Winchester 73 and 92: what were they made for?

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EG73
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Winchester 73 and 92: what were they made for?

#1 Post by EG73 » Wed Mar 27, 2019 5:35 pm

Historically speaking: what was the orignal purpose of these guns? I know deer weren’t as bullet proof back then as today (haha!).

I’m guessing they were defense, smaller deer and fur? As the 76 and 86 were both in more powerful caliber were they merely to increase range or for larger game? Or both, or neither?

Would love to hear.
Cheers,
Troy.

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Re: Winchester 73 and 92: what were they made for?

#2 Post by Blaine » Wed Mar 27, 2019 6:02 pm

My SWAG (scientific wild azz guess) is they mostly used the same rounds as their handguns.... :?
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Re: Winchester 73 and 92: what were they made for?

#3 Post by AJMD429 » Wed Mar 27, 2019 6:12 pm

Welcome to the forum.

I know you've posted before, but I guess I hadn't seen any of your posts yet.

I agree with BlaineG; I think the biggest incentive was for someone who was on a limited budget or traveling - it made sense to have a rifle and a handgun that use the same ammunition.

Although those cartridges in a rifle seem kind of puny by today's standards, in terms of reliability and power they were way ahead of what had been around for the previous generation. Certainly there were way more powerful guns available, but by the time cartridge guns became available with the increased reliability and rapid-fire, I'm guessing many people were quite content with their 44-40 or similar power firearms (if memory serves me right, 45 Colt wasn't an option in a RIFLE until the 1980's), especially when there were eight or ten shots in the magazine.

As for the intended recipients of lead for the people on limited budgets or traveling, I imagine they would be much the same as today, with a mix of hunting medium-to-large American game, protection against two-legged predators, and for the homesteader, elimination of livestock predators with four legs.

Nowadays, many of us like those "pistol caliber leverguns" for much the same reasons.
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Re: Winchester 73 and 92: what were they made for?

#4 Post by gamekeeper » Wed Mar 27, 2019 6:24 pm

It was Colt that jumped on the rifle/pistol caliber thing, my guess would be that a lot of Winchester owners never had a pistol in any caliber. Those that did obviously found having only one caliber to carry a great advantage.
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Re: Winchester 73 and 92: what were they made for?

#5 Post by Chuck 100 yd » Wed Mar 27, 2019 6:37 pm

Putting food on the table was the main reason to buy a gun for most folks. Cost of ammo was also high on the list.
Also there were few people who would claim your game if it did not drop in its tracks so high power was not needed.
I remember a film of a man in Canada hunting Moose with a 32-20. He shot it in the lungs , built a fire,made a pot of tea and later went and dressed out his moose. These days someone else would have his tag on it.

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Re: Winchester 73 and 92: what were they made for?

#6 Post by David » Wed Mar 27, 2019 6:51 pm

Back they it was hard to live if you purchases something it's because you needed it. This is why 1899 and before or typically well used and you can find some firearms that ended up in a bad caliber in much different condition then others. Including some say in 32 extra short that are often found in new condition since getting that ammunition even when it came out sucked and it was short lived. (that ammo however is very collectable ;) Around the 1900's people also realized there was something called collecting and the invented common parts (screws can work on more then one gun!) and the assembly line there is just isn't much really worth collectable since the 1900's and in another 100 years that date won't change.

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Re: Winchester 73 and 92: what were they made for?

#7 Post by Pete44ru » Wed Mar 27, 2019 7:35 pm

.

It wasn't about power, and deer-killing ability.

The chronological progression of the various Winchesters needs to be considered.

American frontiersmen had bigger problems, like large/aggressive bears (Grizz/Brown Bear) and hostile natives that usually attacked in large groups, and wanted an effective repeating rifle that handled the same cartridges as the available revolvers - so they wouldn't have to carry a variety of ammunition with them.

In 1873, there weren't many repeating leverguns readily available, and Winchester had decided to upgrade from the Model 1866 to a rifle that better fit their new(er) manufacturing methods - the Model 1873.

The M-1873 was a smaller/lighter levergun for handgun cartridges of the day than the longer/heavier M-1876 model (for larger cartridges) that followed it shortly.

