Questions about an early 1873 Winchedter 44 WCF
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  1. #1
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    Questions about an early 1873 Winchedter 44 WCF

    I know many members own one or more of these rifles so I feel sure someone can answer to questions.

    I recently purchased an 1873 Winchester 1st model made in 1874. I would like to find some information about it. I understand you can get some history from the Cody Museum. Is this similiar to a Colt archive letter or ? Is it worthwhile to spend the money for a letter from them? Is there any other source of information available for these rifles?

    I have thought about shooting this rifle a few times but I hate the thought of firing it with black powder rounds then the cleanup (I normally take the gun apart to clean up from black powder). Would Trail Boss powder be safe in this gun (it's in good mechanical condition with a very good bore).
    Dennis

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    1. You can get a cody letter. It will tell you when it left the warehouse and what options it had on it originally. It won't tell you where it was sold or who it was ordered by. They are cool, but only really useful if you are trying to verify a rare option or possibly military provenance(not sure on that actually).

    2. If it is in good working order it can shoot plain old factory ammo in it. Winchester rifles do not require blackpowder like old colts do or so I have always been told.

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    I had on made in 1879.
    I shot off the shelf ammo in it a couple of times.
    No problems
    Cholla likes this.

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    There are a number of smokeless for black recipes for .44/40 out there.

    The old '73's often have had a hard life. Check headspace (a common problem with '73's) before firing. Next, keep your loads on the light side. No you're not going to blow the gun up with modern loads. But that rifle is still 140 years old, and steel is steel and can only take so much. So be nice to it and it will last a lot longer.

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    On an early Winchester a Cody letter is a must for an 1873. You do not tell us much about the gun so it it is hard to give an opinion. I have an early one and I would never shoot it due to the value vs a few bangs.
    Dave_T likes this.
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    Shot factory loads in the Model 1873's for years with no ill effects. A couple of years ago I bought a '73 .44-40 with a beautiful bright bore, and found the fun all over again.

    As the others have noted, factory ammo is very mild.
    krag96 and Cholla like this.

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    I haven't got a Cody letter in a couple of years, but I think they were only around $50 so worth it even with less info than a Colt of Smith letter.
    'This is King Fisher's Road--Take the other one'

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    The Cody letter just gives the shipping date and a description of the rifle.

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    Cody letter is a lot cheaper than a Colt letter, but other than how it left the factory tells you nothing. The 1873s I have sold with the letter, when I saw them a couple years later at gun shows, did not have the letter. Seems the owners didnt think it had any value either.
    The ship to files were thrown out in the 1930s by the nearsighted bean counters that always seem to get their way.
    I have owned and shot about a dozen 1873 Winchesters. Smokeless has never and will never be shot in them while I own/owned them for safety reasons...this horse has been beat to death and basically it comes down to those who really want to shoot smokeless in them WILL shoot smokeless no matter what. Those who look into the difference between a strong action (the 1873 in good shape seems to be strong enough for certain smokeless loads) and a safe action (the 1873 does not have a big enough margin to handle any serious gas escape) will shoot black or (in my case) pyrodex. Thus ends my 2 cents worth!!

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    As I said, While I have gotten many cody letters, they are only worth it if they are able to verify some rare option or something from the factory. On your typical rifle, they add no value.
    Mustango likes this.


 
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