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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was visiting a local gun show and a vendor has a few Winchester 1873 rifles for sale. They are mostly 1887 -1889 44/40 vintage, with fair bores/ grooving and good wood and metal conduction. He said, they are all in working conduction and he has shot each of these rifles. I have two questions, 1887/1889 vintage Winchester 1873 rifle should they only be shot with black powder or as the vendor noted it's safe to shoot cowboy load in them? Second question, I know without photos, it's difficult to put a price on these rifles, but he is asking $2,500.00 for each rifles, is this a fair price?
 

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I see a lot of those Winchester 1873 models out here in Arizona, seems everyone had a grandpa who had one. The price is really related to the originality, and the condition. I've seen some pristine ones and a few with the wrong screws and refinished barrels. Hard to say if those 1873 are worth $2500 with out a visual inspection. As far as the black powder vs low pressure cowboy loads, you can safely shoot the low pressure cowboy loads in them , but first have an independent qualified gunsmith look it over, you never know how many round the old girl has seen in the past. There is a limit on rounds out of a firearm. Also you can get into the 1873 game with a new reproduction model from various makers. They will get you into the game with less cost and much safer. I do understand your interest in an original one.
 

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I once bought a 73 in .32/20 with a shot out barrel. I had it reworked to .38 special. I shouldn't have done it but back then (45 years ago), conditions and prices were different. Also had a shotout 92 in 25/20 reworked to .357.
 

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I have '73 .44-40s in carbine, rifle, and musket configuration and two '73 rifle .38-40s. In age they run from 1891 to 1905. I shoot them all with cowboy loads. The .44 recently suffered a broken firing pin but that is all the problems I have experienced. I have one of the Japanese .44 '73s here. It is a good solid rifle but not as accurate as my originals or my Uberti '73.

Regardless of vintage you don't want to be stupid or adventurous with a '73. I know of one Montana fellow who was life-flighted to the hospital with its firing pin sticking out of his eyeball. That was despite his shooting glasses. That was about 25 years ago.
 

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I shoot a 1900 vintage Winchester Model 1873 .38-40 with minimum listed charges of Unique and a Lyman 172 grain cast lead bullet. The 1905 vintage Colt Single Action Army here also likes these loads.
 

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I see your typical shooter grade '73 models in the $1800-2000 range here in Dallas. Most at that price point have been monkeyed with and have incorrect sights, boogered screws, and refinished wood.

At $2500 I would want original sights, clean screw heads, and nice original wood.....I would expect very little original finish though

At $3500-4000 you can get into a pretty nice gun

also, carbines seem to sell for more than rifles as in similar condition they are more rare.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I see a lot of those Winchester 1873 models out here in Arizona, seems everyone had a grandpa who had one. The price is really related to the originality, and the condition. I've seen some pristine ones and a few with the wrong screws and refinished barrels. Hard to say if those 1873 are worth $2500 with out a visual inspection. As far as the black powder vs low pressure cowboy loads, you can safely shoot the low pressure cowboy loads in them , but first have an independent qualified gunsmith look it over, you never know how many round the old girl has seen in the past. There is a limit on rounds out of a firearm. Also you can get into the 1873 game with a new reproduction model from various makers. They will get you into the game with less cost and much safer. I do understand your interest in an original one.
I purchased a Winchester 1873 new reproduction two years ago and it's fun to shoot, but now what a real Winchester 1873 44-40 with a 24" octagon barrel in good shoot conduction.
 

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Winchester brought out it's first smokeless powder loads in 1895. The early boxes noted that is was for the Model 1873 as well as the 1892 Winchester rifles. Winchester also brought out a high velocity loading which noted that it was loaded for the 1892 Winchester.

As long as the rifle is in good condition there should be no problem in firing modern factory smokeless loads. I have a 1873 in .44 WCF made in 1886 which has no trouble with them.
 

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Winchester brought out it's first smokeless powder loads in 1895. The early boxes noted that is was for the Model 1873 as well as the 1892 Winchester rifles. Winchester also brought out a high velocity loading which noted that it was loaded for the 1892 Winchester.

As long as the rifle is in good condition there should be no problem in firing modern factory smokeless loads. I have a 1873 in .44 WCF made in 1886 which has no trouble with them.

I have an old mdl '94 , a first yr issue '94 & the bbl is marked .30 WCF which of course is the blk pwdr marking but right behind that just in front of the receiver is a small paragraph saying "Nickel Steel bbl especially for smokeless powder" so Winchester converted in 94 not 95.
 