Later, Winchester bought John Browning's Model 1886 levergun for the larger "rifle" cartridges, as it was many times as strong as the previous (M-1873/M-1876) non-Browning designs.

With the success of the Model 1886, Winchester asked John Browning to design a smaller version of the Model 1866, for a lighter gun that handled pistol cartridges.


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Re: Winchester 73 and 92: what were they made for?

#8 Post by Carlsen Highway » Thu Mar 28, 2019 1:04 am

The .44-40 was a rifle cartridge. And the rifle and cartridge were a massive hit as soon as they came out. Colt jumped on the .44-40 bandwagon because the .44-40 was so universally popular because of the '73 rifle that he had to chamber his revolver in the cartridge as well as .45 Colt. Colt probably wouldn't have wanted to - .45 colt was a proprietary cartridge of his own.

The '73 rifle was designed and intended both as a deer hunting rifle, and also in the hope it would land military contracts for Winchester. For the last reason also it was favoured for Indian country (And the Indians had them too.) and frontier life in places like Australia and South America. But this may be too selective a view to adequately reflect the true picture - it was tremendous hit at the time, and was considered good enough for every application. It was a true all rounder, and most people only had one rifle. Except for big game - hence the 1876 rifle coming quickly after, being nearly the same design in bigger cartridges.

The Winchester 1892 was designed specifically to compete with Marlin who had just brought out a new rifle. That is why John Browning was paid a premium for getting the design done so quickly. They wanted it out in the market place fast.
It was not considered a replacement for the 1873 at all as far as I can work out, and nor did sales of the 73 rifle diminish immediately the '92 hit the selves. They sold them side by side in catalogues for quarter of a century afterwards. You would be surprised the number of '73 rifle they still sold each year after the 92 came out. (Right up until 1923)

I had the all the sales figures for this kind of thing a few years back.
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Re: Winchester 73 and 92: what were they made for?

#9 Post by EG73 » Thu Mar 28, 2019 4:16 am

Wow, thanks guys!

Great responses, and the last one about it originally being a rifle cartridge sure was an eye opener and something I never realised.

Debating on selling my M1910 Mannlicher Schoenauer to pick up a ‘73, but I don’t think I could do BP clean up... can they take light smokeless? Eh, that’s a different topic entirely.

Cheers everyone, must say I’m rather enjoying it here.

PS: I’m a dreamer with little money so a lot of the stuff I say I’m thinking about won’t come to fruition.

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Re: Winchester 73 and 92: what were they made for?

#10 Post by twobit » Thu Mar 28, 2019 7:34 am

EG73 wrote:
Thu Mar 28, 2019 4:16 am
Wow, thanks guys!

Great responses, and the last one about it originally being a rifle cartridge sure was an eye opener and something I never realised.

Debating on selling my M1910 Mannlicher Schoenauer to pick up a ‘73, but I don’t think I could do BP clean up... can they take light smokeless? Eh, that’s a different topic entirely.

Cheers everyone, must say I’m rather enjoying it here.

PS: I’m a dreamer with little money so a lot of the stuff I say I’m thinking about won’t come to fruition.
Model 1873 and Model 1892 Winchester rifles can absolutely use modern smokeless ammunition in them. No problem at all. The modern ammo is loaded to duplicate the original pressure and ballistics of the BP cartridges the rifles were designed for. Both Winchester, and Remington make 44-40 ammunition which is the modern nomenclature for 44 WCF. You can also use Black Hills ammo but be aware that it has about 25% LESS muzzle velocity and this will dramatically change the down range bullet trajectory and thus the accuracy of the sight elevators.
Image
Image

The Model 1873 was introduced as the first repeating rifle that used center fire cartridges 44 WCF. That is why the "WCF" nomenclature is attached to the caliber description. Center fire was a BIG DEAL improvement to ammunition design. It was developed by Winchester. The preceding Henry repeating rifle and the Model 1866 were rimfire rifles.

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Re: Winchester 73 and 92: what were they made for?

