View Full Version : Winchester 1873 Vs 1876 and other competition

March 9, 2012, 11:24 AM
Why was the Winchester 1873 in 38-40/44-40 so popular? It has to be more than cartridge comparability. I have written before that my choice would be 1876 model in 45-75.
One reason may have been Black Powder which limits Velocity to around 1600ft/sec, for lead unpatched bullets. The 1873 model has a mid range trajectory of about 15”at 200yds. Most people can't shoot well beyond that range. When you bought a Winchester you got whatever you wanted if you payed for it. Many carbines seem to have come with a ladder sight which went to 900yds. The 1876 carbine sight went to 1000yds. At 200yds the MRT for the 1876 model is about 13”, not a significant difference. At 1000yds the 1876 MRT is about 58ft. The 45-70-405 with about the same initial velocity would shoot about 50ft MRT at 1000yds. I haven't worked out the MRT for an 1873 at 900yds bit I recon it to be about 65ft.
What this means in practice is beyond 200yds the bullets angle of decent increases drastically, and range estimation is far more important. Beyond 200yds flatter shooting big bore rifles make over estimates of range less likely to go over the target's head.
There are a lot of cartridges .40cal+ which could rival or beat the 45-70-405 for flat shooting and power.
If you have a 40-90 Sharps and feel the need for a repeating rifle an 1873 Winchester in 38-40/44-40 (possibly the same as your Colt) makes sense.
I would be greatfull if anyone could post decent pictures of the 1873 model rifle or carbine with either ladder sight or buckhorn type. (the internet doesn't) Does anyone know the range limit on the buckhorn type sight.

March 9, 2012, 12:49 PM
This'un has both.

March 9, 2012, 04:23 PM
Why would you even want to shoot a 44-40 at 200 yards? It's a pistol cartridge. It's adequate for deer at ranges of 100 and less. I love my 92 in 44-40 but a 200 yard gun it is not and I don't expect it to be.

March 9, 2012, 04:57 PM
It's just a SWAG on my part, but cartridge availability might have played into a fella's choice of rifle caliber.

And I agree with Hawg that a pistol cartridge rifle would have a tough go at 200 yards.

Here's a link to Tuesday's Julia auction for an 1873 musket in 44-40 with a ladder sight: http://jamesdjulia.com/auctions/catalog_detail_shots.asp?Details=45388&sale=320&lot=1508

Here's one in nickel, just 'cause it's so doggone pretty: http://jamesdjulia.com/auctions/catalog_detail_shots.asp?Details=44585&sale=320&lot=2006

March 9, 2012, 06:55 PM
Those 1876 models are big guns. The 73's are much handier, still fairly heavy guns. If you were hunting bigger game, you'd need the 76, but for closer up small to medium game and self defense, more likely the 73. Plus of course the compatability with a revolver if you have one. Mark

March 9, 2012, 10:10 PM
First off, the 1873 was available for three years or so before the 1876, so it's not like it was a choice between the two for a few years. Second, at the time, the 1873 was the most powerful repeater one could get, Spencer rifle company having gone out of business in 1869. Third, the Colt revolver was not chambered in anything but .45 colt until 1878, so compatability wasn't an issue at first. Most frontiersmen (and women) wanted a repeating rifle, that was powerful enough to put meat on the table, and defend against "injuns" and outlaws. You do not need a .50-110 express for that. If you wanted something that shot out to 1000 yards, you bought a buffalo rifle. Winchester produced the 1876 to try to get in on military sales (the .44-40 was deemed too weak) and to "horn":D in on the buffalo hunter market. The 1873 Winchester was arguably the best rifle for what it was designed for in that era. Otherwise, I don't think they would've made around 720,000 of them until 1919. The 1876 was discontinued in 1898 at around 64,000. It has been said, that next to the .30-30, the .44-40 has killed more deer in this country than any other cartridge.

March 9, 2012, 10:41 PM
My replica uses a marble tang, which is suspect because it doesn't lock up very tight, sent the first one back because it was even looser, and a quality ladder sight that Brownell's use to carry but I believe is out of production now. I've shot different powders including pyrodex, but not BP and currently use 2400. The Ubertis don't have a deep groove like I assume the originals had but I have run all hardnesses of bullets from very ductile to heat treated. I'm currently using a hollow point 454190 and the 250 Lee...Oh yeah I forgot to mention it's a .45 Colt calibre. I personally like shooting it at the 200 yd Rams, but would love to find a truly accurate load. Have shot 2" 50yd groups but seldom. Have I strayed from the original post?

Anyway if anyone has the secret to accuracy from these replicas please let me know.

March 9, 2012, 11:10 PM
Also remember our ancestors were pretty much limited to iron sights, and I suspect a lot of them didn't have such great vision, either. 300-400 yard shots can be a challenge with modern firearms and optics. And how many people really were such great shots back then? Reloading was really in its infancy, if you were using a cartridge gun you pretty much relied on store-bought ammunition. The Model 1876 was simply a scaled up Model 1873, from what I have read it wasn't that much stronger, hence many felt it offered no real advantage, and the Model 1873 is pretty handy. I recall asking here one time as to why the large frame DA revolver fell by the wayside and the smaller frames-S&W K frame, Colt Official Police, etc. sold much better, many of the answers said a lot of men can't handle the large frame revolvers.

March 10, 2012, 08:24 AM
Thank you for the Pictures gentlemen.

Hear are the Velocities out to 500yds for the 38-40/44-40 rounds. They have very effective pistol velocities at 500yds. If you had the skill to judge distance there would be a point in fitting the vernier sights in the picture posted by Beagle333
thanks again

yds 0 100 200 300 400 500
38-40 1330 1091 960 873 804 745
44-40 1310 1069 940 853 783 722

March 12, 2012, 08:32 AM
Don't know what new york escorts have to do with firearms

March 12, 2012, 12:03 PM

What are you talking about?:confused:

Who said anything about New York escorts?

March 12, 2012, 03:37 PM

Mike Irwin
March 13, 2012, 05:36 AM
There was a spambot loose in the forums, guys.

It's gone.

If you see spam, your best course of action is to hit the little red and white triangle with the exclamation point. It's the report post feature. That lets staff know that there's a problem.

If you start posting messages TO the spambot, well, that's about as effective as talking to your toaster.

March 13, 2012, 10:38 PM
The '73 was popular because it was a repeater, it was reliable, ammo was available and it was about all the gun most people needed. For fighting folks or for light game it did ok. Like most people now don't need a F350, the F150 is plenty for their needs.