The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The Hide > The Art of the Rifle: Bolt, Lever, and Pump Action

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old December 7, 2012, 08:26 PM   #1
tsillik
Member
 
Join Date: January 23, 2011
Location: Carter Lake Ia.
Posts: 54
38-40 winchester lever action

I have an uncle getting up in years, he has a winchester lever action in 38-40 cal. It came from his grandfather,none of his kids seem very interested in the rifle, he asked me if i would be interested in taking it.Of course i said yes, have not seen it yet. Does the 38-40 cal. give an approximate date of the rifle? Terry
tsillik is offline  
Old December 7, 2012, 08:33 PM   #2
Straitshot
Member
 
Join Date: July 27, 2011
Location: West Texas
Posts: 98
Checking the serial number in the back of a Blue Book of Gun Values should give you the proper date of manufacture.
Straitshot is offline  
Old December 7, 2012, 10:31 PM   #3
Jack O'Conner
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 11, 2005
Location: Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
Posts: 1,495
38-40 and 44-40 were once popular deer cartridges with market hunters. But this was over a century ago. I'm not sure if the barrel of your rifle can take the pressure of modern smokeless powder but a skilled smith can determine this for you.

Jack
__________________
Fire up the grill! Deer hunting IS NOT catch and release.
Jack O'Conner is offline  
Old December 7, 2012, 10:36 PM   #4
WIN1886
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 25, 2012
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 578
Do you know if it is an original Winchester 1873 or the 1892 model lever action ? I think both models were chambered for the 38-40 cartridge !
WIN1886 is offline  
Old December 7, 2012, 10:49 PM   #5
tsillik
Member
 
Join Date: January 23, 2011
Location: Carter Lake Ia.
Posts: 54
Will post some info as soon as i get it. Terry
tsillik is offline  
Old December 9, 2012, 02:39 PM   #6
tsillik
Member
 
Join Date: January 23, 2011
Location: Carter Lake Ia.
Posts: 54
Have some info on this rifle now. It say's model 1873,#192066B,has a 30" octagon barrel,on the barrel it says kings-improvement patented march 29 1866.october 16 1860. Also says 38 cal but nothing with a 40 behind it. Can anybody tell me anything on this rifle? Terry

Last edited by tsillik; December 10, 2012 at 06:41 PM.
tsillik is offline  
Old December 9, 2012, 03:33 PM   #7
BillM
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 20, 2009
Location: Amity Oregon
Posts: 361
1885 is what my book says. 38-40 is basically 44-40 necked down. Takes
a .400-.401 bullet.

I've got a later (1914) '73 in 38-40 that shoots surprisingly well with
almost no rifling visible.

30" barrel? If that is indeed the case, and it is octagonal---you
appear to have a special order gun. Don't do ANYTHING to it.
A little wipe down with a slightly oily rag is OK---but don't
"clean it up". Get a "factory letter" on it--that long barrel could be worth
some serious bucks.
BillM is offline  
Old December 9, 2012, 03:39 PM   #8
tsillik
Member
 
Join Date: January 23, 2011
Location: Carter Lake Ia.
Posts: 54
Where do you get a factory letter on it? Terry
tsillik is offline  
Old December 9, 2012, 06:09 PM   #9
WIN1886
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 25, 2012
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 578
Yes , a 30 " octagon barrel it is a special order....they did make a Winchester 1873 musket version with a 30 " round barrel but it sounds like you have a special order sporting rifle ( that normally came with 24" barrel ) and carbine version came with a 20" barrel ! The 38-40 was first offered in 1879 for the model 1873.......38 CAL mark is the 38-40 !
WIN1886 is offline  
Old December 9, 2012, 07:32 PM   #10
gak
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 28, 2005
Location: Aridzona
Posts: 2,767
+1 don't do anything to it other than a superficial cleaning and oiling. I wouldn't shoot it, including period-appropriate/safe blackpowder, but OTOH couldn't blame you for curiosity to check it out--after a pro smith checked it out first. The .38 is .38 WCF (Winchester Centerfire) aka .38-40. The "38" part is a misnomer not uncommon in the industry As suggested, as it is closer to a .40 cal (some modern revolvers so chambered can also shoot .40 S&W and 10mm with different cylinders) . So it really is more a .40-40, as in .40 cal bullet over 40 grains of powder. Maybe Winchester felt that tripping that off the tongue sounded too close to .44-40! In any event "manufacturer's license" to call their cartridges whatever they wanted. (a .44 Mag or Special is really a .429 or if you will, .43. .44 sounds better!).

Great old west ground with decent "inherent" accuracy and pop in modern loadings/chamberings, that seems to be getting some renewed, if still niche, interest.

Last edited by gak; December 9, 2012 at 07:39 PM.
gak is offline  
Old December 9, 2012, 07:44 PM   #11
WIN1886
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 25, 2012
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 578
Check out oldguns.net........according to the serial number you posted your model 1873 was manufactured in 1885 !
WIN1886 is offline  
Old December 9, 2012, 09:18 PM   #12
Pathfinder45
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 7, 2008
Posts: 998
How 'bout.....