#11 Post by marlinman93 » Thu Mar 28, 2019 9:38 am

Over 140 years ago men weren't restricted by today's "rules" or limitations on various rifles and calibers. So a lever action rifle chambered for a small capacity case didn't have the limitations many people put on them today. A .44-40 or .38-40 lever gun was a great deer rifle, and provided a lot of game on the table for families back in the late 1800's.
And today most shooters limit these guns to 100 yds. or less. But back then a good shooter who knew his gun didn't limit themselves like people do today. These guns can take down deer at 300 yds. easily, IF the rifleman knows his gun, and has a good rest.
I think the advent of larger, more powerful lever guns made some people switch to them, and leave their smaller cartridge lever guns at home. The guns didn't stop performing well; it's just the shooters moved on to rifle caliber lever guns, rather than keep their skills honed with shorter cased lever guns.
I've watched men shoot these smaller cartridge Winchester and Marlins in calibers from .32-20, .38-40, .44-40, and .45 Colt, and hit targets pretty consistently at 500 yds.-1000 yds. So it can still be done if the shooter has the urge to practice, and learn his gun.
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Re: Winchester 73 and 92: what were they made for?

#12 Post by mikld » Thu Mar 28, 2019 10:20 am

My WAG is that they were developed for the military. As we all know,great advances in fire arms technology was during times of war. I am not a historian and most of my knowledge about lever guns is just amateur/in passing, but I believe the lever gun was developed during the Civil War, starting with about 1860 and after the fighting started the development took off. Like most firearms, after soldiers left the armed forces, they took their old friends, the familiar weapons with them. And anyone that watched "Winchester 73" of saw "the Rifleman" on TV knows what happened next... :roll:
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Re: Winchester 73 and 92: what were they made for?

#13 Post by mikld » Thu Mar 28, 2019 10:21 am

OOPS!
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Re: Winchester 73 and 92: what were they made for?

#14 Post by 765x53 » Thu Mar 28, 2019 11:30 am

The .44 WCF was a huge step up from the .44 Henry rim-fire. Only later were revolvers chambered for it.
It was used to wipe out most of the deer and other large game in North America for the market, before the .30/30 existed. It probably also accounted for it's share of the buffalo.
As for the .38/40, I have always suspected that it was conceived as a 10 mm for a South American market that didn't pan out.

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Re: Winchester 73 and 92: what were they made for?

#15 Post by SAVVY_JACK » Thu Mar 28, 2019 11:46 am

EG73 wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 5:35 pm
Historically speaking: what was the orignal purpose of these guns? I know deer weren’t as bullet proof back then as today (haha!).

I’m guessing they were defense, smaller deer and fur? As the 76 and 86 were both in more powerful caliber were they merely to increase range or for larger game? Or both, or neither?

Would love to hear.
Cheers,
Troy.
According to Winchester's Catalog of 1873 and 1875....

https://curtisshawk21.wixsite.com/44centerfire
"The Coming Gun"
Winchester's .44 Leveractions
Updated 6/3/2018
1860-1873
In Winchester's 1873 catalog, the Model 73 is never mentioned. The catalog only talks about the Model 1860 and the Model 1866. The title "The Coming Gun" appears to be written sometime before 1865 as noted at the bottom of page 9. The catalog also states the following: [referring to the 1860 Henry]..."Gentleman are ready to stake anything reasonable, that with one of these rifles they will hit the figure of a man, marked life size on a target placed at 500 yards,..."

Even during the Civil War, the Military refused to order the Henry so entire regiments bought and paid for their own guns rather than carry what the government furnished. The writing continues and describes at what could only cause the military to be disinterested.

"There is however a cause why they are not adopted[the Henry Rifles]......It is the same cause that has always prevented all governments availing themselves promptly of any improvements.......vis. The immobility of prejudice.

"It will never do to put such rapid firing guns into the hands of soldiers, because they will waste their ammunition."

"Another sage remark is that "repeating arms are too delicate and complicated to put into the hands of common soldiers."

Even a high ranking ordnance officer said, "repeating arms could never be used in the army"

Civilians and Indians thought otherwise!!! It was said that it was estimated that the Indians used between 150-250 lever-action rifles during Bighorn. Between 1984 and 2004, 202 cartridge cases and 252 bullets were recovered from the Bighorn Battlefields. All of this physical evidence represented 108 repeating rifles, Henry and the Winchester 66'. Sixty-two rifles at Custer's defeat and fifty rifles that helped pin down Reno and Benteens men at the Reno-Benteen defense line four miles south of Custer. Eight Winchester 73' rifles were represented by, 21 cases being found, seven rifles represented at Custer's battle and two at Reno-Benteen defense line. (Scott 2006). [note: at least one Winchester 73' represented at the Battle of the Rosebud the week prior to Bighorn but did not match any weapons at Bighorn, accounting for at least nine rifles used during the campaign]
I guess anyone's opinion is worth noting!!!

