For bidding in this lot is a Winchester Model 1873 Saddle Ring Carbine in rare caliber .38-40, serial number 234787, made in 1887. Of the over 750,000 Model 1873s made by Winchester less than one third were carbines. And of those carbines, the standard caliber was .44-40 with either the .38-40 or .32-20 caliber being extremely scarce variations. The Model 1873 was Winchester’s earliest center fire cartridge firing rifle and was immediately popular with frontiersmen, lawmen and outlaws alike, ranchers, cowboys and Native Americans. Made in more limited numbers, the famed saddle ring carbine is often seen in period photographs of the Texas and Arizona Rangers as well as outlaw gangs. One of the only authenticated photographs of outlaw Billy The Kid shows him holding a Winchester 1873 saddle ring carbine. This fine example, aside from being in the rare chambering of .38 WCF (.38-40 Win.), is in unaltered, fine condition. This in itself is unusual as most saddle ring carbines were used hard in the Western Frontier and the few surviving examples typically found on the collector market today often show extremely hard use and often abuse with replaced parts and broken stocks etc. This example came out of Montana and displays fine wood with very tight wood to metal fit, showing that the walnut stock and forend have not been sanded or replaced. The overall metal on the receiver, barrel and magazine display a wonderful soft aged blue patina with fine original blue on the loading gate. The unpolished brass lifter on the bottom of the receiver displays a desirable mustard yellow uncleaned finish. This carbine further retains the original ladder rear sight with slide intact (these usually missing or replaced), the original front sight as well as the saddle ring and original staple in the left side of the receiver. The dust cover is also intact which is unusual as most are missing from this model, especially on carbines. The correct carbine butt plate has the brass sliding trap door for cleaning rod storage and the lever catch is also intact. The barrel top is clearly marked in two lines: “WINCHESTER’S-REPEATING-ARMS NEW HAVEN CT” over “KING’S IMPROVEMENT-PATENTED- MARCH 29, 1866 OCTOBER 16, 1860.” Behind the rear sight and directly in front of the receiver top is the correct caliber designation stamping “38 W.C.F.” The upper tang is also clearly marked “MODEL 1873.” The action is tight and fully functioning and the bore shows good rifling all the way through. In all, an exceptional early example 1873 Winchester Saddle Ring Carbine in superior, unaltered, original condition that is significantly more rare than the Winchester 1873 rifle version. The carbine qualifies as an Antique Long Gun, and does not require FFL Transfer or NICS Background Check. Serial Number: 234787.
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