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Old August 27, 2022, 07:35 PM   #1
FresnoVince
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Butch Cassidy's "Modified Winchester"??

When Butch and Sundance were killed in 1908, among their effects was found a “Modified Winchester.”
This term has caused some confusion amongst historians, and I once asked a Gun Nut friend about it who told me the term simply meant an early Winchester that used smokeless ammunition.
I wasn’t able to verify that anywhere and was wondering if anyone here can verify that term existed in the nomenclature of the time for a Winchester using smokeless ammo.
Has anyone heard of the term in that context?
Thanks for any help. Some people here may be able to settle one issue we’ve been a bit puzzled over.
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Old August 28, 2022, 10:04 AM   #2
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I have seen nothing about a modified Winchester. I have seen pics of it and it's just a standard 1892 Winchester saddle ring carbine in 44-40 made in 1895. I'm pretty sure that by 1895 all Winchester rifles were proofed for smokeless but I could be wrong.
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Old August 28, 2022, 11:08 AM   #3
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Hi, Hawg. You've seen pics of what? Not the gun from San Vicente, certainly. You may be speaking of some other gun such as Sundance's rifle he gave friends in Colorado. I'm speaking of the rifle found with them in San Vicente, described as a "Modified Winchester." No photos of it exist
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Old August 28, 2022, 01:02 PM   #4
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Quote:
I'm speaking of the rifle found with them in San Vicente, described as a "Modified Winchester." No photos of it exist
Knowing nothing of that particular rifle, I will not offer an opinion on it.

HOWEVER, I would ask, "WHO" described the gun as a "modified Winchester", and how do we know that person even knew what they were talking about??

No disrespect meant to your "Gun Nut" friend, but while I'm no expert, I do have some familiarity with the industry terms of the era, and also most of the common use terms and I have never heard of, or read the term "modified Winchester" being used in connection with shooting smokeless ammunition.

It's possible that term, used that way, was a regional slang that I just never ran across, but I think if it had been in widespread common use, I probably would have seen it used, and I haven't.

The term "modified Winchester", as commonly used, means a gun that has been altered in some way, AFTER it left the Winchester factory. A gun "modified" to the customer's order by the factory is referred to as a "custom order" gun, and Winchester did a lot of than in those days.

Remember that the term describing the rifle Butch & Sundance had might be the reporter's version of what some local cop or soldier told him, and there is no way to know, or verify the accuracy of their description.

That kind of thing still happens to this day. Sometimes it's a small thing, and sometimes its big enough to make those who actually know something about the subject laugh out loud.

A few years back there was a string of shootings and, while still searching for the shooter and the gun, the police knew it was a 9mm Luger. Someone in the police dept. told a reporter the shootings had all been done with a 9mm Luger pistol, and the reporter went on to write about how someone was out there, shooting people with an antique German WWI pistol (the 9mm Luger).

You might be looking at something similar with "modified Winchester". Someone using the term, PERHAPS not correctly, and someone else simply repeating it and that going into the history books.

Tough to tell from a century+ down the roads when there are no pictures or other verifiably accurate descriptions of the item in question.
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Old August 28, 2022, 04:21 PM   #5
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AMP. to answer your question, so far as I know, it was the Bolivian army report that listed the gun in question along with MAusers, a 32 automatic and some Colts. What they meant by the term, we don't know/I don't know. The gentleman I asked--who I know to be highly knowledgeable in firearms and trivia after some 40+ years of collecting--gave his opinion, but I'm hoping to find others who might know of the term, one source not being enough to substantiate it sufficiently to put it in print as a likely meaning.
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Old August 29, 2022, 11:36 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FresnoVince View Post
Hi, Hawg. You've seen pics of what? Not the gun from San Vicente, certainly. You may be speaking of some other gun such as Sundance's rifle he gave friends in Colorado. I'm speaking of the rifle found with them in San Vicente, described as a "Modified Winchester." No photos of it exist
https://www.proxibid.com/Firearms-Mi...ation/32789904
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Old August 29, 2022, 11:53 AM   #7
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Wow, thanks. I was unaware of this. I have no idea how I missed it. I'll forward it to the Top Guy on Butch Cassidy for his comments
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Old August 29, 2022, 01:32 PM   #8
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Thanks for posting that, Hawg. As I said, I never heard of it. I asked Dan Buck, the world's top expert on BC, and I'll give the short version: He was aware of it, was asked to authenticate it when it first hit the states in the early 2000s, considered it fake, and by the time of this auction saw no reason to change his mind. His bottom line is that he does not believe believe the item is Butch's rifle from San Vicente.

We've seen some alleged Butch and Sd items like this go up for sale before, most recently the "Amnesty Colt," another highly dubious item.

"Original" Photos of them" (and other Old West persons) turn up on ebay almost every month.

One item we do think was real was a saddle from the ranch, probably belonging to Etta Place that sold on ebay a few years ago. If I had the dough, I'd have bought it. Went for a modest price under 10k.

Last edited by FresnoVince; August 31, 2022 at 12:23 PM.
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Old August 31, 2022, 09:07 AM   #9
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All I can say is it's got better provenance than anything else that comes down the pike. I personally have never heard of a modified rifle and I've done a lot of reading on the subject over the years..
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Old September 13, 2022, 06:25 AM   #10
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From what I understand, the earliest Winchester 1892s are considered to be black powder rifles in that the barrels were earlier steels, not the nickel steel that Winchester introduced around 1895 for smokeless powder.