...to continue...
In the meantime, by the end of December 1866, the "Infantry Model" [Winchester Model of 1866] had finished field testing in Switzerland. Testings from 300 to 1,000 paces shooting at 6ft x 6ft targets resulting in 1.5ft x 1.5ft groups@300 paces. Several 50-75 yard shots reported by amateurs resulted in 1/2" to 3" groups.
"Winchester's "New Model of 1873"

I failed to see a catalog offered for 1874, however, in Winchester's catalog of 1875 the "New Model of 1873" is introduced.

"Its Popularity Proves Its Success"

The title given to the article that explains...

"One hundred and fifty thousand have been sold without advertising or puffing, and they have everywhere been given unqualified satisfaction, having earned their position solely by their merits."
Since the military refused to purchase them, Winchester continues with the Sportsman.......list many testimonials from sportsman and hunters. I don't have the book handy but one states something like killing 50 deer in one season.

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Re: Winchester 73 and 92: what were they made for?

#16 Post by SAVVY_JACK » Thu Mar 28, 2019 12:00 pm

By the time the Model 92 came out, smokeless powder was right around the corner. Other more powerful rifles were beginning to come forth like the Model 94 30-30, thus the 44-40 begin to take the back seat. As a business, you do everything you can to make money so to help with this, Winchester developed the 44-40 "High Velocity" cartridge. This cartridge started out in 1903 was was manufactured until WWII. It developed 1,600fps with a 200gr JSP bullet and was too powerful for the 73' and revolvers. Remington continued to manufacture the H.V. loads up intil the 60's I think it was, but they were long neutered by then.

Winchester used Dupont #2 rifle powder and then Sharpshooter. On the back of a can from when Hercules took over, 19gr. for High Velocity loads....then on to SR80 Powder

I have some more information that I have yet to post to the website...I am behind!!
https://curtisshawk21.wixsite.com/44cen ... ss-powders
Last edited by SAVVY_JACK on Thu Mar 28, 2019 12:18 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Winchester 73 and 92: what were they made for?

#17 Post by SAVVY_JACK » Thu Mar 28, 2019 12:13 pm

Some more SR80 powder information
Image

M.C. = Metal Case (jacketed)

Powder Timeline

1894 - Dupont #2
1897 - Sharpshooter
1913 - SR80
but not limited to...
Other powders used like #5 etc were also used

Sorry, I veered off topic....but a finely tuned 92' 44-40 packed a punch!

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Re: Winchester 73 and 92: what were they made for?

#18 Post by SAVVY_JACK » Thu Mar 28, 2019 1:52 pm

EG73 wrote:
Thu Mar 28, 2019 4:16 am
can they take light smokeless? Eh, that’s a different topic entirely.

Any 44-40 load in Lyman's 49th handloading manual is fine as long as it is not one of the Group II loads. The Winchester 73' and it's clones are considered Group I rifles. Not using smokeless powders in old 73's is a myth. Just remember, however, that old is old.....might want to take it easy on the old girls!!!

In 1894 Winchester first offered Smokeless powder for their Winchester 73's and 92's. The boxes had red labels that specifically stated Winchester 73'. Winchester 92' was on the side label as well as "NOT FOR PISTOLS" meaning the old black powder frame revolvers.

https://curtisshawk21.wixsite.com/44cen ... ridge-boxs

Here is some information on Lyman's Group I and II rifles
https://curtisshawk21.wixsite.com/44cen ... aami-specs

Lyman lists nineteen rifles chambered for the 44-40.