.....some pictures, please?
Pathfinder45 is offline  
Old December 9, 2012, 09:26 PM   #13
Shotgun693
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 3, 2011
Location: Poteet, Texas
Posts: 959
Under no circumstances shoot that gun with modern/smokeless powder. If it is checked and OK'ed by a good 'smith then you could shoot it with Black Powder. They are excellent guns and some still see a lot of shooting with Cowboy action Shooters. I've know other Shooters to use an original '73 along with original SAA Colts. The .38/40 is pretty close in power to the .40 S&W that is the current choice of a majority of US Cops. At a reasonable range, I believe 100 yards or less it's plenty for hunting game up to the size of WT Deer.
BTW, if you shoot it with Black Power it has to be cleaned with soap and water.
You can go over to the BP and Cowboy forum here to learn more. Your gun may be worth quite a bit of money.
Shotgun693 is offline  
Old December 10, 2012, 12:06 PM   #14
Tom Matiska
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 12, 2000
Location: Wilkes-Barre, Pa
Posts: 1,006
Quote:
Where do you get a factory letter on it?....

Cody Firearms Museum/Buffalo Bill Historic Center is the caretaker for old Winchester records. Start here:

http://www.bbhc.org/explore/firearms/firearms-records/


Neighbor freind took some whitetail with a similar vintage 38-40. BP level loads out of a long barrel are very polite and your ears can easily tell if you hit bambi or a tree. When you fall in love with shooting it consider that soft lead will easier on your vintage barrel than modern hard jackets.
Tom Matiska is offline  
Old December 10, 2012, 12:09 PM   #15
Mike Irwin
Staff
 
Join Date: April 13, 2000
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 36,120
Another warning note...

NEVER shoot jacketed bullets out of it.

The older black powder era guns had barrel steel that is a lot softer than today's steels.

You can do a lot of wear and tear on the barrel in very short order by shooting jacketed slugs. It can strip the rifling out.
__________________
"The gift which I am sending you is called a dog, and is in fact the most precious and valuable possession of mankind" -Theodorus Gaza

Baby Jesus cries when the fat redneck doesn't have military-grade firepower.
Mike Irwin is offline  
Old December 10, 2012, 12:34 PM   #16
gak
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 28, 2005
Location: Aridzona
Posts: 2,767
Good reminder Mike.
gak is offline  
Old December 10, 2012, 01:55 PM   #17
PetahW
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 19, 2008
Posts: 4,679
BTW - When making inquiries, the barrel description's "octagon" (8-sided), and not "hex" (6-sided).



.
PetahW is offline  
Old December 10, 2012, 08:02 PM   #18
tsillik
Member
 
Join Date: January 23, 2011
Location: Carter Lake Ia.
Posts: 54
Here are some pics. of the 1873 rifle, i am not the best picture taker! I have a request in at the Cody museum for the Winchester letter, hope to find out if that longer barrel was a special order. Does make the rifle worth any more? Terry
Attached Images
File Type: jpg phpNOIHHsPM.jpg (66.3 KB, 84 views)
File Type: jpg phpSze8ikPM.jpg (65.8 KB, 78 views)
File Type: jpg phpPJ5BCyPM.jpg (66.1 KB, 78 views)
tsillik is offline  
Old December 12, 2012, 10:33 PM   #19
Shotgun693
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 3, 2011
Location: Poteet, Texas
Posts: 959
Anything 'Special Ordered' is worth more. Condition has at least as much a bearing on value. After you get your letter go to a Professional Firearms Appraiser and get a written appraisal. If, God forbid, anything happens to the gun you'll need it for an insurance claim.
Do print up a history on the gun, who has owned it and how it was passed down. That can effect value and might keep someone from taking it to a Pawn Shop in the future.
Shotgun693 is offline  
Old December 13, 2012, 05:46 AM   #20
tsillik
Member
 
Join Date: January 23, 2011
Location: Carter Lake Ia.
Posts: 54
Don't know where in Texas your from, but the rifle was from east Texas, somewhere near Nagadoches. Terry
tsillik is offline  
Old December 13, 2012, 07:54 PM   #21
Shotgun693
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 3, 2011
Location: Poteet, Texas
Posts: 959
I'm at least 400 miles from Nagadoches. They are neat ol' guns.
Shotgun693 is offline  
Old December 15, 2012, 03:58 PM   #22
tsillik
Member
 
Join Date: January 23, 2011
Location: Carter Lake Ia.
Posts: 54
I keep reading that some of these rifles has a set trigger option, What is this? terry
tsillik is offline  
Old December 15, 2012, 04:09 PM   #23
Shotgun693
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 3, 2011
Location: Poteet, Texas
Posts: 959
A rifle with a 'set trigger' will have what appears to be 2 triggers, usually. You pull one trigger and it drops the actual trigger, the second 'trigger' pull down to a couple of ounces. On occasion you might find a rifle with a set trigger that has only the one trigger. You'd push forward on this trigger until it clicks, the result is the same. As a broad general rule set triggers don't work as well on a lever action because there is so much jerking and slamming around with working the action that it interferes with the 'set'. I really can't remember seeing a lever action with a set trigger. Might be but I don't remember one?
Shotgun693 is offline  
Old December 15, 2012, 04:19 PM   #24
Hawg
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 8, 2007
Location: Mississippi
Posts: 11,758
Double set triggers were an option for the 73 but they are very rare. Single set triggers are more common but still rare.
Hawg is offline  
Old December 15, 2012, 04:28 PM   #25
tsillik
Member
 
Join Date: January 23, 2011
Location: Carter Lake Ia.
Posts: 54
Will the letter from the Cody museum tell what options were ordered on this rifle, i should be getting it pretty soon. terry
tsillik is offline  
Reply

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 11:24 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2014 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.11792 seconds with 10 queries