While those early rifles can handle moderate smokeless powder loads due to the general strength of the John Browning design, they really shouldn't be fired with jacketed bullets, as the softer barrel steel can be damaged quickly.

I've never heard of 1892s with nickel steel barrels being called "modified..."

This is allegedly the Winchester rifle that was taken from the pair when they were killed in Bolivia.

https://www.proxibid.com/Firearms-Mi...ation/32789904

If that IS Butch Cassidy's Winchester, it was made in 1895 and may have had a nickel steel barrel, but the pictures that are associated with that auction are too small to see details of the markings around the rear sight.
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Old September 13, 2022, 06:26 AM   #11
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OOPS, Hawg beat me to that auction.
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Old September 13, 2022, 11:25 AM   #12
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”When the truth becomes legend, print the legend.”

When the Gorsich Brother says "Why not" to Pike, we all know what he means.
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Old September 13, 2022, 04:56 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Mike Irwin View Post
OOPS, Hawg beat me to that auction.
Better late than never.
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Old September 13, 2022, 10:51 PM   #14
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Thanks, Mike. As I mentioned to Hawg, the world's top Butch Cassidy historian was asked to authenticate the rifle as Butch's death rifle when it first made an appearance, and rejected the claim. I didn't get into detail, but after he ran down the background to the whole incident and the persons involved with it, I wouldn't touch it with a 10 foot pole unless I only bid basic gun value on it. I would posit that's why it went for what I would consider to be a very "low" bid.
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Old September 17, 2022, 10:04 PM   #15
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modified

I'm thinking the "modified" description is a misinterpretation of the auction website's listing..... " 44-40 caliber MOD 1892"

Which of course is a informal abbreviation of the word "model" as in Model 1892.
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Old September 18, 2022, 12:06 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FresnoVince View Post
Thanks, Mike. As I mentioned to Hawg, the world's top Butch Cassidy historian was asked to authenticate the rifle as Butch's death rifle when it first made an appearance, and rejected the claim. I didn't get into detail, but after he ran down the background to the whole incident and the persons involved with it, I wouldn't touch it with a 10 foot pole unless I only bid basic gun value on it. I would posit that's why it went for what I would consider to be a very "low" bid.
46,000.00 is a low bid? I don't really see how he can refute it with the provenance it has.
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Old September 18, 2022, 11:05 PM   #17
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Agree with my bud bamaranger.
Pictures show no modifications I can tell, it looks like a bog standard Winchester.
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Old September 19, 2022, 06:27 AM   #18
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Hi, Jim. I will be polite and say that Dan had reservations about the "provenance". And yes--40k would be a low bid for the rifle allegedly used by Butch Cassidy in his death shootout. You'll also note it didn't sell through Sotheby's, Christie's or a major auction house like that. It sold through Proxbid. Dan's refusal to authenticate it would be why a major auction house would not offer it. As I said, you really need his blessing of authentication to pass muster when it comes to Butch Cassidy, and he'd never give it without iron clad provenance that can be shown with solid a chain of history from a credible source, which it did not have. For instance, I believe I own Etta Place's gold bracelet, but I only have some circumstantial evidence for that. Even though I'm a Butch Cassidy historian myself (far, far bellow Dan's level but I've made my contributions), my word wouldn't be anywhere near enough to authenticate it, and even though Dan's a friend of mine, he'd never authenticate it without solid provenance, which I don't have. So I'd have to put it on Proxbid or ebay myself if I ever wanted to sell it (I wouldn't) because I don't have his blessing. That's how it works when it comes to Butch Cassidy related stuff in the real world. Other stuff--like firearms in general--may not work that way, but when it comes to BC, it pretty much does.
BTW, not that it matters, but this wouldn't have been used by Butch in the shootout in all likelihood. More likely Sundance. Butch was likely using his Colt in the shootout, while SD was using a rifle of whatever sort, be it a Winchester or a Mauser
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Old September 19, 2022, 09:48 AM   #19
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I was just agreeing with bamaranger's thought on one advertisement for one rifle.
Prior ownership by famous/infamous people is not my field of interest.

But what is the basis of: "BTW, not that it matters, but this wouldn't have been used by Butch in the shootout in all likelihood. More likely Sundance. Butch was likely using his Colt in the shootout, while SD was using a rifle of whatever sort, be it a Winchester or a Mauser"
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Old September 19, 2022, 08:51 PM   #20
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Condition of the wounds on the bodies indicating SD was leaning out the door, aiming with a long gun while Butch had better cover, using a pistol
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Old September 20, 2022, 11:23 AM   #21
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Wow, 1908 forensics. They were thorough even without mod cons.
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Old September 20, 2022, 12:09 PM   #22
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There's no need to be sarcastic, sir. I'll assume you know about guns and won't mock your comments about THEM. This just happens to be MY particular field of study

Last edited by FresnoVince; September 20, 2022 at 12:25 PM.
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Old September 20, 2022, 02:55 PM   #23
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I wasn't being sarcastic, I was surprised that they could (or would bother to) evaluate the scene so thoroughly.
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Old September 20, 2022, 05:45 PM   #24
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Though they may have lied through their teeth about whether the shootout happened exactly as they claimed--assuming it did, they did give enough info to know that the first thing Butch did was grab a pistol (not a rifle) and start shooting, killing a sergeant. And they did hold an inquest, noting the bullet wounds, the record of which we have. So from one perspective, they didn't do too bad a job for the time and place
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Old September 20, 2022, 06:24 PM   #25
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This was 1908..they lied through their tooth. Always bugs me to see those pearly white smiles in movies and TV of the "wild West" surprised there are no braces.
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