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Old July 30, 2008, 11:05 PM   #1
berkmberk1
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Used lever action inspections

I'm in the market for a Winchester 73....original. Since most everyone selling these (outside a shop) sells over the internet, I'll probably have to inspect it within a very short time frame before committing to the purchase. So, I need to know what to look for to give it a good once over. Then I can decide to accept it or not and forward it on to a real smith.

I could also use some suggestions on what equipment I would probably need. Anything else beside a bore lite and headspace gauges?

I'm only interested in a "shooter", not a fine collector grade.............and I am not interested in a clone at this time! I want the real thing.

Mike
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Old July 31, 2008, 01:12 PM   #2
James K
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First, are you prepared to pay high dollar for a good, shootable one? If so, judging by the prices at the Chantilly show, you should start thinking in the neighborhood of $10,000. The days of decent 1873's for $800 are long gone, and no one trades a 73 and boot on a new 94 any more.

Most of those guns around today at reasonable prices are in pretty sad shape. Bores are sewer pipes, the links are worn out, the carriers are loose, the wood is split, splintered or broken, and everything is a mass of rust. Dust covers are missing or are repros, parts will be repro, firing pin holes will be worn big and out of round, extractors will be broken or missing, etc.

If you are thinking of starting a collection, and have the bucks, go for it. But for a shooter, I would have to discourage you. Not only would you be taking value from the gun with every shot, a major failure would destroy a piece of history that could have been preserved.

I can understand wanting a "real" gun, but for shooting, I hope you will consider one of the very good reproductions on the market.

Jim
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Old August 1, 2008, 12:46 PM   #3
James K
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I have been doing some checking and find I way overestimated the prices on decent 73's. The ones I saw at the show for 25-plus thousand were either some kind of rarity (I honestly didn't notice, just shook my head and walked away) or way overpriced, something common at that show.

Anyway, a shootable 73 can probably be had for under $4000 or less, depending on the amount of original finish (the criteria for collectors). One with little or no finish might be obtainable for under $3000. Still not cheap, and my comments on decreasing the value by shooting still stand.

Jim
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Old August 1, 2008, 01:07 PM   #4
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Quote:
a shootable 73 can probably be had for under $4000 or less,
Considering that you can buy a Uberti 1873 Winchester replica for around $1000, you could have your shooter and $3000 to ease the pain.
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Old August 2, 2008, 02:43 PM   #5
James K
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True, Scorch, but Mike says he wants the "real thing" and that will cost.

As for myself, I never thought much of those old toggle link guns anyway, though I have to admit they seem to stand up all right. The trouble is that when they go, the seem to go all at once.

Jim
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Old August 2, 2008, 03:38 PM   #6
berkmberk1
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Just a shooter

What can I say........I want an original. I talked to a guy at the last CAS match who has two Ubertis. From what he says he's spent enough money on having them tricked out that he could buy himself a good car! Other guys drop a couple of grand to have their Rugers slicked up or to buy a set of Colt SAAs! From what I've seen, basically sound Winchesters are out their averaging $1500. Do they have dark bores? So what, if the rifling is good. Match shooting isn't much past 50 feet anyway! Parts are still available. And like I said, I'm not looking for a museum grade collectible. Little or no finish is fine with me, just no heavy pitting, majorly screwed up wood, or missing or broken parts.

What I need to know is what I should look for. My list includes overall condition, bore, muzzle crown, chamber, check headspace, sights, springs, missing or damage screws. I figure I need a bore lite (a scope would be great, but then I could buy another gun for the price of one of those!). I've checked out gauges(go, no go, field) and I've heard all you need is a go, or a field, or all three.....depending on who you listen too.

What am I missing? What do I need.

I can always buy new..............but I want to try this first.

Mike
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Old August 2, 2008, 04:11 PM   #7
Scorch
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I am not sure of the years of production, but weren't the early 1873 Winchesters made with cast iron receivers? If so, I would want to make sure I got one with a steel receiver. Beyond that, inspections on older lever actions follow the same rules as other rifles:
* Bore- since the cartridges these rifles were chambered for were loaded for many years with black powder, I would make sure the bore is not corroded, then see if you can get the owner to let you disassemble the rifle to check to see if the date stamp on the barrel matches the serial number's production date and the chambering matches the original production records.

* Lever- No undue wear, no slop in the pivot pin, no pitting (or not an unreasonable amount) from sweaty hands on the inside of the lever, link pin not worn out. Ask the current owner to remove the side plate so you can inspect the internals, including the toggle. Sideplates were marked with the serial number on the inside surface.

* Carrier- carrier not sloppy in the ways, no side-to-side movement.

* Bolt- Bolt ways not oversized, bolt corners sharp.

* Hammer- Original hammers had the little checkered portion cast into them, so the checkered area had a border around it. If the checkering goes clear to the edge, the hammer is probably a replacement. Make sure the rifle cocks when the lever is cycled. If not properly lubed, the hammer can wear to the point it will not cock.

* Wood- wood not soaked with oil at points of contact with the metal (makes wood soft), no black stains around metal (means wood has been wet, probably rusted or corroded underneath), fit on receiver and tang very close, buttplate very closely fit, not undersized or oversized, no splitting at the tang, no splits in the forearm.

* Shooting- since you are buying a shooter, ask to shoot it. Evaluate the trigger and the action, and make a note of the loads used to fire it.
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