View Full Version : Old West Rifles

June 25, 2001, 03:34 AM
I'm interested in the lever rifles of the old west, and may end up buying some Uberti replicas if I can ever get enough cash (they're PRICEY). I have some questions.

-Is there an online database anywhere?

-What were lever rifles, like the Winchester 1866 and 1873, chambered in? I know there was .44-40, but what else?

-Is there any particular reason no one made a lever rifle in .45 Colt?

-What other models were there besides the Henry and the two Winchesters I mentioned?

-What other kind of repeaters were on the market at the time? What about pump rifles?

Thanks in advance for any info. Pictures of any firearms you describe would be really cool! :)

June 25, 2001, 08:29 AM
Cabelas sells the Uberti lever replicas, Cabelas.com

1866 Winchester was chambered in 44 RIMFIRE

1873 Win was chambered in 44/40. 38/40, 32/20, 25/20 and 22 rimfire.

Not chambered in 45 Colt because 45 Colt has an itty bitty rim, not too conducive to positive extraction on an ole blackpowder smokepole. They get away with it today because they use smokeless, although it is still less than perfect due to the itty bitty rim.

The Ubertis are first class replicas, it you want one you will be satisfied with the quality, I'm sure. HTH

TN Mad Dog
June 25, 2001, 03:03 PM
Colt made a pump rifle but there are no replicas that I know of. I've seen a few at shows and shoots but hear they can be unreliable and hard to work on.

Marlin made lever rifles chambered for pistol cartidges (32-20, 38-40, and 44-40. )

June 26, 2001, 09:05 AM
If you're looking for websites for repeating rifle replicas, here are a couple;
www.taylorsfirearms.com www.navyarms.com www.uberti.com
I haven't read it yet but Mike Venturino has a book out called Shooting Lever Guns of the Old West that is supposed to be pretty good. I've been meaning to add it to my library.
As to the styles of repeaters, there was mostly the same choices as there are today (with the exception of the semi-auto, though semi-auto handguns and machineguns did appear very late in the 19th century). There were bolt actions, lever actions, pump actions and revolving cyclinder. John Browning even had a patent on converting the 1873 Winchester to full auto!

June 26, 2001, 08:47 PM
Hmm. I was under the impression that bolt-action rifles didn't become common in the US Civilian market until after the turn of the century. I know the Army adopted the Krag-Jorgensen rifle in what, 1891? And that Mauser invented the..um...Mauser, in the late 1870s, but I thought that in the US, amongst civilian shooters, the majority of rifles were single shot or leverguns.

June 27, 2001, 09:03 AM
The Henrys and 1866 (Yellowboy) rifles were chambered in a .44 caliber rimfire cartridge - To my knowledge none of the replicas are chambered in this cartridge, which even by the standards of the 1860s was underpowered. The Yellowboy was basically a Henry with a fore stock and side loading gate added.

With the introduction of primers and center fire cartridges Winchester introduced the '73 which is very similar to the Yellowboy, but with a steel receiver and chambered for centerfire cartridges. A previous post covered the cartridges and your .45LC question.

Other repeaters at the time were scarce. The Spencer was a 7 shot repeater that more or less fell by the wayside after the Civil War. Tyler arms has a reproduction of this gun (there's a link at my site). When Winchesters Lever Guns are credited with being the guns that won the west - its really true.

I have a site at www.angelfire.com/home/oldguns go there I've started a image gallery of the BP guns and most of the repeaters are shown, plus there is a bit of information about these and other western guns. Who makes them and where you can get them. Check back often, because the site if fairly new and I'm constantly updating and adding information.

Now if you really want to know about the replicas - which are best, what to shoot, reloading info and what not go to www.sassnet.com and click the link to the sass wire. This is the cowboy action shooting forum and the folks there can answer just about any question you may have from the modern replicas to historical facts. Many of these guys shoot hundreds of rounds each month in there lever guns

Good luck, and BTW I love my Uberti '73 in a 44/40.

June 28, 2001, 09:16 AM
Bolt rifles were mainly military issue. They didn't generally appear in "the west" all that often until around the end of the 19th/beginning of the 20th century. The U.S. military officially adopted the Krag originally in 1892 but the western posts were generally not very well provisioned and mostly used the Springfield Trapdoor until several years into the 20th century.
Mausers most likely started showing up due to the Mexican Revolution.
The western outposts generally were given the cast-off equipment and were still being issued Civli War era supplies (including hardtack!) in the late 1870s/early 1880s.