Admit it. You’ve always wanted to own “the Gun that Won the West”. Now might be the time, as Winchester Repeating Arms – founded in 1866 — celebrates its 150th anniversary with a commemorative line of classic firearms.
Maybe the Winchester lever action should really be known as “the Gun that Won the Western.” Every white hat movie cowboy kept a Winchester close at hand — from John Wayne’s saddle-ring, large lever loop carbine in Stagecoach to Jimmy Stewart’s “one in a thousand” rifle in the 1950 classic “Winchester 73”.
First up in the commemorative line is the Model 1866 “Yellow Boy”, which Winchester calls “the alpha rifle of all time, the rifle that epitomizes the winning of the American West.” It comes in both a High Grade and Custom Grade.
The High Grade starts with a custom grade walnut straight grip stock with a satin oil finish, combined with a classic rifle-style forearm with engraved forearm cap, giving the look and feel of the original. A polished brass receiver, lifter, lever, and forearm cap all feature 150th Anniversary engraving done in the Ulrich style, including the Winchester Horse and Rider and the WRA scroll trademark.
Other features include a brass crescent butt plate, a ladder-style carbine rear sight, polished blued steel loading gate and a receiver top tang drilled and tapered for an optional tang-mounted rear sight. A polished, full octagon 24” barrel comes with a gold barrel band, plus special Winchester 150th Anniversary engraving.
Chambered in 44.40 Win, the rifle weighs 7 lbs. 4 oz., has an overall length of 43” and a price of $3,329.
Offered with similar trimmings, the commemorative Model 1873 goes for the same price and in the same caliber. The original Model 1873 was one of the most successful and iconic of the Winchester rifles, manufactured between 1873 and 1919.
Winchester in 1875 established a high prestige “One of One Thousand” grade. Barrels producing unusually small groupings during test firing were fitted to rifles with set triggers and a special finish. This rifle was the genesis and star of Jimmy Stewart’s 1950 western classic “Winchester 73.” Few were produced, but the movie’s promotion efforts uncovered several rifles in dusty attics and closets, one of which sold at auction in 2009 for $40,050.
Winchester will also have a commemorative version of its best selling rifle, the Model 1894. This is the most popular deer hunting rifle of all time, with more than six million produced between 1894 and 2006.
While less steeped in history, the classic Model 70 bolt-action rifle will also figure in the commemoration. This rifle will feature deep relief scroll engraving with gold embellishments, and traditionalists will appreciate the Pre-64 action with massive claw extractor. This .270 Win will set you back $2,069.
Last but not least, Winchester will also offer a commemorative version of its Model 101 over and under shotgun. An already attractive shotgun, the commemorative version will combine engravings with a high-grade black walnut stock. This 12 gauge, three-inch chamber shotgun costs $3,069.
These Winchester commemoratives are guns to die for. Fortunately, unlike Jimmy Stewart in Winchester 73, you won’t have to wipe out half the local population for yours.
Photo credit: Winchester