13,000cup/11,000psi

Group 1 (weak actions)
Winchester Model 1873
Whitney Kennedy lever action
Colt-Burgess lever action
Marlin Model 1888
Colt Lightning pump action
Replica Model 1873s (And I'd include replica Henry and 1866s in 44-40)
Remington No 2 Rolling Block Single Shot
Ballard No 2 Single Shot
Stevens Model 44 Single Shot

22,000cup...possible around 18,500psi

Group 2 (Strong Actions)
Winchester Model 1892 (& replicas)
Marlin Model 1889
Marlin Model 1894
Remington Keene Bolt Action
Remington Model 14 1/2 pump action
Winchester Single Shot rifles
Remington No 1 Rolling Block single shot
Remington "Baby Carbine" single shot
Stevens Model 44 1/2 single shot

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Re: Winchester 73 and 92: what were they made for?

#19 Post by David » Thu Mar 28, 2019 3:18 pm

mikld wrote:
Thu Mar 28, 2019 10:20 am
My WAG is that they were developed for the military. As we all know,great advances in fire arms technology was during times of war. I am not a historian and most of my knowledge about lever guns is just amateur/in passing, but I believe the lever gun was developed during the Civil War, starting with about 1860 and after the fighting started the development took off. Like most firearms, after soldiers left the armed forces, they took their old friends, the familiar weapons with them. And anyone that watched "Winchester 73" of saw "the Rifleman" on TV knows what happened next... :roll:
The civil war was all cap and ball or large rimfire.
Winchester 1873 is also the year Winchester invented the 44-40, this also around the same time Nickel was invented and started to be really used. Be wary of pre early 1870's firearms that are nickel. Remington used the 44 WCF (44-40) or 44 RF and just didn't make many firearms in 45 Colt because is was Colt. There's a few in the 1875,88,90's but not many they are a collector item.

Most of the growing rimfire (size) and market dropped significantly during the war they were simply too busy making handguns for the war. The also recognized that with the growing caliber and strength the rimfire wouldn't work since the case thickness had to be increased.

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Re: Winchester 73 and 92: what were they made for?

#20 Post by Pisgah » Thu Mar 28, 2019 4:05 pm

marlinman93 wrote:
Thu Mar 28, 2019 9:38 am
Over 140 years ago men weren't restricted by today's "rules" or limitations on various rifles and calibers.
They also weren't afflicted with our distorted concepts of "what it takes to get the job done." I know people who seriously believe that whitetail deer require something of the .30-06 class, if not 7mm or .300 Mag. The fact is, a competent rifleman can be well-armed just about anywhere on the planet if he has hunting skills and nerve -- not that a .30-30 is the ideal, but it is perfectly competent for 'most anything if the user is. Back in that day a .44-40 was a powerhouse, and a handy, reliable package, to boot.

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Re: Winchester 73 and 92: what were they made for?

#21 Post by SAVVY_JACK » Thu Mar 28, 2019 9:12 pm

Here is one more quote from the Winchester catalog.
"The records show that all decisive actions of history, with muzzle-loaders, have been fought with a distance not exceeding 50 to 150 yards. Making all possible allowance for improvement in modern arms of precision, 500 yards will more than cover the distance at which decisive conflicts will be fought". ~1875 Winchester Catalog (Indians proved this to be true at the battle of the Little Bighorn)

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Re: Winchester 73 and 92: what were they made for?

#22 Post by SAVVY_JACK » Thu Mar 28, 2019 9:32 pm

Somewhat of a conclusion to my thinking. Sometimes the best way to get answers is to post conflicting information rather than simply asking a question.

So......
Recap

In 1894 Winchester first offered their smokeless powder for the 44–40. The new boxes had a Red label specifically marked for the Winchester 73 but NOT FOR PISTOLS. This new smokeless powder gave velocities to 1,300fps but produced high pressures. Dupont #2 powder was used. Dupont #2 was quickly replaced with Sharpshooter which was designed to be used in black powder firearms and produced less chamber pressures than black powder. Sharpshooter was used all the way up to 1948. However, Dupont #2 was not discontinued until 1926. In 1913 SR80 (Sporting Rifle 80) was introduced. SR80 was also used for High Velocity rounds in the 44–40. Published loads of 18gr of SR80 with a 200gr JSP produced 1,625fps. Even today, SAAMI list the 44–40 as a rifle cartridge.

