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I have several lever action rifles, including an Uberti replica of an 1873, in 44-40. I am very happy with it, but it has a 28" octagonal barrel and is very heavy. I am thinking about getting a 16' barrel carbine. I have a 1894 Marlin and a Rossi replica of an 1892 Winchester in 357 Magnum. I also have an assortment of other Winchester and Marlin lever actions in various other calibers, including several 1894s. I really like the 1873 action and I am inclined to buy one in 357 Magnum because I have more 357s than 44-40s and have a lot more ammo on hand. I reload both calibers, but find that with the carbide dies, 357 is a lot easier. I have been told that the 1873 is marginally safe for the .357 magnum and that the 44.40 is a better choice. But I would be very interested in any knowledge or experience any one here can give me.
 

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I, too, have a collection of LA Winchesters, and a Marlin or two. I can't speak to the safety of a 357 Magnum in a Win 73, but I think a Model 92 would be better. But you say you have a Rossi, so.......
 

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If you're looking for something more traditional along the lines of the 1873, I don't see how you'd go wrong with the Winchester. I don't have any experience with one though. I do have one of the Henry .38/357's and am extremely happy with it for a .357 lever gun. It's a 20" though, so a bit longer than what you're picturing.
 

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1000's of the '73s use by SASS shooters, shooting 10,000s of rounds in 357 length, if not power every year. If you like the 357 a new 1873 will fit the bill handily.
 

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Another option is a Win Model 53. Lighter, quicker, and better sights. I think they were all made in 22" barrels, though.
 

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"I have been told that the 1873 is marginally safe for the .357 magnum "

A very good question- also would like to know the answer . Any cowboy shooters about who could give a 1873/357 longevity report?
 

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Many years ago I had a 92 converted to .357 and a 73 that I had converted to .38 special for safety's sake. Were I ever do a project again my dream has always been to have a 92 converted to .256 Win Mag. (.357 mag necked to .256.) I had a Martini built up in one. Nice! Flat shooting, hard hitting, no recoil. Used to own a Ruger Hawkeye in one plus I do own a T/C Contender with a barrel and dyes for it.
 

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I've always heard the Henry and Winchester 1873 actions were the weakest lever actions. Why try to put a hot round in it? That's what the 1876 and 1886 were made for, among others. Winchester knew it was weak, and couldn't handle the up and coming higher velocity rounds. The max pressure for a .44-40 is 13,000 CUP I believe. For a .357 Magnum you're talking 35,000, over twice as high.

Basically, you have a bendy toggle inside holding that long firing pin rod from flying back into your skull. A lot more risky than the double locking lugs of Browning designs.

 

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Modern toggle action lever guns..the Henry. 66 and '73 are a lot tighter and stronger than any early 1873 Winchester. Modern '73 means a Uberti or a Miroku. The Uberti '73 has been chambered to the 44 mag. Uberti '73s have been chambered for a 357 Magnum for decades now. Thousands and thousands of SASS shooters shoot the 357 mag in '73s because they need the 357s OAL.

'92 is a stronger action no question. And if you want to shoot a 44 mag with hot loads on a regular basis I'd do it with a '92. Short of a 44 mag a modern '73 is plenty strong for a hot 357 mag or a hot 44 Special for that matter. Uberti makes them all in both calibers. Only down side to a 357mag, 1873 is the bolt face and extractor which can be a little weak and fail on occasion if incorrectly adjusted on the earlier Ubertis.
 

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The ONLY reason a Winchester 1873 can handle the .357 magnum today is they use harder steels today. So yes, you can get a Japanese or Italian modern clone that should, the manufacturer believes, handle the .357. They fire one proof round and say "see! It worked!" then sell them to you. Remember though, the basics of the toggle action are still all that is holding it together, if it is NOT good steel, it may not hold. There are reports on other forums of high wear happening fast with .357 in an 1873 design. I stay away from intrinsically weak actions with intrinsically powerful cartridges, but that's me.

An analogy is the Stevens 44 single shot (pretty much a toggle) versus the 44 1/2 single shot (locking lugs). Nobody has ever said to make a rifle out of the Stevens 44 with anything more powerful than about a .32-20 (and a few dozen Stevens rounds of the same power level). But the 44 1/2 with sliding locking lugs is made into more powerful chamberings, as is the Winchester 1878 (high wall), 1892, 1886, 1895, and so on. Those are strong actions. The 1873 is a weak action. You could make the Stevens out of better steel, but basically the geometry of the action is still that your fingers on the lever is holding the action closed during firing.
 

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I have shot over 3,000 rounds of 357 through a Winchester/Miroku Sporter rifle, the action has held up fine, no noticeable wear. Due to the ammunition price rises, I have switched to 38 special for this rifle.
 

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People that shot the brittle 1903 Springfields and smokeless loads in black powder frame SAAs will say the same thing - they've never had a problem. I just don't like tempting fate. If the 1873 was a strong design, they would have chambered stronger cartridges in it as they came out, Winchester was no slouch in Proof Steel manufacturing. But they stopped making it in favor of the later designs. Just saying....
 

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'73 was chambered for the 44-40 originally. '92 was chambered for the same calibers and proofed for smokeless when it became available. By '92 the '73 was an "obsolete" firearm design although Winchester sold them until 1924. Any rifle capable of being proofed and sold for a 44 magnum load I wouldn't call "weak". Not as strong as a '92? Sure, no question. That comparison is where the "weak" label originally came from. '73 isn't as strong as a '92. Both guns are fully capable of 357 magnum loads. More than one old Winchester '73s converted and relined for the 357 magnum. Although a modern '73 gives you some edge for strength. Anyone that has messed much with a '76 understands a toggle link action isn't all that weak. Winchester in fact proved the point long ago.

Only wear I have ever heard of on a modern '73 is as mentioned prior poor fitting bolts and extractors. Both easily fixed and has nothing to do with the strength of a '73 action but the size of the 38 Special/357 mag brass rim.

Fact. More rounds fired from a 1873 Winchester design in the last 35 years than were ever fired prior in original guns. And the majority of them likely in 357. You can thank the SASS shooters for that.
 

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I have a Miroku Winchester 1873 357 mag. No issues shooting 357 mag loads at all!!!, Been shooting 38 specials the last few visits to the range, because I have a lager stockpile of 38 specials vs 357 mag. Plus my wife enjoys shooting the 1873 with 38 specials because of the low recoil.
 
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