The Winchester Model 1873 Lever-Action Rifle
Last night’s elimination challenge on Top Shot Season 3, The Gauntlet, featured the Winchester Model 1873 lever-action repeating rifle. Thomas G. Bennett aided in the design of the Model 1873, based on the Winchester Model 1866. Debuting in 1873, the Model 1873 was Winchester’s first centerfire rifle. With the introduction of the gun, came the introduction of the .44-40 W.C.F. cartridge. Firing a 200-grain bullet at 1800 fps and lethal at 100 to 150’ made the Winchester Model 1873 more powerful than previous rifles Winchester had produced. The Model 1873 incorporated a tubular magazine that held plenty of rounds. The sporting model held 6 and 15 rounds, the carbine model held 12 rounds, and the musket version held 17 rounds. At 27 bucks a pop, the Winchester Model 1873 was easily obtainable by the average American, making it extremely popular. Outlaws, Indians, trick shooters, hunters, and trappers alike loved the Winchester Model 1873. Billy the Kid, Buffalo Bill Cody, and Ned Christie all had an 1873.
In 1880, Winchester introduced the Model 1873 in .38-40 W.C.F. and in 1882 began producing it in .32-20 W.C.F. Both of these calibers were popular handgun cartridges, lending further to the model’s popularity.
Documentation shows that by 1876 Winchester had $2 million in sales, and made 720,610 Model 1873 rifles from 1873 to 1924. Production of the rifle ended in 1923. Firearms manufactures, such as Taylors & Company, are currently making replicas of the Winchester Model 1873.
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Today, many cowboy action shooters use Winchester Model 1873 replicas, like what we watched in the season premier of Top Shot Season 3.