Black Powder Testings
I have tested 40gr/w of Swiss FFG black powder with a .18″-.20″ compression with original early semi-balloonhead unheadstamped 1880’s brass and produced 1,373fps @ 14,285psi. Same loads using Goex FFG produced 1,356fps @ 12,648psi. The same loads using Starline Brass with .21″ compression produced only 10,000psi. The same loads used in post 1890’s semi-balloonhead mixed headstamped cases produced 10,500psi.

Early Smokeless Powder Thoughts
I am lead to believe that early 44–40 black powder cartridges produced around 14,000psi while early Dupont #2 smokeless powder produced even higher pressures which is why they should not be used in early black powder frame revolvers. I am lead to believe that when Winchester switched to Sharpshooter powder, the pressures dropped to the 11,000psi mark and is what set the standards of today. My testings have been consistent but I can not dig out actual historical pressures. I doubt I ever will.

My replicated 1,600fps High Velocity loads produce in the 18,000psi range which leads me to believe that this would be close to 22,000cup according to Lyman’s 49th handloading manuals load data and Winchester HV data.

Sounds reasonable but who knows...???

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Re: Winchester 73 and 92: what were they made for?

#23 Post by marlinman93 » Fri Mar 29, 2019 12:01 pm

Pisgah wrote:
Thu Mar 28, 2019 4:05 pm
marlinman93 wrote:
Thu Mar 28, 2019 9:38 am
Over 140 years ago men weren't restricted by today's "rules" or limitations on various rifles and calibers.
They also weren't afflicted with our distorted concepts of "what it takes to get the job done."
That's what I meant by "rules" in quotes. These "rules" aren't really set by any good data. They are set by those same people you described who think overkill is the way to kill. The same people who never take a shot past 150 yds., but think a 7mm Mag, .30-06, etc. is required to bring down deer at that distance.
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Re: Winchester 73 and 92: what were they made for?

#24 Post by Twodot » Sun Mar 31, 2019 8:09 pm

Interesting. I never new the '73 continued to be manufactured into the 1940's.
..

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Re: Winchester 73 and 92: what were they made for?

#25 Post by EG73 » Mon Apr 01, 2019 12:50 am

So glad I posted this thread - it’s taught me a lot.

Thanks everyone!

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Re: Winchester 73 and 92: what were they made for?

#26 Post by SAVVY_JACK » Mon Apr 01, 2019 12:47 pm

The 92' was a strong action rifle, unlike the 73'...and could shoot Winchesters High Velocity cartridges that produced 22,000cup....approx. 18,000psi in my testings. I do not have a 92' BUT my Marlin shoots well with those HV loads.

Shot these this morning...gun shoots great, but I don't!

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ACME Magma .427's
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mickbr
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Re: Winchester 73 and 92: what were they made for?

#27 Post by mickbr » Thu Apr 04, 2019 2:23 pm

what a great thread!

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SAVVY_JACK
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Re: Winchester 73 and 92: what were they made for?

#28 Post by SAVVY_JACK » Thu Apr 04, 2019 8:06 pm

A tad off topic, but it was fun.

Target was the black dot just under the white dot just above the big targets.....was the safest place to be down range!

44-40 Uberti "Buckhorn" Single Action Revolver. (44 magnum frame) @ 100 yards
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s771FOfv0l8

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marlinman93
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Re: Winchester 73 and 92: what were they made for?

#29 Post by marlinman93 » Sat Apr 06, 2019 10:17 am

Although Winchester may well have hoped for military sales of their new lever action rifle back when the brass frame Henry was first introduced, that wasn't the case. The Winchester Henry saw very limited use, and was never adopted by the government for use. The units that carried them were mostly state units, and those states or the men in the units bought them, so of course they took them home when the war was over.
But the generals overseeing arms purchases were totally against repeating rifles from the beginning, and well into the late 1800's. It has been well documented that many involved in procurement felt that green troops new to the military were looked upon by officers as likely to waste ammo if given repeaters. So they intentionally leaned towards single shot rifles, much to the demise of Custer and his men. Equipped with Trapdoor rifles, and up against Sioux who had repeaters, they never stood a chance. Many guns were found with their breeches open and signs the soldiers were trying to reload when they were killed.
Pre WWI Marlins and Singleshot rifles!
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