources
  • Winchester Model 1887 US Patent No. 336,287 & other resources
  • Winchester Model 1890 US Patent No. 385,238 & other resources
  • Winchester Model 1894 US Patent No. 524,702 & other resources
  • Winchester Model 1895 US Patent No. 549,345 & other resources