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I have an old mdl '94 , a first yr issue '94 & the bbl is marked .30 WCF which of course is the blk pwdr marking but right behind that just in front of the receiver is a small paragraph saying "Nickel Steel bbl especially for smokeless powder" so Winchester converted in 94 not 95.

Jim. The Model 1894 was not offered in 30-30 until 1895. There have been new revisions in Winchester serial number charts in recent years. Maybe you are using old serial number information for your year of manufacture?
 
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I have a Winchester 1873 in .44-40 that was manufactured in 1895, and a Winchester 1892 in .32-20 that was manufactures in 1907. Both have been used a lot in the saddle and just hunting. I only shoot black powder in the 1873 and light loads of smokeless in the 1892. To me, the rifles are like a Colt SAA revolver, I don't know how they have been treated in the past as I don't want a "Firing Pin in my eye"! I try to ere on the side of safety.


Doc1.jpg W5819a__40900_1351017057_1280_1280.jpg
 

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I have an old mdl '94 , a first yr issue '94 & the bbl is marked .30 WCF which of course is the blk pwdr marking but right behind that just in front of the receiver is a small paragraph saying "Nickel Steel bbl especially for smokeless powder" so Winchester converted in 94 not 95.
Maybe I didn't make it entirely clear, but my post indicated Winchester brought out it's first smokeless powder .44-40 (.44 WCF) loadings (cartridges) in 1895 as the thread was about the Model 1873.

On the Model 94 Winchester used the .30 WCF caliber marking up into the early 1950's.
 

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First you have to ask what you want it for. Are you looking for collector grade to keep as a non shooter or are you looking for one to shoot. If you just want one to shoot and are not a real collector, I suggest you buy a new Winchester in the caliber you want. They run anywhere from $1000 to $1300 new and that is a new current manufactured Winchester. You don't have to worry about any issues on what you shoot in it or what have you. I just purchased a new 1886 Winchester in 45-70. Real nice piece I always wanted one. It's all blue with satin finish. I'm going to take the gun down and send the frame to Turnbull to case harden it along with the but plate and fore end cap. I want it like the original. Always wanted one now I have one new like I purchased it from the hardware store. Just my 2 cents.
 

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I shoot my Pop's 1866 with BP loads made in 1869 & my Bro shoot Pop's 1873 in 44/40 BP loads too. We don't use it for target shooting but they still work on "Yotes!" BTW, I repaired the 66 while in gunsmithing school and I fit a new breech block and two pins. The original barrel is still good. Bowling pins at 150 yards? YESSIR!
When our Clubb has our Cowboy Shoot I wear Pop's old Colt SAA(circa1904) & shoot his ole '66. I like the blast of Blue smoke too!
 

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Should the roll marking .30 WCF even be considered a "black powder" marking? Is there such a thing as the term "black powder" marking? I have a 1904 vintage Winchester Model 1895 chambered for the .405 WCF, a cartridge for which there was never a black powder loading. The .33 WCF was not provided with black powder loadings either.
 

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Thirty or more years ago I developed some fairly stiff "high-velocity" loads for the 1896 vintage Winchester .32-20 Saddle Ring Carbine that lives here. At the time I was thinking that I might make a careful close-in shot on a deer on our old family place with it, just so I could say that the rifle had taken a deer. Never got around to it. Decided that .32-20 handloads that ballistically mimicked the .30 Carbine didn't need to be sitting on the shelf with .32-20 ammunition intended for the Smith & Wesson Hand Ejector also kept here. Was a fun exercise, however I didn't want a burst revolver from the accidental use of the ammunition and don't want to do the "firing pin in the eye" trick either. Now I load all .32-20 and .38-40 to be appropriate for both rifles and revolvers.

Never felt the need to "hot rod" the Model 1873. I did take a "Texas-sized" whitetail buck with a 1930s vintage factory Winchester factory 180 grain jacketed soft nose back in the early 1980s from a 1893 vintage .38-40 Winchester '73 I had prior to this one. The factory load chronograph tested at 1341 fps. The buck was shot through the heart at 103 paces so the load probably was traveling about the same velocity as a .40 S&W load achieves at the muzzle. In the event, the deer, which was standing facing diagonally away from me, was struck on the back rib, the bullet centering his heart and exiting through the right shoulder, a consistent .40 hole poked through and through. He was as effectively brought to bag as if he'd been struck with a .30-06.



 

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This photo contains one of the new Japanese Winchester '73s, an original one from 1891 that I picked up earlier this year, and a Colt SAA also picked up earlier this year. Both were "picked up" at Montana gun shows. All are .44-40s. Actually I think the original Winchester is more accurate than the new one. I slugged the new one's bore and it is .429" the same as the Japanese used for .44 Magnum Model '92s.
 

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